5 Camera Settings Every New Photographer Needs to Know

Camera Settings

What separates a professional photographer from an amateur photographer is the mastery of camera's settings. It doesn't matter the type of camera you are using, if you don't know how to apply the right settings, it is as good as useless.

One way to learn camera settings is through trial and error. It is a very good way to master your settings. The only problem is that it may take some time before you start getting things exactly the way you want them.

Today, you are going to learn some important camera settings. While some of these settings are very basic, others go a little deeper. However, reading up camera settings is not enough, make sure you practice them as you learn; this will help you get better faster.

Top 5 Camera Settings You Need to Master Today as a New Photographer

1. Control Depth of Field With Aperture Priority

Aperture Priority is one of the most important settings you need to master as a new photographer. This setting controls how the light hit the camera sensor.

Your aperture setting will have an effect on your depth of field. In most situations, such as when you are photographing landscapes, you'll want to have a precise control over the depth of field in order to give your picture enough of foreground-to-background sharpness.

On the other hand, you'll want to reduce the depth of field when you are shooting a portrait so you can make your subject stand out from the background.

You can have more flexibility simply by switching the camera to Aperture Priority mode. This mode is indicated on the camera by "AV or A" on the camera's shooting mode dial. Note that the Aperture Priority is only a semi-automatic mode. Your camera will help you do the rest when you control the camera.

To increase the depth of field, choose small apertures, represented by high f-numbers such as f/11 and f/16. You can increase the depth of field by selecting large apertures which are represented by low f-numbers f/2.8 and f/4.

2. Use Right Shutter Speed Setting to Control Camera Shake

As a new photographer, it is very important you learn the proper camera settings for handheld photography. You can learn this setting by learning to control your shutter speed.

For instance, when you are taking a handheld photography, you can avoid blurry photos by using a 200mm lens at 1/200sec and with a 28mm lens at 1/30sec. If you use any shutter speed lower than that, you risk a camera shake as well as ruining your shot.

You can get a sharper result at a shutter speed around 4 "stops” when you are using an image stabilized lens. You can possibly get result free from camera-shake at camera shake-free results at 1/13sec (200sec > 100sec > 50sec > 25sec > 13sec = 4 stops). However, note that your mileage may vary depending on how steady you are able to hold your camera. As a new photographer, it is very important that you always make use of a shutter speed that will give you sharp results.

3. Setting Your ISO for Low Light Photography

Your ISO performs a unique function. It determines how sensitive the camera sensor is to light. Your camera will be less sensitive to light at lower settings such as ISO 100 and 200 but will need more to record a picture.

Your camera becomes very sensitive to light when you use higher settings such as ISO 3200 and 6400. At this level, it won't require much to make an exposure.

The problem is that you may not be able to select a large-enough aperture to let in enough light into the lens when you are shooting in low light. Another problem in this condition is that you may not be able to set a shutter speed that's fast enough to give you sharp pictures. In this scenario, you will need to change your ISO.

You can amplify the sensor's signal by selecting a higher ISO sensitivity. You amplify the signal by one stop/EV every time the ISO doubles. This means increasing ISO 100 to ISO 200 is one stop, the same thing applies to increasing the sensitivity from ISO 800 to ISO 1600.

You can get best quality ISO settings when you choose low ISO levels. This is because you risk introducing "noise" when you amplify the signal.

4. Using Auto ISO Setting for Handheld Photography

In most cases, you can get a great result when you let your camera adjust the ISO setting for you. This is one of the easiest settings you can apply. Simply select the ISO and put it on "Auto", then allow your camera to adjust the sensitivity according to the lighting conditions.

When you are using ISO, your camera will assume you are shooting handheld and automatically increase or decrease the ISO to make sure that your shutter speed is fast enough to give you a sharp result. Note that if you don't want the maximum ISO available to the camera to be excessively high when using the Auto ISO, you can always limit the ISO range that the camera can choose from.

5. Use Exposure Compensation to Improve the Exposure

As a new photographer, you need to learn to use exposure compensation to adjust a photo that looks too bright or too dark on the screen.

Before you hit the shutter, activate exposure compensation by making use of your camera's quick control screen. You can also achieve this by pressing the button marked "+/-". While adjusting for exposure, keep rotating the camera's control dial and monitor the indicator moving along the scale in the bottom of the viewfinder or on the rear monitor.

Your subsequent pictures will look brighter if you shift the indicator towards the "+" end of the scale. Alternatively, your pictures will appear darker when you move the indicator towards the "-".

Note: Ensure you reset the exposure compensation setting to zero whenever you finish taking your shots. This is to ensure that you don't run into exposure problems next time you want to use your camera.


Learning camera settings is one task you need to take seriously as a new photographer. You can't grow as a photographer if you haven't mastered your camera settings. Start with these settings mentioned above and try other settings until you master them.​

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