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March 3, 2011 / arthill

Camera settings

After I wrote the post about ISO, shutter speed and f-stop, my daughter suggested that I put together a table showing what I would recommend for typical shooting scenarios.  I shoot with a Canon T1i so I have the luxury of using higher ISO settings than you might with a non-DSLR camera (or an older DSLR).  So you may want to adjust these downward.  Also these apply to mid-range shooting such as the 18-55mm lenses commonly shipped.  For telephoto you need faster shutter speeds and you may need smaller lens openings so you’re generally going to have to boost ISO.  With wide angle lenses you can shoot at slower speeds and wider openings.

Scenario ISO Mode Shutter
General outdoors 200 AV f8
General indoors with flash 400 AV f8
Sports outdoors 800 TV 1/500 or higher
Sports indoors no flash 1600 f5.6
Museums, churches 1600 AV f5.6
Flowers 400 or 800 AV f11
Macro on tripod 800 AV f16 or smaller
Night shots tripod 400 or 800 AV f8
Night shots handheld 1600 or 3200 AV f4.5

These are very general. Your mileage may vary.  The keys are:

  1. Especially in lower light, getting a shutter speed fast enough to avoid camera shake blur
  2. Small f-stops especially as in you get in closer or zoom in more.
  3. Going with the lowest ISO that lets you achieve #1 and #2.

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