How do I adjust my camera for portrait photography?

You will be taking portrait photos soon. You have already come up with the idea for the photo session. Only the technical part is not yet fully mastered. In this article, I will explain how to manually set up your camera for portrait photography. So you know exactly which settings you can use best.

  1. opening

  2. focus

  3. ISO

  4. shutter speed

1. Aperture

Of course, portrait photography is all about the person depicted. You want all the attention on the model. This works when only your subject is in focus and the rest of the photo is blurry. An effect that can be achieved with a large aperture. This creates a small depth of field. This means that the sharp part of the photo is smaller than the blurry part. A large aperture corresponds to a small f-number. Choose an aperture of f/5.6 or smaller.

2. Focus

Eyes speak the most and you want to emphasize that. You achieve this by focusing on the eyes. Look for the function in your camera that allows you to choose the focus point. Look at the subject through the viewfinder or screen. Use the navigation keys or the touchscreen to select the focus point that is in the eyes. Press the shutter button halfway to focus. You can also focus manually using the lens ring.


Due to the large aperture, there is probably no need to use a high ISO value. Because of this, you capture enough light to illuminate the photo. If it doesn’t, you may be screwing up the ISO. For example to 200 or 400 ISO. Note: the higher the ISO value, the greater the likelihood of noise. Some cameras have better noise reduction than others. Experiment with this especially during photography.

4. Shutter speed

In order to convert the image that the camera sees into a photo, your camera needs light. This light must reach the sensor. Shutter speed determines how long the camera’s lens aperture is open to capture this light. The shutter speed is therefore also referred to as the exposure time. The slower the shutter speed, the more light falls on the sensor. A faster shutter speed shortens the exposure time.

In portrait photography, you try to illuminate the photo better by setting the camera manually. This is because using your flash doesn’t typically happen. Nobody gets better with flash, not even your model. Only use flash units and studio lighting if you work with them regularly. In addition to a large aperture and higher ISO, you also capture more light with a slower shutter speed. For example, try a shutter speed of 1/100. Longer increases the likelihood of motion blur.

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