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Camera Settings For Portraits

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#1 Gary Dhillon

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Posted 20 December 2015 - 06:59 AM

Please could you help me I want to know what settings I should use for single person, couples and family portraits. I'm using three light set up. Thank you

#2 K_Georgiadis


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Posted 20 December 2015 - 11:53 AM

That is not an easy question to answer but, even though I am only an occasional portrait photographer, I can talk about some of the general principles. You want the lowest native ISO (I have a 6D, so that will be ISO 100) and then you will have to decide on the depth of field = your aperture. You want to blur the background and you will need to choose the widest aperture that works in your circumstances. The shutter speed will pretty much be decided by the above considerations. The more people are in the photo, the more photos you should take, to maximize the chances that there will be a few shots in which everyone looks good. In a group photo you will need to increase the DOF, especially if people are lined up in rows, behind one another. If the photo includes fidgety children, you will need to increase the shutter speed to eliminate motion blur. Tony has an excellent video on group photos and he does a much better job explaining portrait photography principles than I could possibly do.


A few words about lenses: even though the 50mm f1.8 is considered a portrait lens, there are a couple of things to keep in mind: to take a head shot with your full-frame camera, you would have to stand uncomfortably close to your subject plus, such a close-up, tends to exaggerate the facial features of your subject, resulting in an unflattering image. Many photographers consider a focal length of about 85mm to be more appropriate for head shots. So, you should consider using a longer lens and zooming in. On the other head, your 50mm may be OK if you are including the upper torso.


Some random thoughts which, I hope, have not confused the issue!

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#3 David Pavlich

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Posted 21 December 2015 - 02:33 PM

Good information above.  As far as setting go, you'll have to play with that since you have a lighting set up.  Were it outdoors, I'd be more help.  I do know that shooting a single person, you set your aperture differently than you would for more than one due to depth of field considerations.  Where you might do a head shot at f1.8 or f2, you have to shoot at f8 with a group to ensure that you don't have one person focused and another fuzzy.


Maybe get a volunteer to sit for you while you play around with settings as well as lighting angles and the like.



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#4 ErikEWeaver


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Posted 03 January 2016 - 11:46 AM

To my way of thinking the major variables are quality of the light, focal length, and focus. If you think in these terms, I suspect you'll find your answers.


Secondary considerations are back ground, high/mid/low key, and other light modification techniques. But for portraits another critical element is the posing and coaching of those sitting for their portrait: jaw, squinch, eye brows, eyes, and mouth; angle of body, head, and hands, and their relationship to the light; etc.


Right now most my portraits are shot in the 50mm range, and between f/5.6 and f/11, at ISO 200 (my camera's native ISO). I normally use a 2x3 foot soft light, sometimes gridded, sometimes not, and sometimes using a reflector and sometimes not. I've normally been shooting mid-key, although I do like the look of low key light. I've not experimented with high key yet. No reason not to, and I'm looking forward to it, I just haven't gotten around to it. Partly because I am still setting up my home studio area, and have been working in a very small space, so I'm keeping the light modifiers to a minumum for the time being.


ISO is rather dependent upon your camera body. I have a Nikon D3200 and I prefer to shoot as close to it's native 200 ISO as I can. But newer cameras can very effectively run their ISO up pretty high and get a very high quality shot. So that answer depends upon your camera, and the quality of the light you are using, as well as how you are modifying it. From there you can think about focal length, compression of the background (assuming it is a significant factor) and focus point/depth.


These are all interrelated, so I don't know how anyone can really give you more than general advice without a more specific example.

#5 Andy21


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Posted 29 March 2017 - 03:42 PM

it's very difficult question. I can recommend you to look for informtion  here fixthephoto.com I saw some nice tips about your question. Good luck!

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