Recommended Camera Settings for Portrait Photography

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Taking pictures of people can be challenging for an amateur photographer. Everyone enjoys seeing good portrait photos, whether of family, friends, or just an interesting face. And, as photographers, we also enjoy being able to make an image quickly, which is why we hate when something goes wrong with the photo or with our camera settings. With that in mind, here are some technical tips to help you improve the quality of your portrait photography and use the best possible camera settings along the way.

Pick Camera Settings so Your Subject’s Eyes Are Sharp

Canon EOS 6D, 50.0mm, f/1.8s, 1/125s, ISO 250

We have five (or so) senses, but the one we use most is our sight. This means that the eyes on a photograph have to be sharp, no matter how many people are in it. Here are some tips to make sure that your subject’s eyes are sharp.

To start, I like to use single point autofocus. “Guessing camera” modes aren’t my favourite because they do not necessarily lock focus on the eyes. You want to use a single point and focus on the nearest eye. Lock the focus, and recompose slightly if needed to get a pleasing composition before shooting.

After taking some shots, check the sharpness of the eyes. You can’t check sharpness by the default image on the LCD screen. Start there, but use the zoom function to check the eyes. Shoot again if they aren’t sharp. You need to play with your focusing, and perhaps read the manual to understand how to use your camera. The deeper problem might lie with your camera settings, which may not be optimal for portrait photography. Below, I will cover some of those settings to improve the portraits you take.

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