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Digital Photography Tips, Tutorials and Resources

Choosing the Best Camera Settings for Landscapes

by Brenda Barron on Nov 12, 2018

Landscape photography is one of the most popular photography art forms today.

With landscapes, you can capture endless colors, moods, and textures, taking advantage of the natural beauty that you find all around you. An overcast day can make for a dramatic wedding shoot, while an aerial shot from a drone can create an incredible birds-eye view of a national landmark.

What’s more, landscape photography doesn’t require a lot of specialized equipment. You can get started with nothing more than a camera and some photo editing software.

But what are the best camera settings for Landscapes, and how can you set yourself up for success?

Today, we’re going to look at how you can improve your chances of taking a stunning image by:

  • Setting up your camera correctly
  • Improving depth of field
  • Using the appropriate white balance
  • Managing ISO
  • Mastering filters and shutter speed

Camera Settings for Landscapes: Setting up Your Camera

Compared to some other forms of photography, getting the best camera settings for Landscapes is easy to accomplish. Most experts recommend shooting entirely in Aperture priority mode, as this will allow you to control the depth of field in the image while the camera manages shutter speed on your behalf. You can also choose to keep your exposure manual so that you can create serene and highly unique shots. Just make sure you avoid any vibrations when taking your pictures.

Additionally, if you set the metering mode to “Evaluative/Matrix” you can make sure that your camera consistently reads light from all areas around you. This will give more depth to your photos and improve your level of exposure too. You can always use exposure compensation to lighten or darken the image as necessary.

A wide shot of a bright forest, with sunbeams coming down between the trees

Improve Your Depth of Field

Depth of field is one of the most pressing challenges when it comes to setting your camera for landscapes. The depth of field in your photos is the area that’s most in focus. Landscape images benefit from a wide depth of field so that you can get everything in the scene from the background to the foreground in sharp focus.

Maximizing image sharpness and mastering depth of field often involves using the correct focusing technique, and a narrow aperture of around f/16. The best way to focus for landscapes is to switch your lens and camera to manual and rotate the focusing ring to the correct part of the frame. As long as you set a small aperture, use a wide-angle lens, and maintain your focus about a third of the way into your image, you should be fine.

A scenic mountain view, with the sun shining brightly over some clouds

Using the Appropriate White Balance

Your camera will come pre-packaged with various white balance settings, including an automatic mode. In most situations, the auto setting will work fine, but if you’re photographing a sunset or sunrise, you’ll need to get creative.

The best camera settings for landscapes will depend on the time of day that you’re shooting. Use the daylight white balance preset for warmer tones in sunsets and sunrises. You could also consider using the cloudy or shade presets to accentuate the warmer tones in specific pictures.

A wide view of a mountain range, photographed at sunset

Choose the Lowest Possible ISO

Figuring out the right ISO for your landscape photography can be tough, but in most cases, it’s best to stick with the lowest rate possible.

Remember, the ISO shows your camera’s sensitivity to light. The higher your ISO is, the more sensitive your camera becomes. While a higher ISO is great when you have a high shutter speed, it can also add a lot of digital noise into your image.

To avoid grain, most professional landscape photographers will choose the ISO100 option for static landscape pictures.

A blue tinted river with snowy mountains in the background

Mastering Filters and Shutter Speed

Finally, to add some extra magic to the best camera settings for landscapes, you can consider using polarizing filters. These tools deepen blues, remove glare, and increase color saturation, helping you to make the most of your shots.

Alternatively, neutral-density filters are best-suited for helping you to reduce the amount of light that enters the lens – great for when you want to creatively highlight clouds and water. The filters and camera settings you choose will have an impact on your shutter speed. If you find that your speed goes lower than 1/125 per second, it’s important to take some extra precautions.

Attach your camera to a tripod and use a remote release to fire your shutter without touching your device at all. This will reduce your risk of camera shake.

There you have it! Everything you need to know about taking the best landscape photos! For more tips on photography and camera settings, connect with us on Facebook and Twitter.

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