Understanding how your camera works is the most important step in mastering the art of any genre of photography. Cameras offer various settings to make it favorable for all levels of people to be able to operate it fairly easily. But those settings might not be able to get you the exact quality of the image that you are looking for. This is why it is important to understand the use of manual mode. Also, judging certain scenarios, having manual mode might result in losing the perfect shot due to the setup time. So, knowing how to use each setting and for what purpose is really important.
To help you understand the use of your camera setting properly, we have written this article in a very easily digestible manner. We will be focusing more on the product photography side, but this article is suitable for anyone wanting to know the use of the camera modes and the setting it offers.
What camera do you need?
Obviously, to do professional photography, you will need a professional camera. Don’t think using a smartphone camera with high-end software will be sufficient. These won’t help you properly understand how an actual camera works and won’t even give you the desired output. Also, avoid point and shoot cameras, as these are mostly suitable for only personal use.
Regarding professional cameras, you can either choose a DSLR or a Mirrorless. Both do the same thing. The only difference is in how these are built. DSLR has been around for a long while and is a very trusted system and Mirrorless is a fairly new invention, but still, also very reliable.
ISO Settings: Keep it low
ISO is the easiest to understand out of the other two exposure triangle components. The purpose of ISO is to increase the lights of the photo.
ISO doesn’t have any physical movement in the camera body, instead, it is just a software setting that you increase or decrease to adjust the lights. This is primarily used in darker environments. During product photoshoots in a studio room, not always the lights can illuminate at the appropriate amount you need. So, in such cases increasing the ISO slightly can make a drastic difference to the image lighting.
Although, it might seem using the ISO is great, but it has its downsides. ISO is increased digitally, so increasing it will also add digital noise/grains in the photo. It is always recommended to increase the ISO level slightly; making any dramatic increase will add a dramatic amount of grains that will just ruin your photo.
Increasing the ISO should be considered as the last resort. First, try to change other settings of the camera to make it work, and finally, if you can’t get the desired lights, then use the ISO.
Aperture: Low = shallower depth of field
Aperture settings will play a major role in product photography. Depending on what type of product photography you are going to shoot, you will need to adjust the aperture based on that.
The aperture controls the depth of field for any photo. Meaning it will determine the amount of blurriness that occurs in the photo. The measurement of the aperture is counted as F-stops.
The lower the number of the F-stop(f/1.2-f/1.4) will be, the shallower the depth of field is and the more lights will pass into the lens. If the F-stop(f/11-f/22) number is set to a larger number then the depth of field will be high and a low amount of lights will pass into the lens.
For example, if you are doing product photography for platforms like Amazon, then the product needs to be in clear focus. No parts can be blurred. In such cases you will need your f-stop number to be very high, maybe something between f/11 to f/22. Keep in mind that by doing so, less light will get into the camera frame, and will make the image darker. To compensate for that, you will need to adjust the shutter speed and the ISO.
For lifestyle product photography or maybe portrait photography, having more blurriness by keeping the subject in focus might be the desired output. For that, you will need to decrease the aperture to maybe f/1.2 to f/2.4. Like I’ve mentioned before, a lower-numbered f-stop will introduce more blurriness and also add more lights into the camera frame.
Shutter Speed: High = Sharper image
After ISO and Aperture, the Shutter Speed is the third and final element of the exposure triangle. The sharpness of the image highly depends on the shutter speed of the camera.
Shutter Speed is basically the speed at which the camera shutter opens and closes. In order to freeze a subject, you will need to increase the shutter speed. But the issue with increasing is that it will let in fewer lights to the frame, and to compensate for it you will need to increase the aperture.
During product photography, if the lights are appropriate, then you can decrease the shutter speed to add even more light without worrying too much about motion blur. The product won’t be moving, so unless your hands are shaking, getting a crisp clear image will be very easy.
Camera Mode - Aperture, Shutter, & Manual Mode
Now that you are familiar with the exposure triangle, it’s time that you know the modes your camera offers. Generally, cameras come with 4 default modes. These are Fully Automatic, Aperture Priority Mode, Shutter Priority Mode, and Manual mode.
Fully Automatic Mode
This mode is mostly geared towards beginners. You just turn on the camera and start shooting. The camera will automatically adjust the aperture and shutter speed. Using this mode while at the beginning stage of learning photography can be useful, but as you get more experienced, avoiding it in most cases would be recommended. Automatic mode limits the control over the quality of your image as it decides everything for you.
Aperture Priority Mode
Aperture priority mode is used when the lights are not very stable and in places where you need to adjust the depth of field. In this mode, you will be responsible for selecting the aperture and the camera will change the shutter speed and the ISO based on the outer environment.
Shutter Priority Mode
Shutter Priority Mode is extremely useful in places where there is too much motion involved. Places like weddings, where people are always on the move; this mode will ensure that everything is captured without any blurriness. In this mode, you will be responsible for adjusting the shutter speed and the camera will choose the rest.
Manual Mode is where you are fully in control over how the final output will be. Anything that’s not possible with these semi-automatic modes, is possible using manual mode. You can precisely focus on a particular subject and adjust the depth of field. This manual mode will be useful in places where you can take some time in changing the settings of the camera and the scenario won’t be changing consistently, which might result in losing the shot.
Shooting in RAW
I can’t stress enough how important it is to shoot in RAW if you are doing photoshoots for professional needs. With a RAW image, you can bring back the original colors by slightly adjusting the lightings, which won’t be possible if it was shot in JPEG. RAW files will definitely be larger in size, and that’s due to the camera storing the picture’s information. It even takes a bit more processing power but is definitely worth it.
Don’t Forget Post-Processing
This is the most important final step that you shouldn’t forget. No image is perfect, even if it is shot in perfectly lit conditions. There is always room for adjustments. Making even the slightest alteration can result in drastic changes in the outlook of the image. If you don’t know how to edit images, then consider outsourcing. This is a very inexpensive approach and will save you time that you can use to shoot more photos and earn even more money. You can also contact us. We provide all types of photo editing services.
The key to becoming a good photographer is understanding your camera properly. You also need consistent practice and need to put more focus on taking better pictures than the previous ones. Know the modes our camera comes with and learn when to use each. This will save you valuable time. Just because Manual mode gives you the best flexibility, doesn’t mean you will always have to use it. Other modes will become very necessary from time to time during your professional career.