Best Camera Settings For Travel Photography?

May 14, 2023

Salt Lake, VictoriaSalt Lake, Victoria

Salt Lake, Victoria
Phase One XF, 80mm Schneider Kreuznach lens, f8 @ 1/2000 second, ISO 160

I see a lot of different approaches to camera skills on the many photo tours I do, so if you’re comfortable with your approach, there’s no need to change. If it’s not broken, you don’t need to fix it.

Having said that, current cameras offer us many options that make capturing a great exposure that much easier. Personally, I generally use aperture priority exposure control because I want to control depth-of-field as much as possible. This means the camera sets the shutter speed and, by selecting Auto ISO, the sensitivity as well. In the Auto ISO controls, you can usually set a minimum shutter speed and, depending on what I am shooting, this will vary from 1/30 second to 1/500 second. For a lot of street and documentary work, I find a little subject or camera movement adds to the emotional content of the image, so I’m not looking for absolute sharpness. However, if I am (for instance, for wildlife or sport), then I can set a faster shutter speed.

Most cameras have image stabilisation and I keep this turned on. It won’t freeze the action of a moving subject, but it will keep your camera still and reduce camera shake. Auto ISO and image stabilisation have really transformed how we shoot indoor and low light travel situations.

For autofocus, I’m usually set to continuous as my subjects are generally moving (or I am) and face-recognition can be really useful. I’m not afraid to set a high frame rate as well if I think it will help capture the absolute best nuance of expression or gesture. Sure, it means I have more photos to edit at the end of the shoot, but that’s a positive for me if it gets me the result.

Finally, no matter how you have your camera set, chances are something will happen and you want a different set up – quickly! Most cameras have custom function settings. For instance, on my Fujifilm X-H2, have C1 set for animals, C2 for birds, C3 for general travel and humans, C4 for landscape. If something arises, I can quickly reset the camera with the turn of the command dial. Chances are your camera can be set up in a similar fashion.


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