This is page 2 of 4. "Best Camera Settings" begins here.

I feel the best vacation photos are action shots.


Action frozen in time always makes for interesting viewing. This page is about making the most of a still/action combination of your subjects. Read about landscapes and other immobile photography here.

Fortunately for you I have already gone through this maze as well as so many others that I write about on this site. What that means to you is that I will give you what I feel are the best camera settings. From there you can expand out to what makes most sense to you.

What do I personally use?

These settings are the rule. There are exceptions.

To hand hold my camera, I set it to “Aperture Priority.” I set my Aperture to a couple of stops down from the widest aperture on whatever lens I am using. Remember the widest aperture is the smallest number on your lens.

For more information on aperture click here

I set my film speed to;

For bright sunlight;

100 ISO if I am shooting non movement.

200 ISO for slight movement.

400 ISO – 600 ISO if I am shooting movement, depending upon the speed of motion.

For shade and for early and late sun;

I set my film speed to

800 - 1,000 ISO for slight movement.

1,000 ISO and up, for faster movement in the shade.

For landscape shots;

I like a tripod and set my film speed to 100 ISO. I generally set my aperture between f8 and f14.

For close up stills like flowers;

I still like to hand hold my camera. In the bright sun I can still use 100 ISO with a wide aperture to blur the background.

If at any time you find the widest aperture doesn’t give you the depth of field you require, simply set the aperture up by a couple of stops and reshoot.

One final setting…

to periodically change is “Optimum Image.” This adjusts the brilliance of color in your photographs. For people I use softer color. For colorful objects I use normal. For scenes, low sun, and generally less colorful objects I use extra vivid.

Your camera may use different terminology, but the principle remains.

Now you can simply memorize and use these as your best camera settings or you can read on for the reasons these settings work best. I suggest reading the rest. It will set this information in your mind. You will remember it much easier. See ya on the other side.

Check out this picture!

It’s not here for any particular reason. Just for your enjoyment.

Start by exploring your camera a little.

Find the “Menu” in your camera. If you don’t know where it is, you will have to search, look at your users’ manual, or ask someone.

We will set up my personal best camera settings. This will set the camera for taking shots of both still and moving subjects.

I use these settings because they are the settings that I have found offer me the widest variety of shots while making the fewest adjustments as I am shooting. It allows me to shoot a bird as it stands still, then continue shooting it as it takes flight.

On most cameras there will be more than one pathway to each of the best camera settings. By the time you have gone through this page a couple of times you will be familiar with your camera and ready to quickly change these settings whenever you choose.

I just decided the “Best Camera Settings” discussion will be several pages long. I have lots of content already jotted down and I am just getting started. I will be talking about;

composition of your photographs, shutter speed, aperture, film speed, exposure of your pictures and something called exposure compensation, bracketing & HDRI, flash, and even shooting in full manual mode.

I will also touch on each of the programs your camera has.

Click on any blue words throughout this page to read a more in depth explanation.

I will be talking about how some of these features can interact with each other or at times even do the same job as another. Sounds like a lot but some of the features accomplish virtually the same thing as others for our purposes.

I like to hand hold my camera as much as possible. I don’t like to carry a tripod. Mounted on a tripod I find it hard to pan a subject. Hand holding my camera I got a whole usable series of this one fly-by.

When the settings are right I can hand hold my camera even in less than perfect conditions. And I can get action shots in the shade without the worry of blurring. You will soon be able to decide what your personal best camera settings are. You will know why each of the above features is available for adjustment.

To avoid using a tripod and hand hold a camera in the widest variety of situations I need a fast shutter speed. There are differing ways to achieve this.

It has to do with available, natural lighting. Shutter speed, aperture and film speed all interact with each other according to lighting conditions.

To do this I set my camera to the program known as Aperture Priority.

The program is generally designated by an “A” on your dial. This is what allows me to change my film speed for differing shots throughout the day. Remember that there are three interdependent variables in digital photography.

By setting the camera to aperture priority the camera will automatically set your shutter speed according to the conditions. That leaves only one variable for you to adjust. [Film speed]

You'll do that by monitoring the shutter speed. When in Aperture Priority mode all I have to do is monitor the shutter speed in the window in order to know when I have to change film speed.

Hopefully once you are well acquainted with changing film speed your camera has quick and easy access to it. Search for the shortest route to this feature.

I just make sure the shutter speed stays within certain parameters. When it comes close to one of the predetermined parameters I change my film speed (ISO) accordingly. Follow and watch how it works.

For me the Aperture Priority program allows me to shoot subjects that are stationary as well as those in motion with little or no adjustment to the camera. At the same time I get the best quality picture for both active and still subjects.

Ever try capturing a toddler? HA! Good luck!

Well with my system you’ll be capturing like a pro just about your first time out. When I set the aperture (f-stop) the way I want it, the camera finds and focuses quickly as well as blurring out everything except my subject.

I set my aperture to the smallest number there is. The smallest number means the largest opening. For those who care, I explain aperture here.

At the smallest number you will get the fastest shutter speed therefore the least blur of a moving subject, yet the background will be nicely blurred. This makes your subject stand out in the picture. Plus at this setting it’s a breeze to shoot a still subject.

Next I set my film speed to the slowest possible setting while making sure my shutter speed stays above 1/100th of a second for stationary subjects and 1/300th for moving subjects. I monitor the shutter speed each time I am looking through my viewfinder.

At 1/300th of a second shutter speed I can crisply capture almost anything that I can pan.

I caught this pelican at 1/250th of a second shutter speed. After a while you will automatically watch for 1/100th and 1/300th depending upon whether you’re shooting a still or a moving subject.

Though I caught this pelican at 1/250th; for smaller birds and other quick animals I generally set my film speed high enough so the shutter speed is closer to 1/1,000th of a second or higher. Experience will teach you.

Continue here.