Common Camera Settings Mistakes for Beginners to Avoid

You’ve bought a fancy new camera, you’re excited to take your photography to the next level, but for some reason the images just aren’t living up to your expectations. Don’t worry, you’re not alone, most beginners go through a phase of repeatedly making the same mistakes over and over again.

But many of them are to do with how they’re actually setting the camera up. Whether it’s to do with a lack of knowledge, being taught with outdated information, or low confidence, it can mean your photos aren’t as good as they should be. If this sounds familiar, check out these common camera settings mistakes to avoid.

Getting Stuck on Auto

If you’ve taken the time to research a brilliant new camera and more than likely spent a good amount of money on it as well, you really want to be using it to its full potential. While the auto setting will often provide decent results, and in some instances it can even be the best option, you get far more control when you dictate the camera settings yourself.

You don’t need to know what absolutely everything does, but it’s important to learn the main functions and to start practicing with them to see how they affect your images. Just a few tweaks in manual mode can take your photography from OK to awesome in an instant, so don’t be afraid to get off auto mode.

Setting the Shutter Speed Too Slow

Shutter speed is one of the main variables that you need to learn how to control as it will drastically affect the quality of your images. If your shutter speed is too slow then the shaking of your hand when you take a picture will be visible in the end product which will look blurry and distorted. Simply notch the shutter speed up until you’re getting a sharper image.

Too Low ISO

ISO is probably the second most important setting to learn how to control, and the basic rules have changed as the quality of digital cameras has improved. Previously it was necessary to use a low ISO setting to cancel out the noise cameras would produce, most modern cameras have now corrected this so you can shoot in higher ISOs and still get a great image.

Not Controlling the Focal Point

If you don’t choose your focal point then you’re leaving it up to the machine to decide, and while they’re clever pieces of kit, it’s not always going to focus on what you want it to. You’ll end up with blurred pictures where the intended subject is out of focus. Because of this it’s important to learn how to use the focus settings on your camera and understand how to take control of it yourself if necessary.

Not Turning Off Image Stabilization When Using a Tripod

A tripod is a worthy investment for any beginner photographer and will instantly help with many aspects of your photography. However, an important point to know is that you need to turn the image stabilization off. Somewhat counterintuitively this setting will actually create instability when your camera is perfectly still, so don’t forget to turn it off and on depending on whether you’re shooting handheld or with a tripod.


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