The Best Camera Settings for Landscape Photography


The process of capturing landscape photography is different for everyone and because of that, there are a lot of different ways to approach your shot. This style of photography has exploded in recent years thanks to the convenience of smartphones, the lure of social media, and easily accessed vistas.

It’s the special places that get the most attention, though. The places where you need to get up early in the morning and hike out to your location. The places where leaving behind any part of your kit can spell the end of the session.

Just as important are your camera settings. There are so many options and functions to remember that it can be daunting to navigate in the heat of the moment. Think of landscape photography as being split into two parts, the creative and the technical aspects.

This guide is going to show you the best landscape photography settings and how to easily implement them to get the highest quality landscape photos possible.

Finding a balance between ISO, aperture, and shutter speed is integral to the shooting process. If you’re just here to check out the technical specs for landscape photography, then here is a quick rundown of the ideal camera settings for your shot.

  • Aperture priority mode is great for beginners to get great shots without the aperture being changed on them. Manual mode is the ideal setting for landscape scenes.
  • Your aperture should fall within the “sweet spot” where everything is in focus, and there is no diffraction. This would make your settings fall between f/10 and f/16.
  • Keep your ISO set to the default value. Since you are more than likely using a tripod, this can stay at ISO 100-200
  • Adjust the shutter speed until it is a properly exposed photo. The slower shutter speed might give you an instant of camera shake if not on a tripod. If you are using a tripod, ensure that you set a timer to stop the camera from swaying after you press the shutter.
  • Matrix metering mode is the best for landscape photography as it surveys the entire scene but use the one you are most comfortable with.
  • If you’re shooting sunsets or sunrises, use exposure compensation to tell the camera’s computer that it should adjust its parameters for measuring the light of whatever it’s pointing at.

The Different File Types

A novice landscape photographer may not think about the different file types and their impacts on compression and available information. This directly impacts post-processing capabilities and should be one of the first settings you need to tweak. Luckily, there is a camera setting that can be changed quickly on the fly.

RAW Photos or JPEG?

Everyone knows what a JPEG is, and it’s the default setting on a lot of cameras. But did you know it might not be the best file format for your photos? Sure, JPEGS look great on the camera’s LCD screen or your computer monitor, but what happens when you try to edit them?

JPEGs are the standard file format for photos, and a lot of people use them with no issues. There is nothing wrong with shooting in this format until you get to editing. Compression plays a large role in a JPEG shot as the software will adjust settings and transform the photo into a nice small package, easy to share.

The RAW file format is just as it sounds, raw information directly from the camera sensor. This is why landscape photographers love capturing in RAW. You have access to way more information within the photo as a RAW file than a JPEG. The file sizes are much bigger since there is no compression added to the file, but that’s a small price to pay.

When editing a JPEG, you can only bring back so much detail in things like the highlights or shadows since a lot of it has been deleted to save storage space. A raw file captures all of the information of the shot, and this includes all exposures and editing possibilities.

Speaking of compression, JPEGS aren’t the best option for editing and saving photos multiple times. Every time you open a JPEG and save it again, the compression increases. This might be okay for the first few saves, but over time the compression will become so great that the detail will start to become affected. Detail is the most important aspect of landscape photography, and trying to preserve it starts to become a mission.

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