Best Camera Settings For Landscape

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It is crucial to fix your photographic camera properly if you desire to take the highest quality landscape photos. Notwithstanding, with the large range of menu options and settings found in cameras today, information technology isn’t piece of cake to observe the optimal setup. This article covers the all-time camera settings to apply for landscape photography, including many options that are “set it and forget it” parts of the carte du jour that you rarely will demand to adjust. Go along in mind that all of these are personal recommendations rather than absolute necessities, but they volition be useful if you are trying to figure out where to start with your ain camera in the field.

Before you read the detailed data later in this article, take a wait below. This list outlines our recommended settings for landscape photography:

  • Shoot RAW
    • Set to 14-bit lossless compressed (if bachelor)
  • Turn off high ISO noise reduction
  • Plough off lens corrections
  • Turn off Active D-Lighting (or Dynamic Range Optimizer – goes by other names)
  • Autofocus: Adequate to use in expert atmospheric condition
    • Autofocus using the AF-ON button (or assign a button to that task)
    • Select the autofocus point yourself
    • Use single-servo autofocus in live view for nonmoving scenes
    • Use continuous-servo autofocus for moving subjects (via the optical viewfinder if yous have a DSLR)
  • Manual focus: Apply if autofocus is not giving you a precipitous outcome
    • Focus manually at 100% magnification in live view, with a tripod
  • Picture show Control: Prepare to its default style, or to the everyman possible contrast if you lot are a histogram maniac (though beware of underexposing)
  • White rest and tint: Utilize whatever gives you lot a good preview (often only Automobile), or find your camera’south UniWB if, once more, you lot are a histogram maniac
  • Turn on long exposure racket reduction, assuming that you are willing to wait twice as long for your camera to capture long exposure photos in substitution for fewer hot pixels
  • Enable blinkies and the histogram
  • Disable “rotate tall”
  • Enable one-click zoom when y’all review a photo (if available)

Recommended exposure settings for mural photography:

  • Use manual or discontinuity-priority mode so that your camera doesn’t adjust the aperture automatically
  • Set your aperture to balance depth of field and diffraction – typically, at a total-frame equivalent of f/eight to f/16 (merely a larger aperture for nighttime photography, when you take no other choice)
  • Keep your ISO at its base value. In most cases, turn off auto ISO
  • Fix your shutter speed to requite yous a properly exposed photo
  • If your chosen shutter speed introduces also much motility blur, you’ll need to heighten your ISO in order to employ a faster shutter speed
  • Utilize whatsoever metering mode you’re well-nigh comfortable with
  • Suit exposure bounty if your meter is recommending exposures that are too brilliant or too dark

The residual of the article covers all these options in more item, including cases when y’all may desire to use different settings than the ones outlined to a higher place.

Canon EOS 80D + EF-S18-55mm f/four-v.6 IS STM @ 21mm, ISO 100, one/250, f/9.0

Table of Contents

Detailed Video Tutorial

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1) File Type

First upwardly is file blazon – one of the nearly of import decisions you accept to make while setting your camera. Here, the tradeoff is simple: Files with more detail also have up more space. For virtually landscape photographers, that’s a worthwhile tradeoff. Storage is cheap, and mural photographers typically do not accept an enormous volume of photos.

1.i) RAW vs JPEG

Get-go off, for landscape photography, information technology is preferable to shoot RAW. Information technology merely gives you the best possible image quality. When y’all shoot JPEG, you irreversibly damage the technical quality of every single photo you take, throwing away a significant amount of information which is a major why JPEG files have up less infinite to begin with). For a consummate discussion on this issue – though, ane that comes to the aforementioned conclusion – cheque our full RAW vs JPEG article.

1.2) RAW Compression

After deciding to shoot RAW files, you however have a couple other settings to optimize. The first is simply the compression level of your RAW photo. Here, cameras offer up to 3 options: uncompressed, losslessly compressed, and lossy compressed. Compressed files will be smaller, merely lossy compression throws away some of the data y’all capture.

Are the differences noticeable in your photos? It depends upon your situation and the degree of post-processing you do. However, about landscape photographers will shoot losslessly compressed RAW files (bold the photographic camera allows it) or uncompressed (if the camera doesn’t accept a lossless compression choice). A large role of this is just psychological – knowing that you’re not sacrificing on image quality – because the differences will not be credible to most photographers nether normal weather.

i.3) Scrap Depth

Last is bit depth — an option, again, that you lot won’t notice on every photographic camera out at that place. All the same, if yours does let yous select between different bit depths, you will get the best image quality if you pick the highest setting available. For example, many Nikon cameras let you option between 12-bit and 14-chip RAW images, with fourteen-chip having more than information. Though, again, the bodily differences are smaller than you may recall.

Greeter Falls
NIKON D7000 + 24mm f/1.4 @ 24mm, ISO 100, 1 2nd, f/eleven.0

ii) Focusing

Focusing is a circuitous topic, but landscape photographers have it pretty easy. Although you may terminate up photographing some fast-moving scenes, such as ocean waves, the vast majority of landscapes you will encounter are stationary. That helps quite a bit. Still, you need to pay attention to your focusing settings if you lot want the optimal results. We have a complete article on focusing in landscape photography, but the data below should help besides:

two.ane) Manual or Autofocus?

Y’all tin use either manual focus or autofocus for mural photography and get good results. A lot of this is upwardly to the personal preference of the photographer. If you don’t know where to start, our recommendation is to use autofocus unless it is starting to be inaccurate for your particular state of affairs (for example, if it gets also dark outside).

If you lot practise choose to focus manually, you lot should apply a tripod and look at your LCD screen (live view or electronic viewfinder) at 100% magnification. Unless you lot have had a lot of exercise with manual focus, you shouldn’t utilize a DSLR’s optical viewfinder for precision manual focus piece of work.

Equally far equally autofocus, you have more flexibility. Alive view, optical viewfinders, and electronic viewfinders all piece of work well for autofocus, and each has its own list of pros and cons. If you accept fourth dimension and bombardment life to spare, it typically is preferable to use alive view (or an electronic viewfinder) to autofocus. It simply tends to be a bit more accurate on stationary subjects, though slower. However, the accuracy differences tend to be small.

2.2) Assigning the Autofocus Button

By default, if you’re using autofocus, near cameras beginning to focus when you one-half-press the shutter release push button. Even so, that is a flawed system.

The primary outcome is that this setup leaves you lot with a camera that tries to refocus every time you accept a photo. Yous will need to plough off autofocus frequently on your lens in order to maintain the same focus over a period of time. Especially for landscape photography from a tripod, that tin be quite frustrating! Once yous pinpoint perfect focus point for a non-moving scene, yous probably desire to keep it there from shot to shot.

The prepare is like shooting fish in a barrel. Simply disable autofocus from the shutter release, and use a completely separate button to focus. On some cameras, this is the “AF-ON” button. If your photographic camera doesn’t have information technology, don’t worry; you’ll almost always exist able to program a custom push to do the exact same matter. (On Nikon, this typically involves assigning the AE-L/AF-L button, for example.)

AF-On D810

two.3) Unmarried-Servo or Continuous-Servo?

For landscape photography, you’ll typically be dealing with stationary subjects. So, y’all probably don’t want your autofocus system to focus constantly, adjusting itself moment-to-moment (as would be useful for something like sports photography). Instead, it typically is ideal to lock onto your subject accurately the get-go time, then stay unmoved.

For that reason, use single-servo focus for mural photography by default. There is no benefit to a focusing organization that might jitter unexpectedly as you focus on something that’s staying all the same.

However, be enlightened that some cameras volition not permit you have a photo in unmarried-servo fashion unless they think you’ve successfully nailed focus. The problem is that cameras are ofttimes wrong about whether or non you’ve nailed focus. So, unless you lot can disable this selection (which – it’due south important to notation – about cameras allow you to practice), you might stop upwards shooting in continuous servo way past necessity.

It is worth mentioning that some cameras take an “auto” option that judges whether the scene is stationary or moving, and it picks betwixt unmarried-servo or continuous-servo accordingly. This feature tends to be pretty accurate, just landscapes are usually stationary regardless, and so there isn’t much reason to set up this rather than just single-servo.

2.iv) Focus Point Selection

Nigh all cameras on the market accept a built-in option to predict your subject, then focus on information technology (what you lot might call “auto-autofocus”). Information technology is not e’er authentic – nor even
almost always accurate – and you should avoid it.  Instead, pick your autofocus point for yourself. This applies whether y’all’re focusing through a viewfinder or via live view; don’t leave leave such an important decision to your camera.

If you are using unmarried-servo autofocus, you only have the two options: selecting your focus point yourself, or letting your camera effort to guess your field of study.

If you are using continuous-servo autofocus, depending upon your camera, there may be many additional focus point selection settings bachelor – too many to comprehend individually in this article (things like 3D tracking, dynamic area autofocus, and and so on). Check out our article on autofocus modes if yous want to learn more.

NIKON D800E + xiv-24mm f/ii.8 @ 24mm, ISO 100, 1/100, f/x.0

3) Color, Contrast, Sharpness, and Dissonance

Your camera has enough of color and contrast settings that you can adapt. The good news is that most of them don’t affect your terminal photo if you shoot RAW. However, some may withal have a tangential consequence on your images, which makes them important to cover.

iii.1) White Residue and Tint

With RAW files, yous can set your white balance and tint however you desire, and you lot can accommodate them dorsum easily in postal service-processing. In other words, don’t worry about shooting at the “wrong” white balance or tint in the field.

Yet, these settings still affect the preview when yous review an image in the field. They as well show up as the default values when you load the photograph onto your computer. For this reason, you may want to pick the Auto setting if y’all want the photos to look normal when you review them, or a constant white residuum setting if you want to observe changes in the light.

Side Annotation:

One advanced technique involves setting your camera to something called “unity white residual” or “UniWB” past adjusting white balance and tint to a specific point where the issue appears quite greenish. You tin can find tutorials online on how to gear up UniWB for your item camera. The benefit here is that your in-camera histogram will match your bodily, RAW histogram more closely. However, if you lot do this, your photos will appear far as well green when yous review them in the field (unless you utilise a magenta color filter on your lens to compensate).

3.ii) Picture show Manner Settings

This camera setting is known by many names: movie styles, creative styles, picture controls, and simulations, amid others. On all cameras, though, the options within this setting affect the general “await” of an image, from contrast to sharpening. Some mutual film styles yous may notice on your camera are “standard,” “faithful,” “portrait,” “mural,” “apartment,” “neutral,” and then on. Other cameras may accept simulations that effort to replicate the look of a particular type of picture.

This setting has absolutely naught effect on a RAW photo. However, one time again, it does affect the manner a photograph appears when you review it in-photographic camera. That makes it important to ready correctly.

1 schoolhouse of thought says to leave everything at the flattest possible settings: depression contrast, low saturation, low sharpening, and neutral way. This will give you the most accurate histogram, merely the photograph you review can await quite dull (and, if you’re not careful, y’all’ll cease up underexposing many of your photos, since the lack of contrast can fool y’all into thinking that a dark image is the proper brightness).

Another school of idea says to use this preview to mimic, to as much of a degree as you can, the way your final, edited photo volition announced. This makes it easier to visualize your concluding outcome in the field, although yous will sacrifice some accuracy in the histogram. Virtually photographers choose this route, or something shut to it. However, neither approach is incorrect; but do any works best for you.

3.3) Active D-Lighting, or Dynamic Range Optimizer

Most cameras have a separate style to give your photos the appearance of a greater dynamic range. Its proper noun varies from camera to photographic camera, just it is usually called something similar Active D-Lighting or Dynamic Range Optimizer.

Turn this setting off. That is very important.

Unlike white rest, tint, and picture controls, this setting
affects the way your camera meters a scene, at least with certain camera brands. Turned on, especially at a strong value, your camera may underexpose your photo up to a total end beyond what you would want. That is not ideal, whether for mural photography or any other genre, so you should exit it off.

3.4) Other Settings that Don’t Affect RAW Photos

In that location is no need to go into too much detail for every setting that just affects JPEG photos. Withal, there are a few others.

High ISO noise reduction makes no divergence to a RAW photo. The same is true for in-camera lens corrections, such every bit distortion and vignetting profiles.

That also applies to your selection between sRGB and Adobe RGB. Despite what you may hear, this setting merely affects the colors in your photo
when you’re shooting JPEG. It has no touch on on your RAW photos at all, except, once again, on the image you lot review in-camera. Since Adobe RGB has more full colors, I ready it past default, but the but reason I do then is to potentially improve my histogram the slightest fleck. The difference hither is negligible.

3.5) Long Exposure Dissonance Reduction

Adjacent up is long exposure noise reduction, and, surprisingly, this one
affect your RAW photos.

When you lot shoot long exposures, you volition see more racket, in your images, and you also may notice more hot pixels. Long exposure dissonance reduction helps eliminate hot pixels and reduce racket to a degree. It works by taking two photos in succession – 1 normal, and i with your shutter closed – and subtracting the dark (racket-only) photograph from the regular i. The benegit is a reduction in noise and hot pixels when your shutter speed is specially long.

Considering long exposure dissonance reduction takes ii photos in succession, it requires twice every bit long to capture every photo. If you have some time to spare, you might every bit well enable this option. On most cameras, the long exposure noise reduction does non actuate unless your exposure is longer than one second.

Ocean landscape
NIKON D7000 + 17-55mm f/ii.eight @ 17mm, ISO 160, xxx seconds, f/8.0

Your camera’s playback (review) option is a valuable tool, and in that location are a few ways to optimize it and make your life as like shooting fish in a barrel as possible. None of these settings directly affect the actual RAW data you capture, merely they will better your power to guess an prototype when you review it in the field.

4.1) Blinkies and Histogram

If your photographic camera doesn’t practise so past default, I recommend enabling the “blinkies” in your review menu (called “highlights” on some cameras). With this characteristic turned on, overexposed areas in a photograph will wink black and white to betoken that y’all have lost some detail. It is, essentially, a version of the histogram that is easier to visualize (although does non convey as much information; enable your histogram equally well).

4.2) Rotate Alpine

One frustrating selection that well-nigh cameras accept enabled by default is the “rotate alpine” setting. Here, every time you take a vertical photo, the camera automatically rotates the image when you review it. That looks something like this:

Rotate Tall 1

In theory, this may seem like a good thought. It lets you lot keep your camera horizontal and bike through photos more quickly without rotating the photographic camera in order to review vertical images. However, in practice, it is frustrating and wearisome to use.

The reason? If you have your camera on a tripod, and you’re taking a number of vertical photos, they’ll all flip anyhow. When you review your photos, they’ll look like this:

Rotate Tall 2

That is not ideal. On most cameras, the prototype doesn’t automatically turn to the proper management. If you are taking a series of vertical photos (say, on a tripod), yous would demand to twist your head sideways to view the images properly. Instead, it is better simply to disable the “rotate alpine” selection. Although this might seem like a small thing, it is worth changing if you have not done and then already.

4.three) One-Click Zoom

When you review your photos in the field, you often will want to magnify them to inspect the pixel-level sharpness of the photo. Some cameras brand this much quicker by offer a “ane-click zoom” choice. If yours has it, this is a fast way to evaluate photos that you lot just captured, speeding up your workflow in the field.

Bisti Badlands
Catechism EOS 80D + EF-S18-55mm f/4-5.half-dozen IS STM @ 18mm, ISO 100, 1/50, f/9.0

5) Exposure and Exposure-Related Settings

Arguably the most important settings on your photographic camera are the ones related to exposure, and the brightness of your final epitome. This includes the obvious – shutter speed, aperture, and ISO – as well as things like metering and exposure compensation. While nearly of the settings covered then far are “set information technology and forget information technology” in nature, some exposure settings need to be adapted constantly.

Side Note:

If you’re non still familiar with aperture, shutter speed, or ISO, you may wish to read our introduction to exposure before anything else.

5.1) Aperture

Aperture is the virtually important setting in all of landscape photography, since information technology affects so many different parts of an image, including exposure and depth of field.

For landscape photography, nigh probable, your goal will be to go as much depth of field as possible, while too losing the least amount of detail due to diffraction. That’south a tricky balancing act, merely the typical result is that you’ll use an f-finish of around f/eight to f/16 (full frame equivalent) for most landscapes, at least during the day. At night, you’ll probably demand to use wider apertures just to let in enough light, even using a tripod.

At that place
a mathematically precise style to balance depth of field and diffraction, every bit we have covered earlier. Merely this is a relatively avant-garde technique, and not one that beginners need to worry about but yet.

The bottom line is that your discontinuity will vary from landscape to mural. If you need a lot of depth of field, apply a smaller aperture like f/11 or f/16. If yous are trying to capture every last bit of low-cal for nighttime photography, you may want to employ your lens’s largest discontinuity – something like f/1.viii or f/ii.eight.

five.2) Shutter Speed

Along with aperture, the other camera setting that affects how much light y’all capture is shutter speed. This is just the corporeality of time that your camera sensor is exposed to the globe when y’all take a picture. Information technology is a big deal for every type of photography, not but landscapes.

Virtually of the time, it is preferable to cull your shutter speed
selecting your discontinuity, as, essentially, a way to compensate for whatever f-stop yous are at. That’s because shutter speed does not bear upon nearly as many variables in a photo as aperture does. With a tripod, it commonly does not matter whether yous are at 1/4000 2d exposure or 4 seconds, so long as the photo’due south exposure looks good.

The one exception is if your mural has a significant amount of motility in information technology, and you are worried nigh motion mistiness harming your image. In that case, y’all might be restricted to a sure range of shutter speeds in lodge to capture a sharp photograph, resulting in a photo that is too dark. In that case, you will need to brighten your photograph some other manner. That is where ISO comes in.

5.3) ISO

After you’ve reached your aperture and shutter speed limits, the nigh obvious way to burnish a photograph is to raise your ISO.

ISO is non a role of your luminous exposure, since it doesn’t impact the amount of lite that reaches the camera sensor. But it does affect the brightness of your final photo – a like result to brightening the photo later in post-processing (though typically with better quality).

So, what ISO should y’all use? Ideally, you should use your camera’southward base ISO and capture more low-cal via shutter speed. If that doesn’t piece of work, though – such as with nighttime landscape photography – you may need to raise your ISO in club to capture a bright enough photograph.

5.4) Metering

The manner your camera measures the brightness of a scene (and then recommends various exposure settings) is through a process called

You can modify the way that your meter evaluates a scene by irresolute your “metering mode.” The most common modes are evaluative/matrix, center-weighted, and spot metering. Broadly speaking, each of these options simply focuses on a smaller and more consistent area of your scene when deciding on a meter reading.

Everyone has different preferences for their metering system. Personally, I tend to exit mine in evaluative/matrix metering mode, since it considers the greatest amount of information before providing the reading. However, other photographers prefer center-weighted for its actress consistency (which makes it easier to predict). In that location besides are enough of photographers who employ spot metering, since it is the most precise style to meter off of an individual element of your paradigm – ideal when you know exactly how brilliant you want a certain part of the photo to be.

Most of the time, yous volition stop upwardly using the aforementioned metering mode from photo to photograph, simply the i you selection depends heavily on your personal preferences. All of them can work equally well.

5.5) Exposure Compensation

Exposure compensation is simply a style to tell your meter that its reading of the scene is resulting in too dark or likewise bright of an photograph. So, if you dial in +2.0 exposure compensation, you will modify every meter reading to suggest an exposure that is ii stops brighter than information technology would otherwise recommend.

This is very useful for landscape photography. Say that you are photographing a dusk, and your photographic camera consistently tries to overexpose the scene (bravado out detail in your highlights). All you need to exercise is dial in a negative exposure compensation – something like -0.vii stops – and your new meter reading will suggest a more accurate exposure.

NIKON D800E + 20mm f/1.8 @ 20mm, ISO 100, 2 seconds, f/16.0

half dozen) Camera Modes

Depending upon which settings you want the camera to automate – particualrly shutter speed, aperture, and ISO – you will need to switch betwixt different photographic camera modes (often via a mode dial on the height console of your camera). For example, rather than picking your exposure settings manually, you lot can allow your photographic camera to cull them for you. Merely should you? That is a trickier question.

6.1) The PASM Dial Options

To pick which settings are automated, and which y’all control manually, expect for the “PASM” settings on your camera (once again, oftentimes on the mode dial on the peak of your camera). Specifically, this stands for Program mode, Discontinuity-priority, Shutter-priority, and Manual. This setting determines whether your camera automatically sets your discontinuity, shutter speed, both, or neither.

Once again, perhaps the virtually important setting in photography is your aperture. In nearly every state of affairs, y’all will care quite a flake about the specific aperture that yous use for a photo, and you certainly don’t want your photographic camera automatically adjusting it as the low-cal changes.

For that reason, I recommend shooting in a way where the camera never takes control of your aperture – either manual manner or aperture-priority. The adjacent question, then, is if you lot’re fine with a photographic camera that automatically controls your shutter speed to match the meter.

Some people are, and some people aren’t. Personally, I generally don’t accept a problem with my camera controlling my shutter speed, so long every bit the outcome is no different from how I would fix things manually. (Notation that you can utilise exposure compensation to correct a photo that is too bright or night, too.) If aperture-priority mode is quicker than transmission, yet gives the same result, why not use it?

Manual mode still has many uses, though. For instance, don’t use aperture priority if your camera meter is wildly inaccurate or inconsistent, such as for dark photography. Also, if you need the exact same exposure for several photos in a row, manual fashion is a good way to continue things locked downward.

Ultimately, though, this is a personal preference. Some photographers only shoot in manual mode, while others adopt aperture-priority every bit often every bit possible. Either way, the end result – at least for advanced photography – is that you don’t want your photographic camera to throw any surprises your manner. That is why  it is best to avert total auto way and learn how to operate your camera semi-manually or manually.

half-dozen.2) Machine ISO

In every PASM shooting mode, including manual, you will exist able to set your ISO to exist manual or automatic. For tripod=based landscape photography, manual ISO (set to its base value) usually works. Although Automobile ISO can be extremely useful, it is mainly for genres similar sports and wildlife photography where you are at college ISO values already.

Vik Beach Iceland
NIKON D800E + 50mm f/one.iv @ 50mm, ISO 100, 1 2d, f/16.0


If information technology is not clear by now, in that location are a huge number of photographic camera settings and carte du jour options available. The better you sympathize them, the easier it is to turn your vision into reality while taking landscape pictures in the field.

Of course, the nature of photography is that none of these suggestions will apply all the time, in every single case. There is a reason why cameras offer and so many different options. Even settings like one-click zoom – which I recommend that you go along turned on past default – can be disabled, since some photographers simply don’t similar it or demand it.

You as well will find many other ways to customize your particular camera to your shooting style. You can programme individual buttons to put useful features at your fingertips, and even create custom menus to group together the settings you access almost frequently. All of this changes so drastically from photographer to photographer (and camera to camera) that it is non possible to provide totally universal suggestions, only you should know that the options are almost limitless.

The of import indicate is to modify your settings for a reason and understand the adjustments you make. When your camera settings are optimal, you will see a straight improvement in the quality of landscape pictures you take, besides as the speed of using your photographic camera in the field. That, certainly, is something worth getting right.

If you lot accept any questions about our recommended settings for landscape photography, including menu options that are non covered higher up, please feel gratuitous to enquire a question below.