Best Camera Settings For Night Photography

By | 31/10/2022

Night photography is always fun and exciting. But it can also be quite challenging, especially since different situations require techniques and settings.

So how exercise you photograph dark scenes? In this article, nosotros’ll teach you the platonic night photography settings for street photography, portraiture, and astrophotography. So let’south get started!

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How to Shoot Street Photography at Night

When shooting street photography at night, you lot’ll need to utilise available low-cal sources smartly. If you want to learn more than about the ins and outs of dark street photography, check out this article.

Essential Equipment

It’due south e’er best to go on your equipment minimal for night street photography. In most situations, a camera and a lens are all you need. Having too many things to carry will simply slow you down when you’re chasing people to photograph.

For dark photography, stick to fast prime lenses since they let in more light than kit lenses. They also do a great job transforming the background into colourful

Since you lot tin’t zoom in with prime number lenses, cull ii lenses that would permit y’all shoot in different situations. For me, these are 24mm and 85mm. But if y’all only take plenty money for a single lens, a 50mm f/1.8 lens is the best option.

Then how do yous gear up your camera for night photography? Beneath, we’ll show yous the range of settings you’ll need for the perfect street shots at night.

Night street photography
Photo past Justin Hamilton from Pexels

Camera Settings


Ideally, you’d want to stick to ISO 100 to minimize prototype noise. But using this value in dark photography is incommunicable because it’s non sensitive plenty in the nighttime. So use a high ISO between 400-3200 depending on how much light is available. Those values I mentioned should exist high plenty to let you shoot in the dark. Just at the same fourth dimension low enough that that they don’t produce unusable grainy pictures.


Ready your aperture close to its widest setting to allow in plenty of light. I advise yous to stick betwixt f/2 and f/2.8. Of class, you tin also choose f/1.4 or f/1.8 if it’southward and then nighttime. On the other hand, never go above f/2.viii or you wouldn’t have plenty light for night photography at all.

Shutter Speed

For nighttime photography, feel free to use Aperture Priority and permit your camera choose the best shutter speed for you lot. Merely remember never go below i/60th, or you’ll end up with
motion blur.

So what happens if your photographic camera selects a shutter speed slower than ane/60th? Then consider irresolute your aperture or ISO until y’all become back upwardly to 1/60th.

Night scene with a tram
Photo past Lisa Fotios from Pexels

Get the Best Night Fourth dimension Portraiture Shots

If y’all’ve done a lot of street photography at dark, then taking nighttime portraits shouldn’t be too hard. The settings y’all’ll need to utilize is generally going to be the same. The just deviation is y’all now take more command over your subjects and how yous want to photograph them.

Essential Equipment

Using the proper lenses would help you a lot when it comes to night portrait photography.

The best choices you have are
portrait lenses
with focal lengths that range between eighty-135mm. These specialized options have minimal distortion and produce flattering pictures of people.

If you don’t take a portrait lens, don’t worry. A regular 50mm volition do just fine. Since it’southward non a wide-angle lens, it doesn’t create distracting distortions. Furthermore, its maximum discontinuity between f/1.two, and f/1.eight is perfect for night time photography.

Although not always necessary for portrait photography, it would too help if you have a
with you. Information technology’s great for stabilizing your photographic camera to preclude movement mistiness when using ho-hum shutter speed.

Camera Settings


Like in street photography, you can choose a high ISO between 400-1600 depending on how much light you lot take. It is also of import to know your photographic camera’south low light performance and limitation. If you have a tripod, using a lower value should be fine. Considering when your camera is stable, yous can work with longer exposures without worrying most motion mistiness.

Please note that if you choose to shoot longer exposures, make sure that your model as well stands yet.


For night photography, it’s all-time to utilize an aperture size betwixt f/2 to f/2.8. The shallow depth of field these settings produce help separate your bailiwick from the background. Not to mention that the bokeh they create makes portraits look more than magical.

Shutter Speed

Apply Discontinuity Priority and permit your camera adjust the shutter speed for you. Just don’t allow information technology go below one/60th to prevent blurry results from
camera milkshake. However, experience complimentary to become slower if you have a tripod. Since your device is stable, then motion blur from your camera won’t exist an result. But make certain your subject doesn’t motility as well even though the camera is notwithstanding. Otherwise, they’ll still end upwards fuzzy if they don’t stay put.

night portrait of a female model

Photographing Stars

1 of the most popular activities in night photography is taking pictures of the night sky. Likewise known every bit astrophotography, this speciality genre involves taking pictures of the moon, stars, and other heavenly bodies.

But astrophotography is also one of the most technical genres in photography. Fifty-fifty taking pictures of the moon requires different methods from taking pictures of the stars.

Since we could hands make full a book regarding this topic, we will focus on photographing stars for this article.

Essential Equipment

You can utilize just about any lens for this blazon of nighttime photography. You can even start with a kit lens if you want. Just nearly night photographers adopt broad-angle or even
fisheye lenses
so they tin can cover a large area of the sky. The nigh common options vary from 14mm to 35mm.

Since you’ll need to shoot the night sky for long periods, a
would be necessary. Information technology volition assist a lot if y’all employ a heavy-duty version instead of a plastic one. Since you’ll be shooting outdoors, then you need your equipment to withstand the elements.

Another slice of equipment you demand to add is a
remote control. Since you’ll be using irksome shutter speeds, fifty-fifty a minor move from pressing the shutter tin cause blurry pictures. So to ensure your equipment remains stable when taking pictures at night, your best pick is to trigger information technology from remotely. In this way, you can likewise experiment with Bulb way.

Photographic camera Settings


For this type of nighttime photography, you’ll need to use a high ISO to let you lot capture the stars. If possible, choose the highest one you tin can become before distracting image racket becomes too much. For virtually cameras, it would be about 1000 to 3200.


Since the stars tend to be dim, open up your aperture betwixt f/2 to f/four to permit in equally much light as possible. To have pictures of calorie-free streaks in the night sky, use narrower aperture settings betwixt f/8 and f/18. The value you end upwards choosing depends on the available light in the surround.

Shutter Speed

The settings for taking start pictures vary a lot, depending on what you want to attain. For regular images of the night sky, then a shutter speed betwixt 4 to 10 seconds is enough. Merely if you desire to capture light trails, then you lot may need anything betwixt xv seconds to several minutes.

There are ii ways to photograph stars at night. Y’all can either record them as static elements or as light trails. Both methods require long exposures. But the visual effects will vary depending on the settings you utilise.

  • Static Stars
    – The perfect shutter speed settings to get a static shot of the nighttime sky is between i to 10 seconds. If you lot go beyond that, you’ll showtime seeing star trails which you lot is bad news if you want precipitous stars.
  • Star Trails
    – Y’all’ll need to set your shutter speed to 20-30 minutes if you wish to do this in one shot. You will demand to use a small aperture to accomplish such a long
    exposure. The worst aspect of this approach is that you may end upwards with too much light in the foreground. Furthermore, information technology can also stress your sensor quite a flake since yous’re exposing it for a long time.

Milky Way and mountains at starry night in autumn.

Technical Tips for Night Photography

Employ the 500 Rule for Night Photography

The 500 Rule a simple guideline on how long yous should set your shutter speed for night photography. It suggests that if you divide 500 by your effective focal length, y’all go the longest advised speed.

So let’s say you have a 16mm lens on a total-frame camera (no crop happens). All y’all have to do is divide 500 by sixteen and get 31. That means that y’all tin safely practice exposures under 30 seconds with the lens that you have. If you lot have 50mm, divide it by 500 and you go 10 seconds worth of

For your photographic camera has a ingather sensor, replace 500 with 300, instead. Since you take a smaller sensor, it merely makes sense that you should shave off 200 from the 500 Rule. Although, the principle still remains the same and you can utilise it on any lens you use.

Set Your ISO Invariance to Reduce Noice

Nailing your
is paramount when it comes to night photography. So understanding ISO invariance is going to be crucial.

So what is ISO invariance, exactly?

When learning photography, we’ve all been taught to raise the ISO until we go a well-exposed epitome. But cameras these days are so good that the result is going to exist the same no affair what ISO value y’all set.

In other words, setting your camera at ISO 100 is essentially the same as setting it to ISO 800. Of course, the image yous meet on your screen is going to be night if you utilise ISO 100. Simply once you lot brighten it in post, the consequence is not going to be unlike as compared to an epitome shot with ISO 800.

This is what happens with my Sony A7RII. I get much less dissonance at ISO 3200 than if I were to shoot the image at ISO 800 and brighten it up by ii stops during editing (other parameters fixed).

So why is ISO invariance essential in night photography? You can at present underexpose your shots and nevertheless get beautiful results that don’t suffer from too much image noise. Autonomously from that, you now have the power to adjust your
in mail without reducing the quality.

Also keep in listen that although it’south okay to underexpose, nosotros don’t recommend overexposing your paradigm. Even if your camera is ISO invariant, you won’t be able to retain the details in postal service if your picture straight from the camera is too vivid.

Just remember that not every photographic camera is ISO invariant. Some newer models yield the same noise levels in both cases, simply with more highlight detail in the ISO 800 shot. Make sure to double-check whether your photographic camera features an ISO invariant sensor.

A camera on a tripod at night

Which Camera is Best for Night Photography?

In most cases, any full-frame camera is perfect for such utilize because its big sensor can gather more than calorie-free. Not to mention that it also has professional features that regular cameras may non have.

Just a ingather-sensor camera is as capable as a professional ane when it comes to night photography. It can do annihilation you lot need from autofocus to doing long exposures. Only since has a pocket-sized sensor, information technology needs more fourth dimension to gather light. And in some cases, they also produce more dissonance than their full-sensor counterparts. Thankfully, this is a pocket-size issue yous tin can easily fix in mail service.


Then now yous know your night photography settings, it’s time to go a night owl and go those nighttime time photos! Just call up that what we listed are merely guidelines and not hard rules. As you proceeds more experience, yous’ll see that all your camera adjustments will vary a lot depending on the situation.

What’s your favourite type of night photography? Practice you enjoy photographing the dark sky, as this article details? Perhaps yous enjoy cityscapes, or street photography more?

As always, we’d dear for you to share your work with others in the comments section, together with any techniques you use for your work.