Best Iso Setting For Night Shots

By | 30/10/2022

Nighttime photography is always fun and heady. But it tin also exist quite challenging, especially since different situations require techniques and settings.

So how do yous photo dark scenes? In this article, we’ll teach y’all the platonic night photography settings for street photography, portraiture, and astrophotography. So let’s get started!

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How to Shoot Street Photography at Night

When shooting street photography at night, you’ll demand to apply bachelor calorie-free sources smartly. If you want to learn more about the ins and outs of nighttime street photography, check out this commodity.

Essential Equipment

Information technology’s always best to continue your equipment minimal for night street photography. In about situations, a camera and a lens are all you lot need. Having too many things to comport will merely slow yous down when you’re chasing people to photograph.

For night photography, stick to fast prime number lenses since they permit in more light than kit lenses. They also do a great job transforming the groundwork into colourful

Since you can’t zoom in with prime lenses, choose two lenses that would let y’all shoot in dissimilar situations. For me, these are 24mm and 85mm. But if yous simply accept enough money for a unmarried lens, a 50mm f/one.viii lens is the best option.

So how do you prepare your camera for night photography? Beneath, we’ll show you the range of settings y’all’ll demand for the perfect street shots at night.

Night street photography
Photo by Justin Hamilton from Pexels

Camera Settings


Ideally, you’d want to stick to ISO 100 to minimize paradigm noise. Only using this value in nighttime photography is incommunicable because it’s not sensitive enough in the nighttime. So use a high ISO between 400-3200 depending on how much light is available. Those values I mentioned should be high enough to let yous shoot in the dark. Merely at the same time depression plenty that that they don’t produce unusable grainy pictures.


Ready your aperture close to its widest setting to let in plenty of light. I advise you to stick between f/two and f/2.viii. Of course, you lot can likewise choose f/1.4 or f/ane.8 if information technology’s so dark. On the other hand, never go higher up f/ii.eight or you wouldn’t have plenty light for night photography at all.

Shutter Speed

For dark photography, feel free to utilize Discontinuity Priority and let your camera choose the all-time shutter speed for you. Just remember never get below 1/60th, or y’all’ll end upward with
move blur.

So what happens if your camera selects a shutter speed slower than 1/60th? So consider changing your aperture or ISO until y’all go dorsum up to 1/60th.

Night scene with a tram
Photograph by Lisa Fotios from Pexels

Get the All-time Dark Time Portraiture Shots

If you’ve washed a lot of street photography at nighttime, then taking nighttime portraits shouldn’t be too hard. The settings you lot’ll need to utilize is mostly going to be the same. The only difference is you now have more control over your subjects and how you want to photograph them.

Essential Equipment

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

The all-time choices you take are
portrait lenses
with focal lengths that range between 80-135mm. These specialized options take minimal distortion and produce flattering pictures of people.

If you don’t have a portrait lens, don’t worry. A regular 50mm will exercise just fine. Since it’due south non a wide-angle lens, it doesn’t create distracting distortions. Furthermore, its maximum aperture between f/ane.2, and f/1.8 is perfect for night time photography.

Although not always necessary for portrait photography, it would as well help if you accept a
with you. It’s smashing for stabilizing your camera to forestall motion blur when using slow shutter speed.

Photographic camera Settings


Like in street photography, you lot can cull a high ISO betwixt 400-1600 depending on how much light you have. It is also of import to know your photographic camera’due south depression calorie-free performance and limitation. If you have a tripod, using a lower value should be fine. Because when your camera is stable, you can work with longer exposures without worrying about motion blur.

Please note that if yous choose to shoot longer exposures, make sure that your model likewise stands even so.


For dark photography, information technology’s best to use an discontinuity size between f/2 to f/2.8. The shallow depth of field these settings produce assistance divide your subject from the background. Not to mention that the bokeh they create makes portraits look more than magical.

Shutter Speed

Use Aperture Priority and allow your camera adjust the shutter speed for you. Just don’t let it go below ane/60th to foreclose blurry results from
camera milkshake. Nonetheless, feel costless to get slower if you have a tripod. Since your device is stable, and so motion blur from your camera won’t be an result. Simply make sure your field of study doesn’t move also even though the photographic camera is yet. Otherwise, they’ll still end up fuzzy if they don’t stay put.

night portrait of a female model

Photographing Stars

Ane of the most popular activities in night photography is taking pictures of the dark sky. Also known as 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. Even taking pictures of the moon requires different methods from taking pictures of the stars.

Since we could easily fill a book regarding this topic, nosotros will focus on photographing stars for this commodity.

Essential Equipment

You can utilize just about any lens for this type of night photography. Y’all can even get-go with a kit lens if you want. But most night photographers prefer broad-angle or even
fisheye lenses
so they can cover a large area of the sky. The most common options vary from 14mm to 35mm.

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

Another slice of equipment you need to add is a
remote control. Since y’all’ll be using slow shutter speeds, even a pocket-sized motility from pressing the shutter tin cause blurry pictures. And so to ensure your equipment remains stable when taking pictures at night, your best selection is to trigger it from remotely. In this way, you can likewise experiment with Seedling mode.

Photographic camera Settings


For this type of dark photography, you lot’ll need to use a high ISO to let you capture the stars. If possible, cull the highest one you can go before distracting image racket becomes besides much. For most cameras, it would exist virtually k to 3200.


Since the stars tend to exist dim, open upwards your discontinuity between f/2 to f/4 to allow in equally much light every bit possible. To have pictures of calorie-free streaks in the night sky, utilize narrower aperture settings betwixt f/eight and f/18. The value you end up choosing depends on the bachelor light in the environs.

Shutter Speed

The settings for taking outset pictures vary a lot, depending on what you desire to achieve. For regular images of the night sky, then a shutter speed between four to ten seconds is plenty. But if you want to capture lite trails, then yous may need anything between xv seconds to several minutes.

There are two ways to photo stars at dark. You tin can either tape them as static elements or equally light trails. Both methods require long exposures. But the visual furnishings will vary depending on the settings you use.

  • Static Stars
    – The perfect shutter speed settings to get a static shot of the night heaven is between one to 10 seconds. If you go beyond that, you lot’ll start seeing star trails which you is bad news if you desire sharp stars.
  • Star Trails
    – You’ll need to set your shutter speed to xx-xxx minutes if you wish to exercise this in ane shot. You will need to use a small aperture to achieve such a long
    exposure. The worst aspect of this approach is that you may end up with besides much low-cal in the foreground. Furthermore, it can too stress your sensor quite a fleck since y’all’re exposing information technology for a long time.

Milky Way and mountains at starry night in autumn.

Technical Tips for Dark Photography

Use the 500 Rule for Dark Photography

The 500 Dominion a simple guideline on how long you should set your shutter speed for nighttime photography. It suggests that if you divide 500 by your effective focal length, you lot get the longest advised speed.

Then let’s say you have a 16mm lens on a full-frame photographic camera (no crop happens). All you accept to practice is divide 500 by 16 and go 31. That ways that you can safely do exposures nether thirty seconds with the lens that y’all take. If you take 50mm, divide it by 500 and y’all get 10 seconds worth of

For your photographic camera has a crop sensor, replace 500 with 300, instead. Since you have a smaller sensor, it only makes sense that you should shave off 200 from the 500 Rule. Although, the principle however remains the aforementioned and you lot tin can apply it on any lens you lot 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 heighten the ISO until nosotros get a well-exposed image. But cameras these days are so skilful that the upshot is going to be the same no matter what ISO value y’all set up.

In other words, setting your camera at ISO 100 is essentially the aforementioned as setting information technology to ISO 800. Of course, the image y’all meet on your screen is going to be dark if yous use ISO 100. But once you brighten it in post, the event is non going to be unlike as compared to an image shot with ISO 800.

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

And so why is ISO invariance essential in night photography? Y’all can at present underexpose your shots and still go beautiful results that don’t suffer from too much image noise. Apart from that, you now take the ability to adjust your
in post without reducing the quality.

Likewise keep in mind that although it’s okay to underexpose, we don’t recommend overexposing your epitome. Fifty-fifty if your photographic camera is ISO invariant, y’all won’t be able to retain the details in post if your motion picture straight from the camera is too bright.

Merely call up that not every photographic camera is ISO invariant. Some newer models yield the same noise levels in both cases, but 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 virtually cases, whatsoever full-frame camera is perfect for such use considering its large sensor tin gather more than low-cal. Not to mention that it also has professional features that regular cameras may non have.

But a crop-sensor camera is as capable as a professional one when information technology comes to night photography. It can do anything you need from autofocus to doing long exposures. But since has a minor sensor, it needs more time to gather light. And in some cases, they also produce more than noise than their full-sensor counterparts. Thankfully, this is a small issue you can easily fix in post.


And so now you lot know your dark photography settings, it’s time to go a night owl and go those night fourth dimension photos! Just remember that what we listed are merely guidelines and non hard rules. As you proceeds more than experience, you’ll see that all your camera adjustments volition vary a lot depending on the situation.

What’southward your favourite type of nighttime photography? Exercise you enjoy photographing the night heaven, as this article details? Mayhap yous enjoy cityscapes, or street photography more than?

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