Best Portrait Settings For Canon T6i

By | 17/10/2022

In this article, I’yard going to give you x tips and camera settings for portraits. These are only starting points to help yous become going. So use them, but test and experiment and refine them each time you do a photo shoot or motility to a new location.

Keep in mind, these apply to the situation where you are in control of the lighting and it is constant (not changing) and the camera and subject are both stationary (not moving). I volition comprehend the reverse situation (where everything is irresolute and moving) in a future article.

Here is a summary of what you’ll acquire.

10 Camera Settings and Equipment Tips for Portrait Photography
Camera settings and tips for portraits.

Camera Settings and equipment to utilise for portraits:

  1. Lens – to flatter your discipline employ a brusque telephoto lens.
  2. Tripod – use 1 when you and the subject area aren’t moving.
  3. Remote trigger or cablevision release- apply one!
  4. Shoot in Manual way.
  5. ISO – low like 100-400 if possible, higher if a faster shutter speed is needed.
  6. Focus fashion – autofocus, set information technology to a single point and employ dorsum push focus.
  7. Drive manner – unmarried shot.
  8. Aperture – between f/2 and f/4 for a unmarried subject (get the background out of focus) or f/5.6-f/eight for groups.
  9. Shutter speed – at least ane/200th handheld, or one/15th on a tripod (faster if you’re photographing kids).
  10. White balance – choose the appropriate preset for the lighting conditions or exercise a custom balance.

Let’s wait at each 1 in more particular.

#ane – Which lens to use

I covered this topic in some depth in this article, How to Choose the Right Lens, so I won’t go into a lot of detail hither. Head over there and read that for more info.

10 Camera Settings and Equipment Tips for Portrait Photography
17mm lens – the subject’s caput is an odd shape, distorted.

10 Camera Settings and Equipment Tips for Portrait Photography
70mm lens – discover how less of the groundwork scene is visible now and her face up is a shaped ordinarily.

The curt reply here is that if you want to flatter your subject, use a short telephoto lens. Something similar an 85-100mm is a expert choice. If you’re using a full frame camera try a 135-150mm lens.

What a telephoto lens will do is help y’all compress the perspective, throw the groundwork more out of focus if that’s desired, and not distort the subject field’south face up. Using a wide-angle lens isn’t necessarily bad, but it will misconstrue your subject and make their face look oddly proportioned and misshapen. Non usually something you want.

If you are doing more of an environmental portrait, a total-length pose, or shooting a grouping photo, then use of a slight broad-angle to a normal lens may be a good choice.

10 Camera Settings and Equipment Tips for Portrait Photography
27mm lens (on a full frame camera), ISO 400, f/5.0, f/30th. The slight wide-bending lens immune me to get in more of his environment.

10 Camera Settings and Equipment Tips for Portrait Photography
105mm lens, ISO 800, f/4, 1/200th. use of the longer telephoto lens hither shows less of the background and makes it more nearly his face.

#two – Apply a tripod

When I tell my students this in the classroom I often become met with a lot of resistance to using a tripod.

Many photographers experience it limits their creativity, and is cumbersome and just patently abrasive. If that rings true for y’all as well – I volition tell you two reasons why I recommend this, and you can decide.

First, using a tripod forces yous to deadening down.

This is a practiced thing!

Take time to cheque all your settings, analyze the low-cal, and do a examination shot. Trust me on this – you will go improve results when you slow down and recall, before pressing the button.

Secondly, you tin become out from behind the camera and be eye-to-eye with the subject.

If you lot desire to become the best expressions and build a rapport with the person you’re photographing – it’due south pretty darn hard to practise that when they can’t await you in the eye.

10 Camera Settings and Equipment Tips for Portrait Photography
Use a tripod for better eye contact and rapport with your model or discipline.

Effort this – go a willing model to pose for you and take a few photos with the camera up to your face. And so put it on a tripod and as you’re shooting, chat with them. Engage them in chat, and take a few more shots. Encounter which images are better, where are the best expressions? Only more chiefly, ask your model which was the amend feel for them? How was it different?

Remember to turn off your Epitome Stabilization (or Vibration Reduction) when you use a tripod. It tin can actually introduce more camera milkshake when the photographic camera is solidly mounted on a tripod.

#iii – Use a remote trigger

Calculation in a remote trigger or release will help you become sharper images past avoiding any camera shake when you button the push.

This one merely goes along with #two above. Once you lot’re set upward on a tripod you tin as well use a slower shutter speed (assuming you are photographing a grown-up person).

AND you can become even further out of hiding backside the photographic camera. This is super important when photographing kids.

10 Camera Settings and Equipment Tips for Portrait Photography
Kids volition respond better to seeing your face, than looking into a lens.

#4 – Shoot in Transmission Manner

What camera mode to shoot in is your adjacent large conclusion to make.

I tin can tell you what modes I utilize for dissimilar situations. It’south pretty unproblematic really – just follow these guidelines:

  • If your photographic camera is on a tripod, shoot in Transmission Manner.
  • When you’re shooting handheld, shoot in Aperture Priority.

I would say I follow that near 95% of the time.

So using a tripod besides includes things like shooting HDR bracketed shots, night photography, and whatsoever long exposures.

For most casual shooting walking effectually like street photography and travel – I shoot in Discontinuity Priority. The merely exception I can think of is when I want to do panning. Then I switch to Shutter Priority.

Okay now that y’all’re in Transmission Fashion, I’ll tell yous why I recommend this. As I already mentioned above, using a tripod forces you to dull down. Well so does shooting in Manual Mode, in a fashion, so they piece of work well together.

But the other thing shooting in Transmission does is it allows you to choose all your settings and they will not change – even if the lighting or other factors change around y’all.

That besides ways you lot will have really consistent exposures from one frame to the next.

10 Camera Settings and Equipment Tips for Portrait Photography
This set up of images is right out of the camera – NO processing has been done here. Discover the exposure and color tone consistency. This is Miriam. I was taking her portrait in Viñales, Cuba in front of her house. I didn’t want to take besides much of her fourth dimension but she suggested this porch as some other shooting location so we did a serial of shots there. This is how she saw them on the photographic camera. The post-obit twelvemonth I returned, visited her dwelling house and took her some prints!

If y’all are working with a portrait subject area
(whether it be a model, paid customer, or a friend)
it makes you look way meliorate.

As you bear witness them the images on your LCD screen the exposures aren’t all over the place. Y’all will await way more professional, fifty-fifty if you don’t feel like it.

But the other side do good of this is that the discipline will have more confidence in you and your abilities.

They will trust you more.

That could also hateful they are more willing to piece of work with you on dissimilar poses or ideas, and open up and requite yous some great expressions.

This may seem like a little thing, but having your subject’s trust is huge!

10 Camera Settings and Equipment Tips for Portrait Photography
This is 1 of my favorite images from the set. I applied processing to this i, and then synced (copy and paste works too) them all in Lightroom within a couple minutes.

#5 – ISO

For portraits, you lot want the highest image quality possible.

Then for the ISO set it as depression as yous can to avert backlog noise in your photos.

Go for somewhere between ISO 100 and 400.

But having said that, y’all also need to maintain a usable shutter speed.

If your paradigm is blurry due to either subject or camera movement it’s irrelevant how noise-free it is.

I suggest you outset at ISO 400 and adjust as necessary. Pregnant, if you lot’re shooting in the shade, low lite, or indoors using window low-cal you’ll likely need to increase that. Don’t exist afraid to use ISO 800 or fifty-fifty 1600 if you need to. But remember you can likewise open up your aperture if the light is low.

10 Camera Settings and Equipment Tips for Portrait Photography
This was shot indoors in depression light at ISO 1600, f/four at 1/200th. I was using the 24-105mm f/4 lens so could not open any wider so the higher ISO was used to get a faster shutter speed.

It’due south a dance yous need to do to find the correct balance of the three exposure triangle settings (ISO, aperture and shutter speed). Accommodate one, and you’ll have to compensate by adjusting ane of the other factors. Above all, do some test shots and review them on your LCD before you start shooting away.

Make sure you lot accept a fast plenty shutter speed to eliminate camera shake when handholding the camera, and subject motion when you’re using a tripod. See point #9 below for more on shutter speed.

#half-dozen – Focus Mode

Use unmarried betoken focus here (not zone or multiple points), do non let the camera choose what to focus on for you.

It oftentimes gets that wrong. Always focus on the subject field’s eye. If 1 heart is closer to the camera than the other, focus on the near one.

10 Camera Settings and Equipment Tips for Portrait Photography
ISO 200, f/2.8, ane/400th. I focused direct on her eye that was closest to the camera. The other one is slightly soft at this discontinuity. The other manner around with the back middle sharp and the front centre soft only doesn’t look right. Don’t do it.

Also in terms of focus settings, choose Unmarried Shot (AF-Due south) non continuous (Servo or AF-C). You lot want the autofocus to lock onto the subject, you do not want tracking focus (that is for moving subjects). Read more on focus here: 6 Tips for Finding Focus and Getting Sharp Images.

Lastly, learn how to set up your photographic camera to do Dorsum Button Focus. Essentially it’s a custom setting where yous remove the function of autofocus from the shutter release button and assign it to one on the back of the camera.

The benefit of doing this is that you do not take to focus every time if you and your discipline are not moving. Y’all can lock focus onto them, and so leave it in that location. If you motion a little or get closer to them but refocus and lock it again.

10 Camera Settings and Equipment Tips for Portrait Photography
Focus lock on the subject and shoot away using back push button focus. Shooting settings: 17mm lens, ISO 100, f/9.0 at ane/5th of a second (using a tripod).

This is how I shoot at night too.

Because the camera is easily fooled in the night and information technology can’t easily notice focus, it will just hunt indefinitely and you lot’ll miss the shot.

You can read more well-nigh this subject field over on dPS in this article; Dorsum Push Focus: What is it and why should you try it?

#7 – Drive Fashion

This is a curt ane – set the Drive Mode to Single.

You don’t need to use burst mode and shoot four-viii frames per second. This isn’t a car gun and yous aren’t shooting sports.

Don’t spray and pray. Instead, intentionally press the shutter when you encounter a adept expression and have good calorie-free on the bailiwick.

Taking lots of images will not get you the all-time shots in portraiture.

It’southward been my experience being on the receiving end of photos shot that way, and I can tell you it doesn’t work.

Burst mode often captures closed eyes and weird facial expressions. I received 30 photos (shot in burst manner) of a grouping portrait I was in, and non a unmarried frame had every person’due south eyes opened, and a proficient expression from everybody.

10 Camera Settings and Equipment Tips for Portrait Photography
Avoid the temptation of burst fashion and shoot 1 frame at a fourth dimension. Having fewer photos to edit afterwards is a practiced affair, and trust me – you’ll have fashion more practiced expressions and keepers this style.

No –
shoot i frame at a time.

Appoint with, and talk to your model. Press the button when you lot run across something good.

Be choosy,
expect for the right moments.

#8 – Aperture

I could give yous a dominion here, such as “Always shoot portraits at f/five.6”, only I’thou not going to. What I will do is give yous starting points, then you demand to think it through and brand a determination for your state of affairs.

For portraits of 1 person gear up your aperture between f/2 and f/4. If you don’t have a lens that opens that broad, invest in a skilful erstwhile 50mm f/ane.viii. It’s inexpensive and super versatile. Using a broad aperture like this will help you make the background blurry and less distracting.

Do be careful of shooting besides wide opened like f/1.eight or f/1.four if you have those settings. The depth of field is so narrow you have to exist really precise with your focus and you lot could end up with their eyes precipitous and their olfactory organ and ears out of focus. If you like that look and tin blast your focus – go for it. If not become for a slightly smaller aperture choice of f/two.8 or f/iv.

10 Camera Settings and Equipment Tips for Portrait Photography
Shot at ISO 400, f/1.8, at 1/250th in 1 of my classrooms every bit a demonstration.

10 Camera Settings and Equipment Tips for Portrait Photography
Now await closer – see merely how shallow the depth of field is at this aperture? It’due south just her eye that’southward sharp and non even the unabridged eye! You accept to get the focus perfect!

10 Camera Settings and Equipment Tips for Portrait Photography
ISO 400, f/ane.eight, 1/400th – lens 85mm. Overnice blurry background at this aperture, not bad right?

10 Camera Settings and Equipment Tips for Portrait Photography
Yeah, not if you completely miss focusing on the subject’southward eyes!

10 Camera Settings and Equipment Tips for Portrait Photography
ISO 400, f/2.8 at 1/125th – 85mm lens.

10 Camera Settings and Equipment Tips for Portrait Photography
This is a cropped in close from the image above. With her facing the photographic camera more squarely, at f/2.8 I was able to go both eyes in sharp focus.

For couple’southward portraits or groups employ a smaller aperture to brand certain you get everyone in abrupt focus, f/5.6 or f/8 will usually do the fox. Also, picket how you pose and position people in the group then they aren’t spaced as well far autonomously (distance to the camera). By keeping everyone shut to the same plane you can easily shoot at f/5.6 and get them all sharp.

10 Camera Settings and Equipment Tips for Portrait Photography
ISO 400, f/5.6 at ane.250th.

10 Camera Settings and Equipment Tips for Portrait Photography
ISO 400, f/4.5 at ane/125th. I put them closer together hither so could go away with a slightly larger discontinuity.

#nine – Shutter Speed

In point #5 in a higher place, I mentioned that you need to make sure you have a fast plenty shutter speed to go along the image sharp. Retrieve about minimum shutter speed you can apply handheld (i over the focal length), but likewise how wearisome y’all can become using a tripod.

The tripod will go on the camera steady at whatever shutter speed, even one second or longer. Merely what are the chances of the subject area not moving during that time? So choose a shutter speed co-ordinate to your subject.

10 Camera Settings and Equipment Tips for Portrait Photography
Shot handheld at ISO 500, f/four.5 at 1/125th.

If y’all are working with an developed or teen, and they aren’t moving a lot or making large hand gestures – you can probably go as low as 1/15th or fifty-fifty 1/8th of a second. I’ve done it when shooting in the low low-cal from a window – merely ask them to be relatively still.

But if you are working with kids or multiple people in a group – brand it the shutter speed faster. Kickoff at one/125th or higher and suit as needed. If you’re getting blurry images of the person – increase to a faster shutter speed. If you don’t want to adjust the aperture – you lot’ll need to increasing ISO (hence the reference in #5 above).

#10 – White Residuum

For White Balance, I recommend choosing one of your camera’south WB presets like Daylight or Shady. Choose the 1 that most closely matches the lighting conditions. For indoor window calorie-free do a test shot and encounter which looks all-time, gives you lot the most natural or flattering skin tones.

10 Camera Settings and Equipment Tips for Portrait Photography
Shady White Residual preset used here.

10 Camera Settings and Equipment Tips for Portrait Photography
Shady WB likewise used here to add a gilt glow to the prototype.

I tend to err on the side or going as well warm, as opposed to too cool. People look better with more warmth (yellow) in their pare usually than blue (cooler).

Why I advise a preset instead of just using Car White Residual (AWB) is for the same reasons to shoot in Manual Mode. Consistency from 1 frame to the next. Also, neutral isn’t always the best option for portraits – warm is a ameliorate option. AWB makes neutral.

You can besides do a custom white remainder using a greyness card if your lighting conditions practise not change. But you take to redo practise it if you movement or the light shifts.

Custom white balance was done and practical here.

AWB tends to choice up color casts in people’s clothes, trees, or whatsoever else is around you and in the image. Information technology tries to neutralize those colors the best it tin – but sometimes it gets it wrong and at all-time it’due south just inconsistent.


Bonus tip – Shoot RAW format

By shooting in RAW format you will accept more than latitude for adjusting the exposure and White Residual if necessary. Merely by following tips #iv and 10 in a higher place, your images should be pretty consistent all the way through your entire photo shoot. That will make it easier for yous to suit 1 image in mail service-processing, and sync up the settings across all your images.

If the exposures are all over the identify, you’ll take more work to do in processing.

Make less work for yourself by slowing downwardly and getting it correct in-camera, to begin with. And then you’ll be able to get away from the calculator faster and take more than fourth dimension for photography.

For a total list of recommended photography
equipment for portrait photography – meet this folio.

a photography tips article on camera settings for portraits.  For portrait photographers or beginners learing portrait photography and who want to take better people photos.
camera settings for portraits


If you utilise these tips to your portrait photography, yous will see improvement in your images. Not merely in the technical qualities, merely the overall success of the portraits as well.

Do y’all use these 10+ tips in your photography already?

Do you take others that you follow?

Please share in the comments below besides as any portrait images you’d like to share.

If yous want more in-depth help and lessons on portrait photography, bank check out our online grade – Portrait Fundamentals here.


Darlene Hildebrandt photographer DPM