Photography Cheat Sheet: The Best Camera Settings for Studio Portraits

Ever wanted to get into studio portrait photography but have no idea about the camera settings to use? Let today’s photography cheat sheet serve as your guide!

Studio portraiture is particularly interesting for many budding portrait photographers because of the level of control they can have over their final image. You can always set up your light the way you want, experiment with different lighting techniques, play with backdrops, and use any equipment you feel is necessary to the results you want to achieve.

The photography cheat sheet below is part of a studio photography guide put together by Pixobo. It makes for a good starting point for portrait photography, and it also works for studio shooting. If you’re trying out this kind of portraiture for the first time, work with these camera settings first and experiment with focal lengths or flash power as you go along.

First things first: you’ll need good lighting to get a properly-exposed photo that has captured all the facial details of your subject. A light meter will keep you on top of your exposures, so it’s best to invest in and learn how to use one. Set your camera to Manual mode to take full control of the other settings as well. For the ISO, choose 100 or 200 to minimize noise in your shots. Set the shutter speed to 1/125, or even as low as 1/60 or 1/30, and the aperture to f8. For the focal length, you can go for 200mm or less, since you’ll be close to your subject anyway.  Depending on the size of your studio or shooting space, 200mm may actually be too much. So, if you have 50mm or 85mm, that could also work.

Studio setup for portraits is heavily based on lighting, so make sure you’ve familiarized yourself with lighting techniques your portrait project needs. For starters, you can use this simple portrait lighting cheat sheet as your guide. If you’re using a flash — which you most likely will — start with flash power of 50% and adjust as necessary.

Want more photography tips and tricks like this? Don’t forget to check out our collection of handy photography cheat sheets so far!