How to set up your camera when work with studio lighting

January 30, 2020

When setting up the camera to work with strobes I take full control of the three main elements of the exposure triangle: Shutter speed, Aperture and ISO. Choosing manual shooting mode allows me to control individually each of all these settings.

Setting up the Shutter Speed

The most important thing to remember here is to choose a shutter speed that synchronizes the flash energy with the timing of the shutter in the camera. I choose a shutter speed anywhere from 1/60 of a second to 1/250 of a second. However, your settings may depend on the type of camera you are using, strobes and radio trigger. My recommendation is to start with a safe shutter speed of 1/160 of a second. Personally I have found this shutter speed to work well with a few different camera types and strobes.
If you see a bar in one part of your image when you take a photograph with strobes, then your shutter speed is set too fast for your particular setup. Once you choose the correct shutter speed settings, you can keep the same settings for the entire photo session, unless you plan to mix studio lighting with natural lighting.

Shutter speed settings on Nikon D750

Setting up the Aperture

Here is where you have to give it some thought! Why? Aperture settings will indicate how much depth of field will be available for your shot. What is depth of field? Depth of field refers to how much space in front and in the back of your photo subject will be sharp. For example, sometimes you may want to blur the background or not. Depending on what you want to achieve with your shot, you will want to adjust the aperture accordingly. I suggest starting with f/8, which usually works for most applications. Only after you have decided what aperture you will use, you can go ahead and set the power on your strobe or use a light meter.

Aperture settings on Nikon d750

Setting up the ISO

ISO settings allow you in increase or decrease your camera’s sensitivity to light. For example when shooting in dark scenes, you will need to bump up the ISO. There is one side effect of increasing the ISO, which is the degradation of image quality or digital noise.

The beauty of shooting with studio strobes is that you can adjust the ISO in your camera to the lowest settings. In my Nikon D750, I usually set the ISO at 100 and leave it at that level. Depending on your camera model, your ISO settings may vary anywhere from 100-200

I welcome your comments on what camera settings work best for you when shooting in studio.

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