Indoor photography can take many forms, but your approach to adjusting your setup can remain fairly consistent. This page will explore shooting in manual mode for your indoor projects.
We’ll run through some of the best camera settings for indoor photography and how to get the most out of your shots.
Whether you’re new to the world of photography or just looking for a refresh, read on to learn more. Also be sure to check out the rest of our site for more photography insights.
The Best Camera Settings for Indoor Photography
Now that you’ve got a general idea of how to set up for shooting indoors, lets explore the settings of your camera and how best to use them for indoor shoots.
As a general rule, your aperture setting should be wide to let in as much light as possible. The more your camera is able to take advantage of your lighting, the better. Try out F/4 or F/ 2.8 and see how you like the results.
Keep in mind that the wider your aperture setting, the shallower your depth of field will become. Lots of indoor photography tends to use a shallow depth of field, but make sure you’re using a distance that feels comfortable for your work.
Remember that using aperture priority can take the headache out of setting the right shutter speed. You’ll need to get both settings right if you want a pleasing exposure for your photos.
A good rule of thumb is to select a shutter speed that’s slow enough to let in adequate light, but fast enough to avoid motion blur.
If using full manual mode, we recommend setting your shutter speed to around 1/60. Just make sure you don’t go down to 1/50 or even lower. This will mess with your white balance and exposure. When setting shutter speed manually, it can be useful to lean on the shutter priority mode of your camera.
This automatically selects an appropriate aperture to compliment your chosen shutter speed.
In short, you should choose the highest ISO setting you can get away with. It’s best to squeeze every last drop out of your available light. Making sure your camera is sensitive enough to your light source is critical for this.
Of course, the specific ISO setting you choose will depend on the amount of light you have available. If you have plenty of light in your space and are shooting with a tripod, an ISO of 100 or 200 might be enough.
Otherwise, 800 or higher is probably your best bet. The trick is to experiment with different levels until you find a value that works for you.
Getting the right color temperature for your shots can be tricky if you’re new to shooting indoors. The more you know about the type of light you’re using, the easier it will be to help you camera achieve the right white balance.
Within the white balance settings of your camera, you’ll typically see the following:
- A sun (use if shooting in mostly natural light)
- A lightbulb (use if shooting under incandescent lighting)
- A zig zagging arrow (use if shooting with your flash enabled)
- A building with a darker side (use if shooting in the shade)
- A tube with lines radiating outward (use if shooting under fluorescent bulbs)
Picking the right white balance setting is important as it helps the colors in your photography stay “true to life.”
Quick Indoor Photography Steps
This section will briefly outline a good set of habits to practice whenever setting up for an indoor shoot. Remember that your specific circumstances and preferences will influence the steps you take. In general, try the following:
- Assess your available light.
- Decide how much artificial light you’ll need. Set up your soft boxes and reflectors accordingly.
- Adjust your settings using our guidelines above. As a rule of thumb, aim for a slow shutter speed, wide aperture and high ISO.
- Take stock of your chosen subject.
- Are they lit adequately? How would you like to frame them within your composition?
Depending on the type of photographer you are and the specific work you’re doing, you won’t need everything on the list below. That said, think about how many of the following you might need:
- Use a tripod to dramatically improve stability and reduce image noise
- Consider soft boxes to take control over your lighting situation
- Use a reflective umbrella flash for portraits or other scenarios where diffused light is helpful
- Remember that window light can be your best friend when taking photos indoors
- Make sure you have the right lenses with you for your shoot. Consider depth of field, light sensitivity and overall performance.
Indoor Photography Tips
Before we get into specific camera settings, it’s worth exploring a few general tips that can help dramatically improve your indoor photography skills.
Taking stock of your available light should be the starting point for all your photos. Nothing determines the outcome of a shoot more significantly.
For indoor photography, you’ll likely be working with both artificial and natural light. Think closely about the type of work you’re about to do and plan around your available light accordingly. For more information about the types of lighting and how to use natural light, check out our guide here.
In general, soft, diffused light is very forgiving. Hard, direct lighting can be powerful when used correctly, but make sure to assess what your subject needs closely.
Use Reflectors to Maximize Your Light
Reflectors are your best friend, especially when it comes to indoor photography. Use them to your advantage and direct your available light more specifically. If you’re new to shooting indoors, you might be surprised by how much difference a good reflector can make.
Make the Most of Window Light if You Can
A large window can be an absolute Godsend for photography indoors. They can let in wonderful amounts of soft, diffused light for you to take advantage of. Your specific use case will of course vary, but make sure you’re using your windows and other light sources to their full potential.
Consider an Umbrella Flash
It’s especially worthwhile to consider this option if you’re doing modeling photography or similar work. Not only does the diffused light that comes with this kind of accessory work wonders in many environments, but it also gives you much more control over how much light hits your subject.
Using a Tripod Helps
Another close companion of any good photographer is the trusty tripod. Nothing works better for reducing camera shake and image noise. Make sure you’re using a tripod that’s compatible with your devices.
If you can afford the initial investment, a good soft box can make it much easier to get the light you need for your work. They can be positioned wherever they’re most useful and provide an endless supply of warm, flattering light for your subjects.
If you’re on the fence about picking one up, we recommend it — they’re useful for so many different kinds of photography.
Get Familiar With Manual Mode
Mastering indoor photography means getting comfortable with using the manual mode on your camera. While automatic settings can work great, you’ll need far more granular control over your camera to get the results you need.
If you’ve never used manual mode before, we recommend trying out some shots using the “aperture priority” setting. It’s a great way to dip your toe in the water.
Play Around With Manual Focus
While it can feel tedious, switching to manual focus mode can work wonders for your indoor photography. With a little practice, you’ll be able to focus in with a level of precision that autofocus will find far harder to achieve.
Remember That Practice Makes Perfect
Don’t be disheartened if your shots don’t look the way you want right away. Indoor photography is a huge exercise in trial and error. The more you practice adjusting your camera settings, the easier it will be to get the right shot.
Examples of Indoor Photography
Now that we’ve covered the best camera settings for indoor photography, it’s worth exploring some specific examples of the type of shooting you might do indoors. If you’re new to photography, be sure to experiment with at least some of these genres to get to grips with the fundamentals.
This is perhaps the most common form of photography that takes place indoors. Remember that each model you work with will have a unique set of characteristics that will be flattered by slightly different approaches to lighting.
Play around with where you position your soft box and reflector and create the best possible environment for each person you’re shooting.
This is a great one for beginners, especially if you’re looking to up your Instagram game! As a general rule, food photography benefits from a depth of field that’s fairly shallow. You may also like to switch to manual focus to better capture the food you’re shooting.
Real Estate Photography
Real estate photography can be a huge earner for photographers, so it might be worth exploring this genre. Expect to use lenses with wide angles and environments that use plenty of natural light. If you’re looking for the best lenses for property photos, check out our guide here.
Another one that’s a great fit for Instagram, pet photography can produce some gorgeous shots. While not always taken indoors, it’s an environment that’s worth getting comfortable with if you’re to take excellent pooch photos.
Remember that animals tend to be very dynamic subjects that move around far more than you might like. Tweak your camera settings accordingly to make sure you can keep a moving subject in focus.
We hope this page has helped to clear up some confusion. While there are myriad ways to take photos indoors, your approach to finding the right settings can remain quite consistent. As with most forms of photography, your priority should be to make sure you’re making the most of your available light.
Use what you know about the exposure triangle to adjust your camera settings accordingly.
If you’re new to taking photos, we recommend getting started with one of the genre examples we laid out towards the end of this article. Whatever subject you’re shooting, we hope you get the photos you’re looking for!