Best settings for Portrait work

Discussion in 'Nikon' started by buzz_meade, Nov 7, 2006.

  1. I'm a beginner with Nikon D50 with the 55-200 & 28-80 lenses. I'm interested
    in doing model and portrait work. Besides lowering the ISO to the lowest
    setting, are there any other important settings to have on the camera? I feel
    like things are still more blurry then they should be. Thank you!
  2. I am not sure what you mean by blurry... Assuming you are using the built-in or external flash, try setting your aperture to F8 or
    F10 and your shutter speed to 1/125 or faster. That should take care of it.
  3. Buzz, if by "blurry" you mean "camera shake", keep in mind that there is rule of thumb that says that you should better not try to hand-hold a lens at a shutter speed less than 1/(focal length). Personally I double or quadruple this number to be on the safe side. Else try a tripod and check that you set your AF focus point correctly.

    Generally it couldn't hurt to get a fast (>f/2.8) prime lens for portrait work, like a 50mm or a 85mm as fast as you can afford it (f/1.8, f/1.4 etc).
  4. Buzz,
    The best advice I have on portrait photography is to invest in a tripod. There are so many things this can do to make shooting a pleasure and to reduce some of the issues you may be having. A tripod can even make less than exceptional glass tolerable. In addition to a tripod the next item would be a remote shutter release, wireless if within budget. Good glass has no substitute, period. Good lighting - quality and quantity - also have no substitutes. Many tripod also have a bubble level that can ensure your are shooting absolutely vertical or horizontal. Something that is not so easy when shooting in hand.
  5. Wow! Awesome answers. I really, really appreciate it.
  6. As a portrait hack I just use the Portrait Mode on my D70 (jpeg FINE Medium). When I first started out I used the 28-80mm f3.3-5.6 and was quite happy with the results.

    If and when you become more serious I suggest that you start shooting in RAW and only then look at better glass. Unfortunately you will become hooked and it will become a never ending story.

    Also, remember not to over rely on AF. You will need to shoot a lot in MF mode to get a feel of what you like most to be in focus. You won't need to worry about their effects on your current lenses but down the track this will become crucial on much faster lenses.
  7. How do I adjust to F8,F10 or change shutter speeds?
  8. RTFM.
  9. If you learn to shoot in manual mode you will be doing yourself a HUGE favor, after all what did you buy a DIGITAL SLR for, if you aren't allowing yourself to make mistakes and correct them on the fly.

    After a few weeks of manual mode you should have a good hang of the basics like metering, changing f-stops, changing ISO's (though mine stays at 200 or 400) and changing shutter speeds. Shoot in RAW (NEF) and leave the white balance on auto, unless you are shooting outdoors, then set the white balance to sunny, cloudy, or shade. You can always go into Nikon's software and change the white balance later.

    To answer your question specifically, get the nikon 50mm f1.8 lens for all of your portrait work. It has the low f-stop, is razor sharp at the focus point, and gives excellent color rendition for the measly price of around $100 NEW! The 50mm translates to 75mm in old school film terms, which is right in the wheelhouse of portrait lenses for beginners.

    You won't miss the zoom function once you learn to move yourself to 'zoom' in and out, making the whole process a bit more fun too.

    If you opt to not buy this lens, then you will need to shoot around f8 for the sharpest images on those zooms. Focus manually to get the key spots, in case the camera is focusing on the wrong parts of the face. And lastly, when you shoot in RAW/NEF you can use Nikon Capture to sharpen the image to the point you desire. I find the 'normal' setting to be just right.

    Good Luck...
  10. The D50 doesn't have a manual setting does it?
  11. well ive been using me d40 alot i got down how to use it in manule settings and such but
    when i go to do portraits i use an external flash and when i shoot the photo so one half of
    the face is lite up and the other half really dark. do you think i should turn my iso up? i try to
    shoot with my apt. all the way down so its the brightet i can make it? maybe another external
    flash or maybe just simpely use my on camera flash?
  12. Before you rush out and get that 50mm 1.8 Nikkor lens BEWARE! Forget it if you plan to shoot high-key as lens flare will ruin most of the shots you take. In natural light it's great, best value for money lens ever for a Nikon.

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