What is the best camera setting for wedding photography?

A wedding is not only a big day for couples or those present. It also holds significance for the photographer assigned to cover it. This is because, for photographers, wedding photography is more than just a shoot. It carries the ultimate challenge as well as the ultimate satisfaction.

It is a feat that every camera holder wants to achieve. But with great power comes even greater responsibility. That is why you must have freaked out before accepting wedding shoots. This is because wedding shoots require versatility. It amalgamates many genres of photography and has numerous subjects and scenes to be captured.

Thus, it becomes very difficult to combine all different facets in one day and present them wonderfully. Moreover, there is another mounting pressure of getting it right the first time as time is short, and chances are given only be once. Wedding poses have no going back as they cannot be redone later.

For all these reasons, it has become essential to at least master camera settings so that they can help you resolve other issues that frequently arise during weddings. It is necessary to get basic rights because there are chances that maybe the rest of the things would go wrong. So if you know your camera well, you will adjust it well and adapt pictures accordingly.

There would be many things in the scenes and subjects that you won’t be able to change, but you can modify settings accordingly if you get the hang of them. That is why to make wedding photography less hectic for you, we have compiled a guide of basic guidelines that can help you create amazing images consistently so that you never miss a moment or beat on this wonderful occasion.

 A wedding is an excellent opportunity for a photographer because at a wedding there is a lot of space to work to do. A photographer can prove himself at a wedding, and it is a challenging job to do. He has to work in low lights, huge gather, and many other difficulties. To take stunning photos, you need to know the camera setting for the wedding ceremony. In this content, we will let you know which settings are best for wedding photography that reduce wedding photo retouching cost. If you go through the whole script, you will understand the wedding photography camera settings properly. 

Camera Settings

Every time we purchase new cameras, I set them up, knowing they will be used solely for weddings. Here are our preferred settings (we use Canon so your camera may have slightly different names for these settings):

Date/Time: Since both, my wife and I shoot during weddings, I make sure our cameras have the exact date and times down to the second. Later, when we upload the photos to begin editing this makes everything quicker as the photos are in chronological order. There is no easy way to reorder photos in most photo software applications, so this is a huge timesaver if you plan on posting the photos online as it simply looks better if everything is in order. It also saves time when you arrange the final wedding album.

Auto Focus Area: Many cameras have sophisticated systems to choose the best focal point for the shot. Our Canon 7D’s have 19 points which can be auto-selected by the camera. When shooting weddings, we often find ourselves shooting between close objects to get the shot we want which might cause the camera to choose that object as the focal point. Also, in low light, it can be difficult for cameras to choose the correct focal point. If the camera chooses the wrong focal point and you need to change it, you may have just missed your shot. As such, we set our cameras for single point autofocus and set the focal point to the centre point. We then focus using this centre focal point by pressing the shutter button halfway and then composing our shot. This provides a consistent method for taking shots quickly as you are not composing your shot around varying focal points in the viewfinder, and you can easily focus exactly where needed.

AF Servo Mode: This mode selects if the camera will keep a constant focus once you depress the shutter button halfway or if it will refocus if it detects the object is moving. Since many times during the procession subjects may be moving toward or away from you, this is a nice feature to leverage, which is why we set this to AI Focus mode (Canon). In AI Focus mode the camera will focus on still subjects as normal and notify you that focus has been achieved yet if the subject begins to move it will change to AI Servo mode which will attempt to keep your moving subject in focus until you take the photo.

Drive modes: Most cameras have various shooting speed selections from single-shot mode, which is one frame per shutter button depress, to high-speed continuous mode, which typically will take anywhere from 4-8 fps depending on the camera’s fastest shooting speed. We set our cameras at low speed continuous for weddings. That way we can take several shots quickly without making too much noise and without taking an excessive amount of photographs which can quickly fill up a memory card and add to your post-production time.

Metering Mode: Now that we have the focus set to a single point we also want to tell the camera to look at the centre of the image when setting exposure and this is done by setting the metering mode to a centre weighted average. The camera then gives higher priority to what is in the middle of the image and less to what is at the edges when it sets exposure. We also set our flashes to a meter in the centre, since we use flashes mostly for portrait shots, which can typically be done right on the camera when the flash is attached or on the flash itself.

Rear-curtain sync: This tells the flash to go off at the end of the exposure as opposed to the beginning. This will make low light shots, such as during dancing, look more realistic as any motion blur will be behind the subject instead of in front of it. This setting can also be made on the camera with the flash attached or on the flash itself.

Highlight Warning: Most cameras will have this setting which will flash areas of the image on the LCD that are blown out in the highlights. This is a must since the last thing you want to do blow out the bride’s dress, causing you to lose all of the detail, so we have this set to enable all of the time. If we take a shot and notice areas of the image are flashing on our LCD screen, we know we need to lower our exposure or turn down the flash using the flash exposure compensation setting.

White Balance: We choose to leave this set at auto. As photojournalistic photographers, we take lots of photos and are thus moving around too much to be setting white balance continually. White balance settings often change even during a ceremony as the bride and groom move around, so we prefer to do our adjustments in post-production using the bride’s dress to set the white balance which gives a consistent and accurate white balance to the images.

Manual Settings

It’s easy to shoot with the automatic camera settings in a wedding. However, if you plan to capture some amazing shots, then you need to get into the manual settings.

The key manual settings include the shutter priority mode and aperture priority mode. All camera models have these basic options to shoot a wedding.

In the shutter priority mode, you need to set the shutter speed to 1/500th of a second to freeze the moments for the couple. These settings can be tweaked to capture the laughter, walk, dance and other moments.

Aperture priority mode settings work on the aperture you select for the shot. We recommend you to choose between f/1.4 to f/2.8 for the couple portraits. However, you can use a high aperture value for the full landscape shots of the venue or guests.

ISO Speed and Shutter Settings

When it comes to choosing the best camera settings for weddings, ISO settings and shutter speed can be two of the most challenging things to master. Starting with ISO, you’ll need to consider the atmosphere that you’re shooting in. For instance, when you’re indoors with mostly natural light, you should be able to shoot at around ISO 400 all day. When you’re in a very bright setting, an ISO 100 setting is more appropriate.

For night-time receptions and dimly lit churches, you’ll need to turn the lighting up to around 800 and above. It’s important not to go too high if you can manage it. However, there are plenty of Lightroom and Photoshop plugins that can help to eliminate grain in the editing process.

For shutter speed, there’s no one-size-fits-all strategy. The key to success is focusing on keeping your camera steady during your shots. Try to use a tripod during most wedding ceremonies, as this will help to eliminate blur regardless of your shutter speed choices.

The Portraits

For the formal portraits after the ceremony, we always use a tripod and set the camera to manual mode. The tripod helps maximizes sharpness of the photo and make it easier to move around to pose and direct. For indoor weddings, we almost always use a flash. A typical setting for the portraits would be 1/60 second shutter speed, F5.6 (or higher you need more light), and ISO 400. Keep in mind you are setting the exposure for the background, so one thing we always think about is how much of the background do we really want to see? If it’s a beautiful background, we may set the exposure to normal. If the background has nothing is going for it, we may set the exposure down to -2 stops to darken it a bit and make your subjects stand out more. This is done by raising the shutter speed. It’s certainly a personal preference, and we always take some test shots to verify the look we want. We use our flash in TTL mode and take it off-camera using a sync cord or wireless. Our entire setup time is just a few minutes, and we do not typically use a light meter. Remember, when using a flash, exposure becomes your friend, just like bokeh, to handle difficult backgrounds. In the shot below, we used a -1 stop exposure to darken the background since the colours in it were a bit rich could be overpowering to the subject if not subdued.

Focus Areas and Focus Length

Many modern cameras come equipped with sophisticated technology that helps you to choose the best focal point for your shot. If you have a camera with autofocus, this will help you to select the best camera settings for weddings. Remember, when you’re getting up close to an item for a picture, you may need to turn autofocus off it’s concentrating on items in the image that aren’t your primary subject.

For general focal length shots, it’s best to stick to around 35mm when you’re attempting to fit the whole wedding party or venue into an image. Depending on the size of the wedding party, you might need to adjust this. For portraits of guests and members of the wedding party, upgrade to 85mm, and for macro details like rings and shoes, start with 100mm and adjust as necessary.

Well, you have the knowledge of wedding photography camera settings in your brain now. In addition, you have come to know some wedding photography tips to shine your career. Now, try to apply this knowledge while shooting wedding photos. And don’t forget to get your photos edited by professional editors.

Remember that your camera is only a gadget. What can make or break your images, is your skill? It is your capability of handling the camera that matters. It is your setting power that adds the final touches and charms to your results, making you shine in your career.

So just stick tightly to these rules. But do not be too tight and experiment by using them as ground rules. Show creativity but with a steady footing! May the odds, lighting, people and camera settings be in your favour!

We hope these tips will be helpful to you. So that in the next wedding all you have to do is dress up and take out your gear. The settings will be on your fingers so you won’t have to worry about them. Your brain will have all these settings on standby and will efficiently use them when required.

You will be able to enjoy wedding photography instead of dreading it and taking it as a chore.

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