You might have the best camera in the world, however, if you don’t use the settings properly your photos won’t turn the way you want. Auto mode is quick and easy, but is that enough? If you have a DSLR camera, it is best to play with the DSLR camera settings to make the most of it.

It might be take some time to learn all these settings on DSLR, but once you know the basic rules, it gets easier. There are so many factors that can affect the photo quality. Photography setup, the camera setting and the final adjustments with a software can affect the quality of the photos. With DSLR cameras, you have many options, however, fancy camera doesn’t mean anything if you don’t know what you are doing. Playing with DSLR camera settings are fun, you learn a lot and the images can be quite arty.

DSLR Camera Settings

Aperture (f-number)


Do you know what is depth of field? It is one of the important terms that you might want to remember. Depth of field refers to the range of distance that appears acceptably sharp. You can basically decide how focused you want your photos. If you you want one point to be focused and the rest blurry, you should have wide aperture. Having wide aperture (e.g. f/2.8) will minimise the depth of field. When you have small aperture(e.g. f/30), it maximises the depth of field so the everything on the background will be focused rather than blurry. Just make sure to stabilise your camera when you are using small aperture, otherwise it might turn all blurry.

When I take blog photography, I want the products to be on the focus and the rest blurry, so I use wide aperture. Values are usually around f/3.2 to f/5.6. These values depend on the lense you have, so you might not get as wider peratures as you want.

Exposure Values (EV)


Whether you’re taking your photos in a really dark place or bright one, it is impostant to get the exposure right. Automatic settings won’t exactly satisfy you. What’s exposure value though? In photography, exposure value(EV) is a number that represents a combination of a camera’s shutter speed and f-number, such that all combinations that yield the same exposure have the same EV value (for any fixed scene luminance).

Think that you want really bright photos, however, the cloudy gloomy sky doesn’t give you the best light. What will you do? It is best to start playing with that exposure values then. In order to get bright photos, you need the camera to absorb the light as much as possible. You need positive EV values and long exposure time. With positive EV, white will appear whiter. Good, isn’t it? Bare in mind that, having positive EV means having slow shutter speed(long exposure time). You need to keep the camera still or just use tripod.

Depending on the light, I usually use EV +1 to EV +1.7, at least then I am in control with the brightness of the photos.

Shutter Speed

What’s shutter speed? Shutter speed or exposure time is the length of time when the film or digital sensor inside the camera is exposed to light. This setting comes handy when you want blurred out photos. For instance if you want to take photo of the moving traffic at night, how the shutter speed should be? Having slow shutter speed means long exposure time. This will give colourful, arty and catchy photos.  So in a way for brighter photos in dark places, having slow shutter speed is better than having fast shutter speed. Fast shutter speed is best for capturing the moment blur free. Again if you are using slow shutter speed, it is best to stabilise the camera.



ISO value determines how responsive the image sensor is to light. The higher the value, the more responsive it is and the more grainy the photos get. Higher ISO values are usually used in the dark/darker places in order to get quick photos (faster shutter speed). Think that it won’t be easy to capture moving objects blur free if you have lower ISO values.

I usually use the auto mode for this one, however, you can always change it to get crispy grain free images or grainy ones. When you are indoor and want to freeze the moment, then higher ISO values are better.


There are so much to learn and I am still learning. When things don’t go as the way you want, don’t give up, just keep trying. Also when you get the settings right, it will all pay off. As you could see all of these settings are connected somehow. Changing one setting will affect the other, so the quality of the photos are determined by all these factors.

What do you use to take photos? Dou you use automatic mode or play with your DSLR camera settings? Is there anything you struggle with the photography?

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  • Ashley Christabelle

    Such a great post, Ela! I’ve just learned about the basics of using a DSLR camera, and although I’m not an expert on it yet, I find it so fun to think before I capture a photo. Reading this refreshes my mind on it too! Thank you for that. x

    • I am still trying to learn, there are so much to learn and practice. Thank you so much, Ashley 🙂 x

  • Thanks so much for sharing these tips

    Candice | Beauty Candy Loves

  • These are great posts Ela – so helpful! Thank you for sharing.

    Emma |

  • Great and informative post! Gemma x

  • Corinne C

    Thanks for sharing this! I always love your photos so it’s great to see how other people take them too!

    Corinne x

  • Great post, truly useful for me, I love it, thank you for the tips!!!


  • I am so glad you’re doing these type of posts Ela, because I am clueless with my DSLR. I barely use it and that’s ashame. LOL I’m saving this post, because I’m going to start practicing. Thanks girl.

    • Once you get used to all these settings, trust me you won’t be reaching anything more than your DSLR 🙂

  • I don’t have a DSLR but i plan on getting one soon. So I definitely be saving this post for future reference! Just out of interest which camera do you use? xx

    • I have Nikon D3200, it is the perfect camera for starters and it also have some advanced pre settings which comes handy when you can’t deal with all these settings. x

  • I would love a DSLR but it would probably be wasted on me! I just use a little Nikon point and shoot but I’m never happy with my photos or how I edit them unfortunately! Love seeing the differences illustrated Ela!

    Danielle’s Beauty Blog

    • I’ve always been into photography, so having a dslr makes things better for me, however, just for the sake of blog photography, it would be just waste of money. Your photos are good!

  • thanks for those useful information, I have a DSL and sometimes I am struggling with it. 🙂

    • Sometimes it is really hard to get the right settings, it annoys me 🙂

      • Yes indeed often I gave up but I really need to try . thanks x

  • I do play with my settings, but to be honest only started that when I started filming. You cant really film on Automatic…

    Linda, Libra, Loca: Beauty, Baby and Backpacking

    • When I first got it, I thought auto mode was pretty good, however, now I could see a big difference.

  • I only have a bridge camera at the moment but I rarely use the settings and just shoot at the automatic mode but should definitely try the manual set up. Will keep your post for future reference 🙂 x

    Mummy’s Beauty Corner

    • Even with the automatic mode, your photos are amazing. I love how bright they look 🙂 x

  • Aisha

    Thank you so much for this post 🙂 really useful even if I don’t have a Reflex. But I’ll receive a Bridge soon.

  • Great post and super helpful 🙂
    Kathy x

  • Beauty Journal

    Thanks Ela for this post. This is very informative and I can definitely use all the tips abd improve my blog photos. I really needed this.

  • I’ve been trying to get a new lens because I want something with more depth of field, but I think that I want a different camera to learn with. I used to use automatic mode but not anymore.

    Perfect Shade of Mauve

    • I want to invest on a new macro lens as well, I will just wait for black Friday and hope there will be some on sale. When I first got my camera, I was also using the automatic mode all the time, however, now when I play with the settings, i get better photos.

  • Great tips Ela! Luckily I had a photography class in High School which helped with developing my photography immensely. However for someone who may not have taken a course this is especially helpful AND you put it into human terms so that it makes sense.
    All around great post 🙂

    • At uni for extra credit, I got photography class as well. Without knowing all these terms, it is not really easy. Thank you 🙂 x

  • Oooh super helpful! Thanks, girl!
    -Kate //

  • I don’t have a DSLR but have saved this post for when I get one. Your photos are always amazing! xx

    Beautylymin| Kat Von D Contour Palette & brush Giveaway

  • Wow girlie, I’m taking notes as I read, what a great post!! Loved this and this is exactly what I needed! I love taking photos but I’m such a lazy bum when it comes to learning how to do so haha! But this was lovely and short enough for me. I’ll have to try these things the minute I get home!
    Hope you’re having a lovely week hon! Love you <3
    Emma xxx

    • Aww thank you so much 🙂 I was a lazy bum as well, however, after seeing the difference between automatic and manual settings, I am converted 🙂
      Hope you’re having a great week, lovely! Love you <3 x

  • These are great tips, Ela. I currently use a very basic camera but I’m hoping to get a DSLR in near future. Your tips will definitely come in handy.

    • Thank you so much! Automatic mode is easy, however, when you play with the manual settings, you could see a big difference.

  • I’m bookmarking this as this is the first post that I read on this topic that I actually understand. I’m still using auto because I couldn’t quite figure it out but I will be experimenting after reading this, thanks Ela!

    Shireen | Reflection of Sanity

    • I was an automatic mode user for a long time, however, once I started playing around with the settings, I am totally converted 🙂

  • Ela you make things so simple and easy to follow! Thank you so much for sharing!

    Parie x

    Class and Glitter

  • Loving this post, it’s actually English and easy to understand too haha!

    Anika |

  • Aiko Cunanan

    Such a great post! Love these tips. I’m still trying to learn the camera and these visuals help so much! More please 🙂


  • Sophie Sierra

    Such a gorgeous post Ela, brimming with your talent and such fab advice. I always think your photography is stunning and it’s showcased so well here. I’ve not really experimented enough and usually plump for automatic when it comes to photography. I’m generally pleased with my work but there’s definitely room for improvement and I’d like to take some time to learn and play around with my camera’s settings. You’ve definitely inspired me, not to mention given me some great tips and tricks to remember! <3

    Sophie | soinspo xo

    • Aww thank you so much, Sophie. You’re so sweet! I was always taking photos with the automatic mode, it is easy and quick. After playing around with the manual settings and seeing a big difference, I prefer to use all these settings now unless I am in really hurry to take photos. <3

  • Mariann Yip

    Thanks for sharing! This is such a helpful and great post 🙂


  • Great post Ela! To be honest, I hardly use my DSLR anymore except when I am on holiday, or for a freelance gig, so this was quite helpful. Saved this post for a good reference. Thanks so much, very informative and easy to understand! <3

    • Thank you so much, Madison! Manual settings can be quite tricky, however, once you get used to it then everything gets easier <3

  • Nina

    This was great , useful post. I’m still learning, and trying to avoid automatic mode.

    • Thank you! I try to avoid using automatic mode as well, manual settings are the best!

  • Lovely blog post, thank you for sharing!!! xxx
    Hadasah Love |

  • Automatic mode still scares me a little bit as I am new to photography. Thanks for all of the great instruction in this post! This is very helpful! 🙂

    Brooke |

    • Practice makes perfect, keep practicing then you will see manual mode is not as hard as it seems 🙂

  • Caliope Couture

    I love posts like this! There’s still so much to learn when it comes to photography. Although I love playing around with the settings on my camera I often resort to automatic mode because it’s so convenient. But I should shoot in manual mode more to refine my techniques I guess…
    Christina ♥

    • There is so much to learn when it comes to photography. I am still experimenting and trying to come up with a better way of taking photos. Automatic mode comes handy, it is quick, however, with manual mode you have more options.

  • Alyce Wonderland

    I love learning about camera settings! 😀 Thanks for sharing this post!


    • There is so much to learn and I’m still learning 🙂

  • Ellie Adams

    Your photography is always incredible Ela so I adore this post! Knowing how to manually use your dlsr rather than automatic is so important <3


    • Aww thank you so much, Elle, I am so happy to hear that <3 x

  • I use a Canon 600D with a 50mm f/1.8 lens and shoot in aperture priority, which means that I can set the aperture value while the camera selects the appropriate shutter speed. It’s a pretty simple way to control the depth of field.

    • I love how bright and sharp your photos are. Do you use natural lights for your photos or studio lights? I think you have a ring light (can see it from your eyes ha ha :))

      • Haha, yes I do have a ring light and use it all the time for face shots. I often use it for product shots, too, which is not ideal, but sometimes you just have to make do with what you have. 😉

  • This was interesting. I really must step up my photography for the blog. But your photos look amazing. Good job and thank you for the info!

    Deni |

  • Rosy Flynn

    This was really interesting, I’m still learning to use my camera 🙂

    Rosy | Sparkles of Light Blog

    • I am still learning as well, there’s so much to learn 🙂

  • I couldn’t agree more, it does’t matter how great of a camera you have, it you don’t know how to use it properly, you’ll never get the most optimal results! I have a DSLR and I just recently started to learn the best settings for various lighting and I’ve had the camera for nearly 3 years now! We’ve always used the auto function, but when you start to play around with the settings, especial the depth of field, you can really create some dreamy photos! Thanks so much for sharing your tips with us and I hope you’re having a great week so far, beauty!



    • Auto function is good, however, if you have a DSLR then you should make the most of it, right?
      I wish you a great Friday and weekend, beauty! x

  • Lauren Letizio

    This is awesome that you show the differences between all of the settings! My husband takes my photos and we have had to teach ourselves how to use the camera which can be difficult sometimes. I love the lower aperture to make a blurry background! This is such a good informational post!

    Blame it on Barneys

    • Your husband is really good at taking photos, I love your photos! Blurry background is also what I prefer in photos, it looks great that way! x

  • Great post!!
    Thank you for the useful tips!


  • Roberta Romeo

    I haven’t such a professional camera but I want it! I dream it! *-*
    Thanks for your valuable advices dear! ^-^

  • Thank you, thank you, thank you!! This has been so helpful. Especially for an amateur photographer like me! I don’t use my camera to the best of its abilities!

    • It all takes time and a little bit of practice, I am sure once you play with the settings then you will get used to it!

  • I was strugling with blurring! Thanks for the tips!

  • Thanks for your tips dear! They’re really helpful!



  • SamanthaSeries

    You explain this so well and demonstrate so well with the photos. I remember learning about this in a class last year, it’s certainly very handy!

    Samantha Series

  • Ela, this is such a great post. I am mostly shooting in the automatic mode when I shoot indoors, since it’s so simple and it works well with my camera. However, it’s very interesting to learn about the basics of photography – sometimes my husband mentions these settings when we talk about my outfit photos, but to be honest, I’ve never played with them myself. I am curious to try now. Thanks so much for sharing that and have an amazing weekend!


    • Automatic mode comes handy and it is easy, however, for the best result, it is important to do the setting manually. I am still trying to learn the settings, it all takes practice.
      Have an amazing weekend!

  • Hi Ela, I have a pretty decent standard DSLR camera but admit at always using the same settings, meaning I only adjust lighting and brightness, DSLR cameras actually frighten me since it sounds so complicated haha, I should really start doing some educating myself on it, starting with this post! you have got some great photo taking skill so I should learn from you ha!

    Have a great Friday!

    ♥ Josune @ Your Beauty Script

    • Once you get used to the settings and know what you want to do, then it is not that scary. I still struggle with some settings and I am practicing to get them right 🙂 Your photography is already really good, I like your photos 🙂
      Have a great Friday and weekend!

  • These tips are so helpful and so clearly and well written. Thank you!


  • Nadia

    Such valuable pieces of advice and a great reminder to me to explore my camera a bit more. I got it from my hubby last Christmas and I am still learning. It is so much fun though 🙂 I always enjoy your photography so it was nice to get a breakdown as to what works for you and what doesn’t and what you’d recommend, lovely. Many thanks for all the fab tips!
    xox Nadia

    • There’ so much to learn, it is all about practicing and trying different settings. Practice makes perfect 🙂 x

  • Becky Hughff

    This is such a great post of tips and tricks! I’ll be honest I have no idea when it comes to the technical side of taking photos so this is really helpful!

    • Technical side is a little bit boring, however, it is what makes the difference!

  • Lucy Mitchell

    Really great tips. Thank you!
    Sunset Desires

  • The Sunday Mode

    I use two different cameras to take my blog photos and I always shoot on manual. It’s one of those things where it can take a while to learn the ins and outs but for me as I learn more about my cameras I feel so happy and proud 🙂

    • It takes a while to learn, but in the end it is worth it 🙂 Your photos look perfect so you’re doing a great job 🙂

      • The Sunday Mode

        That’s so nice of you to say, thanks 🙂

  • I totally struggle with photography and have ever since I started my blog. These tips are so helpful!!

    • Since the days are getting shorter, I’ve been struggling with getting decent light!

  • Love this post! I have saved it in BL!
    Angie | Chocolate & Lipstick | Beauty, Fashion & Lifestyle Blog

  • Dylana