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What do camera settings mean?

2 MinutesThursday 27th, February 2020

Cameras have many settings, once you understand what each setting does, you'll be able to experiment with different combinations to figure out what works and what doesn't. You will also understand what settings work in what type of environment and lighting.


ISO stands for International standard organisation. This refers to the cameras sensitivity to light. A low ISO setting for example 100, would be a lower sensitivity to light and the cameras sensor requires a higher level of light to get the correct exposure. On the opposite end a high ISO set such as 6400 would be a high sensitivity to light. Where ever possible using a lower ISO is usually better as a higher ISO often produces more noise in the photo taken.

Shutter speed

Shutter speed is the amount of time the cameras shutter stays open before the photo is taken. If the shutter speed is too short, the image will likely be dark and if the shutter speed is too long the image will likely be too light. The primary focus is to ensure the right amount of light gets to the cameras sensor. The shutter speed also indicates how motion is recorded, which can be a powerful tool, the faster shutter speed can be useful to freeze motion, while slower will blur it.


Aperture is the adjustable hole through which light can pass through to the sensor. The numbers used are referred to as f/numbers or f/stops. For larger aperture you would want to use a smaller number such as f/1.8, while a smaller aperture is a larger number such as f/22. Aperture often results in a photo with depth of field, where the main subject is focused and the background is blurred.

Using all of these settings together and in the correct way, for the correct time of day and light will allow you to take some great photos that are lit correctly and not over exposed.

Meet the author

Tom Howard

Tip by Tom Howard

Tom is an up and coming photographer, who loves to go out on photography adventures with friends and family when he can. He's a full time software engineer by day for a technology company in Brighton and the founder of Snaphints.

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