DSLR Settings for Outdoor Photography

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Updated November 9, 2022

If you are new to high-end cameras, you may wonder about DSLR settings for outdoor photography. After all, many of the best digital cameras are DSLR models, which often require special attention for outdoor photos. So why learn how to use the best DSLR cameras for outdoor photography and what is the best way to get started? Keep reading to find out.


  • DSLR cameras excel with outdoor shots, but only when properly adjusted to use the increased or decreased natural light.
  • Consider using a sturdy tripod when taking outdoor shots; this will minimize camera shake as you make adjustments.
  • Familiarize yourself with the various adjustment parameters, though most DSLRs include an automatic mode. Try a shallow depth, a faster shutter speed, a wide aperture, a wide depth of field, and more.

Why Learn DSLR Outdoor Settings?

Learning about outdoor settings is just as important as understanding the best DSLR settings for indoor photography. This is true when learning about DSLR portrait settings or just about anything else. In other words, you need to know your camera’s settings to take good photos, even if you compare a Canon EOS 1D Mark II to a Canon 70D.

Insider Tip

If you are taking night shots outside, consider using a dedicated external flash device to ensure high-quality shots.

Integrating these settings into your routine can also help you learn how to waterproof a DSLR camera, among other outdoor-adjacent tasks.

DSLR Outdoor Photography Tips

Each camera is different, and so is each outdoor location. Here are some universal tips to get started with outdoor photography.

Try a Tripod

Before getting started with adjusting the settings, remember that the outdoors is not exactly a controlled environment. If you are going to be making settings adjustments on the fly, it is best to invest in a sturdy tripod. This will ensure the camera does not move around too much as you make these adjustments. Outdoor shots typically require slower shutter speeds than indoor shots, especially in low-light scenarios, so jostling the camera during this process translates to bad photos.

Learn the Settings

There is no cheat code here. You have to simply learn the various settings of your camera, as daytime outdoor shots are very different than night photography. Low-light shots practically require a slower shutter speed, while the opposite is true for shots taken in the bright of day. Experiment with various ISO settings, shutter speeds, aperture settings, and white balance settings. Before too long, you will be great at both daylight and nighttime photos.

STAT: Outdoor photography comes in many forms. You can shoot portraits, action shots, or landscapes in bright sunlight, shaded forests, or dark campsites — but each one requires a different camera setting. (source)

Try Automatic Mode

Consider the camera’s automatic mode if you are in a pinch or time crunch and want decent results without much work. This mode is generally fine-tuned for outdoor shots, especially during the day. The automatic mode instantly adjusts various parameters on the fly according to light levels and the lens you use.

Outdoor Settings FAQs

How do you pick camera settings for outdoor photography?

You don't really pick so much as you experiment with different things like aperture priority, narrow aperture, lighting conditions, and more. Finding the correct settings should translate to fantastic outdoor portraits.

Why is bright sunlight not good for photography?

It is a case of "too much of a good thing." The intensity of light from the sun is overwhelming to image sensors, so make good use of that shutter button to speed things up and lessen that load on the white balance.

How do I take outdoor portrait photography?

It all comes down to settings adjustments, so mess with the white balance, depth of field, and shutter button to ensure decent image quality. Also, keep an eye on that LCD screen to see what you are shooting.
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