Photographs are the most effective medium for fans or shoppers to feel cars virtually. Through car photography, people’s passion for cars comes to life, igniting curiosity and educating them about the various aspects of the vehicle. The person behind the lens makes the viewer feel like they are behind the wheel, and for the best results, they need to understand car photography settings.
For most people, car photography is a challenging and fun hobby, while for others, it’s a business. For online retailers, images are crucial. A study by Cox Automotive shows that 90% of car buyers consider photographs extremely important. In comparison, 40% of customers are likely to purchase a vehicle based on images they view online, without seeing the vehicle physically.
Moreover, the number of car photographs per vehicle also impacts customer engagement on your website, especially at the vehicle detail page level.
In this blog, we will examine some of the best car photography camera settings that will help improve the skills of automotive shutterbugs.
What are Camera Settings?
Car photography settings refer to the camera settings that help regulate different parameters of an image that one clicks. To shoot the best car pictures, you, as a Car Photographer, need to understand the workings of your camera. The three pillars of photography, also known as the exposure triangle, are; ISO, shutter speed, and aperture. You may also have settings for white balance, focus, image format, noise reduction, stabilization, etc., and mastering them will lead to fantastic photography results.
While best aperture for car photography controls the area over which light can enter the camera, the shutter speed controls the duration of the exposure, and the ISO speed controls the sensitivity of the camera’s sensor concerning a particular amount of light.
Additionally, there are physical car photography settings as well, like the selection of lenses. A car photography lens with a low focal length will have a wider field of view, with less magnification and detailing, and vice versa.
Why do you Need to Adjust Camera Settings for Car Photography?
Proper and well-adjusted camera settings are the key to beautiful Car Photography. Unlike most other mainstream products, cars have shiny and reflective surfaces, along with windows and windscreens. This makes dealing with reflections a considerable hassle when photographing cars.
If the car photography settings are not adjusted properly when taking car photographs, you’ll end up with blurred, lifeless-looking car photos that won’t be upload-worthy for your digital platforms. Moreover, you will also have to incur the cost of re-shooting the car.
To set the best camera settings for car photography, you’ll have to consider different factors, like the location, the car’s angle, and position, light exposure, whether it’s stationary or in motion, etc. As a photographer, you must keep an eye out for these settings to get professional-looking car shots.
The exposure of a photograph determines how dark or bright the image will appear when captured by the camera. You can also use car photography presets settings to make things easy for you. Apart from that, you need the best lens for car photography.
Once all this is done, you’ll get immaculate car images that will attract the most attention wherever you post them, be it automotive retail platforms, social media, or even car wallpaper websites!
Below, we’ve mentioned some camera setting recommendations about different types of car photography to ensure you have the best camera setup to shoot beautiful images.
What are the Best Camera Settings for Car Photography?
Let’s look at the best camera settings for car photography in various car photography scenarios:
1. Best camera settings for daytime car photography
Overall, the best camera settings for car photography include the following:
1) If you want to keep the car and the background in focus, narrow down the aperture to f/8 and up.
2) If you want to blur the background, opt for a wide aperture of f/2.8 to f/5.
3) Keep the ISO above 100, adjusting it to your shutter speed and aperture.
4) To enhance your car photos, select auto white balance. You can also change this in the post-production stage if you shoot the images in RAW format.
White balance – also called color temperature – camera setting in photography determines how warm or cool the colors develop in your image.
2. Night car photography camera settings
Nighttime photography can give us beautiful images, sometimes even more appealing than daytime photography! The key to creating an excellent night car photograph lies in a long shutter speed and a low ISO.
The long shutter speed allows the camera to capture more light, and a low ISO maintains a clear image. The longer the shutter remains open, the better your picture looks. However, this also means any minor movement while the shutter is open will ruin your car photos.
Car photographers should carry a tripod to keep the camera stable during long exposures. You can also use the camera’s timer or remote switch to avoid accidentally shaking the camera by pressing the shutter button.
Use the following best camera settings for car photography at night once your camera is steady on the tripod:
1) Put your camera in manual mode.
2) Use long shutter speeds, specifically between 30 to 60 seconds.
3) Set the aperture around f/11 and use a low ISO, specifically around 100 or 200.
4) Set the white balance camera setting to auto.
Voila! You’ll get tremendous results for night photography with these camera settings. Alternatively, you can use lighting equipment to brighten up the subject appropriately.
3. Camera setting for taking motion car photography
Motion car photography is a whole different ball game when it comes to the level of difficulty. The effects of motion car photography are worth the patience it takes.
Moving car photography settings:
1) Use a shutter speed of at least 1/125. The speed you choose should depend on the availability of light. If you are shooting in broad daylight, crank up the speed for increased detail and less motion blur.
2) Pan the camera side to side to follow the car’s motion.
3) Note that if the best shutter speed for car photography is fast enough, it will compensate for the vehicle’s motion and the direction of your arms as you try to capture the moving vehicle in time.
You need to sharpen their timing and instincts for using the panning technique. Additionally, consider investing in a monopod or gimbal for stability in tracking. It will help you move the camera around smoothly with the connected arm, following the action without any hassle.
4. Camera setting for capturing indoor car photography
The best way to capture your car indoors is to use a tripod that keeps your camera steady, so you can adjust your shutter speed with low ISO to compensate for dim lighting conditions. Alternatively, you can use car photography lighting equipment to brighten up the Car Photography Studio. For indoor car photography, use these camera settings:
1) Use an aperture of f/4 or less for portraits and f/11 for wider shots.
2) Keep the ISO around 100, increasing or lowering it as per your requirements.
3) Select the ‘white balance present’ or choose a custom setting that suits your lighting conditions.
You can also shoot in RAW photo format to avail better editing. In cases where using a tripod is impossible, keep your shutter speed to at least 1/100 to escape the blurry camera shake effect!
5. Camera setting for taking outdoor car photography
The first thing to consider and think about when taking static car photos outdoors is the depth of field (DOF). Decide if you want a shallow DOF, which makes the car the only sharp object in the photograph, or if you want a deeper one, to include the background where the vehicle is parked. In the latter case, increase the aperture to f/8 or higher.
Use a wide-angle lens or stand at a reasonable distance to get a perfect outdoor shot of the car. The DOF will automatically deepen when you’re further away from the car, even if you shoot at an f/2.8 aperture.
Detailed Camera Settings for Car Photography
|Types of Photography||Aperture||ISO||Shutter Speed||Focal Length|
|Static Car Photography||f/4 – f11||100 – 200||1/500 – 1/1000||85-105mm|
|Commercial Car Photography||f/4.5 – f/7.1||50 – 400||1/125 – 1/250||50-100mm|
|Car Parts’ Macro Shots||f/5.6 – f/11||100-800||1/100 and higher||50-180mm|
|Car Interiors||f/2.4 – f/5.0||400 – 1600||1/60 – 1/120||50mm – 100mm|
|Car Photography at Events||f/7.1 – f/11||100 – 800||1/160 – 1/250||35-60 mm|
|Car Photography in Race Tracks||f/11 – f32||100 – 400||1/200 – 1/800||Up to 28mm|
Useful Tips for Improving your Car Photography
Camera settings will help you with car photography, but these Car Photography Tips are just the cherry on the cake!
1. Opt for the Bokeh Effect
Elements in the background often create a distraction in the photograph. The background can be blurred and the distraction can be offset with the Bokeh effect. To achieve this, set the aperture below f/4.To improve the DOF, you can alternatively get a closer shot of the car or use a longer focal length.
2. Pair a wide-angle lens
Using the best camera for automotive photography and a wide-angle lens will help you capture the entire vehicle in detail. It will give you enough space to include the surroundings (if you want to), which is excellent for branding if you want to include your storefront or brand banner in the images.
3. Panning effect for motion blur
Panning is the best option for capturing a moving car. For panning, you must set the camera on a tripod (with a freely movable head) or a gimbal, lower the shutter speed to 1/60 and follow the vehicle as it moves around.
4. Shoot the car from different positions and angles
Shooting the car from different positions and angles will give you plenty of good pictures, some of which might be unique and pretty. To capture the best angles for car photography, try shooting from a low perspective to emphasize the car’s presence and sleekness, experiment with side profile shots to highlight its contours, and consider aerial shots to showcase its surroundings and create a dynamic composition.
If you want to take things to the next level, use drones for high-level shots, or perhaps set your equipment up in another car!
5. Reflections are your enemy
Unless it’s not intentional, reflections are the foremost photograph-ruining factor. Cars usually have shiny bodies, due to which it is difficult to avoid reflections from different angles during a photoshoot
You can also use cameras attached to light meters and polarizers to control reflections. You can also avoid them by shooting inside a studio, where the light sources are all under your control.
6. Creative Composition
Image composition depends on your creativity; however, a creative car photography composition makes your car emerge as the main character of the photographs, as it rightly should. Experiment with light exposure, the selected frame, and the surrounding elements to get the best shot. You can also choose a theme for your photoshoot, one that matches your car or defines it, and then shoot accordingly.
Best Post-Processing Settings for Car Photography
Best post-processing options for automotive photography let you enhance colour, details, and overall aesthetics to produce attractive and powerful photographs. These methods will enable you to maximize the potential of your automotive photography, whether you choose to shoot in RAW for the greatest degree of versatility or to fine-tune particular aspects like white balance and saturation.
1) Shoot in RAW
Start by capturing your car images in RAW format. RAW files retain more data, allowing for more extensive editing without sacrificing image quality.
2) Adjust White Balance
Correct the white balance to ensure accurate colour representation. This step is essential to maintain the true colours of the car.
3) Balance Exposure and Contrast
Strive for a well-balanced image by adjusting the exposure and contrast. This ensures that both bright and dark areas retain essential details.
4) Enhance Details
Use clarity and sharpening tools to enhance the car’s features, making them stand out and appear more defined.
5) Adjust Saturation
Carefully adjust the saturation to make colours pop without appearing oversaturated or unnatural.
6) HSL Adjustments
Fine-tune individual colour using Hue, Saturation, and Luminance adjustments to achieve the desired colour balance and vibrancy.
7) Selective Noise Reduction
Apply noise reduction selectively to minimise e noise without sacrificing image sharpness.
Improve composition by cropping and eliminating distractions, guiding the viewer’s eye towards the main subject the car.
9) Creative Filters
Experiment with creative filters and presets to add artistic flair, but exercise restraint to maintain a natural look.
10) Final Touches
Pay attention to small details, removing any imperfections, and perform final adjustments to achieve a polished result.
Post-processing settings is essential to elevate your car photography to new heights. Shooting in RAW provides greater editing flexibility, while adjusting white balance ensures accurate colour ors. Balancing exposure and contrast helps maintain detail in highlights and shadows. Enhancing details with clarity and sharpening makes the car’s features more prominent.
Best Camera Equipment for Car Photography
The best camera equipment for car photography depends on your budget, shooting preferences, and the level of professional quality you seek. Here’s a comprehensive list of equipment that can enhance your car photography:
1) Full-Frame Camera
Cameras like Sony A7R IV, Sony A1, Nikon Z7 II, Nikon D850, or Canon EOS R5 offer high-resolution and excellent image quality, ideal for capturing fine details and dynamic range.
2) Wide-Angle Lens
A high-quality wide-angle lens is essential for capturing cars in their environment, such as the Sigma 24-70mm f/2.8 or the Canon EF 16-35mm f/2.8.
3) Telephoto Lens
A telephoto lens allows you to capture close-up shots of car details and compressed perspectives, like the Sony FE 70-200mm f/2.8 or the Nikon AF-S 70-200mm f/2.8.
A sturdy tripod is essential for stable shots and long-exposure photography.
5) Circular Polarizer Filter
Reduces reflections and glare on car surfaces and enhances colors.
6) ND Filter
Useful for controlling exposure in bright conditions or achieving longer exposures.
7) Remote Shutter Release
Helps minimize camera shake during long-exposure shots.
8) Reflector and Diffuser
Helps control lighting and reduce harsh shadows.
9) Lighting Equipment
External flashes or continuous lighting for studio-style shots or light painting effects.
10) Cleaning Kit
Keep your car and camera equipment clean and free from dust and debris.
11) Camera Bag
A reliable and comfortable bag to carry your camera gear safely.
For aerial shots and dynamic perspectives, consider a drone like the DJI Mavic Air 2.
Remember that the best camera equipment may vary depending on your shooting style and the type of car photography you want to pursue, whether it’s studio-based, outdoor, action shots, or aerial photography. Invest in high-quality lenses and accessories that complement your camera, and don’t forget to practice and experiment to develop your unique style.
Best Chrome Extension for AI Car Cataloging
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With our extension you can automatically change your automotive catalog in few simple steps:
1) Open your browser and search Spyne Flip extension
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3) After adding the extension, you can select the cars from your catalog
4) Click on “transform,” and the AI will automatically edit your car catalog. You can change the background, apply number plate masking, add window tinting, and much more
Best Lighting for Car Photography
Early morning or evening sunshine provides soft, warm, and directional light that enhances the car’s shape, lines, and contours. The light creates long, pleasing shadows and adds depth to the car, making it appear three-dimensional and visually appealing. Shooting during these times ensures that the best lighting conditions are achieved for car photography, resulting in captivating and natural images with a sense of beauty and elegance. Plan your shoots accordingly to make the most of this exquisite lighting opportunity.
Best Composition for Car Photography
Use the rule of thirds and other composition strategies to generate aesthetically appealing and interesting photographs to obtain the best composition for vehicle photography.Embrace leading lines, negative space, symmetry, and reflections to guide the viewer’s eye and add depth to the images. Additionally, incorporating the car’s environment can help tell a compelling story and give context to the photograph. Experiment with various angles and perspectives to capture dynamic shots that showcase the car’s best features. Mastering these techniques will enable you to produce stunning and captivating car images that resonate with viewers.
In conclusion, understanding and adjusting camera settings are crucial for achieving stunning car photography results. Shooting in RAW format and using the right camera equipment, along with proper lighting and composition, can elevate your car images to a professional level. By following the provided recommendations and tips, car photographers can capture the beauty of vehicles and create captivating images that resonate with viewers. Practice and experimentation are essential to developing a unique and compelling style in car photography.