Car Photography Settings
5 Min Read

Car Photography Settings For the Best Vehicle Images

Table of Contents

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, its 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 the aperture 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: 

  • If you want to keep the car and the background in focus, narrow down the aperture to f/8 and up.
  • If you want to blur the background, opt for a wide aperture of f/2.8 to f/5.
  • Keep the ISO above 100, adjusting it to your shutter speed and aperture.
  • 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. 

Now that your camera is steady on the tripod, use the following camera settings for night photography: 

  • Put your camera in manual mode.
  • Use long shutter speeds, specifically between 30 to 60 seconds.
  • Set the aperture around f/11 and use a low ISO, specifically around 100 or 200.
  • 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. Motion car photography requires patience, but the results are worth your effort.

Moving car photography settings:

  • Use a faster shutter speed at 1/125 or quicker. 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. 
  • Pan the camera side to side to follow the car’s motion. 
  • Note that if the shutter speed 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 studio. Use these camera settings for indoor car photography:

  • Use an aperture of f/4 or less for portraits and f/11 for wider shots.
  • Keep the ISO around 100, increasing or lowering it as per your requirements.
  • 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. 


Useful Tips For Improving Your Car Photography

Camera settings will help you with car photography, but these 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 Bokeh effect can neutralize the distraction and blur the background. To achieve this, set the aperture below f/4. You can also take closer shots of the car or extend the focal length to increase the DOF. 

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. 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 a deliberate creative choice, 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 pjhotography 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.



With these camera setting recommendations and additional tips, there’s no stopping you from acing car photographs as a car retail business! Remember, the best car photography settings will help you get the best result. The more you practice and experiment, the better your photoshoots will be!


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  • Q. What settings should I use for car photography?

    The overall best settings for car photography are to use a low aperture setting – at least f/11 or lower – to ensure that the entire car is focused. Additionally, use a fast shutter speed to get sharp photos and freeze the moment perfectly. 

    You can also experiment with different white balance settings and achieve the correct color balance to adjust according to the lighting conditions. 

    If you want to keep the car and the background in focus, narrow down the aperture to f/8 and up, and if you want to blur the background, opt for a wide aperture of f/2.8 to f/5. Use ISO 100 and set your shutter speed to 1/60 or faster than that. 

  • Q. What are the most important camera settings?

    The exposure triangle – ISO, shutter speed, and aperture – are the most important camera settings. These settings are used to change how much light enters your camera, to properly expose a shot. 

    Aperture: Determines how much light is allowed into the lens

    ISO: Determines the camera’s sensitivity to light 

    Shutter speed: Determines how quickly the shutter opens and shuts. A fast shutter speed lets less light reach the camera sensor and reduces your pictures’ blurry effect. 

  • Q. How do I take sharp pictures of my car?

    To take crisp and sharp pictures of your car, use a fast shutter speed and ensure your background coordinates with the color of your vehicle. Dark-colored cars look better against bright, light backgrounds, and lighter-shade cars look better if shot against a darker backdrop.

Written by

Team Spyne

Young, enthusiastic, and curious are the three words that describe Spyne’s content team perfectly. We take pride in our work - doing extensive research, engaging with industry experts, burning the midnight oil, etc. Every word we write is aimed at solving our readers’ problems.

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