Best setting for portraits with Canon 50mm f/1.8

edited April 2012 Posted in » Canon T2i Forum
I just got my "nifty fifty" lens and excited to start using it. I would like to take outdoor portraits of friends. Aside from portrait mode, I would like to try Av mode. What shutter speed and aperture do you recommend? Any advice would be appreciated! Thanks in advance.


  • Howdy @danvyn - I would start with the following...

    1. Aperture priority (Av)
    2. Set the f-number between f/1.8 to f/2.8 for portraits and f/4 to f/5.6 for small groups
    3. The T2i will set the shutter speed automatically
    4. Set the ISO to Auto - Most of the time the T2i will use an ISO of 100 in bright light, however, if a cloud passes by, it may jump up a little bit to get an accurate exposure.
    5. Set your focus mode to One Shot
    6. Press the AF point button and select the center focus point
    7. Set your metering mode to Center Weighted

    With these settings in place, pre-focus on the eyes by half-pressing the shutter. Re-frame the shot (still half-pressing the shutter) to get a composition you're happy with and then click away. That should get you going in the right direction. Happy shooting! :)
  • Thanks so much! I will try it out this week.
  • edited April 2012
    Thanks for advice @Moose. Can you let me know which setting to use for indoor portraits with the same lens as well as a 18-135mm lens? Thanks in advance!
  • edited April 2012
    The 18-135mm isn't a good low-light lens due to a larger f/stop number and will need a longer exposure, which in turn will lead to blurry pics (hand held). If you have a good external flash you might get some decent bounce flash pics. I try not to use flash at all when shooting indoors.
  • Howdy @pandyapragnesh - Like @t2iski mentioned, it's going to be difficult to take portraits (indoors) with the 18-135mm. The reason for this is the fairly dim f/4-5.6 maximum aperture. It's the equivalent to wearing dark tinted sunglasses indoors.

    As for your "nifty fifty", you can use the same exact settings mentioned above. Photography is all about light, so whenever possible, try to position your subjects near a window that's letting in natural light. I also recommend setting a custom white balance when shooting indoors, this will help you capture more accurate skin tones.

    When it comes to flash, there will be situations where flash is needed to illuminate your subject in a very dark or dim environment. It would be best to use an external speedlite versus the built-in flash, as it will allow you to bounce light off a ceiling rather than directly at your subject.

    That should get you going in the right direction. Happy shooting! :)
  • edited April 2012
    How do you set a correct white balance for indoor shooting?
  • edited April 2012
    Hello @pandyapragnesh - To set a custom WB, you'll need to take a shot of a white piece of paper and set that as your custom WB in the location/area you will be shooting. I forgot a few times to reset and proper WB makes a HUGE difference.
  • @pandyapragnesh - Setting a custom white balance is pretty straight forward, just refer to page 99 of the T2i manual. As @t2iski mentioned, you'll need to "measure" a white wall or white object in order to get an accurate reading.
  • edited September 2012
    So, I'm new to your site and I am in love! Thank you so much for helping all of us amateur photographers! I have been desperately trying to get the white balance setting to work on my T2i and I seem to be incapable of getting it to work properly. When I go to take my picture of the white item the camera will not take a picture! In every single setting the lens zooms in and out continuously and will not snap a picture. I have tried everything and I'm ready to chuck it through the window. I'm doing a weekly photo project with my four month old daughter. In order to get the best lighting I have had to set up a light box in my backyard at noon which makes her squint, but has the most life like colors. Any suggestions you could offer me would be fantastic. Any help that you can provide would be wonderful. Thank you so much!
  • edited September 2012
    Hi Alicia,
    Because you are trying to photograph something with no contrast, your camera is having difficulty focusing. I use a piece of white card with a symbol drawn on it. I set my camera and lens to manual and focus on the symbol. Then I just turn the card around with blank side facing camera and click. Job done. Remember to reset your lens and camera before taking your shots, unless you intend working in manual mode.
  • edited May 2013
    Hi, I'm new to it all and want to take photos of kiddos in the woods. I have a 18-55mm lens and a 70-300mm lens. Which is best to use when shooting kids and why? I live in Alaska, so the sky is usually cloudy. I'd like to try the AV or P mode.
  • Thank you Moose for the above advice re-portrait settings. i've just tried and tested your advice, and you were spot on. I used 700d and 50mm f/1.8 .....again many thanks. I am from UK and would like to purchase your cheat cards... any advice re purchasing please from here. Many thanks again.
Sign In or Register to comment.