Camera settings presets are a combination of buttons and dials that can be used to recall a specific set of settings on your camera. These are basically memory recall buttons. Their purpose is to save time by instantly recall your favorite settings depending on the scene or image you are shooting. Some of these presets are hardwired into your camera. Most cameras, including the budget point and shoots come with some form of shooting presets. Other cameras like DSLRs and mirrorless can be programmed to create new presets.

There are a couple of shooting settings presets that I use all the time. Let’s go through these to start off. We can then come down to the situation based camera settings afterwards.

Back-button focusing

Before I start delving about the camera settings presets and the various shooting modes I use from time to time, I would like to add a few words on back-button focusing. This is a preset that I have created for my camera and it works in more than one ways.

Back-button focusing is the technique of assigning the function of focusing to a button other than the shutter release. The reason I do this is it helps me to separate the tasks of focusing and making an image via shutter release. The primary purpose of this is it allows me to employ the technique of focus and recompose. Provided of course, that I have selected single-shot auto focus on my camera.

camera settings presets

Back button focusing is also extremely suitable when photographing wildlife as it keeps the subject in continuous focus as it moves through thick foliage or obstructions. This is provided that I select continuous auto-focus and delay the focus re-acquire feature. It helps me to fire the shutter button instantaneously when the composition is near perfect. There is a critical saving of time involved too, between acquiring focus and then firing the shutter release.

Set the command dial to scroll though images

Another preset that I love using is somewhat inspired by the fantastic image scrolling option on Canon systems. This is one of the few camera settings presets only applicable for Nikon systems as you beautiful Canon people already have that on your cameras! To activate this go to custom Setting Menu. Then on to Controls. After that to Customize command dials. Then to Menus and playback. Finally switch it on so that you can use this feature. Now, when you are in image review mode you can simply turn the command dial to scroll through your images.


Wedding photography is perhaps the most difficult of genres. This is my personal opinion. Yours may be different to what I feel. There is a strong reason I feel this way. It is because wedding photography is one of those genres where you have to be at the top of your game at all times and every time. The stakes are pretty high in wedding photography.

One of the most important things to do when setting up your camera to photograph a wedding is to understand the risk to value ratio of shooting in manual mode. The manual mode has so much to offer. Everyone knows that. However, on the flip side, you have too much to think about and work with when using this mode.

For example, you have to dial in the shutter speed, the aperture value as also the ISO. Situations and light changes every few minutes and that means you have to do this drill every now and then. That’s too much to take care of, especially when you might already be stressed out with maintaining a tight deadline.

camera settings presets

Instead of doing all these on the fly, and for each and every shot, try a different approach instead – the camera settings presets approach. Dial your camera to Aperture priority mode. That leaves your shutter speed to be dialed in by the camera. Also leave your camera on Auto ISO mode. That will enable the camera to dial in the right ISO automatically.

Auto ISO

Auto ISO basically allows you to set a ceiling for the ISO and one other shooting parameter. If you are shooting in aperture priority mode that one other parameter will be Shutter Speed. This means all you have to do is select the right aperture and the camera takes care of the rest.

The good thing is you can set a threshold for the slowest shutter speed after which Auto ISO will kick in. This will prevent your camera from selecting too slow a shutter speed. At slow shutter speeds you run the risk of getting blurry images.

You can also set a threshold for the highest ISO number your camera will auto select. For example, you can select ISO 1600 o be the highest ISO number your camera can auto select. This will prevent your camera from selecting too high a number on its own. At higher ISO noise will invariably become a problem. That’s one camera settings preset that I prefer to use at weddings as well as in any low light fast paced shooting situations.


camera settings presets

There are two possible scenarios for shooting portraits. One studio and the other outdoors. Even under those two scenarios there could be a multitude of sub-scenarios. Let’s take up a few of them to discuss.

Studio portraits. I prefer using the U1 and the U2 settings on my Nikon. These allow me to quickly get back to my preferred settings after I have played around with the different aperture / shutter speed combinations.

The U1 and U2 modes on any professional or semi-professional Nikon DSLR will immediately save all the current camera settings for instant later recall. The same goes for C1, C2 and C3 settings on Canon systems.

Even without the U1 and U2 settings I always make it a point to use a few shooting options that help me get going faster than if I had to dial in everything after I arrive for the shoot.

Sunny 16 Rule

If I am shooting outdoors on a bright clear day, I prefer using the Sunny 16 Rule. The Sunny 16 Rule is a very useful setting. We have already discussed it in detail elsewhere. To start off I would take a look around and see it is quite bright and sunny and immediately dial in the following settings. ISO 100, Shutter speed 1/100 and aperture f/16.

That’s my starting point. From that point if I can change the aperture and shutter combinations for different requirements I might have. Let’s say that I have to change aperture, say f/4. I would then have to speed up the shutter speed by four stops. That way the exposure value remains the same but the depth of field changes.

If it is overcast, I would start with f/5.6.  If it is really overcast, like may be a large alien spaceship is dominating 90 %of the sky, then switch to f/4 (you could also consider getting out of town).

Preset Portrait

There is also a very useful Preset known as the Portrait Mode on most cameras. The Portrait mode is safely tucked under the Scene option in the main shooting mode dial. It is usually labelled as SCENE. Turn your main mode dial to Scene and then choose the appropriate scene mode for the scene you are shooting. In this case that scene mode would be Portrait.

Choosing the Portrait mode automatically dials in a set of aperture and shutter speed combination based on the ambient light and other parameters. To get the best out of this mode, ask the subject to stand right around the middle of the frame. Leave out ample space between the subject and background. The camera will automatically, use the right aperture to blur out the background.

Another advantage of the Portrait mode is that it is backed by an intelligent face detection technology. Most digital cameras come with this technology. It automatically detects faces in the frame and considers them when focusing and setting the exposure. The camera gives special attention to the faces, adjusting exposure and focus to gives them prominence.


camera settings presets

Landscape photography is tough. I always say that. It gets really difficult to meter and then set the right exposure values for the best exposure. The phrase ‘best exposure’ in itself is a bit dubious. In my case anyways I prefer to always meter for the highlights. That way I can retain details in the sky and anything around the borderline of being blown out. So far as shadows are concerned I prefer to push them when post-processing.

The only preset that I use when shooting landscapes is select the appropriate metering mode. My preferred metering mode is spot. It is the closest that I have to the accuracy of a hand-held light meter. That allows me to point at something that is middle gray and then meter based on it.

Everything else is manually selected. I select my preferred aperture and shutter speed after metering the scene. Then I select the focusing point depending on the depth of field that I need for the shot. I even select the focusing mode and the number of focusing points. Usually, my camera settings presets would also include single-point AF. I select all the focusing points on camera and then manually select the appropriate focusing point based on the composition.

Preset Landscape

The landscape preset that is buried under the scene modes is also an effective way to shoot landscapes. This mode is actually quite effective. If you are a beginner photographer or someone who is not that proficient with the manual modes, try the Landscape Preset mode.

Landscapes are usually shot with a small aperture. That means invariably it aims at capturing a large depth of field. This setting is designed to look at a scene and assess the amount of lighting in a scene. Modern DSLRs like the D7200 comes with dedicated metering systems. A dedicated 2016-pixel RGB sensor meters each scene employing the Multi-CAM 3500 II auto-focus sensor. Together, they produce a well exposed sharp image.

Rajib Mukherjee

Rajib’s love for the road is second only to his love for photography. Wanderlust at heart and a shutterbug who loves to document his travels via his lenses; his two passions compliment each other perfectly. He has been writing for over 6 years now, which unsurprisingly, revolve mostly around his two favourite pursuits.
Rajib Mukherjee

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