#6 Bring the Right Gear
The best candid photography tips on gear are to have your camera close by at all times and have it prepared.
Because you never know when that epic moment will appear. If it does you want to be prepared and have your camera ready.
This means not only keeping it close but also having a charged battery and loads of memory. To be sure it’s best to have a charged spare battery and a second memory card ready.
Best Camera for Candid Photography
As far as cameras go you should photograph with the camera that you’re most comfortable with.
Because candid photography relies heavily on speed, you do not want to figure out your camera while you’re shooting. Getting comfortable shooting with your camera is a vital step in how to take candid photos with a DSLR or Mirrorless camera.
Not there yet? Check out this article about manual mode. It comes with an awesome Shooting in Program Mode PDF guide!
Best Lens for Candid Photography
Despite the convenience of a zoom lens, I don’t recommend them. For one because the quality of a zoom lens will always be inferior to a prime lens.
But the most important reason is a zoom lens makes you a lazy photographer. When you use a prime lens you need to move your ass to get a different perspective. And active photographers always create better images.
Read more about the pros and cons: Prime vs Zoom Lens
So what I recommend is a prime lens preferably a 50 mm or 35 mm full-frame. Both lenses are very versatile which is why they’re so great for candid pics.
They give you a wider perspective when you wanna shoot from further away and incorporate the surroundings.
But they also allow coming close. The good thing is they force you to be in the middle of the action. And that creates those ‘being part of the scene’ kinda candid shots.
#7 Best Camera Settings
Due to the nature of Candid Photography, you need to be fast and so does your camera. Both shutter speed and focus mode have to be set with that in mind. You can select some settings before you start shooting.
Shoot in Raw
But let’s start with a basic setting. Selecting the Raw file format.
The file format you select right at the beginning of your candid photography shoot determines what you can do with it when you’re done shooting. In other words, in the editing phase.
The biggest difference between shooting Raw versus Jpeg is that a Raw file is extremely forgiving and that is very good news.
Because when you’re photographing life as it unfolds and you’re chasing a moment, you might lose sight of your exposure settings. And end up with a slightly under or overexposed image.
When you shoot in Raw the range of correcting that ‘mistake’ is a lot bigger than when you shoot in Jpeg.
For me, shooting in Raw is a no-brainer. It’s my default setting.
If you’re new to shooting in Raw I advise selecting the option Raw/Jpeg. Your camera will produce both a Raw file and a Jpeg file of the same image.
Find out more about Raw vs Jpeg here.
When you’re a beginner I’d recommend shooting in shutter speed priority mode to make sure your photos don’t turn out blurred.
A shutter speed of 1/250 sec. is good. It will be fast enough to freeze the movement.
When you’ve become a little more advanced I’d suggest shooting in aperture priority mode while you keep an eye on your shutter speed and make sure it doesn’t drop below 1/250.
In aperture priority mode, you’ll be able to control the sharpness or blurriness in the background which is a wonderful tool for candid shots to play with.
Set the ISO at 400 to give you some leeway with the fast shutter speed. This also depends on the light situation.
When there’s a lot of light available select a low ISO of around 400 and when there’s a little light available select a high ISO of 1600 or higher.
There are basically 2 focus modes you need to be aware of:
- The one-shot focus mode locks the focus once you press the shutter halfway.
- Continuous mode keeps focusing as long as you keep the shutter pressed halfway.
Depending on the movement in the frame you select one of them. In most situations, the one-shot mode works best.
Unless you’re photographing action and there’s a lot of movement. Then you select the continuous mode and track the movement so that the camera keeps focusing.
Check out capturing motion in photography for more tips on action photography.
Your camera will have a setting that determines how many shots per second you can take. It will not surprise you that in candid shot photography you want it to go as fast as it can.
In Burst Mode or High Speed, your camera keeps on going as long as you press the shutter. Thus making sure you don’t miss the moment. It depends on the camera but you can get around 5 images per second in the highest Drive Mode setting.