I get asked all the time, OK, OK not all the time but occasionally, what I for model photography, and what are my default camera settings. I’ve mainly done editorial fashion and model photography for about 3 years. As such I’ve found there are two lenses and a beginning setting I go to regularly.
I’m a Nikon user – why you ask? I have no clue except I’ve used Nikon’s since I was a kid and I just stuck with it. You’ll find the equivalent Canon equipment will generate the equivalent results. Can’t speak about the opening settings however, since like I said, I’m a Nikon user.
Anyway, without further ado, I use the AF-S Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.8 G ED VRII and the AF-S Nikkor 50mm f/1.4 G ED almost exclusively. If I had to choose between these 2 beauties, I probably use the 50mm 75% of them time.
I have a wide range of Nikkor lenses from 28mm to 85mm on the prime side, and zooms up to 300mm. Almost all my lenses are in the f/2.8 or wider aperture. I also have a number of Tokina lenses. However, with these focal lengths available I still find myself going back to the 50mm & the 70-200mm all the time.
One of the reasons I like the 50mm is that it has lightning fast focus, and I tend to do most of my photos in the full length or 9x12 crop. I zoom with my feet, and I have a studio with adequate space for moving around. Also, the 50mm is lighter. The rest of the time I use the 70-200mm f/2.8, but this tends to be for the head or head/shoulder shots. I’ll occasionally step way back from the model and use the longer lens if I want and compression.
As they say on TV, your results may vary. Others I know like the 85mm, the 105mm or primarily the 70-200mm f/2.8. The main thing is to find what you like / what works for you and hit it HARD. These two lenses are what I like.
Now, from a setting standpoint I default to a starting point. Again, results may vary, but I ALWAYS start at the following default setting: manual mode, WB set to flash mode, f/9, ISO 160 and finally 1/160 for my shutter speed. I use a Sekonic light meter and adjust my lights to this setting. I adjust during the shoot from this starting point. Two caveats, I shoot with a Nikon D600 full frame kit and I shoot probably 75% of my model photography in studio.
Throughout the session for get different lighting I adjust ISO first going from 100 up to 200. Rarely more sensitive than 200. I then adjust aperture next moving from f/8 through f/13. Rarely wider than f/8. I like a deep depth of field so I stay tight. Also, this gives me a bit more leeway on my focal point. Finally, I adjust shutter speed up to my Nikon’s maximum synch speed, but rarely slower than 1/125. I never take it out of manual mode.
And that’s it. Simple huh? I have found that if I stick to these settings and lenses I can devote all my concentration on my model, the lighting and avoid chimping. So my advice, find what works for you and work it. However, if you want a starting point give these lenses and settings a go.