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Tuesday, January 22, 2019

What Camera Settings Should I Use for Street and Travel Photography

Older man with folded arms in curio shop

Street photography and travel photography are similar genres: really, street photography is just travel photography in your hometown. That means they use the same broad camera settings.

Generally, for street and travel photography, you want a relatively natural-looking image. The viewer should almost feel like they see things for themselves. Let’s look at how to achieve that.

interior of train station with sun setting in background

What Lens to Use for Street and Travel Photography

There are three traditional focal lengths for street and travel photography: 24mm, 28mm, 35mm, and 50mm. They correspond to some of the most common prime lenses available.

At 50mm, you get a perspective that closely mimics what the human eye sees. Everything looks natural. 35mm, 28mm, and 24mm all show a wider field of view so you can include more of the scene without adding much distortion.

RELATED: What is DSLR Crop Factor (And Why Should I Care)

Note that these are the traditional focal lengths on full frame bodies. For crop sensor cameras, they correspond roughly to 16mm, 18mm, 24mm, and 35mm. If you want, you can use a prime, but 18mm, 24mm, and 35mm all fall nicely in the range of the standard 18-55mm kit lens that comes with most cameras. Convenient, eh!

Aperture for Street and Travel Photography

Arthur “Weegee” Fellig famously said that the secret to good street photography was “f/8 and be there.” It’s a motto that’s been picked up by photojournalists for a good reason: shooting at f/8 with a 35mm lens gives your images a nice wide depth of field. This means that all you have to do is be where something interesting is happening.

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