What your Digital Camera needs to take Great Night Photos

Taking night photos can be difficult because of the lack of light. You don't want the images to be too dark, but you don't want them to look bad either. There are two things that will help you take great night photos. Those are a shutter speed you can control and an ISO that you can adjust. There are other factors too that contribute to great night photos, but these are the most important in obtaining exposure.

Shutter Speed

Your shutter speed is what is going to make or break great night photos. Exposure is dependent on how much light enters through your lens to the photographic medium and how long that light is there for. Since you're dealing with low light at night, you can't rely on opening the aperture all the way to solve your problems.

You need to have a slow shutter speed so the image can be properly exposed. Depending on the light, you may need to expose the photo for a full ten or fifteen seconds to have a great looking image. Any movement that happens in front of the lens when it's exposing will appear blurred. Because of this, you want to use a tripod when shooting night photos instead of shooting hand held.


A digital camera's ISO is the equivalent of film speed. The higher the ISO, the less light required to obtain exposure. This should not be seen as the ideal solution to your problems because raising the ISO results in a loss of image quality. Ideally, you want the ISO as low as possible and should only raise it when there is no other choice, unless you want a grainy image.

Manual Focus

When choosing a digital camera for night photography, make sure you pick one that can be switched to manual focus. Auto focus works by recognizing the contrast in an image. In low light situations, there isn't enough contrast to tell the difference between objects. If you don't switch to manual focus, then you can expect a blurred image on every shot, even with a slow shutter speed.

If you're waiting to shoot something at night that can enter your frame at any moment, then you should try pre-focusing. That way you're prepared when the action happens.


The fireworks mode in your camera is perfectly set for night photos. The ISO is low, the shutter is slow, and the pre-focus is at infinity. If your camera can do fireworks mode, then you can set it up for night photography. And remember, always bring a tripod for night shoots.

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