Before we get into the best aquarium camera settings, let’s review some of the basic things you should be doing to get the best shots.
Before you get started setting up your camera gear, make sure the water in your tank is sparkling clean. I like to do a partial water change the day before I plan to shoot photos and at the same time, I also clean the glass thoroughly. Make sure the gravel is clean, too. Once you are finished cleaning, give your tank a good inspection.
Are any pumps or cords visible? Did you miss any algae growth you need to clean off the glass? A little time spent cleaning your aquarium beforehand will pay off tremendously in the clarity of your pictures. Read this article
Aquarium Photography Basics
The timing of your photoshoot is important, too. If possible, shoot at night with only the tank illuminated. Turn off all other lights in the room. If you are shooting during the daylight hours, you can cut down on the light by closing the drapes, or hanging a blanket over the window. The goal is to decrease the light in the room so that the aquarium is more brightly illuminated.
Just before you begin shooting, turn off any water pumps so the water is perfectly still. Because you are shooting in relatively low light conditions, you will have to use a slower shutter speed. So any plants swaying in the current will result in blurred focus.
I recommend using a tripod and a remote shutter release. No matter how carefully you press the shutter button on your camera, the slightest movement or vibration will be amplified when taking closeups or a macro shot. Resulting in blurry pictures.
Make sure you remember to orient your camera lens at right angles to the glass to reduce refraction distortion. Finally, activate your camera’s image stabilization option, if it has the technology. This will optimize clarity.
Use Manual Settings for Aquarium Photography
You will get the best aquarium camera setting when you learn how to use the manual settings on your camera. Using auto-focus is generally not desirable because of the low-light conditions. Your camera may have trouble focusing – often referred to as ‘hunting’ for focus – resulting in images that are less sharp than if you manually focus.
Aquarium lighting makes it more difficult for cameras to detect colors and reproduce them faithfully. That problem can be corrected by using the white balance setting, either on your camera, or post-editing with PhotoShop, or a similar image editor. Keep trying new variations. Adjust different settings until you get accurate colors.
Best Aquarium Camera Settings: Aperture
Your camera’s aperture priority mode enables you to pick a certain aperture while the camera automatically selects a proper shutter speed to match. Or you can set both the shutter and the aperture manually.
Use a larger f stop number and a slower shutter speed to get a greater depth of field.
If plants are swaying, or if you are shooting corals in a reef tank and the polyps are moving even slightly, you can set the f-stop lower and increase the shutter speed to get more clarity. When you make these adjustments you will notice that you lost some depth of field. It’s a trade-off. LOL, You have to experiment with the settings until you get it right.
Best Aquarium Camera Settings: ISO
You can set your ISO setting to a higher value, which will increase the light sensitivity, but the higher you go, the grainier the resulting image. This is referred to as “ISO noise”. Try setting your ISO at 800 – this will allow a faster shutter speed and a smaller aperture. Experiment with it and adjust accordingly.
Even while using my tips on the best camera settings for aquariums, you need a good quality macro lens for the best results. The best two examples are the Canon 100mm f/2.8 macro lens and the Nikon 105mm f/2.8 micro lens. There are other third-party lenses that work extremely well, such as Sigma 18-250mm f3.5-6.3 DC MACRO OS HSM for Canon Digital SLR Cameras, and the 105mm F2.8 EX DG OS HSM Macro Lens for Nikon DSLR Camera.
Leave a comment below and share which lenses you prefer.