What's Everyone's Camera Settings Limits?

I was just wondering what people used as limits to their camera settings? I understand it will be different for everyone’s set up, but was trying to confirm I was probably in the right ballpark at least.

I’m using a Nikon Z7II with the Nikkor Z MC 105mm 2.8, Negative supply 99CRI 4x5 Basic MK II.

I lock my shutter to 1/80s allow auto ISO and adjust aperture as needed with f4.5 being a base and stop down if I can to f5.0 as long as the ISO remains <200. Ideally I would love to shoot at a base ISO (64 for my camera) at all times and at f5.6 (where the corners are most sharp for this lens) but my light supply doesn’t seem bright enough and I’m too scared to lower the shutter speed any further and am hesitant on raising ISO >200 due to added noise (although this is probably the least egregious outcome)

I always use base iso and apertures between f/5 and f/10. This range seems to be usable with my prime macro lens. Exposure time will be as necessary and that is okay as long as the setup is sturdy enough to prevent unwanted motion or shake.

Moreover, I tend to overexpose with moderate ETTR using UniWB for ease of use.

I use a remote shutter release with self timer set to 2 seconds or tether the camera to my Mac or iPad which sit on a different table than the copy stand.

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Have you established the optimum aperture for your lens, perhaps with Vlad’s Test Target? For me that would be the main limiting factor around which to base your other parameters. I’ve tested a large number of my own lenses and there is always an optimum aperture which I wouldn’t want to stray from by more than half a stop either way and with enlarger lenses it does always seem to be f5.6/8. At one time I was using a light that required exposures of 1/2 sec or so and the results were just as sharp as if I used flash (I checked), now I use the CS-Lite and the shutter speed is around 1/100 sec at 200 iso. That was using the mechanical shutter on a Fuji X-T2 but on a solid stand with a remote release and with a 2 sec delay. Presumably your Z7 has an electronic shutter option which you could use provided it doesn’t cause interference with your light source or reduce the bit depth of the resulting image.


Always use the sharpest aperture for your lens and stay at a wider aperture rather than a smaller one to avoid degradation due to diffraction.

You have a brilliant lens (I own one too) and you can shoot at F5.6 with no qualms whatsoever.

Always shoot at base ISO and let the shutter speed fall where it will.

The danger area for camera shake is around 1/30 sec and paradoxically longer shutter speeds often work out better than shorter ones as long as your camera support is solid. Or use flash.

Do not use auto ISO. Meter manually and judge exposure from your histogram (ETTR).Use a remote release and apply a shutter delay of 1-2 secs.

Do not use vibration reduction.


Thanks for the responses. I currently use my laptop to trigger the shutter, with a 2s delay, but it is a good call to move that further from my setup. I’ll do that. I also apply +0.3 of compensation to all shots, but perhaps I’ll pay closer attention to the histogram and meter more manually.

I have not done my own testing, but if online reviews are accurate the lens actually hits peak center sharpness early, around f4.0 and the corners are at peak around f5.6


It’s interesting it seems as if everyone is comfortable using slower shutter speeds than what I’ve been doing. Perhaps I’ll loosen up a bit and see how it goes. However, although I have a solid copy stand itself, it is sitting on one of those foldable party tables and I’m in a second floor condo unit which I feel gives an overall poor setup. I’ll be moving in about a year so I don’t think there is much I can do to improve the situation for now.

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OK, thanks, the party table doesn’t sound too good but I apprreciate you can’t do anything about the actual apartment for the time being. I’m not the only one on here who likes the Cinestill CS-Lite, it’s pretty bright and gives good results with NLP especially on the cool setting, but maybe first try slower shutter speeds, base ISO and f5.6 if that combination gives you a good ‘expose to the right’ histogram. I can’t remember where but somewhere I saw a graph of the vibrations caused by the shutter at different shutter speeds, done with a phone and some special software I think. The vibration is mostly induced at the start, maybe there’s a bit at the end as well, but with longer shutter speeds it’s the gap in between that gives your main exposure so slower shutter speeds can work well. The electronic shutter ought to be worth trying I would think.

I’d second the Cinestill CS-Lite, base ISO, f8 for my lens and shutter speed as long as it likes. I remote trigger using my laptop and a homemade copy stand (a Manfrotto superclamp, a geared head and a monitor pole screwed to a heavy wooden chopping board on a heavy desk).

Maybe a sheet of foam or some folded up t-shirts under a board on your table might help isolate you from vibrations a bit as well?


Interesting, maybe I can get creative!

For what it’s worth, today I tested scanning at optimal settings. Base iso (64). f5.6 and let the shutter speed go to about 1/20th. No problems with any movement that I can see. Any optimizations to stability should only make things safer.

Out of curiosity, when you guys say “shutter speed as long as it takes” , around how long are we talking here?

Several seconds, really.

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With mine it was around 1/2 sec but to illustrate my point about vibration (by blatantly making up some figures)…

Suppose the vibration is caused by the shutter (as opposed to the traffic outside) lasts for 2 milliseconds - 2/100 sec - at each end of the exposure.

1/2 sec = 50 milliseconds - vibration = 4 milliseconds - no vibration for 46 milliseconds out of 50

1/30 sec = 3.33 milliseconds - vibration = 4 milliseconds - so vibration affects the entire exposure to some extent.

As I said - I made up the figures for illustration.

Why are you “afraid” to lower the shutter speed? Pick your lens’ best aperture and don’t change it. Shoot at your lowest native ISO. As long as there is no stray light in the room, just shoot at the shutter speed that gives you the proper exposure. We are in a controlled environment. Take advantage of that.

I have some shots that use a long shutter speed. I’ve used 5 seconds or more especially if I am trying to “rescue” an old negative or slide to see what I actually photographed!

The setup that works for me:

A7r3 (all manual) with 105 sigma macro, manual focus.

After testing, best clarity at f8.
100 base iso.
Shutter ranges from 1/15 to 1/60.

Essential Film Holder (flagged to avoid spill light) and Viltrox light at full power and 5000k.

Camera stand, electronic shutter, 5 second timer and camera app, for no touch operation.

Check preview histogram for exposures. Typically 1/3 to 1/2 over works best.



To avoid the shakes from the table and location a higher iso 200-250 will give you faster shutter speeds to work with and it really won’t mess with your quality.


Thanks for all the responses. It’s helpful to know that you guys use such shutter speeds, exactly what I wanted to know when posting this post!

Thanks for this analysis. But I’ve been using the Electric shutter so that’s not really the issue, it’s just less than optimal housing and setup. But again, after some further testing I’ve gone to 1/20th without any issues. so seems like I’m on the right track!

I totally get this is how it should be, and if that were the case I’d be right there with you and wouldn’t be “afraid”. However My setup isn’t ideal. I think I have a decent enough copy stand (Beseler CS-14), but it sits on a flimsy table and is in a second story office in a rickety condo that seems to vibrate by just the landscapers doing their work outside. This results in a ‘not always such a controlled environment’. I understand I can control the table it sits on, but I’m moving in less than a year so don’t want to do anything drastic, otherwise I can’t control the condo’s construction.

thanks for your thoughts! this is somewhat similar in how I was doing things previously, I’d set everything but let the ISO be automatic to get desired shutter speed, except not allowing it over 200. I guess everyone says that is not the way to go though I guess haha. I suppose the difference is that I’d let iso change from shot to shot, and you suggest just using ~250 for a higher shutter throughout I suppose.

For what it’s worth, I haven’t come across an instance where I’ve seen a clear benefit either way. But I understand how making sure to provide enough light can help in difficult negatives.

Ah, I hadn’t realised that you were already using the electronic shutter, good that you’re making progress. I’d suggest routinely making 3 (say) exposures and choosing the best one that didn’t synchronise with the construction work outside. Also ditch that flimsy table at the first opportunity, that will be accentuating any vibrations coming from outside. You need something old-fashioned and solid here, doesn’t have to be pretty :slightly_smiling_face:

Hopefully you’re close to solving your probllems but if you are only doing 35mm then lens attachments like the Nikon ES-1 & ES-2, the Valoi easy35 or the JJC ‘knock-offs’ (seemingly quite good in fact) don’t really suffer from vibrations simply because the holder is mounted on the lens. Perfectly feasible to use it hand-held though you wouldn’t need to, and you can still use your NS 99CRI light source.

I don’t understand why so many people use auto settings. You want consistency and the camera is not programmed to calculate the best exposition for negatives scanning. If you are film scanning at home you should be on a technical level that manual settings should be as natural as breathing.

You literally win nothing by using auto settings, doesn’t matter if is in iso or shutter speed.

btw, in many cameras using electronic shutter is a lower bitrate. So you are loosing colour information in a process all about image quality. Find that about your camera.