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Question - Best camera settings when shooting in a drain?

Snake Oil

go in drains
Regular User
I have my sony A380 set at f9, iso100, and then adjust the exposure according to the available light/how I want the shot to look (usually somewhere between 15 and 25 seconds). Its all a lot of trial and error for me, if it looks shit then I change the exposure a bit. Not very pro, but it seems to work most times :D

The Lone Ranger

Safety is paramount!
Staff member
I'm sure there are different views on this, but usually low light I use the BULB setting which allows exposure times of over 30 seconds, ISO of usually 100, but sometimes 200 if I want to half the exposure time, usually around f8.

Use tripod and cable release, exposure time is a bit of trial and error depending on how dark it is, how bright your lighting is, size of the space you are lighting. Take a trial shot first to see whether under or over exposed and then adjust. Most of mine tend to be 40 seconds to 2 minutes.

The Kwan

Easily Led
Regular User
I dont know about Canon but I would recommend a tripod, Manual setting with an ISO setting that is the highest that your camera is able to use without showing too much noise or artifats and then just tinker with the shutter speed until you get a decent exposure but expect a setting from between 3 and 15 seconds or even more if light painting, or If you are using any ambient light that may be available then bulb or permanently open may be useful and again just fart about with the exposure until you get a decent shot.
Also if you have a lens with an infinity setting you could use manual focus and set the lens to infinity, this will give you a fighting chance of getting a sharpish shot even in pitch dark.


Staff member
Personally I wouldn't go over 200 ISO even if the camera is capable of much higher with or without out noise reduction

I once took the D800 into a drain for a piss about and I still found 200 was more than ample with a tripod and correct lighting

As an aside, I whacked the ISO right up with no Noise Reduction and shot handheld too, and managed to produce some half decent results with some natural light from the infall

Here is one such high ISO example shot hand held and no editing, image straight from the camera converted to jpeg and resized only


Oxygen Thief

Staff member
Yeah agree with Ojay on this. ISO 200 is fine, f2.8 / 4 / 5.6, give yourself 10 seconds exposure. Adjust as necessary. If you find you're getting good exposures at 10 seconds or thereabouts, decrease the aperture a bit, get more detail in.


Staff member
I'm not even mentioning f-stops as there are a number of variations depending on light source/positioning, construction of drain, front lit, back lit etc etc

Really the best thing to do is get down a chilled culvert and have a piss about, if you fancy heading over to Manc one evening when it isn't pissing it down, give us a shout, as I have just the ideal place for you to 'experiment' with settings without any hassle

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