Tips for Photographing Digital Signs

It’s worth the effort to break out a camera for high-quality photos of digital displays. Here’s some advice for getting the perfect photo.

Getting a high-quality photo of a digital display will show how polished and professional it is, so it’s worth the effort to break out the camera instead of your phone. Using a camera instead of a smartphone will give you a much higher quality image of your display. Here’s some photography advice for getting the perfect photo to capture the essence of a display.

Camera Settings

If you aren’t a camera expert, Auto mode is always an acceptable setting to use. Select the highest resolution setting and hold the shutter button down halfway to focus the image before capturing it.

Use a tripod or rest your camera on a sturdy surface, such as the roof of a car, to ensure a clear shot. If images are still blurry even when the camera is still, make sure your lens is clean and check your focus on your camera.

If you’re more camera savvy, here are our recommended settings:

  • Shutter speed: use slower settings such as 1/15, 1/30, 1/60, 1/100 or 1/125. We recommend 1/60 or 1/100.
  • ISO: Lower ISO will produce a cleaner photo with less noise. Since most outdoor settings will have sunlight, an ISO between 100 and 400 should do the trick.
  • Aperture: Most cameras will adjust aperture to the lighting conditions. If you want to adjust it manually, smaller F-stops will focus more on the foreground and larger F-stops will increase the focus on the background.

Try to shoot at least 10 photos, and be sure to review them before leaving the site.

Environment

Consider these elements in the surrounding area before taking your photos:

  • Distracting background elements such as light posts or people
  • Weather conditions with overcast skies or precipitation make the display look less exciting. For best results, shoot the sunny side of the sign in mid-morning or late afternoon.

Don’t just stand there! Test out different vantage points by walking around the sign, and even try a higher or lower angle by moving your body.

Avoid zooming. The zoom tool can give the image noise and decrease the clarity. If you want to get a closer shot, move closer to the sign.

Night/indoor photos: The extreme contrast between the dark surroundings and the bright LEDs can make it difficult to capture both in one picture. Try turning the display down to 15-20 percent brightness and display a darker image on the screen.

Photo Composition

Be sure to get photos from a variety of angles. Try getting shots at different distances from the sign, and take vertical and horizontal photos.

The best-looking pictures have the display in the center or use the rule of thirds to frame the display. If there is a relevant or interesting background feature, such as an impressive facility or landmark that sets the scene, include it in some of the photos.

Display Content

Take your pictures of display content that is easy-to-read and clean. Avoid content with a white background as much as you can.

If you’re struggling with moiré (wavy lines), try moving to a different angle or stepping closer to your display.

Catching refresh rate or tiling on the display? Try adjusting your shutter speed settings.

Smartphone pictures?

We prefer photos taken with an actual camera, but using a smartphone to take pictures of your display can be acceptable. Be sure the settings are on the highest resolution available and are sent in their original format and full size.

Share Your Photos

Now that you’ve captured the perfect image of your digital display, submit your photos to us at daktronics.com/submitphotos. For more information on the best digital photography tips with helpful graphics, check out our guide Digital Photography Made Easier. 

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