Capture Better Drill Core Images: Crash Course on Manual Camera Settings

June 29, 2017
Posted in News
June 29, 2017 Federico Arboleda

Good core photographs produce an excellent record of the drill core, which is valuable for cross-referencing logged data. Auto mode on a camera produces decent core tray images when the surrounding light conditions can’t be controlled. However, phenomenal core imagery is actually very easy to capture by stepping outside of Auto with a controlled lighting set up. This article goes over the basic manual camera settings to control exposure in order to capture better core images. Follow Imago on LinkedIn to make sure you don’t miss out on the next article on our series on Capturing Better Drill Core Images.


Exposure is the amount of light a digital camera’s sensor captures when a photo is taken. Too much light results in a washed out photo. Too little light and the photo will be too dark.


ISO controls the sensitivity of the camera’s light sensor. High ISO will cause graininess so as a rule use the lowest ISO possible.

Shutter Speed

The length of time the shutter remains open controls how much light is exposed to the image sensor. This is the main variable to control exposure without sacrificing image quality in a controlled lighting environment. You should try to get to a high shutter speed.

Aperture is the opening of a lens’s diaphragm through which light passes. It is ideal to use the smallest aperture setting (largest f/stop) in order to have all parts of the core in focus despite its cylindrical shape resulting in the middle of the core being closer to the camera than the edge. Since a small aperture results in less light reaching the camera’s sensor, good exposure will require a slower shutter speed.

Check your camera’s manual to learn how to set it for aperture priority. Use the highest f/stop setting (smallest aperture) and the lowest ISO, and the camera should automatically figure out the appropriate shutter speed to give you a good exposure. If your camera doesn’t have an aperture priority setting, you can experiment with various shutter speeds in order to achieve a good result.

Establishing strong core photography procedures will ensure that photographs faithfully depict color and texture for any subsequent image analysis. Make sure you check our website to learn about how our cutting edge software can help you extract insights from your core, automatically catalog your core imagery, and connect imagery to all aspects of your workflow – whether you’re logging, targeting, or modeling!  Give it a try by clicking/tapping the button below.


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