Photography Guide for Beginners – Chapter 3
The Different Camera Modes
Even the most experienced photographers can choose to use a pre-programmed mode in some occasions. It can help the save time especially when the opportunity for a great photo is limited. However, if you are a budding photographer who would love to delve beyond the auto mode, this section will prove quite useful to you.
When setting up a camera, you will be thinking of four basic things:
1. The wide depth of field
2. The shallow depth of field
3. Motion blur
4. Freeze motion
The different modes you use will help you control these four basic areas.
In auto mode, the camera adjusts shutter, aperture, white balance, ISO, and the pop-up flash for you. This is great for beginners who have little understanding of how their camera works.
The down side to this mode is that is some light conditions, the auto setting could produce undesirable images. For instance, a back-lit portrait could produce only a silhouette. In low light, it could lead to blurry images. Additionally, the camera may decide to fire the flash in low light. It can be quite troublesome, as most cameras have no way for you to disable the flash when you want to do it. If you want a point and shot approach to photography, you can always go for this mode.
In this mode, the camera sets the shutter speed and the aperture. However, you will be able to take control of the ISO setting. You will also have the ability to control exposure compensation, flash options, and white balance.
The advantage of this mode is that it can help beginners begin to take more control over their camera. The result is better images when the situation demands it.
However, it does have its downside. As in the auto mode, some lighting conditions can cause unpredictable results. Thus, some of the results will be completely left to chance. It is a good first step towards losing the training wheels of your advanced digital camera
Shutter Priority Mode
The shutter priority mode lets you select the ISO and shutter speed. The camera will then chose the proper aperture to determine the right type of exposure. The benefit of this mode is that you can control freeze action and blur with ease.
Its downside is that with control of the shutter speed, the camera must choose the correct aperture to give you enough exposure. The lens you have will come into play here. Most cameras can shoot at high speeds with adequate apertures. If this is not the case, your images will appear underexposed.
If you want to gain control of image motion, this mode is great. The fast shutter speed will help you achieve freeze motion while slower shutter will help you attain blur motion. The mode is great when you have a large mm lens and you need fast shutter speed to avoid blur.
Aperture Priority Mode
In this mode, you choose the ISO and aperture and the camera will choose the shutter speed. This is done to ensure that images have the proper exposure.
The benefit of this method is that this mode is quite popular even amongst professional photographers. The main reason is that it allows you to control what is in focus in the image. In most cases, what you have in focus is what makes or breaks your image.
The downside to this method is that in low light situations, the camera could choose a low shutter speed that causes blurry images from camera or subject movement.
It is, however, a good mode when you need to control Depth of field for the image. For a camera with a large aperture, it will ensure that more light reaches the sensor, which causes a shallow DOF. ON a camera with a small aperture, less light will reach the camera sensor, which causes a deeper DOF. When using this mode, keep in mind that altering the aperture will also affect the shutter speed. Less light from a small aperture causes slower shutter speed and more light from a large aperture will cause a faster shutter speed.
The Manual Mode
Manual mode allows you to alter aperture and shutter speed setting independent of each other; the camera sets no setting. Using the built in light meter, you will be able to determine the light exposure that you think is correct. Before using this mode, you should have a good understanding of ISO, aperture, and shutter speed.
The main benefit of this mode is that you have total creative control of the image that you capture.
The downside to this mode is that you have to check exposure for each image. It is especially so when choosing in an environment with fast changing light conditions.
You should only try to use this mode after you have mastered it. Study the effects and results of messing around with the settings, and how they work together to affect the final image.
This mode is quite similar to auto mode. It allows you to choose the scene for which you are shooting the image. It will then determine which settings are optimal for that mode. Each camera will have its own unique scene option. However, there are those that are quite popular:
Sports – the mode has a high ISO and shutter speed to capture the action.
Landscape – the camera adjusts settings to a small aperture to maximize DOF. Flash may be disabled.
Portrait – The camera will have a large aperture that throws the background out of focus. In some cameras, face recognition will also be enabled.
Macro – In this mode, the camera will use a small an aperture as possible to give the best DOF.
The benefit of this mode is that it can be a great starting point for beginners who wish to quite the auto mode.
The downside to using the mode is that setting will not always produce the images that you desire at all times.
For beginners seeking to step up from the auto mode, this can be a great way to do that. It will help you begin to get a good understanding of how your camera functions.
Modes in Summary
There is no mode, which is better or worse than others are. The choice will depend on your unique situation. However, if you are a beginner trying to advance his or her skills, the program, scene and auto mode are the best. For the professional, aperture priority and manual mode are the most popular. It is important to remember that whatever level you are at, even the professionals were once armatures.