When you buy a camera, it comes with a selection of camera modes.
These are pre-programmed settings that let you choose the optimal shutter speed and aperture value for the photograph you want to take.
They are useful when you’re starting out, but also for the experienced photographer who needs to capture a photo quickly.
Familiarize yourself with these settings and feel comfortable with them.
Auto Exposure is when the camera chooses the optimal shutter speed, aperture, ISO and flash settings for your photo. All you have to do is aim and shoot.
This can be good if you have no idea which settings to choose and also when you need to shoot quickly.
The photo here is displayed correctly, as the day is well lit, although automatic exposure can suffer difficulties in situations where the light is irregular and tends to fire the flash even when it is not necessary.
Portrait mode will “think” that there is a subject in the foreground of the frame and choose a shallow depth of field to keep the object in focus, but the background will be blurred.
If the camera reads the scene as dark, it adds insert flash.
The fill flash is also useful in sunny conditions when the sun casts a strong shadow.
Portrait Camera Modes usually works best in well-lit conditions.
Macro mode is very useful for taking pictures of objects smaller than your hand.
Remember that macro mode does not offer super close-up images; for this, you will need a macro lens. Macro Camera Modes will work best in high light conditions and choose a shallow depth of field to focus on the subject. Therefore, if the light is low, use a tripod.
Your focus also needs to be more accurate when taking a macro image. This is because when you use a shallow depth of field, you get a smaller margin of error.
Landscape mode usually uses a small aperture (high f/stop number) to create a well-focused image from the foreground to the distance (on older cameras, the setting was ‘infinite’ represented by a side figure 8).
Landscape mode tends to suit a large lens and works well if the scene is well lit. It will use the flash if it reads the foreground as too dark, but you can turn it off manually.
Because sports are fast-paced activities, Sports mode offers a high shutter speed of at least 1/500 – 1/1000 seconds.
With a high shutter speed to freeze movement, it means that flash is usually not necessary – although again this works best on a clear day.
Sports mode can work right next to continuous shooting mode, where images are captured consecutively, resulting in many photos capturing the action.
Night portrait mode
In Night Portrait mode, the camera tries to balance the darkness of the background with the need to illuminate the subject in the foreground.
The aperture will have to be wide enough to allow enough light to input to capture the background and keep the subject in focus, but at the same time the flash is needed to illuminate the person and avoid blurring.
Sometimes night portrait mode flashes twice, creating an unusual double exposure appearance.
Advanced camera modes
On most DSLR cameras, there will also be the letter modes – M (Manual), AV (Aperture Priority), TV or S (Shutter Priority) and P (Auto Programmed).
Manual mode lets the photographer set all settings.
Aperture Priority allows the photographer to set the aperture value and the camera automatically sets the correct shutter speed.
Shutter Priority allows the photographer to choose the shutter speed first (for example, when playing sports), and the camera automatically sets the correct aperture.
Programmed mode is similar to Auto mode, as shutter and aperture settings are determined by the camera, but the photographer can adjust other settings manually.
Some people consider amateur use predetermined settings, when in fact there may be times when we are in a hurry and we can not adjust everything manually.
Remember that using these Camera Modes will teach you about photography and settings that are ideal for different conditions.
If in doubt, you can use Camera Auto mode, then adjust the settings manually. Automatic settings should be used, so try them all and familiarize yourself with what each one does.