Camera Modes Which One and Why?

February 17, 2023  •  Leave a Comment

Hey Everyone! How's it going this week? I'm doing fine thanks for asking. This week I want to get into basics a little. The last couple of weeks I talked about specific kind of photography but this week and maybe the next couple of weeks I want to dive into the basics of photography. We have some new photographer members of my camera club and since the majority of my readers are in the photography club I thought I would go into the basics. So this week I want to talk about what camera modes to use and why?  Back when I started photography there was only one mode "Manual" and that is what I used for decades before the newer and smarter cameras came out. Then I had to learn what the other modes were and why would I ever use them? I didn't need them before why do I need them now?  Even auto focus had me puzzled and I had to figure all of that out. Modern cameras now are just small computers that take in all of this exposure information and make decisions on how to focus and what the proper exposure is, they do this in a mili-second. Now many photographers will say I only shoot in manual that is the only way to get it right. I was apart of this club for a long time  because I just didn't know better. We spend a lot of money for our cameras we should use it and take advantage of the tech that is built into it. Most cameras today are light years ahead of what I started with as a new photographer. They all shoot video that is of the quality that you could film a feature movie with and you could use any of them to shoot high fashion shoots and make lots of money as a product photographer. I 11-sony-a630011-sony-a6300 mean any modern camera can do this now. But just shooting in manual all of the time and not using the features is like buying a new "Corvette" and putting it in neutral and pushing it down the street. Sure you can get it to where you want but really what can it do on the open road when you put it in drive? The same with your camera it will work perfectly well in manual but what will it do if you put it in drive? Or in our case, camera modes. Let's talk about the different camera modes and what you as a photographer can do with them. There are four main camera modes, most cameras have more but we will talk about the four Main ones. Manual, Shutter Priority, Aperture Priority, and Program mode. _MSP9733_MSP9733

Manual Mode, In manual mode you ,the photographer, make all of the decisions. What the Aperture , Shutter speed, and ISO. The Exposure Triangle that we will discuss in another blog next week. You can even go as far as manual focusing if you want to go to extremes . But auto focus always does better than my old eyes. The advantage to this mode is that you control everything. Perfect for the "A personalities" in the world. The MetroThe MetroCommuters waiting for the Metro in Washington DC. This used to be a hard one to master when it was the only choice. You shot a roll of film and sent it off and a week later you see if your decisions were good enough. But now a days you can see instantaneously what your decisions have done make learning easier. I think that everyone should be able to manually operate their camera if the camera doesn't get it right. You should be able to over-ride the camera and know why.

Shutter Priority- We use shutter priority when Shutter Speed is the most important part of the exposure  Sandstone Falls New River Gorge NPSandstone Falls New River Gorge NP triangle that we want to control. The camera will make all other decisions for you.  It will manipulate it and also it will adjust your Aperture upon the decision you made for shutter speed. Shutter speed is used to mostly control motion. If you want to freeze your subject like sport or wildlife shutter speed is important. If you want to slow down the shutter speed to show flowing water you could use Shutter priority but I would suggest that you use a tripod when you get to 1/60th a second or so to eliminate camera shake and making the image blurry. So Shutter Priority is for motion.

DavidDavid Aperture Priority- This is the one that I use the most and its when the Aperture is the most important thing in taking the photograph. The Aperture controls the "depth of field" how much of the photograph is in focus. When we see with our eyes everything is not in focus all of the time. When you look at something everything else blurs a little. I like to do the same with my photographs. For me it is the Art in Photography is with depth of field guiding your viewer to certain portions of the photograph or making a busy scene less busy by bluring out the background.  And just the opposite you can use Aperture to make as much of the scene in focus like a landscape.  When you adjust the aperture the camera makes all other decisions just like in shutter priority except it controls , shutter speed and ISO if in Auto. This mode is great for portraits , street and candid type of photography.

Program Mode- We make a joke that the "P" on your camera stands for Professional. But it stands for Program mode. In this mode the camera makes all of the decisions for you except for ISO but if your in ISO Auto It will do that too.. Sometimes this is a great way to start. By putting your camera in Program mode and looking at the settings it chose you can go into one of the other modes and put those settings in for a start if you don't know where to start with your settings. Using program mode basically turns your fancy camera into a point and shoot camera. Which could be good in certain situations. If you keep your camera in program mode and something happens right in front of you like a car wreck all you have to do is lift your camera and start shooting and you will get well exposed shots. Maybe not the artistic shots that you want but those first few will be usable then you can switch over to one of the other modes.

_DSC6457_DSC6457 Your fancy camera is trying to have a perfect exposure every time. But it is set to make the scene 18 percent grey. If you are in that kind of light the auto modes work great and maybe say 60 to 70 percent of the day its like that but what if its dark outside? Your camera will brighten it up and it won't look natural and you will have to over compensate for it by knowing the exposure triangle basics and being able to adjust the right setting on your camera to get it back to where its supposed to be. Most cameras have an exposure compensation dial that they can use when in the program modes , Shutter Priority, Aperture Priority or Program Mode. The advantage of using the program modes is speed. The camera automatically will make the adjustment on the fly. So say your doing street photography in Aperture Priority mode if you go from a shady to sunny spot in the street the camera will adjust for you on the fly. If Man Waiting for T BostonMan Waiting for T Boston you are in manual you can make the adjustments but it take more time and you might not get the shot of the person passing by. The last decade or so I have become more dependent on Program modes and only use manual when my camera is on a tripod. Maybe 10ish percent of the time . The other 90 percent I'm usually in Aperture Priority mode. But by knowing my camera I can quickly go into manual or use exposure compensation if I have to to correct the exposure.

Other modes. Depending on the manufacturer you camera could have many other cool modes . Not all are the same. Mine has an auto mode that I control ISO and everything else is controlled by the camera. I have scene mode where you can pic scenes and the camera will adjust accordingly to the scene for example night scene, or fireworks, or sunset, many scenes. Mine also has a video mode and a Slow and Quick mode that works with video where you can shoot in slow motion or hyper lapse. I'm sure your camera has many of the same .  Knowing your camera and reading the manual watching operational videos on your specific make and model camera will  make you more proficient in using your camera thus a better photographer. Well I have blabbed enough on this subject so until next week. Get out and shoot!


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