episode 19

The Mode Dial Explained


Automatic mode is the camera mode most, if not all, beginners start out using. In this mode, that camera choosing all the settings for you based on the light that is coming into the camera. The ISO, the aperture, and the Shutter Speed will be automatically adjusted just based on the light in the scene. If the camera detects less light than if needs to take the photo, if will automatically fire the flash to help with the exposure.



In Portrait Mode, you camera will select the widest aperture (smallest f-number) to really make the subject that you focus on standout and the background be out of focus. It will then select the best ISO and shutter speed to match that aperture.



Using Macro Mode, you camera will try to allow you to focus closer to a subject to make it look like a more macro (super close-up) shot. Just make sure that when you a try to focus on a subject upclose, you can will stop focusing if you get too close. This is because camera lenses have a minimal focusing distance. This means that’s a certain point, you will start to be out of focus.



Landscape mode is almost the opposite of portrait mode. In this mode, you camera will try to select a very narrow aperture (larger f-number) so that you you will have the greatest depth-of-field as possible. One thing to note is that depending on your scene, the shutter speed that the camera automatically selects might be too slow to handhold. It would be helpful to have a tripod handy.



Using Action or Sports mode, is basically a telling your camera that you want to have the fastest shutter speed possible. This is helpful when you want to photograph really fast moving subjects like runners. You camera will choose the fastest shutter speed possible based on the available light and will also set the ISO and shutter speed to match.



Night portrait mode is a fun mode to use when you are trying to take photos of any subject at night or in low-light. When using this mode, your camera will use a slower shutter speed to try and capture the as much available light as possible and right before the photos is done, it will fire the flash to light up the subject in the foreground. This is usually called rear-curtain or second-curtain flash.



Now we ar getting into the semi-manual modes. The first, and the most widely used, is Aperture Priority mode. Using Aperture Priority, you select the aperture you want to use and the ISO, and your camera will select the appropriate shutter speed. Even if you don’t want to worry about the ISO, you can still set it to Auto and your camera will tighten select the Shutter speed and the ISO.



Shutter priority mode is very similar to aperture priority mode but in this case, you select the shutter speed you want every photo to be taken at. Then, your camera will select the ISO (or you can sell it yourself) and the aperture to get a neutral exposure to match the shutter speed you set. In this case, if the camera can’t get enough light to achieve the shutter speed, it will fire the flash.



Program mode is a mode that is almost like Auto mode with the exception that you can’t control the ISO. This is probably the least used mode on the mode dial but if you want to have a little bit on control over your image while still not worrying about all of the settings, this mode is great for that.


Manual mode is pretty self-explanatory. This is the mode that most every beginner fears but wants to start using because it gives you the most control over your image. Basically, using this mode, you control everything, and your camera will do nothing to adjust the scene if it is over exposed or under exposed. It takes a lot of practice to be able to use manual mode during your photo shoots but It certainly can be done.

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