This post will give you a brief overview of the different mode settings on your camera. There are four basic camera mode settings, though your specific camera may have a few more (each manufacturer, and model per manufacturer, can vary slightly). You will need to consult your cameras’ user manual to find the location of where to change the mode, and the exact abbreviation for the modes. Here are the most common modes, what they mean, and when to use them.
Programmed Automatic Mode; also called “Auto Mode”, and typically signified by a “P” on your camera (this shouldn’t be confused by the “A” setting, which I will address below). This is what your camera is usually set on when you first take it out of the box. Make no mistake, your camera will perform wonderfully in this setting. In this mode your camera will make every adjustment for you. For the occasional photographer, this is the way to go.
Aperture Priority Mode; this is typically signified by an “A” on your camera. Aperture Priority, and Shutter Priority (the mode outlined below), are also referred to as semi-automatic modes. In this mode you control the aperture while leaving the camera to make the other adjustments. This is a good mode to use while photographing moving subjects as you don’t need to adjust for the speed of your subject. Think sporting events, festivals, etc. This mode, and the one below, are great when venturing out of auto mode.
Shutter Priority Mode; this is typically signified by an “S” on your camera. This is the other semi-automatic mode. Unlike shooting in Aperture Priority Mode, in Shutter Priority Mode you control the speed of the shutter while letting your camera make the other adjustments. This is a good mode to choose when your subject has little to no movement. Think architectural shots, nature, etc. As stated above, this mode is good when you want to move away from auto mode.
Manual Mode; this is typically signified by an “M” on your camera. Shooting in this mode allows you full control over all aspects of your camera. In addition to understanding all the settings on your camera, a working knowledge of three elements (Aperture, ISO, and Shutter Speed) relate to one another is key when shooting in this mode. I’ll address how these three aspects relate to one another at a later date.
Hopefully that gives you a basic understanding of what each mode on your camera signifies. Look for my next post where I’ll talk about Aperture.
Terri Johnson, Owner, Plumb Pixel Photography
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