Camera Modes: Part One
When you first get a DSLR camera, it is easy to stay on the automatic
mode and take pictures without worrying about changing settings. While
staying on the automatic mode is not necessarily bad, it can limit
your camera capability and growth as a photographer. Figuring out
what each mode does and how to use them appropriately is the first big
step to exploring outside of the automatic mode. In this post, we
will explore the different modes and the basic overview of what they
do. Most camera modes can be broken down into two basic categories:
the “creative zone” and the “basic zone”. In this post, we will cover
the “basic zone” modes and the specifics of each one. Although I will
be using my Canon DSLR modes for the purpose of this post, the basic
camera modes can be found on other DSLR cameras as well.
If you are not comfortable jumping into Manual mode as a beginner,
then the basic zone modes are for you. When I first got my camera, I
spent a lot of time taking pictures around Virginia to practice these
basic modes before I ventured into the creative modes. These modes
will not produce images with the advanced results of Manual mode, but
it is still a way to add variety to your images. These modes are
typically marked on the dial with images that describe the mode’s use.
For instance, landscape mode has an mountain graphic and portrait mode
has an image of a face. Most of these modes are pretty simple,
however, let’s walk through a few of the basics.
Portrait mode typically has a fast shutter speed and an aperture
around f/4 - f/5.6. This creates a blurred background and ensures that
your subject is the only thing in focus which draws the attention of
your viewers. This setting is ideal for portraits and is best used
when zooming in close to your subject.
In contrast to the portrait mode, landscape mode keeps all of the
image sharp and in focus by using a small aperture around f/16 - f/22.
Instead of a short depth of field, your image will have a wide depth
of field. If you are shooting a landscape or a scene with multiple
points of interest at various depths of field, use this mode to keep
your image sharp. Sometimes the shutter speed is slow, so make sure
your camera is stable or on a tripod to avoid motion blur.
This mode is very similar to portrait mode because it has a fast
shutter speed and wide aperture. The fast shutter speed effectively
controls the camera shake that occurs at close distances. Use this
mode when shooting any macro photography on the basic zone modes. If
there is still some camera shake, be sure to use a tripod so your
images stay sharp.
When taking pictures of sports or fast moving objects, switch to this
sports mode (otherwise known as action mode). By increasing the
shutter speed up to 1/500 seconds or faster, you can freeze motion and
keep a clear sharp image, making it possible to capture sports,
animals, cars, or any other moving subjects.
Night scene mode allows you to take pictures at night with the flash
built into your camera. The shutter speed on this mode is set at the
correct range to expose the background of a night scene accurately
while also exposing your closer subject. However, this means that the
shutter speed is slower, so it is important to use a tripod.
Hopefully this post has been helpful in discussing the basic zone
modes of your DSLR camera. While these modes can be a great start at
capturing different types of photography, they do not always have the
correct settings for certain images. If you want more control, the
creative zone modes will allow you to make adjustments to fine-tune
your images. If you are curious about the creative zone modes, then
check out the upcoming post next week for more on the advanced modes.
Remember that reading about these modes will only be helpful if you
actually practice with the different modes on your own camera.
Practice with each mode and notice how each one can change the
appearance of your images.