Having a thorough understanding of camera modes is important to get the best out of your camera. Whether you’re a beginner or an advanced amateur, you should know what each camera mode does and when it should be used. Digital Camera Modes allow photographers to control the parameters of an exposure, specifically, Shutter Speed and Aperture. Stepping away from the safety of full auto allows you to learn more about your camera controls while helping you develop as a photographer. Discover how to use the basic camera controls that every DSLR and mirrorless camera has to create really great images.
In “Program” mode, the camera automatically chooses the Aperture and the Shutter Speed for you based on the amount of light that passes through the lens. This is the mode you want to use for “point and shoot” moments, when you just need to quickly snap a picture. The camera will try to balance between aperture and shutter speed, increasing and decreasing the two based on the intensity of light.
In “Shutter Priority” mode, you manually set the camera’s shutter speed and the camera automatically picks the right aperture for you, based on the amount of light that passes through the lens. Shutter priority mode is intended to be used when motion needs to be frozen or intentionally blurred. If there’s too much light, the camera will increase the lens aperture to a higher number, which decreases the amount of light that passes through the lens. If there isn’t enough light, the camera will decrease the aperture to the lowest number, so that more light passes through the lens. So in Shutter Priority mode, the shutter speed stays the same, while aperture automatically increases and decreases, based on the amount of light. In addition, there is no control over subject isolation, because you’re letting the camera control the depth of field.
In “Aperture Priority” mode, you manually set the lens aperture, while the camera automatically picks the right shutter speed to properly expose the image. You have full control over subject isolation and you can play with the depth of field, because you can increase or decrease the lens aperture and let the camera do the math on measuring the right shutter speed. If there’s too much light, the camera will automatically increase the shutter speed. If you’re in a low-light environment, the camera will decrease the shutter speed. There’s almost no risk of having an overexposed or an underexposed image. Aperture priority mode is the mode of choice 95% of the time, because you have full control over the depth of field and know that the image will be properly exposed under normal circumstances. The metering systems in most modern cameras like the Canon EOS Rebel SL3 from Beachcamera.com work very well and you can let the camera calculate and control the shutter speed.
As the name suggests, “Manual” mode stands for a full manual control of Aperture and Shutter Speed. When shooting in manual mode, you can manually set both the aperture and the shutter speed to any value you want. The camera lets you fully take over the exposure controls. Manual photography is generally used in situations, where the camera has a hard time figuring out the correct exposure in extreme lighting situations. Shooting in manual mode is also useful for consistency, if you need to make sure that both shutter speed and aperture stay the same across multiple exposures. Once you set the shutter speed and aperture to the values of your choice in manual mode on your Sony a7III from Beachcamera.com, your images will all have consistent exposures.
Now that you know a bit about the various options, how do you go about choosing the right shooting mode? You’ll likely want to experiment with all of them. This will allow you to discover what each one does and how it impacts your photos.