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Understanding Exposure Modes

Understanding Exposure Modes

You’ve just purchased your new digital camera from You probably thought you were going to start shooting incredible, award-winning images right out of the box. But all of those buttons and dials can be a bit overwhelming when you’re just beginning photography. The most important place to begin your photography education is by learning about the basic exposure modes on your camera. Here’s everything you need to know about how these four main exposure modes influence how aperture, ISO and shutter speed are chosen for a given exposure.

Understanding Exposure Modes


When you select Program Mode, your Nikon Camera from will automatically select what it thinks is the appropriate aperture, shutter speed and ISO for your shots. Shooting in Program Mode is highly recommended when you’re just learning how to shoot with your camera. Program Mode is the perfect exposure mode when you just want to snap away with ample lighting outdoors. Program Exposure Mode allows you to press the shutter without putting a lot of thought into your settings. The final image will still be a quality image while shooting in Program Mode.

Understanding Exposure Modes

Shutter Priority  

When shooting using Shutter Priority Mode, you’ll choose the shutter speed yourself. You will choose this Exposure Mode most often if you do a lot of wildlife or fast-paced sports photography. Fast moving objects like flying birds, require a fast shutter speed to avoid motion blur. How fast of a shutter speed you need, ultimately depends on the lens being used.

Aperture Priority

If you select Aperture Priority Mode on your digital camera, you’ll choose the aperture you want to use for the shot. Choosing the aperture lets you decide how much light enters through the lens. Selecting the aperture on your own in Aperture Priority Mode also lets you choose how much depth of field you want. Using Aperture Priority Mode, you’ll be able to choose a low aperture when shooting portrait photography. This will put the focus on your subject while giving you an out of focus background. Choosing to shoot in Aperture Priority mode is perfect when photographing faraway landscapes. You can choose a higher aperture when choosing Aperture Priority Exposure Mode to get as much of the landscape scene as possible in focus.

Understanding Exposure Modes


If you choose to shoot in manual mode, you’ll choose everything to get the proper exposure in your images. There are several shooting scenarios where you’ll need to take control over all elements of your camera’s exposure. Your camera will have a hard time choosing the proper exposure under extreme lighting conditions. If you’re shooting into the sun, the camera will tend to underexpose your subject if you use one of the other exposure modes. Manual Mode is also the best exposure mode to get consistent shots when shooting indoors with your flash.

Understanding Exposure Modes

Experiment using the different Exposure Modes so you can learn the capabilities of your camera.

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