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Jan 24

Camera Modes

P1070812Ever wonder what the P, A, S, and M stand for on your digital camera’s mode dial? Most dials have more than just those options, but the letters are the most common, along with some form of a green camera. The green camera (on the camera in the picture it’s the option that says “auto” next to the camera) is simply fully automatic mode. If you are using your camera for basic point-and-shoot purposes, stick with this mode or perhaps one of the more specific modes seen on this dial such as the flower icon for macro shots. If you’re looking to take that next step with your camera, try practicing with some of the letter modes below.

P – Program Mode

P Mode is the first step in moving on from your camera’s fully automatic mode. While shooting in this mode, your camera will automatically prevent you from using settings that will under- or over-expose your picture. In automatic mode, the camera takes care of everything besides pointing the camera and pressing the shutter. “P” Mode can look eerily similar, but in reality it is a bit more flexible. It allows you to change the ISO, white balance, and flash. For example, if you have a pop-up flash, it will not come up until you make it. In addition to this, some cameras provide alternative options for acceptable combinations of shutter and aperture. Want to decrease blur? Simply lower the shutter speed instead of taking the time to switch to Shutter Priority Mode. See your camera’s guide for how to do this.

A – Aperture Priority

Aperture priority mode allows the photographer to set an aperture and the camera will set an appropriate shutter speed. This allows the user to control things such as depth of field and the amount of light falling on the camera’s sensor. If you set a large aperture, this creates a short depth of field, which in turn can complement portrait and macro shots by blurring the background. Inversely, if you set a small aperture, this keeps as much of the shot as possible in focus, which is ideal for landscape photography.

S – Shutter Priority

Shutter priority mode is the complete opposite of aperture priority; it allows the user to set a desired shutter speed and the camera will adjust the aperture accordingly. If you’re trying to capture a shot as fast as possible, set the shutter speed to be as fast and then your aperture will automatically be adjusted. Remember that the faster your shutter speed, the more light you need in order to have a clear shot.

M – Manual Mode

M is the big and scary fully manual mode. This gives the photographer full control. If you don’t know what you’re doing, it’s very possible to get the exposure completely wrong, and this time the camera doesn’t make adjustments for your mistakes. It’s hard to get a hang of, but once you have practiced enough, it’s the most rewarding way of using your camera.

Have questions? Want to share some of your pictures with me? Email me at visionsphotographybyashley@gmail.com and I would be happy to talk to you!

~ Ashley

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