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The Good, The Bad & The Ugly | Camera Modes & How They Work

Updated: Aug 18, 2020

In the previous blog I talked about exposure. Today I want to talk about the different modes your camera has. Your camera, like most cameras nowadays, probably has at least 12 to 15 different modes for you to shoot in, right? This might seem like a great thing, like something that opnes uo a huge range of possibilities. The truth? This isn't the case.

The different modes that your camera has to offer doesn't mean that you will automatically be able to take better photographs. This is one of those cases where simplicity is key. Because the truth is you probably won't need even half of the different modes on your camera.


P, S (Tv) and A (Av)

These three modes are the only ones you need to get familiar with real photography on your way to taking great photographs. These are the modes you need to help you set your creativity loose.

P - The P stands for Posh Auto. This is one of the best modes for when you're first starting out. If you've never nearly diven in to the world of photography, it's completely unrealistic to think you can start with Manual. You will end up getting fed up and giving up. And we can't be having any of that. P gives you the ability to focus on your creativity while the camera takes care of all the complicated numbers. The difference with the Auto mode is that your flash won't go off (which is a good thing because the unintended flash is normally what ruins good photographs) and that you can control the ISO. This is something you need to know about and I will visit in a future blog.

S (Tv) - This stands for Shutter Priority. As you will soon see, you will want to be in charge of your shotter speed depending on the kind of photograph you have in mind. So in this mode, the only thing you have to worry about is your shutter speed, while your camera takes care of all the rest.

A (Av) - This mode is Aperture Priority. Just as before the S (Tv) setting only let you change the shutter speed and nothing else, the A (Av) mode only lets you handle the aperture.


'Scene modes'

The 'Scene modes' are the ones that are ususally represented by a picture (a flower, a mountain). These are junk. These are all factory presets. What does this mean? It means that your camera will adjust it's settings to take a photograph of a certain object in a certain way. What's the problem with this? That there's no one way to photograph anything. In photography it's essential to give your work your own unique view, and with these kind of modes it's simply impossible. So do yourself a favour and try and pretend as if those modes aren't there.



The fully 'Auto' mode should be ignored completely. This is a mode for quick snapshots which normally turn out completely different from what you expected.This is the mode with absolutely No imagination and NO creativity.

So rather than going with the fully 'Auto' mode, if you're new and scared of the manual mode or the modes that give you more to do, go with the P. You will be eternally grateful as you will see the difference and improvements in your results straight away.

And now get out there AND PRACTISE.

But before you do, be sure to check out the amazing book Read This If You Want To Take Great Photographs by Henri Carroll.

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