The Dial – Deciphering the modes

The Dial – Deciphering the modes

So you bought a new SLR paid heavy bucks for it and then you set it in fully automatic mode(The
green rectangle) and the photos actually turn out slightly better than your previous point and shoot. So
is this slight change in the quality which drove you to pay 5 times the price of a decent point and shoot?
I guess not (or hope not), the main reason was manual control, the power to create, the flexibility to get
what you want and not just what your camera gives you.
The first step to make proper use of your SLR is to get out of the full auto mode and for that you need
to know what those little icons mean on your dial and what effect you will get by each of them.

So I have listed down the various modes and what effect each mode has on your photos.

Auto (‘A’ or camera symbol, sometimes it’s colored green)

This mode is for camera newbies since it sets the exposure and shutter speed automatically for you. All
you need to do is push the button and snap a photo, which can be helpful when someone who is not
experienced is using your camera to take a photo of you. Auto, however, is the easy way out — you
can get much better photos by exploring the other options on your wheel.

Macro (flower icon)

When enabled, it unlocks extra focus range to allow the camera to focus on close-up items, perfect for
when you are getting a shot of your accessories. The macro mode gives priority to close-up objects
over more distant objects, thus reducing the focusing time of close-up items or preventing the camera
focusing on a distant object when the intended object is nearby.

Portrait (person icon)

In this mode the camera gives priority to close-up subjects with face detection enabled (if available)
and sets the flash (if enabled) to red-eye reduction, which can be useful when highlighting make up tips
or beauty products for your face.

Programmed (P icon)

This is also an automatic mode, but also has a few features that can be controlled manually. The ISO
and white balance can be adjusted and the flash can be shut off.

Shutter speed priority (S icon, or sometimes Tv icon)

This mode gives you the ability to specify the shutter speed, but automatically adjusts the aperture and
ISO to make it the correct exposure. A low shutter speed captures a blurry motion effect in a photo, a
higher shutter speed is more refined, as to “freeze” the action, which can be helpful for those “walking
down the street” shots.

Example of a slow(longer time) shutter speed:

Slow Shutter speed

Example of a high(shorter time) shutter speed:

High shutter speed

Aperture priority (A or Av on some models)

This function allows you to focus on the aperture speed, and the camera will auto correct the shutter
speed and ISO to compensate. Using this mode you can control the depth of field, which you can learn
more about using our aperture guide.

Manual (M)

This mode gives the user full control over the shutter and aperture, however if the ISO setting is set to
auto, the camera will adjust this to control exposure. This feature for the more experienced
photographer, but as they say, practice makes perfect, so experiment!

So that explains most of the common modes in your dial. After reading this I hope you’ll be able to make a more intelligent decision regarding the mode to use.


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