Digital Camera Modes
August 18, 2011

Every type of modern camera with the exception of a few extremely expensive DSLR cameras have a set of automatic modes to choose from. Point and shoot cameras all rely on these automated shooting modes as they do not have a lot of customizable options. In this article we are going to look at what these auto modes do and how you can use them to take better pictures.

some text Mode dial for a Nikon D3000

Above is a standard DSLR Mode select wheel. It is similar to what you might find on a point and shoot camera but with a few more options. Typically a point and shoot camera won't have the M A S or P options. These allow you to manually control the two most important parts of exposure, Aperture and Shutter speed in different ways.

M- Manual allows you to control both aperture and shutter speed

A- Aperture-priority auto allows you to to adjust aperture settings while keeping other settings automatic. This is mostly used for changing depth of field.

S-Shutter-Priority auto allows you to adjust how long your exposure is. This can change how your photos look in motion either to increase motion or compensate for it.

P- Programmed auto controls both shutter and aperture but allows you to change other settings.

Almost all cameras have some modes for different picture taking settings. While it may be easy to stay on auto, taking the extra second to understand and use the rest of the modes will help you take better pictures.

some text
Auto- Standard point and shoot mode for all cameras. You pick the shot and the camera does the rest.

some text
No Flash Auto- Same as auto but with flash disabled.

some text
Portrait mode- Increases aperture size for a smaller depth of field. This will allow you to bring your subject in focus while leaving the background blurry.

some text
Landscape- Decreased aperture for largest possible depth of field.

some text
Macro- For very small subjects or close ups. Extremely small depth of field of only a few milometers.

some text
Motion- Very fast shutter speed for quickly moving subjects.

some text
Night- For shooting portraits in low light.

When you are using auto mode the camera will attempt to select these for you or more often just put everything in the picture in focus. Even with point and shoot cameras you can create a lot of the same effects of a more expensive models by using the appropriate camera mode. These will prevent a lot of unfortunate pictures and can allow you to photograph things you didn't know you could.

For questions on this or any other article feel free to email me at


Lawrence    8.24.11

You said, "Aperture auto allows you to to adjust aperture settings" but you never explained what aperture was. How can you use the word as part of its own definition?

Tyler     9.01.11

A discussion on what an aperture is and how it functions was too lengthy to fit in this article. There will be and article explaining aperture soon!

Sailor     10.12.11

I found just what I was needed, and it was entertaiinng!

Holland     11.21.11

Hey, sutlbe must be your middle name. Great post!

Keithe    8.24.11

This sentence doesn't make sence?

Even with point and shoot cameras you can create a lot of the same effects of a more expensive models by using the appropriate camera modes."

Karl    9.09.11

Aperture is a measure of the open area of the lens expressed in a way that it means the same thing to the exposure of the picture regardless of the focal length of the specific lens. The words "adjust the aperture settings" could be replaced with "adjust the lens opening." However, a circular definition is not as great a flaw in an article during the age of the Google dictionary.

I suggest you retain the article as the survey deion and make the modes active links as you write about them individually. It is mystifying to take a fuzzy picture using zoom when you are set to macro and do not realize it.


April, 2016
Best Toner Saving Printers of 2016
Best Ink Saving Printers of 2016

June, 2015
Best Ink Saving Printers 2015

May, 2015
Customers Love Inkfarm
Customers Love Inkfarm

May, 2014
Aspiring Business Contest Winners

March, 2014
Win A Printer For Your Business Or Start-Up!

February, 2014
Best Ink Saving Printers 2014

January, 2014
New Year, New Beginning Contest Winners
3D Printing for 2014

December, 2013
Printing Nuances and How to Fix Them
"New Year, New Beginning" Photo Contest Guidelines
Printable Holiday Elf Decoration

November, 2013
Printable Thanksgiving Decoration

September, 2013

July, 2013
About the Lexmark 200xl compatible ink cartridges
Page yield ratings and coverage percentages explained
Black and Tri-color cartridge pre-installation guide
Multi-color cartridge pre-installation guide
Alien Earth Photo Contest Winner

May, 2013
"Alien Earth" photo contest entry guidelines
Digital Innovation Scholarship 2013
Best Toner-Saving Laser Printers - 2013

April, 2013
Epson ink cartridge pre-installation guide

March, 2013
Best Ink-Saving Printers 2013

October, 2012
Breathtaking Portraits Photo Contest Winners

September, 2012
How Planned Obsolescence Affects You
$100 Photo Contest

August, 2012
GeekGirlCon 2012 Review
Drupa 2012 highlights

July, 2012
2012 Consumer Printer Trends
Laser Printers vs. Inkjet Printers: Pros and Cons
Sizzling Summer Photo Contest Winners

June, 2012
Why is Printer Ink so Expensive?
Genuine vs. Remanufactured and Compatible Cartridges
Funniest Candids Photo Contest Winners

May, 2012
A Glossary of Popular Printer Terms
Crafty Fridays: Printer Ink Cartridge Stamps
How to Make a Shower Karaoke with your iPad!
Almost Human Photo Contest Winners
Upcycling Ink Cartridges

April, 2012
5 Tips on Saving Printer Ink
Top 4 Printers of 2012
Best Ink-Saving Printers - 2012
Free Ink Giveaway
Talking GeekGirlCon with Susie Rantz
Beat the Winter Blues Photo Contest Winners

March, 2012
Laser "Un-printer" Wipes Paper Clean
Owning a Hackerspace: An Interview with Matt Westervelt
Instaprint: The Polaroid of Today?
Why you Should Print your Tax Return
H&R Block Online: How to Print your Tax Return
TurboTax Online: How to Print your Tax Return
How to get Copies of Previous Tax Returns
Printing from the Cloud
iPhone Photo Contest Winners

January, 2012
Seasons Greetings Photo Winners

December, 2011
Saving Your Photos in the Digital Age
12 Great and Free Holiday Fonts
Urban Black and White Winners

October, 2011
Photography Contest #2- Awesome Autumn
Kodak Stock in Free-fall

September, 2011
Bright and Beautiful Colors Winners
Photo Contest Terms and Conditions

August, 2011
DPI and Image Size
Printing On Photo Paper
Google Cloud Print From Your Android Phone
Google Cloud Print From Your iPhone
Digital Camera Modes
Photo Paper Types
GIMP Tutorial: Introduction GIMP Tools
The Cost of Digital Cameras
Compatible FAQ

July, 2011
Image File Extensions
Color Management Basics Page 3
Color Management Basics Page 4
Color Management Basics
Color Management Basics Page 2
Apple Loses in Kodak Patent Suit but Kodak Stock Falls

June, 2011
Printer Software for Saving Ink
Conservation and the Environment
Recommended Ink Saving Fonts
Best Printers for Saving Ink - 2011

May, 2011
Printer Ink - Toxic?

March, 2011
Holy Fonts, Batman!
What the Font?
Are Page Yield Ratings A Scam?
© 1999-2016, Inc. All rights reserved. "The ink & toner super site" is a trademark of, Inc.