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.
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.
Auto- Standard point and shoot mode for all cameras. You pick the shot and the camera does the rest.
No Flash Auto- Same as auto but with flash disabled.
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.
Landscape- Decreased aperture for largest possible depth of field.
Macro- For very small subjects or close ups. Extremely small depth of field of only a few milometers.
Motion- Very fast shutter speed for quickly moving subjects.
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.
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