Basic Camera Modes

March 20, 2008

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Ever wondered what exactly do some camera modes mean and what exactly are they for? Here’s a little useful basic summary on some very basic digital modes in almost every digital camera in the market today. Enjoy!

Auto Mode

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When you want to take snapshots without worrying about the mechanics of photography, leave this setting on Auto. In the automatic mode, you will usually not be able to adjust ISO or white balance settings. This mode sets all exposure levels automatically, and it usually locks you out of making any minor adjustments manually.

Landscape Mode

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The Landscape Mode allows you to shoot pictures of landscapes like mountains or anytime where the whole image – both the foreground and background – needs to be in focus. Setting the Landscape Mode will tell your camera to smallest aperture possible under conditions to maximize the depth of field in the image and ensure the whole image is in focus.

Potrait Mode

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If you want to shoot close-ups of people or faces, the Portrait Mode is the mode to choose. When you choose Portrait Mode, the camera will select a wide aperture setting, minimizing your depth of field for a soft background effect so that the background is out of focus. The best portraits are where the subject is in full focus, but the background is out of focus, so the camera increases the aperture in this mode to get a small depth of field. This places only the subject in focus.

Macro Mode

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If you often take close up shots of flowers or insects etc, this mode is invaluable. The Macro Mode allows you to focus on objects at amazingly small distances – sometimes just centimeters from the lens. The Macro mode provides just the setting by using the macro lens of the camera. Use the Macro mode when you need to capture the smallest little details on your subject. When activating this mode, it is better to use a tripod for best results.

Sports Mode

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If you want to capture fast action, then you’ll need the fast shutter speed setting offered by the Sports Mode so that you can take photos of moving objects without a motion blur. When you switch to this mode, your camera will automatically choose the fastest shutter speed possible given the situation. Some cameras will also activate continuous shooting (instead of single frame) so that the camera keeps taking shots as long as you depress the shutter and also disable the flash.

Night Mode

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Use Night Mode at night, or at dawn or dusk. This combines an exposure that is suitable for the ambient illumination in the background while the flash properly lights the foreground subjects. The camera will choose a slow shutter speed to capture as much light. Try to place your camera on a tripod or keep it steady some other way when using this mode as the longer exposure times can make your images blurry.

Beach and Snow Mode

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Some cameras provide a “Beach and Snow” mode. This mode is for use when shooting highly reflective scenes – like on the snow. If you shoot pictures on the beach or the snow, the bright and reflective surfaces will confuse the camera. The camera will compensate for the bright scene and ensure the image is exposed correctly.

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