Today’s Blog will deal with the different expert shooting modes available on your DSLR camera. Although each camera manufacturer may display these expert shooting modes slightly differently, they all function the exact same way. If you currently own or just purchased a DSLR, you have probably at one point thought to use these expert shooting modes, but just stayed away from them from a lack of understanding. Don’t worry, by the end of this blog, you will have a complete understanding of what each expert shooting mode is for and when to use it.
So what are expert shooting modes [e.g. Manual Mode (M),Aperture Priority Mode (Av), Shutter Priority Mode (Tv), Program Mode (P)]? Expert shooting modes, for the exception of Manual mode, are designed to give flexibility to the photographer to focus more on creativity and image composition rather than having to consistently adjust their settings to adapt to various exposure environments and moving objects. Flexibility to be creative is attained while still retaining some manual control in each expert shooting mode.
NOTE: Each expert shooting mode on your “Mode Dial” takes away one or more abilities that manual mode would otherwise give you full control of (e.g. Aperture, Shutter and ISO, or as I like to refer to it as the “Exposure Trinity”). Click here to watch my tutorial video on Aperture ISO and Shutter.
Abilities and Limitation of Each Expert Shooting Mode:
“M” mode allows you FULL control of all your exposure settings (e.g. ISO, Shutter and Aperture). This expert shooting mode allows you the ability to override whatever the camera throws at you. If your camera meters your image improperly, then you have the ability to disagree and adjust your setting according to what you feel is appropriate. You can incorporate the use of your histogram to aid you in producing a properly exposed image – Click here to watch my video on using your Histogram and Metering Modes. Once you understand the principles of Aperture, Shutter and ISO, then you’ll be on your way taking pictures using this expert shooting mode faster than you can say…SMILE!
“AV” mode allows you the ability to dial your aperture and ISO to what ever setting you wish, allowing your camera to judge what shutter speed to use automatically – this setting is ideal when photographing portraits and still objects as you may want a shallow depth of field with objects and subjects and even landscapes that you are shooting. This setting is also ideal when your out and about different places such as: amusement parks, outdoor birthday parties, downtown cities. I would like to point out that it is not ideal to use “AV” mode with a aperture smaller than f-stop 4 with low lighting conditions, as this will force the camera to give you a slow shutter speed, therefore producing blurry images.
“TV” mode will allow you to adjust your shutter speed and ISO to whatever setting you wish, allowing your camera to adjust the aperture automatically – this expert shooting mode is ideal when photographing sports, your kids at the playground or any fast moving object or event where your depth of field is not a priority concern. Keep in mind that dialing in a slow shutter speed of 1/60 of a second or less during low light conditions may produce blurry images. To compensate, increase your ISO to allow you the option of a faster shutter speed.
“P” mode is the closest expert shooting mode available to shooting in full Automatic Mode (The green box located on your “Mode Dial”). The only available control you have shooting in “P” mode is your ISO – the camera will judge what shutter speed and aperture is appropriate for your images. This mode is the least used expert shooting mode amongst amateur and pro photographers. Although true, I do recommend this mode for those who are just beginning photography, as this will allow you to see how your camera judges what settings are most appropriate for your images. This expert shooting mode will allow you to progress to the other expert shooting modes with a better understanding of how they function.
Although “AV”, “TV” and “P” expert shooting modes are ideal to use in an array of situations, which I use regularly, they still limit your ability to fully manipulate images to your creative imagination. Using these modes really depends on what kind of photography you’re doing, as different scenarios will require the use of one of these expert shooting modes. Remember…the camera is not always right! It is more often that your camera gets it wrong, which is why manual mode is available on all DSLR’s and even most point-and-shoot cameras to allow you to override what the camera is ultimately deciding for you.
As a point of interest, Exposure Compensation is available in these expert shooting modes, for the exception of manual mode. Exposure Compensation helps you compensate for images that may be overexposed or underexposed due to using these expert shooting modes. The use of Exposure compensation puts back a little more control into your hands when photographing with expert shooting modes. Please see blog entry: What is Exposure Compensation?