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Digital Photo Manual – Using the mode dial

Once we got our first camera and after unboxing. we will wonder what are these alphabets for at the mode dial? There is M, A, S, P, Auto etc. So here I am, to let beginners like myself to understand the different modes on the mode dial.

M = Manual Mode

Manual mode means everything is manual, you have to do manual adjustments and this requires practise as it is not as easy as you think. Stress level will increase if you use Manual mode to capture candid photos of persons especially the right moment, the right time is crucial. With this mode you have to set both aperture and shuttle speed yourself. Because of this it’s probably best to leave this mode until you have mastered the controls in the semi-automatic modes.

A = Aperture-Priority

In some cameras, you will see AP and it is the same. This semi-automatic mode allows you to select the aperture manually, but tells the camera to automatically select the appropriate shutter speed to make the correct exposure. This gives you control over the amount of the image that will be in sharp focus, known as the depth of field.

S = Shutter-priority

This semi-automatic mode allows you to select the shutter speed manually but tells the camera to automatically select the correct aperture. This gives you control over how subject movement is recorded – whether frozen sharp or allowed to blur.

P = Program Mode

Since the start, I wondered what are the differences between Program mode and Full Auto mode. This mode is similar to Full Auto mode, in that it sets the shutter speed and aperture automatically, but does allow you a little more creative control. On most cameras you have control over settings such as exposure compensation and autofocus, plus you also have limited control over the combination of shutter speed and aperture the camera will use.

Auto = Full Auto Mode

This mode is usually the first mode we used when we got our camera. Right? In this mode, the camera takes control of most of the exposure settings for you, so you can’t direct proceedings. Some models also lock settings such as the autofocus, ISO and exposure compensation. So if you want to learn how to control exposure it’s best to avoid using Auto mode from now on.

There are some other modes, like Scene, Portrait modes which are straightforward and I won’t be sharing about them here. Have fun in Photography!

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