Do you know which exposure mode to choose on your camera?

Exposure modes for digital cameras

For the last few years there have been various different exposure modes on modern digital cameras. These include choices of manual, aperture priority, shutter priority and full program, along with some choices such as sports mode in program which changes the settings to favour faster shutter speeds to stop fast action sequences.

In manual mode the user has to choose both the shutter speed and the aperture. This is more advanced than other exposure modes but gives the most flexibility. It allows the user to maintain complete control over the luminosity of the image. It is particularly favoured by advanced photographers who want to maintain complete control and is also the common choice when working in the studio.

In aperture priority the user decides on the aperture he wants to use depending on how much depth of field is desired in the picture. Although the camera will alter the shutter speed to maintain the correct exposure the photographer still has to ensure the combination is OK for technically correct images. Landscape photographers often use aperture priority because control over depth of field is essential to obtain the best possible result.

Shutter priority functions in the opposite way to aperture priority so the user chooses the shutter speed and the camera selects the appropriate aperture for the correct exposure. Shutter priority is very popular with action photographers, who usually decide that the shutter speed is the most important factor they have to consider.

Program mode is essentially full automatic. That means the photographer leaves all the exposure decisions to the camera and simply presses the shutter button. This allows the photographer to concentrate totally on the composition and subject without worrying about the exposure. This is particularly popular with amateurs who are not yet sure about the exposure choices or even professional users who sometimes just need to concentrate on the subject and don’t have time to consider other problems.

Several years ago most users thought that professional photographers only worked in manual mode however this is not really true nowadays. The best choice is the one that allows you to get the picture.

In addition to the exposure modes, most advanced digital cameras also have exposure compensation, which allows the photographer to allow for different shooting conditions that might confuse a built in camera meter. In snow scenes for example light meters tend to underexpose, so the photographer can use exposure compensation to fix this problem and still continue to work in automatic or program mode without being obliged to use manual.

When a photographer is first starting photography it is a good idea to experiment with all the various choices to understand how they work then later on it will be easier to make the correct choices that will all help to produce the best possible photographs and turn the photographer into a true professional.

Above all it is most important to take lots of pictures so that you improve as a photographer and learn something every day. If you are one of those photographers who invariably shoots everything in program mode try some of the other modes to gain greater control over your photography.

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