Today, any digital camera offers the photographer a frightening variety of shooting modes. Due to the fact that the instructions for the cameras describe the features and purpose of a particular mode is very vague, it is difficult for a novice amateur photographer to determine which modes are really useful and which are marketing nonsense. As a result, many either spit on everything and shoot exclusively in AUTO mode, without trying to dig deeper, or, believing the authors of the instructions, try to use narrow-minded scene modes (Portrait, Landscape, Sports, Macro, etc.), without suspecting that with a minimum of mental effort, you can achieve much more flexible and complete control over the camera without any harm to your own comfort.
Understanding the modes of a digital camera is the simplest thing that you, as a photographer, should learn. If you are familiar with the concepts of shutter speed and aperture, then it will not be difficult for you to deal with shooting modes.
Basic exposure modes
Since the 80s of the last century, four modes are standard for most cameras: program mode (P), aperture priority mode (A or Av), shutter priority mode (S or Tv), and manual mode (M). In the courtyard is the 21st century, but camera manufacturers haven’t come up with anything fundamentally new. Using the classic four, you can still shoot anything you want. Other modes (with rare exceptions) – from the evil one.
P – Program auto. A software machine or a program line mode is not only the most preferable mode for a beginner amateur photographer, but also an acceptable choice for an experienced photographer, especially in situations where you have to shoot in a hurry.
In program mode, the camera independently sets the appropriate combination of aperture and shutter speed in accordance with lighting conditions and ISO sensitivity (see Light and exposure numbers). By default, the following series of combinations is used: f / 2 * 1/15; f / 2.8 * 1/30; f / 4 * 1/60; f / 5.6 * 1/125; f / 8 * 1/250; f / 11 * 1/500; f / 16 * 1/1000; f / 22 * 1/2000, etc. within the range of aperture numbers of a particular lens and the range of shutter speeds of a particular camera. Of course, intermediate values of the form are possible: f / 6.3 * 1/160; f / 7.1 * 1/200; f / 9 * 1/320; f / 10 * 1/400, etc., since the values of both shutter speed and aperture usually change in increments of a third of a step.
To reduce or increase exposure relative to that offered by the machine, the function of exposure compensation or exposure compensation is used. For example, in contrasting lighting, many cameras have to reduce the exposure by 1/3 or 2/3 steps to avoid overexposure in the lights, and when shooting winter scenes, the exposure should be increased so that snow does not come out gray in the photo. Usually, exposure compensation is controlled by a special button (+/-) in combination with the main command dial. It is even more convenient when a separate disk is provided for exposure compensation.
A feature of good cameras is the ability to shift programs, i.e. choose equivalent combinations of aperture and shutter speed to get the same exposure in accordance with the law of interchangeability.
I will give an example. A typical sunny day exposure is achieved with an f / 8 * 1/250 exposure couple at ISO 100. By the principle of interchangeability, the same exposure can be obtained using any of the following combinations: f / 2 * 1/4000; f / 2.8 * 1/2000; f / 4 * 1/1000; f / 5.6 * 1/500; f / 11 * 1/125; f / 16 * 1/60; f / 22 * 1/30. By rotating the corresponding dial, you can shift the program either toward higher aperture values and slower shutter speeds, or towards faster shutter speeds and lower aperture values. Such a program is called flexible.
The ISO sensitivity in the program mode is set either manually or automatically, depending on your preferences and camera capabilities.
A – Aperture priority or Av – Aperture value. Aperture priority mode is deservedly loved by so many photographers. In this mode, you yourself set the desired aperture value within the range limited by the lens design, and the camera automatically selects the appropriate shutter speed for it. In this case, exposure compensation also affects only the shutter speed, as the only variable in the exposure lens.
Most of my work was shot in aperture priority mode. Manual control of the diaphragm means complete control over the depth of the sharply depicted space, which is extremely convenient both when shooting landscapes, when the depth of field should be maximum, and when portrait shooting, when you want to visually separate the object from the background using a small DOF. In addition, the overall sharpness of the image depends on the aperture, and therefore it is highly desirable to keep such an important parameter under supervision.
S – Shutter priority or Tv – Time value. Shutter priority mode is the opposite of aperture priority.