The Beginners Photography Guide to Digital Camera Modes (continued)
Having covered the different Automatic Modes we continue our explanation of the different digital camera modes by looking at the many types of AutomaticScene Modes found on today's digital cameras. Following this and completing this section of the beginners photography guide will be a quick look at the Semi Automatic Camera Modes.
While the majority of beginning photographers are likely to leave their camera in automatic mode it still helps to understand the many different digital camera modes available to you and the limitations and advantages of them.
Automatic Scene Modes
Another type of automatic digital camera modes are the Scene Selection Modes. These are another type of automatic mode where the camera settings are tweaked for common shooting scenarios or scenes. Here are some of the more common scene modes.
Portrait Mode: In this mode the camera automatically is going to select a larger aperture (smaller F-stop) to help blur the background because of the narrow depth of field. The camera will try to meter off of the subjects face and smile detection will be activated if the camera has it. Also usually the color settings are adjusted to provide a little "warmer" color. When using this digital camera mode it is usually recommended that you zoom in on your subject or use a telephoto lens of around 90mm to 135mm to help separate the background from the subject. Fill flash is also helpful or even necessary if the subject is back-lit.
Landscape Mode: In this mode the camera will select the smallest aperture (largest F-stop) in order to get the maximum depth of field. Generally this mode will also boost the color saturation a little as well as a slight increase in contrast to give a more vibrant picture. Because the camera is going to select a smaller aperture the shutter speed will also tend to be slower so you need to watch for camera shake and use a tripod when needed.
Macro Mode: Macro mode is used when photographing close subjects such as flowers or insects. This mode will tend to use faster shutter speeds and larger apertures to provide a shallow depth of field resulting in a blurred background. Some fixed lens cameras have lenses that allow them to focus when they are very close to the subject but with a DSLR you need to have a true macro lens to get that advantage. Because the depth of field is so small in macro mode focusing can be difficult and a tripod might be needed or helpful to get really sharp pictures and keep the subject in focus. It is recommended you do not use a built in flash because it can over-exposure the subject or cause unwanted shadows. If flash is needed some type of flash diffuser will help avoid those problems.
Sports Action Mode: Sports action mode is for shooting fast moving subjects in bright places. In this mode the camera will try and select the fastest shutter speed possible for the available light in order to freeze or stop the action. This will usually mean a larger aperture and less depth of field as well. If the camera has a burst or continuous mode that will also be activated allowing you to take multiple pictures while holding down the shutter button.
Twilight or Night Mode: This digital camera mode is designed to shoot night scenes without losing the nighttime atmosphere. When activated the camera will use a longer shutter speed while firing the flash to capture both foreground and background details. This technique is known as "slow shutter speed sync" and if very effective in bringing out details in both foreground objects as well as the background. If normal flash settings were used in this type of lighting the subject would be lit by the flash but the background would be too dark to have much if any detail available. Some DSLRs will allow you to use this mode with or without flash so you can capture night scenes at a distance (without flash) or take a nighttime portrait (with flash). As with any low light situation using a tripod is recommended to avoid motion blur or camera shake caused by the slower shutter speed. When used to take night portraits it is also important that the subject holds still after the flash since the shutter can remain open to allow the back ground to be exposed more. Any movement by the subject during that delay will blur the subject.
Panoramic Mode: Many newer digital cameras have a built in panoramic mode that automatically stitches images together to form a panoramic photo. In this mode you can sweep the camera in either a horizontal or vertical direction while holding down the shutter button. The result is panoramic image automatically being created.
Other Scene Modes
Sunset Mode: This mode designed to take pictures at sunset allows the red and orange of the sunset to be captured more vividly.
Beach Mode: In beach mode the camera settings are tweaked to help capture the blueness of the water more vividly.
Snow Mode: This mode helps compensate for those really bright snow scenes.
Fireworks Mode: In this mode the cameras exposure is set to help you capture photos of nighttime fireworks.
Backlit Mode: This mode uses exposure compensation so that the subject is still properly exposed when there is a bright or strongly lit background. Without these adjustments foreground objects would be to dark.
Movie Mode: Another common mode on newer digital cameras allowing you to capture video, often even HD video. This allows you to use your camera to capture video and audio.