Using Program Mode

The first stop for almost everyone is Program mode. Usually identified with a P (Figure 2.1), this mode puts all control in the hands of the camera. Both aperture and shutter speed are set automatically, based on how the camera senses the available light, which lets you concentrate on learning how to compose and focusideal for someone just moving into a full-featured camera.

Figure 2.1. The Setting dial on a typical digital SLR, with Program, Aperture, Shutter, Manual, and Scene mode settings.

Letting the Camera Choose

Program mode is often the easiest way to get used to a new camera, allowing you to concentrate on focusing, metering, composition, and just capturing images.

You'll find Program mode useful when your camera supports automatic flash settings as well. The camera, in addition to setting the shutter speed and aperture, automatically determines the proper output from the external flash to give you the extra light needed for a successful image. Note that this is not true in Canon dSLR cameras. With Canons, the flash only pops up automatically in scene modes such as Auto (green square), Portrait, Macro, and Night mode.

Program Shift Modes

Even with Program mode selected, most cameras include a feature known as Program Shift or Shiftable Program. In this mode, you can control either the shutter speed or aperture, and the camera adjusts the other setting to keep the exposure consistent. Although this sounds very similar to Aperture Priority and Shutter Priority modes, the difference is that once you capture the image in Program Shift mode, the camera resets back to the default Program mode settings.

Scene Modes

Common to many entry- and mid-level digital SLRs are Scene modes (Figure 2.2). These settings, often symbolized by tiny graphics, are optimized for each type of image capture to set the aperture or shutter speed for the best results.

Figure 2.2. Scene modes are simply presets designed to optimize the camera settings for different types of photography.

  • Landscape mode is designed to give you the most depth of field, or range of focus, which is typically what you want when shooting landscape-type images with everything from near to far in focus (Figure 2.3).

    Figure 2.3. Landscape mode maximizes depth of field.


    There is nothing in these Scene modes that you can't do easily on your own. Modes do make it easier, though, by automatically setting the optimum shutter speed or aperture especially while you're learning about photography and your camera.

  • Sport mode is optimized for fast shutter speed, sacrificing depth of field in order to freeze action. Because of this, focusing on your subject is critical in order to have the proper focus point (Figure 2.4).

    Figure 2.4. Sport mode optimizes shutter speed for moving subjects.

  • Portrait mode uses a shallow depth of field to keep the background areas out of focus when photographing people. This helps isolate the subject from the background (Figure 2.5). In some cameras, this mode also activates the built-in flash to give fill light to the subject.

    Figure 2.5. Portrait mode uses a shallow depth of field to blur backgrounds.

  • Macro mode maximizes depth of field at the expense of shutter speed. Because of the close distances used for macro photography, depth of field is always a problem, so this setting usually chooses an aperture of f/16 or smaller if available (Figure 2.6). To get the best results, use a tripod for this type of work.

    Figure 2.6. Macro mode maximizes depth of field even more than Landscape mode and is best for working with close-up subjects.

  • Backlight mode forces the use of the built-in flash to compensate for heavy shadows and lighting conditions that would result in your subject being underexposed (Figure 2.7).

    Figure 2.7. Backlight mode forces the built-in flash to be used to avoid heavy shadows and underexposure even when shooting into bright light.

  • Backlight mode is also good for scenes where you want to force the flash to fire regardless of the light.

The Digital SLR Guide(c) Beyond Point-and-Shoot Digital Photography
The Digital SLR Guide: Beyond Point-and-Shoot Digital Photography
ISBN: 0321492196
EAN: 2147483647
Year: N/A
Pages: 91
Authors: Jon Canfield

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