Knowing your Camera Operation Modes

Date Published: 1/13/2012
Category: Nikon Guidebook

Selecting a Shooting Mode


After you turning on your camera, you need to decide which shooting mode you are going to use. The mode you choose to use will depend on the various factors reflected by the shooting conditions or situations. For example, whether the subject that you are going to photograph is a moving or still. Changing the mode is simple: press the Mode button and use your thumb to rotate the Main Command dial. Alternatively, if you are using other models rotate the Mode dial to the shooting modes you wish to shoot. You will find the P, S, A, M or together with other Scene Modes such as Portrait, Landscape, Child, Sport, Close up and Night portrait among them.




Shooting in Manual (M), Aperture (A), Shutter (S) and Program (P)


P. Also known as Programmed Auto



This is a fully automatic shooting mode in which the camera decides both the aperture setting and shutter speed. You can use the Main command dial to adjust the aperture and shutter to better suit your needs. It is rather a flexible program and it allows you to control the settings while maintaining the same exposure. Compare to Auto mode, this mode allows the user to control the flash, metering, white balance and many more.


S. Also known as Shutter Priority.



This is a semi automatic shooting mode that allows you to select the shutter speed you want to use and the camera automatically set the appropriate aperture. It is a best choice when there is a moving subject in your frame, as it allows you to control whether you want to freeze its motion by selecting a fast shutter speed or to record it as blur by selecting a slower shutter speed or streak by selecting a longer exposure time.

To avoid camera shake. If you are handholding the camera, make sure the shutter speed is fast enough to avoid camera shake. A simple rule to do this, is to check the focal length of the lens and the shutter speed so it is as a fraction (or reciprocal) of the lens setting. If you are using a 18-105mm at 80mm, ensure the shutter speed is at least 1/80 sec to avoid shake.


A. Also known as Aperture Priority.



This is another semi automatic mode that is a most popular choice of exposure mode among DSLR photographers. It allows you to determine the aperture to control the depth of field (how much of the image is in focus) and the camera automatically set the set the appropriate shutter speed for it. It is particularly popular with landscape and portrait subject, where the photographer uses it to control the depth of field and determine
how much of the scene appears in focus (sharp).

M. Also known as the Manual mode.



With this mode, you get to decide the shutter speed and the aperture. This mode allows you to have full control over the exposure in order to achieve a certain tonality in your image by purposefully over or under exposing the image.

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<Excerpt from "Nikon Guidebook". Download the completed book here>