Guidelines to Understand Digital Camera Modes Cover

Guidelines to Understand Digital Camera Modes

Digital camera modes allow a photographer to control the factor of an exposure, particularly Shutter, Aperture and ISO. Although certain modes can automatically adjust the exposure and some of the other modes which help photographer to manually control the exposure.


In old days everything in the camera was manual with no such automatic modes. Photographers had to set the shutter, aperture and choose the best film for their cameras and they use light metering device to evaluate the intensity of and and provide the exposure information to set accordingly.

In 20th century some of the Japanese companies introduced a camera with integrated light meters and in early 60's a company named “Topcon” introduces the first SLR camera that measures the light coming from the lens into the camera. It was a good innovation and photographers were no longer needed to carry special light meters.

The new “Automatic” mode in cameras evaluates the amount of light entering into the lens and automatically picks the right exposure limitations to capture the produce the properly exposed picture. To understand the camera modes you should firstly read out the article based on the Most important camera settings to be a master in photography this will help you to understand every main settings before you start shooting.


There are four main types of camera modes:

  • Shutter priority
  • Aperture priority
  • Program
  • Manual

Recommended Articles: 5 Guidelines you must know before buying a DSLR

Beginners Guide to ISO, Aperture and Shutter

Shutter-Priority Mode:

In Shutter Priority mode you can manually set the shutter speed based on the light passes through the lens and camera choose the aperture accordingly. Too much light that passes through the lens will increase the lens aperture to a high number which results in decreasing the amount of light passes through the lens.

Same as if there is less amount of light, camera will decrease the aperture to the lowest number which allows maximum amount of light to pass through the lens. Now if you read the article carefully you will understand that only the aperture changes respectively where the shutter speed remains constant. There is no control on the subject isolation, because camera sets the depth of field itself.

Risk of getting an over-exposed or under-exposed image:

If the amount of ambient light is not enough and you set the aperture speed to a high number, the exposure will be limited to the speed of your lens. Let’s take an example; if the maximum aperture of a lens is f/4.0 then it is understood that camera will not be able to use a lower aperture than f/4.0 and will shoot at the fast shutter speed that I set manually. The image with these settings will result in an under-exposed image and same as if you use a slower shutter speed and there is plenty of light to pass through this will result in over-exposed image. further reading

Aperture Priority Mode:

In “Aperture Priority” mode you manually set the aperture of a lens and camera choose the shutter speed accordingly to expose the image properly. Here you have complete control on the subject isolation and you can play with the depth of field, because you can increase or decrease the lens aperture by doing so you allow camera to measure the right shutter speed. If there is too much light camera will increase the shutter speed and if you are in low light environment camera will decrease the shutter speed. Using this mode, lower almost no risk of having an overexposed or under-exposed image, because the shutter speed can go as low as 30 second and as fast as 1/4000-1/8000th of a second which is more than enough in lightning situations.

This is the mode that you should use while photographing because you will have a control over the depth of field and image will be exposed properly under normal circumstances. The metering system in the modern cameras is very efficient and you can let the camera to calculate and control the shutter speed.

Program Mode:

In “Program Mode” camera automatically choose the right aperture and shutter speed for you, based on the amount of light that passes through the lens. This mode can be used in that moments when you just quickly need to capture a moment like in Street photography and Sports photography when you don’t have the idea of the next moment. The camera will try to balance aperture and shutter speed based on the intensity of light. Aperture will automatically increase to bigger number if you are in bright place while keeping the shutter speed relatively fast. Aperture will decrease automatically if are in dim light situation while keeping the shutter speed relatively fast. If there is not enough light, lens will stay at maximum aperture (lowest number) and the shutter will keep decreasing until it meets the right exposure.


Using this mode will not give much control over the exposure. A way to cancel automated camera shutter speed and aperture is by moving the control dial. If you rotate the dial towards the left there will be a decrease in shutter speed and increase in aperture same as if rotate towards right there will be a increase in shutter speed and decrease in aperture. To get a faster shutter speed for freezing action, you need to rotate the dial to the right, and to get a large depth of field, you need to rotate the dial to the left.

Manual Mode:

By the name “Manual” mode you can understand that you can control aperture and shutter speed means you can set the aperture and shutter speed of any value you want.


The camera fully allows you to take full exposure controls. This mode is generally used in situations where camera is unable to figure out the correct exposure in enormously lightning situations. If you are capturing a scene in very bright area the camera may guess the exposure incorrectly it may over-expose or under-expose the rest part of the image in these types of situations you can set your camera to manual mode. If you want to make sure that both shutter speed and aperture are same across multiple exposures. Photographs that you are looking to put together need to have the same shutter speed and aperture. Or else, some images will be darker, while others are lighter. Once you set the shutter speed and aperture according to the values of your choice in manual mode, your images will all have constant exposures.

I would really appreciate for reading this full article, I hope it will help you to do best settings for your camera and to capture right image in right situation. I recommend you to join us on Social Media to get daily updates and more guidelines.

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