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13.3 - Exposure Modes

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Your camera has exposure modes.

Exposure modes are often located on a knob on the top of the camera.

The modes are designated by letters and icons.

We'll look at the letters here, and the icons in the next section.

Canon Camera Letters

On Canon cameras, the exposure modes include the following.

The Auto exposure mode is green.

It may be the word Auto, a camera icon, or a rectangle.

Auto

Auto

P

Program

Av

Aperture priority

Tv

Shutter priority

M

Manual

Nikon Camera Letters & Others

On Nikons, and many other cameras, the exposure modes include the following.

Auto

Auto

P

Program

A

Aperture priority

S

Shutter priority

M

Manual

What does each of the above exposure modes do?

Auto Exposure Mode

The Auto exposure mode uses program exposure mode, and also sets many defaults on the camera.

Program Exposure Mode

Program, P, is the most convenient exposure mode.

You don't have to do anything.

You can ignore lens opening and shutter speed.

That's a problem.

If we don't have to use these tools, our photographs won't be as good.

Aperture-priority Exposure Mode

Aperture-priority exposure mode, Av or A, is the most useful exposure mode.

Because you have to set the lens opening, you'll use this valuable tool more often.

We'll explore depth-of-field below.

Shutter-priority Exposure Mode

Shutter-priority exposure mode, Tv or S, is useful for freezing or blurring movement.

You choose the shutter speed, and the camera selects the lens opening.

Manual Exposure Mode

Manual exposure mode, M, is useful if you want to bracket your exposures.

Bracketing is the taking of several photographs of a scene at different exposure settings.

Many photographers now use automatic bracketing or use exposure compensation.

There's another discussion of exposure modes in the Tips section.

Go to Exposure Modes Explained.