Intelligent Auto Mode

Good news for compact digital camera users who prefer to simply point and shoot rather than fuss with camera settings. Fully automatic modes have become a lot smarter.

Digital cameras have always had full automatic modes but results could be hit or miss resulting in photos with less than ideal exposure and focus. Today, most compact cameras come with intelligent auto modes that analyze the type of scene and shooting conditions you’re photographing. The camera then automatically selects the scene and the best settings.

As you point the camera at a subject, an icon automatically changes on the LCD indicating what scene mode is being used. If the scene includes a person, face-detection comes into play and the camera follows, focuses and sets exposure for it.

Are Intelligent Auto Modes perfect?

While certainly not perfect (what camera mode is), intelligent auto modes can be quite effective. Some shots may be missed but that occurs even for photographers who tweak camera settings on their own. Advanced camera users may stay away from using intelligent auto mode, but others will find it a welcome addition to their point-and-shoot experience.

The main types of automatic scene detection include:

  • Landscape – When aiming a camera at a landscape or seascape, the camera detects the subject. Settings are automatically selected for capturing more intense colors and greater depth of field.
  • Portrait – Portrait mode automatically recognizes when you’re photographing a person close-up. The camera detects and exposes for the face, and makes adjustments to settings such as white balance and brightness.
  • Backlit – Backlit mode senses when strong light is coming from behind a subject. It makes exposure adjustments so faces and foreground objects don’t end up in shadows, or scenes don’t become dark and underexposed.
  • Macro – The camera senses when you’re taking a close-up shot. It sets focus on the details in objects such as flowers, coins or other small subjects.
  • Sunsets – Sunset mode automatically sets the white balance to keep a vivid color balance.
  • Night portrait/Nightscape – For low light and night scenes, shutter speed and sensitivity are automatically adjusted. The camera attempts to capture photos without blur and with a minimum amount of noise. If the camera senses a flash is needed, it automatically enables and adjusts the flash range.

Intelligent Auto by major camera manufacturers

Intelligent auto mode can be found on most every compact digital camera made in the last few years. When you buy your favorite brand  camera, here’s what to ask for:

  • Canon – Smart Auto
  • Casio – Premium Auto
  • Fujifilm – SR Auto  (Scene Recognition Auto)
  • Kodak – Smart Capture
  • Nikon – Easy Auto Mode with Scene Auto Selector
  • Olympus – iAuto
  • Panasonic – Intelligent Auto
  • Pentax – Auto Picture mode
  • Samsung – Smart Auto advanced scene recognition technology
  • Sony – iSCN (Intelligent Scene Recognition)

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