Camera Modes

Types of digital camera exposure modes

Written by Gail Bjork

Many digital cameras come with automatic, semi-automatic and preset modes that make it easier to obtain a correctly exposed photo.

Digital camera mode dialExposure is the amount of light which falls upon the sensor of a digital camera. Shutter speed and aperture are adjusted to achieve optimal exposure of a scene. Most digital cameras offer a variety of exposure modes — from fully-automatic to semi-automatic to full manual control. Scene modes have factory optimized settings for different subjects and scenes.

Automatic modes

In fully automatic mode, when the shutter release button is pressed halfway, the camera selects all settings depending on the type of lighting and brightness of a scene. The camera also focuses automatically. When light is low or insufficient, the flash fires automatically.

Digital cameras with Program AE mode (P mode) set the shutter speed and aperture automatically. However, the user can adjust some settings such as ISO and white balance.

Semi-automatic modes

Aperture priority mode (AV) – Select the aperture (lens opening) and the camera automatically sets the shutter speed.

Shutter priority mode (TV) – Select the shutter speed and the camera automatically sets the aperture.

Manual mode

You have complete control by selecting both the shutter speed and the aperture. Digital cameras with manual modes have a manual assist indicator that indicates whether or not exposure is adequate.

Scene modes

Scene modes let you choose from a variety of pre-programmed modes suitable to photograph a given subject such as a portrait, landscape or fireworks. The camera settings change when moving a dial to a mode that matches the scene you plan to photograph.

About the author

Gail Bjork

Gail Bjork, who is passionate about digital photography, is the owner and editor of Digicamhelp.Gail is the author of three illustrated ebooks about digital photography. A number of her photos and digital photography related articles appear at other websites.In 2006, a series of her photos, People in the Louvre, were exhibited at the Underground Photo Gallery
in Iisalmi Finland. Eight of her photos taken in the Florida scrub are on permanent exhibition at Parrish Medical Center in Titusville, Florida.Gail served twelve years as an elected member of The School Board of Palm Beach County, Florida, one of the largest school districts in the U.S. She has also been the editor of a small town newspaper and a free-lance writer. Gail and her husband owned and ran several small businesses.