How to: use the different modes on your digital camera

Posted by on April 6, 2010 at 14:22 pm

Our “How To” series of blog posts are tips and tricks on getting the most out of your products available from P.C. Richard & Son. For an archive of past How To guides, click here.

So, you have a point-and-shoot digital camera and like to take pictures while you’re out on the town, at family functions, and on vacation, right? I’m sure you’ve seen, either on your camera’s dial or in the menu system, a range of photo-taking modes. Do you know what each mode does? Do you use them? If not, you may want to explore these features to get the most out of your digital camera. Here are some automatic settings you’d usually find on your camera and how best to use them.

Automatic Mode
This should be the mode you’ve been using if you haven’t fully explored your other options yet. Automatic mode is just that—automatic. It determines the best focus, flash, white balance, etc. based on the environment lighting. This is generally acceptable in most situations, but your camera misses some key points of information in this mode. Are you taking pictures of a sporting event with fast movement? Are you taking pictures of fireworks? These specialized situations are when other modes come in handy the most.

Portrait Mode
Another rather self-explanatory mode, this setting is best for taking a photograph of a single subject, or portrait. It focuses on what’s in the foreground and keeps the background out of focus. This brings more attention to your subject and portrays them in a softer way.

Macro Mode

Macro mode is perfect for photographing small objects such as flowers, handmade jewelry/crafts, and insects, or close-ups on larger objects like the buttons of a flute. This setting has a very small margin where your object will be in focus, so hold your camera very close. I recommend turning your flash off while using this mode, or your photograph will be very washed out.

Landscape Mode
This is a perfect vacation mode to use for those beach, mountain or hotel view shots. This setting makes sure that it keeps as much in focus as possible, so make sure to hold your camera steady (using a tripod or holding your breath is best) as it may use a slower shutter speed and any movement of the camera may result in a blurry picture.

Action/Sports Mode
Action, or sports mode increases your camera’s shutter speed, which eliminates blur in action shots. This makes it perfect for games, pets, cars, boats, or anything that moves.

Night Mode
Use night mode for those night, dark restaurant or low-light party shots to brighten your picture as much as possible. This mode really brings out background lights in an environment and can make really beautiful shots. Because night mode needs a longer shutter speed to work, a tripod or steady surface is recommended.

Beach/Snow/Fireworks Modes
These are other self-explanatory modes that help boost the quality of shots in the aforementioned environments.

You can improve the overall quality of your pictures by experimenting with these modes that come with most digital cameras. What modes do you use on your camera most often?

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