Beginner's Guide to Photography
Camera Modes
Every camera has one or more shooting modes.
You don't need to learn them all, but know at least one.

Operating Modes - Turning on the camera
Operating modes are the most basic, and essentially tell the camera whether to take pictures or display them. Some cameras only have "on" and "off". Operating modes can usually be found on buttons or dials on the camera body.

 

Basic Camera Operating Modes:
Icons
Description
On/Record Picture taking mode - record. After the camera is in record mode, you can select a shooting mode (sometimes a button labelled "power")
Playback takes a digital camera OUT of shooting mode and allows the user to view and edit stored images. (sometimes found on shooting mode dial)
Off Completly switches off the camera, usually a button labelled "off" (sometimes a button labelled "power")

 

Camera Modes
Old fashioned cameras have one mode.. manual. Camera settings would have to be figured out by the photographer, along with focus.


typical camera mode dial

Modern cameras can do all this automatically, but sometimes they need help. By choosing a shooting mode you give the camera hints about what you want, and it will try to deliver.

Know your modes!
Like riding a bicycle, operating your camera should become second nature.

You should know AT LEAST ONE camera mode well enough to take a picture without hesitation.

 

Point and Shoot: Auto/Program Mode
Of all the shooting modes, Auto/Program is probably the most useful. Most people don't really want to learn about how a camera works, and point and shoot photography is the perfect solution.

The fully automatic (A)uto or (P)rogram mode is the default for most modern cameras. The photographer can simply aim, press the button, and almost be guaranteed a great image.

point and shoot photography is not second class!
Even professionals will happily switch to program mode so they can concentrate on getting the shot instead of exposure calculations.

Auto/Program Camera Modes:
Icons
Description

Auto The camera will completely control flash and exposure. On most cameras this is labelled "auto", on others simply "A". Some cameras only have (P)rogram.

Program automatic-assist, just point and shoot. Unlike full auto mode, you can usually control flash and a few other camera settings.
 

More Common Shooting Modes:
While (P)rogram is the most important for everyday use, most cameras have dozens more.. it's like having an assistant photographer inside your camera who tries to figure out what you need.

Common Camera Modes:
Icons
Description
Movie/Video In movie mode, Digital cameras can capture live streaming video.
Macro/Close-Up this mode used for taking close-up pictures.
Party/Night longer exposures to capture darker scenes. Usually used with flash, and some nice motion effects can be created.
Portrait To attempt to blur out the background, camera will try to use the fastest available lens setting (aperture).
Landscape camera will attempt capture detail in foreground and background by using high f-stop (aperture) settings.
Sports To freeze motion, camera will use the highest shutter speed possible.
Stitch For creating multi-shot panoramas, this mode will help to combine several shots into one wide scene. Good fun.
Aperture Priority Photographer sets the aperture (f-stop) and the camera will attempt to deliver a good exposure. Some cameras use an "A" icon instead of "Av"
Shutter Priority Photographer sets the shutter, and the camera will attempt to deliver a good exposure. Some cameras use an "S" icon instead of "Tv"
Manual Full manual mode, the photographer must set both the shutter and the aperture. mode.