Getting the best exposure starts with choosing the exposure mode that works best for you. All DSLR’s have a ‘Mode’ dial where you can choose how you would like to create your exposure. This can create some confusion and many people wonder why they would choose one mode over another. Here is a breakdown of the modes and why you may want to choose one over another.
All exposures consist of an Aperture, Shutter speed and an ISO setting-obviously there are more variables but each mode arrives at the choice of these main variable in different ways.
It is a good idea to become familiar with all shooting modes and decide what is best for YOU. It is not that one is right or wrong, ultimately if an exposure is made with ISO 100, 1/125 ,f/5.6 it will look exactly the same in all modes the only thing that is different is 'how' you got there!
The camera will choose the aperture, shutter and IS0 based on what ‘scene’ you choose it will optimize for that setting
PRO: Not much to think about.
CON: No creative control
GOOD FOR: Beginners
Program (Program Shift): P
The camera chooses an aperture and shutter speed and pairs them together based on the ISO that you choose. As you turn the dial with program will ‘shift up and down and you can choose the ‘pairing’ that best suits your subject.
PRO: More creative control
CON: The camera is still deciding most of the settings.
GOOD FOR: Beginners looking to get out of their comfort zone.
Shutter Priority: S or Tv
You set the shutter speed and the camera will choose the aperture based on the ISO you have set.
PRO: Even more control by allowing you to dictate the shutter speed. As you change the Shutter speed the camera will pick the appropriate aperture.
CON: Sometimes people get a ‘false’ sense thinking they can shoot any shutter speed and therefore blindly set the shutter but actually the aperture isn’t large enough for the chosen speed.On a Canon the aperture will ‘blink’ on a Nikon it will say “Lo”. This is your cue to increase the ISO.
Good For: Intermediate to advanced with a good understanding of shutter speeds.
Aperture Priority: A or Av
You set the aperture and the camera will choose the shutter speed based on the ISO you have chosen.
PRO: More creative control by allowing you to set the aperture you can control the depth of field.
CON:If you choose an aperture that is a small(larger number) your shutter speed will slow down-this is your cur to increase your ISO to speed up the shutter.
Good For: Intermediate to advanced with a good understanding of apertures.
You set the aperture, shutter and ISO based on the meter reading inside the camera. This is complete control over the camera.
PRO: As you can independently control all aspects of the exposure you and easily under and over expose changing the aperture or shutter by simply looking through the view finder, as opposed to using EV+/- in the other modes.
CON: You need to be on your game becuase light can change quickly and you need to be constantly readjusting.
Good for: Advanced users that have a good grasp on all aspects of exposure and can quickly change settings.