Camera Settings / Camera Modes

As I’ve said last time I want to get into different camera modes today. Before you start reading, think about which mode you usually use, and let me know in the comment section below (you can do that once you finish reading, of course).

I’ll start with Automatic Mode, assuming a lot of people just getting started in photography use this mode. It will of course make it easier for you in the beginning to take reasonably good photos without having to worry about what settings to use. Just press the shutter, and your camera will use its own ‘knowledge’ to try and give you a well exposed photo.
On the other hand your camera can’t know what you really want your photo to look like, and what results you’re hoping to achieve - it’s just guessing what to do. In order to get a bit more control over your camera you should consider using some of the following modes.

Aperture Priority Mode (AV or A) let’s you control your camera’s aperture. You set the aperture, your camera does the rest. You should consider this mode if you want to play around with different depth-of-fields, e.g. want a shallow depth-of-field to get a blurry background and some bokeh.

Shutter Priority Mode (TV or S) is another half-automatic/half-manual mode where you choose the shutter speed, and let your camera worry about aperture, ISO etc. This mode is useful if you want to achieve different results regarding movement. You might want a really fast shutter speed to freeze the motion of a moving subject (e.g. a runner). On the other hand you might want to capture the speed and movement/blur of something, let’s say water dropping, or a car that’s going really fast. You can read up more on this right here.
A slow shutter speed can also be helpful in low light situations (however you’d need to make sure to keep your camera very still to get a sharp image by using a tripod for example).

Program Mode is another option you might be able to select (some cameras don't have this option though - they see it as Automatic mode). Your camera will work out most of the main settings, and you’ll get to choose what white balance to use, ISO, etc.
This mode might be different on each camera, so you should have a look into what it can do on your one.

Well, while all of these modes have their pros + cons and might be useful in certain situations, there’s one mode that can do it all, one that gives you control over everything, one that all the professionals use, the one and only real mode… It’s the manual mode. ;)
I’ve been mentioning this many times before, so many times since I’ve had this blog that I feel like I can’t keep repeating myself. But I will - I can’t make this point often enough. Manual mode really will give you control over everything, and I personally couldn’t imagine shooting in any other mode anymore.
I’ve written this whole series on shooting in manual mode and getting your exposure right, so go ahead and read up on it! I know it can feel intimidating at first, and like there’s too much to figure out, too much uncertainty, too many settings to handle all at once. That’s why I’ve split it up into 3 main parts - aperture, shutter speed, ISO. And I promise, once you give it a go and just play around with it every now and then, you’ll slowly learn and it will become easier and more intuitive. Trust me - I used to be there, too!

And if you still feel like you can’t do it, are in London and want to meet me, so I can teach you in person - drop me an email. I’d love to help out!


  1. Once you switch to manual you will never go back! It was a hard switch to make, but so glad I put the effort in back when I did. Though, sometimes if I have to shoot during the middle of the day and the lighting is horrible, i'll switch to AV mode- definitely takes the stress out of shooting at the worst times. Luckily for me, I plan my life around the golden hour ;)

    1. I agree, light makes such a huge difference! And lucky you for only having to shoot during the golden hour ;)