Using your Cameras Auto and Semi Auto Modes
Would you buy a car with automatic transmission and then only drive it in manual mode? The answer to that is probably no! So why do some blog sites and photographers insist that shooting in manual mode is the way to go?
Camera manufactures spend time and money on research and development and on technology to provide us photographers with the tools we need to concentrate on the creative process of image capture.
Camera shooting modes
Most cameras these days come with a variety of shooting modes from intelligent auto modes, scene modes, auto and semi auto modes through to manual shooting.
Unless you need to set a constant aperture, shutter speed, ISO or white balance, you can probably use one of your cameras other shooting modes more appropriate to the subject or scene being photographed.
I like to use Programme Mode and programme shift to vary my aperture and shutter speed combination on my Lumix G9. My set up for Programme Mode is
- Main settings
- Camera Mode – Programme / Programme Shift
- ISO – Auto
- WB – Auto
- Metering – Evaluative / Matrix
- Auto Focus – Continuous focus
- Auto Focus Mode – Face / Eye Detection
- File type – RAW
This combination of settings allows me to focus on taking pictures without having to fiddle with my cameras settings. I keep an eye on my histogram and use exposure compensation when I feel I need to correct the exposure. People worry about keeping their ISO on the lowest setting, I tend not to worry though for the following reasons
- If you are shooting in good lighting conditions, your camera will automatically keep ISO as low s possible.
- Most new pro-consumer and professional camera sensors can handle noise quite well.
- If shooting RAW (and I do) then programmes like DxO Photolab can be used to deal with most noise issues in post processing.
Other Camera modes and when to use them
Intelligent Auto Mode or Scene Detection
The operation of this mode varies depending on your camera make and model. It automatically detects scenes and adjusts settings to match the scene. In order to exploit all of the functionality of this mode it is recommended to shoot JPEGs.
Shutter Priority and Aperture Priority Mode
These two modes are similar in that you get fine control over either setting the aperture or shutter speed depending on your needs or preference.
Aperture Priority will give you control over depth of field and Shutter Priority will allow you freeze or blur movement. If you do not need fine control over either of the aperture or shutter speed, you can leave your camera in Programme mode if shooting RAW files, or Intelligent Auto mode if shooting JPEG.
There are basically three ways to use manual mode;
- Full manual mode.
- You set the ISO, white balance, aperture and shutter speed manually, giving you full control over your cameras settings.
- Semi manual mode.
- You leave the white balance and ISO on auto and you choose the aperture and shutter speed.
- Manual mode with auto white balance.
- In this mode you do not have to worry about white balance and you set the ISO, aperture and shutter speed yourself.
Full manual mode
This option is probably more for those who work in a studio environment where you want full control over your camera and its settings.
Semi manual mode
This is a great option when you want to force the use of a particular aperture and shutter speed combination as your ISO will change to match the lighting conditions. Just keep an eye on the ISO and if it seems too high, change either the aperture or shutter speed or both, to bring the ISO down. You only need to do this if you are concerned with noise.
Manual mode and auto white balance
In this mode, your camera will look after white balance, you set your preferred ISO and based on your ISO and the brightness of the scene you set the aperture and shutter speed to get the correct exposure.
Trade off between shooting manually and shooting in auto or semi auto
With todays cameras, there are probably not many scenarios where you need to take full control over your cameras settings. The more you do manually, the more time consuming photo taking becomes. And, you risk forgetting to change settings and not getting the shot you want.
What shooting mode do you most favour?