Scene Modes and Your Digital Camera

Posted by Nick Niesen on October 26th, 2010

Most people don't want to mess with their digital camera's settings. The rest of us may not understand what they are for and what they can do. Camera manufacturers realize this and are making it easier to take great photos. It is done through a feature called scene modes. Scene modes are mini-programs designed to automatically adjust your camera's settings that are best suited for the situation. By merely twisting a knob or pushing a button a few times, you are able to quickly and easily adjust your camera to get a great shot nearly every time.

Here are some of the more common scene modes and what they do:

Backlight - eliminates dark shadows when light is coming from behind the subject or when the subject is in the shade.

Beach/Snow - this mode is used when photographing beach, snow and sunlight water scenes. Exposure times and white balance are set to help prevent the scene from becoming washed out looking.

Fireworks - shutter speed and exposure are set for shooting fireworks: pre-focusing and the use of a tripod is highly recommended.

Landscape - this mode is used to take photos of wide scenes. The camera automatically focuses on a distant object.

Macro - is used to take close-up shots of small objects, such as coin, flowers or insects. The lens can be moved closer to the object than in other modes. The use of a tripod is highly recommended.

Night Scene - is used when photographing night scenes - what else? Slow shutter speeds are used. You'll need that tripod again.

Panning or Action - this mode will "freeze" the action of the subject while blurring the background to give the feel of motion or speed.

Panorama - is used to take a series of shots from one point and "stitch" them together with software to make a wide angle scene.

Party Mode - is used to take photos in a dim lit room. Exposure and shutter speeds are adjusted for room brightness. The camera must be held very steady in this mode.

Portrait - this mode automatically focuses on the subject and puts the background slightly out of focus.

Sports - is similiar to action modes. Fast shutter speeds "freeze" the action. Best shots will result when taken in bright lighting conditions and when you are pre-focused on an area.

Sunset - is used to take photos of sunsets and sunrises. This mode helps keep the deep hues in the scene.

Some cameras have as many as 20 different scene modes. Some modes will automatically adjust the size of your photo for on-line auction. Some are supposed to take 10 pounds off the subject. Regardless of how many scense your camera has, always read the instruction manual. Each manufacturer has their own terminology. By understanding and using scene modes, you will get a great shot every time.

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Nick Niesen

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Nick Niesen
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