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What are the modes on DSLR camera

Photography newbie? It’s essential to comprehend the modes on a DSLR camera.

Understanding them is key to snapping better pics and making eye-catching visuals. Here, I’ll give an overview of the modes and how they function. Ready? Let’s go!

What is a DSLR Camera?

DSLR cameras are one of the most popular types of cameras on the market. They offer great features for a variety of subjects and shooting modes.

What exactly is a DSLR camera? It’s a digital version of an SLR (single lens reflex) from old-school film-based cameras.

Two main parts make up a DSLR: an image sensor and a mirror box. The image sensor captures light, then sends it to the mirror box.

It reflects the light up to the eyepiece so you can view it. Instead of capturing onto film rolls, images are captured directly onto digital media.

With digital SLRs, you can use different lenses. Plus, you get access to modes like manual exposure control, autofocus tracking and auto bracketing.

Now that you know what DSLR cameras are, let’s learn the different shooting modes they have.

What are the Different Modes on a DSLR Camera?

As a DSLR camera user, you need to be aware of the shooting modes. They can make or break your photos, and help you create amazing images. Each mode does something different.

The Manual Mode (M) gives you full control of settings like aperture, shutter speed, and ISO.

Aperture Priority (A/AV) lets you set the aperture, and the camera adjusts the other settings.

Shutter Priority (S/TV) sets the shutter speed, and the camera takes care of other settings.

Program Mode (P) helps you get acceptable exposure with minimum effort.

The Auto Mode is best for beginners who want their image quickly adjusted. The camera does most of the work for you.

Manual Mode

Feelin’ afraid of Manual mode as a beginner photographer? Fear not! It’s an awesome feature to have and can let you get creative with your shots. But let’s understand the basics before we jump in!

In this article, I’m gonna explain the ins and outs of Manual mode on a DSLR camera. Plus, how it can help you capture the best shots!

Exposure Triangle

The “Exposure Triangle” – shutter speed, ISO and aperture – are the three settings that control exposure. With Manual mode, you can manipulate these with your own hand!

You decide the light that reaches the camera’s sensor for good exposure.

Manual mode is great for low light and creative shots. To use it, you must know about shutter speed, ISO and aperture. Don’t be scared – this mode gives you full control!

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So why not give it a try? Good luck!


Aperture is one of the key settings to consider on a DSLR camera. In manual mode, you can adjust the aperture size to ensure the best picture quality.

The aperture is the size of the virtual hole in your lens that allows light to enter the camera and changes exposure and depth of field.

It’s measured in ‘f-numbers’, such as f/2, f/2.8 or f/16. The smaller the number, the wider the aperture opening.

This allows more light to enter the lens, leading to brighter photos with a lower light setting.

On DSLR cameras, this mode can be used to modify exposure, depending on the distance to the subject, speed of the photo, etc.

Aperture also affects depth. For shallow depth, higher F-numbers (smaller aperture) will work best. For images needing deeper focus, lower F-numbers (wider aperture) are preferable.

Shutter Speed

Shutter speed, as the name implies, determines how long the shutter stays open when you press the shutter release button.

It’s fast, so the light will enter the lens and onto your sensor for a short period. This helps in capturing fast-moving subjects or creating sharp photos in low light.

Low light requires high ISO and slow shutter speeds (1/25th – 1/50th secs) to get enough exposure.

High-speed shutter lets you freeze your subject with no motion blur, and isolate any moving elements like water droplets or smoke trails for dramatic photos.

To experiment with different speeds, use Manual (M) mode on your camera for full control over your settings.


ISO, from the International Standards Organization, controls how sensitive a sensor is to light.

When taking photos in Manual mode, this sets the perfect setting for your object to be exposed.

A low ISO is better for open spaces with lots of sunlight, and a higher ISO for indoors when the light is low.

I usually test it out, taking test shots and adjusting the ISO to suit the lighting. I usually stay within 400 – 800, as anything beyond that can get grainy or pixelated.

However, it is a personal opinion. A higher ISO can give you a faster shutter speed, but if you want to maximize photo quality, stick to the safe parameters specified by your camera manufacturer or research it online from fellow photographers.

Aperture Priority Mode

Capture captivating photos? Aperture Priority mode is the way!

This mode lets you control the size of the lens’s aperture. The camera automatically adjusts the other settings to make it work. Let’s check it out in more detail!

What is Aperture Priority Mode?

Aperture Priority mode, or “A mode” and “Av mode,” is a photography setting used by advanced amateurs and pros.

It gives control over the aperture, one of the three components of exposure. In Aperture Priority Mode, you can decide how wide/narrow your photo will be.

The other two components are shutter speed and ISO. With Aperture Priority, you can manually set one while the camera adjusts the other two.

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This is great for lighting that changes, or when you don’t have time to analyze light levels often. You can also create effects with depth-of-field and blur backgrounds.

In Aperture Priority, you pick an f-stop number (like f/2.8) which controls how much light hits the camera’s sensor. This affects depth-of-field and motion blur. It works well for night scenes, sports, and portraits.

Aperture Priority Mode gives more creative capabilities to photographers. You can control shot composition, even if lighting varies. You don’t have to switch settings often.

How to Use Aperture Priority Mode?

Aperture Priority mode (Av) is a great choice for photographers who want to take good pictures quickly in a range of conditions.

It is best when you need to alter the depth of field to focus on a foreground or background item.

When using Av, you set the aperture and the camera will choose the shutter speed that gives the perfect exposure.

So, you can keep shooting without changing anything, as long as there is enough light. Don’t forget to adjust the ISO if needed.

Av is the way to go when you want to blur the background or concentrate on something close or far away.

A wider aperture (f/2.8) lets in more light and gives you a low depth of field with a sharp foreground and blurred background.

A smaller aperture (f/16) gives you a sharper background and a busier frame. If there isn’t enough light, switch to Manual Mode and set both the aperture and shutter speed manually.

Practice this mode in different situations until you are confident with it – then it will become natural for those special shots!

Shutter Priority Mode

You, as a photographer, know of the shutter priority mode of DSLR cameras.

This mode provides you with control over shutter speed, while the camera takes care of the rest.

It’s especially helpful when photographing a fast-moving object or in low light.

Let’s discuss the functions, advantages, and tips of shutter priority mode.

What is Shutter Priority Mode?

Shutter Priority Mode, also known as Time Value or Tv Mode, is a special shooting mode. Photographers can choose a specific shutter speed and the camera adjusts the aperture for proper exposure.

It offers more control over motion in images, like sports, wildlife, or street photography.

The shutter speed can be adjusted from 30 seconds to 1/8000 of a second. Some cameras also have Auto ISO for further creative control.

Shutter Priority Mode is great for advancing photographers.

Experienced photographers use it for controlling motion blur, freezing action, and creating unique expressions with longer exposures.

They can also maintain proper exposure to any lighting.

How to Use Shutter Priority Mode?

Using shutter priority mode on a digital SLR camera is great for taking good photos. Knowing how to use it can help you get the most out of your camera.

Shutter priority mode lets you control the speed of the shutter. This gives you the option to take images in different conditions and with varied effects, allowing for more creativity.

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To use shutter priority mode, select either “Tv” (Time value) or “S” (Shutter speed). Then, use the main control dial to set the shutter speed. Low speeds (1-2 seconds) can be used as well as ultra-fast speeds (1/1,000th seconds).

The downside is that it limits ISO settings. You also need to make sure enough light is available. Otherwise, you will overexpose or underexpose the image.

Once you are comfortable with this mode, experiment with slow and fast shutter speeds. This can create dramatic results and show motion in ways that regular photography modes cannot.

For moving subjects, like birds in flight, try long exposures with low ISO film speeds. Set a higher aperture value so that not too much light comes in. High-speed settings like 1/1000th seconds can also freeze motion.

Trial and error is the key to mastering any form of art!

Program Mode

Program Mode is a great asset on my DSLR camera! It automatically adjusts the shutter speed and aperture, allowing me to focus on composition and other parts of taking the shot.

This mode works in many scenarios and is ideal for beginning photographers. So, if you’re a rookie, this is the mode to start with!

What is Program Mode?

Program Mode (abbr. P), also known as “auto-exposure,” is a semi-automatic setting. It allows you to take pictures without manual control of the shutter speed and aperture. This helps make picture-taking stress-free.

When you select Program Mode on your DSLR camera, the camera’s computer brain takes over. It adjusts exposure settings based on input from the built-in light meter.

You still have creative decisions like white balance and focusing points.

Checking the live view or switching to review images already taken makes it easy to see if enough light is in for proper exposure.

Program mode lets you experiment with composition and other aspects of digital photography.

It does this without changing any manual settings such as Aperture (F/ Stops) or Shutter Speed. It’s an ideal learn-to-shoot mode!

How to Use Program Mode?

Program (P) mode is a great setting for beginner photographers to learn their DSLRs. It works like auto mode, but with more control.

It chooses the aperture and shutter speed combos depending on lighting and subject matter. It helps capture sharp images with DoF.

In Program mode, you can adjust ISO and white balance. E.g. in full sunlight, it selects a fast shutter speed and higher f-stop numbers.

For portraits in low light, it chooses slower shutter speeds and larger f-stop values.

Using Program mode helps you get well-exposed images quickly, even when there’s no time to set up manual adjustments.

It’s also great for novice photographers who are still learning how to get correct exposure results consistently.

Program mode helps minimize the learning curve while still achieving desired outcomes.


Understanding the various modes on a DSLR camera is crucial to capturing stunning images and exploring your creative potential.

From the automatic modes like Auto and Program to semi-automatic ones like Aperture Priority and Shutter Priority, and finally, to the fully manual mode, each offers a unique level of control and artistic expression.

As a photography expert, I highly suggest taking the time to learn each mode. Practice and dedication are the keys to becoming a pro photographer!

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