The camera “mode” dial

©Trevor Awalt - Mode Dial Canon T6i_C&B

Canon T6i Mode Dial

The camera mode dial provides a means for the user to help the camera make better aperture, shutter speed and ISO setting decisions based on typical scenarios.

The mode settings; M, Av, Tv, P, etc…, are set by turning the dial on your camera to the desired position that best suits the shooting scenario.

The mode dial is typically split into two areas; (1) the creative zone and (2) the basic zone. For this lesson we will discuss the modes within the “creative zone“.

M” – Manual Mode
The user takes complete control setting the aperture, shutter speed, and ISO for a correct exposure based on the camera’s exposure metering mode, also set by the user. The exposure value is the resulting exposure from the user settings, displayed on the camera’s reflective meter. The camera can auto adjust the ISO if it is set to AUTO. The user can limit the highest ISO value via a setting typically found in the camera menu.

Av” – (Nikon “A”) Aperture Priority Mode
The user takes control of setting the aperture and ISO. The camera automatically sets the shutter speed for a correct exposure based on the current exposure metering mode setting and the exposure compensation setting, both controlled by the user. Aperture is part of the creative control for depth of field. The camera will also adjust the ISO if it is set to AUTO. The user can limit the highest ISO value via a setting typically found in the camera menu.

Tv” – (Nikon “S”) Time Value (Shutter Priority) Mode
The user takes control of setting the shutter speed and ISO. The camera automatically sets the aperture for a correct exposure based on the current exposure metering mode setting and the exposure compensation setting, both controlled by the user. Shutter Speed is part of the creative control to show motion. The camera will also adjust the ISO if it is set to AUTO. The user can limit the highest ISO value via a setting typically found in the camera menu.

P” – Program mode (Does NOT mean Professional Mode)
The camera automatically sets the shutter speed and the aperture value for a correct exposure based on the current exposure metering mode setting and the exposure compensation setting, both controlled by the user.

In “P” mode the camera uses an algorithm based on the amount of available light in addition to the lens aperture and focal length capabilities. The user can adjust the camera’s determined settings by moving the main dial (on the top right front of the camera adjusted with your index finger). While adjusting the main dial you will see both the shutter speed & aperture change, however, once the lens has reached the widest aperture you will not be able to adjust the shutter speed any higher. Note the algorithm starts fresh each time you take a picture.

The camera will also adjust the ISO if it is set to AUTO, the camera tends to use the lowest possible value while still maintaining a minimum of 1/(focal length) shutter speed. The user can limit the highest ISO value via a setting typically found in the camera menu.

In our next lesson we will discuss how a camera performs auto focus and what the settings mean.

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