You know all those little symbols on that wheel at the top of your DSLR camera? They can elevate your photos to a more professional level. We've broke the important ones down for you symbol-by-symbol so you can make the most of your camera.
Auto (‘A’ or camera symbol, sometimes it's colored green)
This mode is for camera newbies since it sets the exposure and shutter speed automatically for you. All you need to do is push the button and snap a photo, which can be helpful when someone who is not experienced is using your camera to take a photo of you. Auto, however, is the easy way out — you can get much better photos by exploring the other options on your wheel.
Macro (flower icon)
When enabled, it unlocks extra focus range to allow the camera to focus on close-up items, perfect for when you are getting a shot of your accessories. The macro mode gives priority to close-up objects over more distant objects, thus reducing the focusing time of close-up items or preventing the camera focusing on a distant object when the intended object is nearby.
Portrait (person icon)
In this mode the camera gives priority to close-up subjects with face detection enabled (if available) and sets the flash (if enabled) to red-eye reduction, which can be useful when highlighting make up tips or beauty products for your face.
Programmed (P icon)
This is also an automatic mode, but also has a few features that can be controlled manually. The ISO and white balance can be adjusted and the flash can be shut off.
Shutter speed priority (S icon, or sometimes Tv icon)
This mode gives you the ability to specify the shutter speed, but automatically adjusts the aperture and ISO to make it the correct exposure. A low shutter speed captures a blurry motion effect in a photo, a higher shutter speed is more refined, as to “freeze” the action, which can be helpful for those “walking down the street” shots.
Example of a slow shutter speed:
Example of a high shutter speed:
Aperture priority (A or Av on some models)
This function allows you to focus on the aperture speed, and the camera will auto correct the shutter speed and ISO to compensate. Using this mode you can control the depth of field, which you can learn more about using our aperture guide.
This mode gives the user full control over the shutter and aperture, however if the ISO setting is set to auto, the camera will adjust this to control exposure. This feature for the more experienced photographer, but as they say, practice makes perfect, so experiment!