Picture Taking Modes


Virtually all digital cameras feature several programmed and programmable picture taking modes. The programmed modes set the camera’s shutter speed, aperture, and other settings for you according to the type of photo you want to take and the conditions under which you will be taking them.


Typical programmed picture taking modes include:

  • Automatic – In automatic mode, your digital camera’s computer will adjust virtually all of the camera settings for you. All you have to do for the most part is simply point and shoot. If you’re new to digital photography and just want to take some pictures right away with a minimum of fuss, the automatic mode will produce acceptable pictures under most conditions. 
  • Landscape – The landscape mode is for taking pictures of scenery and distant objects such as mountains, wheat fields, tall buildings – anything where the subject is far away and you want a wide field of view. The camera will adjust its settings for you based upon the assumption that you won’t be able to use the flash. 
  • Portrait – The portrait mode is used for taking pictures of one or two people who are positioned relatively close to the camera. The focus is adjusted for the nearest person and the sharpness is not adjusted by default in order to produce smoother skin tones. The flash is also adjusted to reduce the red-eye effect. 
  • Sports – Capturing clear, non-blurring photos of fast action scenes such as a hockey game or bicycle race requires fast shutter speeds and continuous automatic focusing. The sports setting adjusts these for you so you can concentrate on following the action and taking great pictures. 
  • Close Up – The close up mode allows you to take crisp, clear photos of very close, stationary objects. The camera will concentrate the focus on the center of the frame where you will most likely have placed the object being photographed. 
  • Nighttime – The nighttime setting is for taking pictures in a low-light environment. Typically, the flash is automatically turned on and other adjustments are made to ensure a proper exposure.

There are typically four programmable picture taking modes as well:

  • Program – In program mode, the aperture (f-stop) and shutter speed are set for you, but you have the ability to override these settings if you wish. 
  • Shutter Priority – When your digital camera is set to shutter priority, you manually set the shutter speed and the camera will select the appropriate aperture for a proper exposure. 
  • Aperture Priority – This mode is similar to shutter priority, except you set the aperture and the camera sets the shutter speed. 
  • Manual – The manual mode gives you almost complete control over the camera by allowing you to set the shutter speed, aperture and other settings as you see fit. This mode is best used only after you have learned at least the basics of digital photography and camera settings.



Knowing when and how to properly use your digital camera’s picture taking modes is essential for taking great photographs under a wide range of conditions. The good news is “digital film” is cheap and you can practice with the various modes and settings until you have mastered their proper use!