Selecting the Right Shooting Mode: Auto, Manual, or Priority Mode?

Almost all digital cameras, especially those which allow the use of different lenses (interchangeable lens cameras), offer you a range of shooting modes to work with. These can be typically differentiated into three modes. These are Auto, Manual, and Priority modes. In this discussion, we’ll find out more about these.

The Auto mode, as the name suggests, does everything for the photographer. It determines where to focus, determines the scene, determines the exposure settings, and then applies the shutter speed and aperture to click the picture finally. All the photographer has to do is click the shutter release button, and et voila!

Is it the best mode for shooting? Though it sounds (and is) fun to use, it’s not the best mode to use. It does not offer you the creative freedom to experiment with. When you want to manually set the exposure by choosing the depth of field (related to aperture) and shutter speed, the Auto mode stifles you by stuffing down what seems to be the right setting. Yeah, sure, AI is great!

The next option is the Priority mode. Some people call it the Semi-Auto mode. Some call it the Semi-manual mode. I don’t care whether you feel this is half-empty or half-full, but it does something many users like and allows you to change one setting while controlling the other.

Such as, in Aperture priority mode, the camera allows you to change the aperture value while changing the shutter speed on its own. This is handy in several situations, such as when photographing landscapes, portraits, and any other genre where you want to control the depth of field of your composition.

On the other hand, shutter priority is the mode where you can control the shutter speed while the camera controls the aperture value of the scene. This mode is ideal for situations where you need to control the shutter speed because the subject is moving too fast, and therefore, you need to use a fast shutter speed to freeze the action. Bird, sports, and fast action photography are some genres where shutter priority mode is useful.

The third and final mode is the best and the most versatile one and also the mode that 10 out of 10 photographers will recommend considering the amount of freedom that it offers a photographer. Manual mode allows you to choose both the shutter speed and the aperture. This is crucial in certain types of compositions where you need a certain depth of field and a specific shutter speed, and you cannot rely on the camera to tell you what it thinks. Mind you; manual photography isn’t ideal for specific genres like action photography.