Getting to know my new Nikon has been an experience, everything I thought I had learned because of owning my Canon I had to reverse, the models have the same functions but in completely different places. This blog post details the basic fundamentals of my camera and shooting modes.
All digital SLRS come with a variety of shooting modes, a lot of people don’t venture of Auto or semi Auto, this is a little bit like using the camera with stabilisers, nothing’s going to go terribly wrong but you’re never using the camera to it’s exciting potential
AV (Aperture Priority) – Located as AV on the camera’s main dial, Aperture Priority is a semi automatic shooting mode that allows you to select the aperture while the camera controls the shutter speed. You may select this mode if you want a specific depth of field in your photo and you notice that your lighting conditions are changing so rapidly you can’t keep up with changing the settings to adapt.
TV or S (Shutter Priority) – Another semi automatic shooting mode located on the main dial, Shutter Priority gives you control of the shutter speed whilst the camera selects the appropriate aperture. You may choose this mode if you want to freeze or slow down movement, however you should be aware that as the camera is sorting out aperture it will effect the depth of field of your image.
M (Manual Mode) – Once you are comfortable with the exposure triangle Manual mode is the best option for photographers as it gives you complete creative control over the outcome of your photos.
Al Servo AF/ Continuous – This mode is useful for keeping moving subjects in focus, it does this by continually focusing and refocusing to keep the subject sharp and therefore uses a lot of battery.
One Shot AF/ Single Focus – In this mode once you decompress the
shutter half way the camera focuses on the subject once and does not refocus, it saves battery and is great for portraits or still life where the subject doesn’t move.
AI Focus AF/ Automatic Auto Focus– In this mode, the camera switches between the two depending on the situation it is photographing, this is useful when you want to capture a quick shot but gives you limited control of how the camera with react and focus.
M/ Manual Focus – Manual focus mode is entirely down to you, adjusting the lens, using the right focal length and keeping the right distance away from subject to achieve that perfect focus. Manual mode is useful in situations where auto focus can struggle; low-lighting, macro photography, capturing action and in portraits. Sometimes it’s useful to focus in auto mode and switch to manual once you’re happy with the focus to avoid it refocusing.
Metering modes help you gain better control over the correct exposure in your photographs and produce better quality photos with less effort. Metering is how your camera decides what shutter speed and aperture should be depending on how much light is going into your camera and through the sensor. Every digital SLR has an inbuilt light meter that automatically measures the reflected light and determines what the correct exposure should be. The three most common types are
Matrix/Evaluative – The default setting which divides the frame into multiple zones and then analysed for dark and light tones and calculates an average value to determine the correct exposure. Useful in scenes that are evenly lit and useful in quick shooting scenarios.
Centre Weighted – Evaluates light in the middle on the frame and a small ratio around it but ignores the corners, some cameras allow you to change the ratio of this circle. Many photographers prefer this mode and is offers accuracy but has to keep subject near centre of the frame. This mode is ideal for portraits and still life
Spot Metering – Evaluates light around your focus point and ignores the rest of the frame, it provides precise readings from small areas and is useful in high contrast situations (where subject is backlit, like a bird against a sky) or macro photography.