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Here is a little bit about the settings on most cameras out there today.  The look of the symbol might be a little different but the operation is still the same.

Fully Automatic

Fully auto is exactly what it says.  This setting will Automatically set all settings in the camera to ensure there is a proper exposure every time.  When I say it sets all of the settings, I mean all of them, it will even pop up the flash if it needs it.  Aperture, F-stop and ISO are all taken care of for you. This is a nice feature when you just want to point and shoot with no worries.

Sets the camera for the optimum portrait setting.  When shooting a portrait the focus should be on the subject and the background should be soft.   This setting does just that, by adjusting the camera to have a narrow depth of focus or narrow depth of field only the subject/person that you are photographing is in focus. while the background is out of focus.  This is controlled by the F-Stop.  


Sets the camera to the optimum settings for landscape photography.  When shooting landscape images, you want the exact opposite of the portrait setting.  In this case, you are looking to have everything in focus from the front of the scene to the back, creating a long depth of field.  There are some tricks to this to ensure that everything you want in your shot will be in focus.  If you can divide the scene into thirds, try finding something in the front third of the scene and focus on that object.  For example: Let’s say we are photographing a scene where there are some flowers close to camera after that a tree and then  mountains in the background.  To keep everything from the flowers to the mountains  in focus, find a
point that is one third the distance from the flowers to the mountains.  In this case lets say it’s the tree, focus on the tree and all objects should be sharp in the final image.  On a side note, be aware that in low light situations you will need a tripod.  The shutter and F-stop must work together to create a perfect exposure, the shutter will have to compensate for the light restrictions caused by the F-Stop forcing the shutter to be open longer and the opportunity for camera shake.


This setting is for close up photography of objects like a flower or coin.  By adjusting the cameras focusing distance, this setting allows you to get much closer to the subject to capture more detail. There are still some limitations to this setting in DSLR (Digital Single Lens Reflex)  cameras.   Cameras with interchangeable lenses also have focusing limitations within the lens itself so this setting is not always the solution.   On point and shoot cameras it will allow you to get much closer to the subject to capture those tiny details, but don’t forget to turn this setting off when photographing any other subjects.  This setting also controls the F-Stop and a tripod is very handy.  The subject is so close to the camera any little shake or movement could cause an out of focus image.  No matter how steady you feel or think you are, just the blood pumping through you hands and breathing can cause motion blur in the image.

Sprots or Fast Actoin

This setting is for photographing exactly what the name says.  If you want to freeze action or stop motion use this setting.  Sports/Fast Action sets the cameras shutter speed.  If you remember Portrait and Landscape uses the F-Stop to crate their effects, in this case the shutter is used to stop the action.  The shutter is part the loud noise that you here when a camera is taking a photo and the faster it open and closes the better for this setting.   Depending on the lighting situation, this could act like the focus in the Portrait setting.  If there is low light the camera will open the F-Stop to allow the shutter to work faster creating a narrow depth of field/focus.  The two settings have to work together to properly
expose the image.  

Night Portrait

Night Portrait will act exactly like Portrait setting in creating the narrow depth of field/focus.  The major difference is that this setting will do what’s called dragging the shutter.  The camera will adjust for the low light and drag the shutter to gather as much light from the background as possible.  If you have a flash built into your camera this setting will make it fire during the exposure but will keep the shutter open a little longer.  Example: if you are standing on the Stratosphere tower at night and want to take a photo of your friend with Las Vegas in the background, this would be the appropriate setting.  How many times have you taken a photo like this and the background was dark with nothing there?  Well
this setting may help.  By dragging the shutter, it is gathering more light from the background allowing the information to absorb into the sensor.  In a situation like this a tripod is highly recommended.  If you are hand holding the camera your subject will be sharp and the background can have motion blur.   When the flash fires it freezes action instantly but the shutter can remain open to absorb that extra light and you might think the photo has been taken but in fact is still in process.

No Flash

This setting does exactly what it says.  The camera will be in full automatic exosure mode but no matter what, will not fire the flash.  This can be good in some situations and bad in others.  In this setting if you are in a dark area and don’t have a tripod you can very easily get motion blur.  Motion blur is caused by a long opening of the shutter and simply moving the camera durring exposure.  Much like what we talked about in previous sections.  No Flash simply tells the camera to do what it needs to do to get a proper exposure without the flash.  If you are trying to capture a specific scene or event, beware, there are no guarantees that the settings will be right for that event or scene.


All of these settings are full auto.  They will simply help to ensure that the camera is set properly for your subject.  The shutter speed, aperture and ISO will all be automatically set based on the setting the camera is on.  These settings will cause the camera to react differently.


Shutter Speed- Controls the action as well as long exposure for night photography.
Aperture- Controls depth of field/focus.  High numbers; long depth of focus, low numbers; short depth of focus. 

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