digital still cameras
Other Camera Modes
There are several camera "modes" you can use that determine how much thinking the camera should do for you. Most cameras offer a range of options from fully manual to fully automatic, and everything in between. These modes let you more control over the kinds of pictures you take with your camera, and let you make choices such as whether to use manual focus, exposure, close-ups, portaiture, and so on.
On the Canon cameras, you change these general settings by turning the main dial on the top right of the camera.
The settings fall into two general categories, or "zones." The most basic mode is fully automatic. On most Canon cameras, automatic mode is marked by an "A" or the word "Auto." On the Rebel, automatic mode is marked with a plain square icon. As you turn the main dial clockwise from automatic mode, where the icon graphics are, you're using the camera in the Basic zone. As you turn the dial counter-clockwise from Automatic mode, you're using the camera in the Creative zone. Basic zone settings do more of the setup work automatically, while Creative zone modes give you more control. Basic zone modes can also be thought of as "pre-sets" for specific combinations of focus and exposure tailored for certain shooting conditions.
The Mode Dial on the Canon Rebel. Modes to the left of the square icon (Automatic mode) are in the "Creative Zone," while modes to the right of it are in the "Basic Zone."
Basic Zone (Pre-Sets)
These pre-set options or modes are listed as you turn the dial clockwise from the auto setting. Various cameras have various combinations of these modes - your camera may not have some modes listed here.
- Pan Focus Mode - for shots with a lot of action where focusing is difficult. This sets the camera at the widest possible angle to try to keep everything in focus. This mode does not exist on the Rebel.
- Portrait Mode - Icon = a head in profile. Use this mode when you want a subject in the foreground in sharp focus.
- Landscape Mode - Icon = mountains. Use this mode when you want a wide-angle shot with the background in focus.
- Night Scene Mode - Icon = starry field. Use this mode when you're shooting a subject at night. This setting illuminates the subject with the flash, while keeping the shutter open longer to provide more light for the background.
- Black and White Mode - Icon = a figure in contrast. Use this mode to take pictures in black and white (which is not recommended, as you can always take a color picture and covert it into black and white later using a photo editing program like Photoshop). This mode does not exist on the Rebel.
- Macro Mode - Icon = a flower. Use this mode for extreme close-up shots.
- Sports Mode - Icon = a running figure. Use this mode for shooting scenes with lots of motion, which you want to capture without blurring. This mode does not exist on earlier models of Canon cameras.
- Movie Mode - Icon = a movie camera. Use this mode to shoot low-resolution movies directly in the camera (note: no digital still camera in movie mode can come close to the movie quality you get with a digital video camera -- consider this mode a novelty only.) This mode does not exist on the Rebel.
Consult the camera manual for additional help using the camera in these different modes.
Creative Zone (Manual Control)
Here are the options on the Canon cameras that give you more manual control over the camera settings, listed as you turn the Main Dial counter-clockwise from the auto setting:
P - Program - used for manual focus
Program mode is much like Automatic mode - the camera will still do most of the setup work for you -- but it allows you to manually override some settings, such as focus, while the camera still automatically adjusts exposure. For example, you might want to manually adjust the focus if there's an object in the foreground that the camera would automatically focus on, while you want to focus on something that's more in the background.
Program mode is recommended for users who want good shots without thinking too hard about it, but require just a bit more control than is offered full Auto mode.
Rebel: To manually focus the Rebel, first look for the AF/MF switch at the top left of the lens body. Make sure it's set to MF (manual focus). Then, with the camera in P mode, turn the outermost focus ring on the lens body while looking through the viewfinder.
G1 and G5: To manually focus the Canon G1 and G5 cameras, while in Program mode press the MF button on the camera.
On the Canon G1 you then adjust the focus by pressing the up and down arrows on the large Omni Selector button on the back top right of the camera.
On the Canon G5 you adjust the focus by turning the Main Dial on the top front right of the camera (in front of the shutter button).
To return to auto focus, press the MB button again.
TV - Shutter priority - used for manual shutter speed
This mode allows you to manually adjust the shutter speed, while the camera automatically adjusts the aperture. Remember: Exposure is a combination of exposure and shutter speed.
The shutter speed is how long the shutter remains open to record a digital image. If you decrease the shutter speed, the shutter remains open a longer period of time.
The shutter speed affects the clarity of images when you're shooting something that's in motion as well as the brightness/darkness of the photo (since a faster shutter speed lets in less light).
For example, you might want to manually set a faster shutter speed if you're taking a picture of a fast-moving object. With a slower shutter speed, the object would appear blurry.
Rebel: On the Rebel you manually adjust the shutter speed in TV mode by spinning the plastic control dial just behind the shutter and watching the shutter speed indicator through the viewfinder. Spinning to the left gives you longer shutter speeds, spinning to the right gives you faster shutter speeds.
G1: On the Canon G1 camera you manually adjust the shutter speed in TV mode by pressing the left and right arrows on the large Omni Selector button on the back top right of the camera.
G5: On the Canon G5 you manually adjust the shutter speed in TV mode by turning the Main Dial on the top front right of the camera (in front of the shutter button).
The shutter speed you select will be shown in the LCD display - the higher the number the faster the shutter speed (most numbers are fractions of a second, while numbers with " next to them are the slowest shutter speeds, measured in seconds).
Note: You also can manually adjust the focus while in TV mode - follow the same procedures described in Program mode above.
AV - Aperture priority - used for manual aperture
This allows you to manually adjust the aperture, while the camera automatically adjusts the shutter speed. Remember: Exposure is a combination of exposure and shutter speed.
The aperture is the size of the opening to the camera lens. It's measured in "F stops," ranging from F2 to F8, with F2 being the largest opening and F8 being the smallest. Many cameras have ranges that go lower than F2 and higher than F8 (on the Rebel, available aperture values depend on what lens is currently attached to the camera).
For example, if you're taking a picture where there is little light, you might want to increase the aperture to let more light in and brighten the picture and increase the depth of field.
Rebel: On the Rebel you manually adjust the aperture value in AV mode by spinning the plastic control dial just behind the shutter and watching the aperture indicator through the viewfinder. Spinning to the left gives you wider apetures, spinning to the right gives you narrower apertures.
G1: On the Canon G1 camera you manually adjust the aperture in AV mode by pressing the left and right arrows on the large Omni Selector button on the back top right of the camera.
G5 and Pro 1: On the Canon G5 and Pro1, you manually adjust the aperture in AV mode by turning the Main Dial on the top front right of the camera (in front of the shutter button).
The aperture you select will be shown in the LCD display in F stops - the higher the F stop number the smaller the aperture and exposure.
Note: You also can manually adjust the focus while in AV mode - follow the same procedures described in Program mode above.
M - Manual - used for fully manual control
This allows you to manually adjust both shutter speed and aperture for the same shot, as well as focus.
In Manual mode, shutter speed and aperture are adjusted on all cameras described in the TV and AV sections above. In Manual mode, you are 100% responsible for these settings - the camera will not try to figure anything out for you.
You also can manually adjust the focus while in Manual mode - follow the same procedures described in Program mode above.