Understanding Digital Camera Modes

Having a good understanding of the digital camera modes is essential to control the exposure in photography. Whether you are a beginner or an advanced amateur, you should know what each camera mode does and when it should be used, under what circumstances.

1) What are Digital Camera Modes?

Digital Camera Modes allow photographers to control the parameters of an exposure, specifically, Shutter Speed, Aperture and ISO. While certain modes can fully automate the camera exposure, there are other modes that let the photographer manually control some or all parameters of the exposure.

Camera Modes

Back in the old days, there was no such thing as a camera mode – everything was manual. Photographers had to manually set the aperture, shutter speed and choose the right type of film for their cameras. To evaluate the intensity and the amount of light, they used to carry special light metering devices that measured the light and provided the exposure information, which they would then use in their cameras. In 1938, Kodak introduced a film camera with an integrated light meter and in 1962, a Japanese company called “Topcon” introduced the first SLR camera that measured the light coming through the lens into the camera. What this meant, was that photographers no longer needed to carry special light meters with them – the camera would do it for them. New “Automatic” camera modes started appearing on cameras, which would evaluate the amount of light that passed through the lens and would automatically pick the right exposure parameters to produce a properly-exposed picture.

Today, most digital cameras have various types of camera modes that can be used in different situations. While most point and shoot cameras concentrate on automatic modes for simplicity’s sake, more advanced cameras feature modes that allow both automatic and manual exposure control.

2) Types of Camera Modes

Here are the four main types of camera modes that can be found in most digital cameras today:

  1. Program (P)
  2. Shutter Priority (Tv) or (S)
  3. Aperture Priority (Av) or (A)
  4. Manual (M)

3) Program Mode

In “Program” mode, the camera automatically chooses the Aperture and the Shutter Speed for you, based on the amount of light that passes through the lens. This is the mode you want to use for “point and shoot” moments, when you just need to quickly snap a picture. The camera will try to balance between aperture and shutter speed, increasing and decreasing the two based on the intensity of light. If you point the camera to a bright area, the aperture will automatically increase to a bigger number, while keeping the shutter speed reasonably fast. Pointing the camera to a darker area will decrease the aperture to a lower number, in order to maintain a reasonably fast shutter speed. If there is not enough light, the lens aperture will stay at the lowest number (maximum aperture), while the shutter speed will keep on decreasing until it reaches proper exposure.

I personally never use this mode, since it does not give me much control over the exposure. There is a way to override the camera-guessed shutter speed and aperture by moving the control dial (on Nikon cameras it is the dial on the back of the camera). If you rotate the control dial towards the left, the camera will decrease the shutter speed and increase the aperture. If you rotate the dial towards the right, the camera will increase the shutter speed and decrease the aperture. Basically, if you needed to get a faster shutter speed for freezing action, you would rotate the dial to the right, and if you needed to get a large depth of field, you would rotate the dial to the left.

4) Shutter-Priority Mode

In “Shutter Priority” mode, you manually set the camera’s shutter speed and the camera automatically picks the right aperture for you, based on the amount of light that passes through the lens. This mode is intended to be used when motion needs to be frozen or intentionally blurred. If there is too much light, the camera will increase the lens aperture to a higher number, which decreases the amount of light that passes through the lens. If there is not enough light, the camera will decrease the aperture to the lowest number, so that more light passes through the lens. So in Shutter Priority mode, the shutter speed stays the same (what you set it to), while aperture automatically increases and decreases, based on the amount of light. In addition, there is no control over subject isolation, because you are letting the camera control the depth of field.

I try not to use this mode either, because there is a risk of getting an overexposed or underexposed image. Why? Because if the amount of ambient light is not sufficient and I set the shutter speed to a really high number, my exposure will be limited to the aperture/speed of my lens. For example, if the maximum aperture of my lens is f/4.0, the camera will not be able to use a lower aperture than f/4.0 and will still shoot at the fast shutter speed that I manually set. The result will be an underexposed image. At the same time, if I use a very slow shutter speed when there is plenty of light, the image will be overexposed and blown out.

5) Aperture-Priority Mode

In “Aperture Priority” mode, you manually set the lens aperture, while the camera automatically picks the right shutter speed to properly expose the image. You have full control over subject isolation and you can play with the depth of field, because you can increase or decrease the lens aperture and let the camera do the math on measuring the right shutter speed. If there is too much light, the camera will automatically increase the shutter speed, while if you are in a low-light environment, the camera will decrease the shutter speed. There is almost no risk of having an overexposed or an underexposed image, because the shutter speed can go as low as 30 seconds and as fast as 1/4000-1/8000th of a second (depending on the camera), which is more than sufficient for most lighting situations.

This is the mode that I use 95% of the time, because I have full control over the depth of field and I know that the image will be properly exposed under normal circumstances. The metering systems in most modern cameras work very well and I let the camera calculate and control the shutter speed for me.

6) Manual Mode

As the name suggests, “Manual” mode stands for a full manual control of Aperture and Shutter Speed. In this mode, you can manually set both the aperture and the shutter speed to any value you want – the camera lets you fully take over the exposure controls. This mode is generally used in situations, where the camera has a hard time figuring out the correct exposure in extreme lighting situations. For example, if you are photographing a scene with a very bright area, the camera might incorrectly guess the exposure and either overexpose or underexpose the rest of the image. In those cases, you can set your camera to manual mode, then evaluate the amount of light in darker and brighter areas and override the exposure with your own settings. Manual mode is also useful for consistency, if you need to make sure that both shutter speed and aperture stay the same across multiple exposures. For example, to properly stitch a panorama, all shots that you are trying to put together need to have the same shutter speed and aperture. Otherwise, some images will be darker, while others are lighter. Once you set the shutter speed and aperture to the values of your choice in manual mode, your images will all have consistent exposures.

Great Sand Dunes

NIKON D700 @ 28mm, ISO 200, 1/200, f/20.0

I only use this mode in extreme situations, when shooting panoramas or when using on-camera or off-camera flashes.

7) Where can I set the camera mode?

The camera mode dial is typically clearly visible on all entry-level and semi-professional cameras – it is a large rotatable circle that has the modes listed as “P”, “S”, “A” and “M” in Nikon DSLRs and “P”, “Tv”, “Av” and “M” in Canon DSLRs. Here is a picture of the mode dial on the Nikon D5000 DSLR (highlighted in red circle):

Nikon D5000 Top

And Canon 50D:

Canon 50D Top

On professional cameras, the mode dial might not look the same. Take a look at the picture of the Nikon D300s, where it is a small “Mode” button on the top right hand side of the camera:

Nikon D300s Top

8) What about ISO?

In most DSLR cameras, the ISO does not automatically change in the above camera modes, so you have to set it manually. If you do not want to manually set the ISO all the time and have an “Auto ISO” feature in your camera, enable it, then set the maximum ISO to “800-1600” and your minimum shutter speed to something like 1/200th of a second. If you notice too much noise, change your maximum ISO to a lower number. If you do not have an “Auto ISO” feature, then set your ISO to the lowest ISO number and increase it in low-light situations.

9) What about other camera modes?

Many of the entry-level and semi-professional cameras have other modes such as “Portrait”, “Landscape”, “Macro”, “Sports” and “Night”, depending on the camera (professional cameras do NOT have these modes). I won’t go through any of these modes for three reasons:

  1. They are simply a combination of the above four modes plus some camera-specific settings
  2. Different cameras have different custom modes and you should not get used to any of them. If you ever switch to a different camera brand or get a professional camera, you might get lost, just because you relied too much on a specific custom mode.
  3. All of these custom modes are evil :) Stop using them and learn the four main camera modes explained in this article.

If you have any questions or feedback, please post your comments in the comments section below.


  1. January 6, 2010 at 6:24 am

    Thanks for another great lesson… you are the best!

    • January 6, 2010 at 10:44 am

      Deana, you are most welcome! :)

    • March 18, 2011 at 8:24 am

      Hi Nasim. Thanks for these tutorials, they are the most informative and easy to understand instructions I have read. I will definitely stop using the P mode so much with my Nikon D40x since I have had trouble with low lighting conditions in my church. With A mode and what I have read here I believe now I can get the best shots in those conditions possible.

  2. January 6, 2010 at 9:31 am

    my favorite mode is “P” =)

    • January 6, 2010 at 10:44 am

      Liar! I would never believe that you use a program mode! :)))

      • 2.1.1) medvezhutka
        January 6, 2010 at 11:31 am

        really, in 90% i used “P”-mode. “P”-mode is smart and quick. If i need, i can make exposure correction, iso correction, shutter correction, apperture correction and other parameters of expopair will be changed automaticly.

        • Nasim Mansurov
          January 6, 2010 at 12:45 pm

          Medvezhutka, I find that using the Program mode is a little backwards for me. Why would you want to use the “P” mode and let the camera select the initial aperture and shutter speed for you, if you are going to most likely override it anyway? Sure, the cameras are smart nowadays and they will probably select a good enough of an aperture and shutter speed for you, but I personally prefer to start with the aperture I want, because I know beforehand the depth of field that I’m going to get. While for slower lenses the program mode might work perfectly well as the depth of field might not matter as much, I wouldn’t want to use it for fast f/1.4 lenses. Why? Because those lenses have a “sweet spot” and I typically use them between f/2.8 and f/5.6, depending on the bokeh I want to get. I wouldn’t want to waste my time and correct the “guessed” exposure, if I can get started in Aperture priority and specify the aperture that I need right away :)

          But looks like you know what you are doing, so I will not argue :)

          • medvezhutka
            January 6, 2010 at 1:21 pm

            last week of 2009y i bought 100mm 2.8 lense for film camera Kaleynar5H, that is fully manual lense, without AF, without any electronics inside. And d90 worked with that lense only in “M”-mode. Really, without autoexposure is so so complicated to use =) M-mode for professionals =)))

            Anyway, my second favorite mode is “A”. It is most usable mode for pano shooting =)

            I hope, my worst eng is still understandable =)

            • Nasim Mansurov
              January 6, 2010 at 1:48 pm

              Your English is very good and I can understand you very well! You are definitely making a lot of good progress :)

              A fully manual lens sounds like a good challenge and I’m sure you are having a lot of fun with it. The only problem is focusing those lenses when shooting hand-held. You really need to have a good vision and the viewfinder should be big enough for you to see the focus details. I use manual focus every once in a while when auto focus does not work (in very dark environments) and when I shot video on Nikon D90. It was challenging, but a lot of fun! :)

              A good lesson is to switch to 100% manual mode and shoot for a week or two. I used to do that before and once you learn the process, it actually gets pretty easy to use it. The only thing is metering with your manual lens – if it doesn’t work, then it would be extremely tough to take pictures with it.

              As for the “A” mode, I would never use it for panoramas without locking the exposure. I also use Aperture Priority mode sometimes for panoramas, but I always remember to press the “AF Lock” button, so that I get consistent shutter speeds across all frames.

  3. 3) Alisher
    January 6, 2010 at 10:35 am

    Thank you for the article. It was very interesting. But I have one question. In my camera (not SLR – Lumix FZ35), in addition to mentioned modes I have iA (intellegent Auto) mode. The questions is, what is the difference between “P” mode and “Auto” mode? Don’t worry too much about my question if you don’t know the answer and need to do a research.
    Another thing – I believe you have a typo in the text – in the section describing Apperture Priority mode above, 4th sentence should read as follows: “There is almost NO risk of having…”.
    Thanks again for your articles. Will be waiting for the future ones.

    • January 6, 2010 at 10:50 am

      Alisher, the intelligent Auto mode that you have in your camera is very similar to the program mode, except it probably also increases and decreases camera ISO in different lighting conditions. Many of the entry-level cameras have a similar “Auto” mode and that’s exactly what it does on them – I’m sure your camera is very similar in that regard. There might be other small things that the “Intelligent Auto” does, such as automatic/dynamic focus point acquisition and evaluative/matrix metering, but I don’t know for sure. At the minimum, it should automatically regulate shutter speed, aperture and ISO.

      Thank you for letting me know about the typo :) That’s what happens when I type fast and don’t re-read what I wrote! :)

  4. 4) Kyle
    January 6, 2010 at 12:06 pm

    Good stuff. For landscape I can see your point, however I use P and S all the time in low light / hand held situations. I prefer to get a slightly underexposed or noisy image rather than a blurry or flash exposed one.


    • January 6, 2010 at 1:33 pm

      Kyle, thank you for your feedback! That’s great if the P and S modes work for you, as you are not the only person who uses those :) Take a look at Medvezhutka’s posts above – seems like he uses the P mode religiously :)

      True, a slightly underexposed image is better than a blurry image, as long as it is just “slightly” underexposed. It is extremely tough and sometimes impossible to recover details from a heavily underexposed image. I find that anything below 1.5-2 stops is pretty much irrecoverable, even when shot in 14 bit RAW.

      If I’m not getting a fast-enough of a shutter speed in Aperture Priority mode, I typically try using exposure compensation (in addition to ISO, of course) to increase my shutter speed and slightly underexpose the image, but no more than 1-2 stops. This way, at least I have some control over how underexposed the image is going to be…

      But again, whatever works for you is great, as long as you are getting the results you are happy with :)

  5. 5) shams
    January 7, 2010 at 3:47 am

    Thanks for informationss.
    Is there any difference between GREEN(auto) mode and P(P*)? D5000 got both of them.

    And you advised to set the maximum ISO to 800-1600. (does that mean between them?)

    thanks a lot.

    • January 7, 2010 at 11:44 am

      Shams, yes, the green “Auto” is a fully automatic mode, where it selects the ISO, Shutter Speed and Aperture for you, along with Auto White Balance, whereas the “P” mode only selects the Aperture and Shutter Speed – the rest is up to you to change.

      As far as maximum ISO, for your D5000 you should use maximum ISO of 800. If you find yourself in a situation where there is not enough light and you still need faster shutter speeds, then try setting it to ISO 1600 and see if the amount of noise is acceptable to you. I personally do not shoot over ISO 800 on my D300, which has a very similar sensor to the one in D5000.

  6. 6) shams
    January 8, 2010 at 2:57 am

    thanks very much. Very helpful! :)

  7. 7) Abdu
    March 28, 2010 at 8:35 am

    Yet, another excellent lesson. Would you please make an eBook by collecting all your excellent manuals in one place? From Uzbekistan, it is rather hard to go online in first place and the connection is not steady at all.

    Would be looking forward to reading your future blog entries.

  8. 8) Ilhom Rasulov
    April 6, 2010 at 5:01 am

    Thanks a million for tips. Now I got a clear idea about the modes. I read the manual, and still couldn’t figure out, which one is the best to use.

    Got my D90 recently, and its my first SLR camera. So, I’m still learning how to shoot :)

    • April 26, 2010 at 12:00 pm

      Ilhom, you are most welcome! :) How do you like your D90 so far?

  9. 9) Pete
    April 25, 2010 at 1:48 pm

    Brilliant tutorials : )

    I am trying to understand DOF & Apprature settings with my Canon 300D (we all have to start somewhere) 18-55mm 28-80mm & 70-300mm Canon lenses. What I am trying to achieve is a sharp pic with blurry background both indoors & out, I have tried all lenses & with different camera settings & just getting more annoyed making me want to use presets : o

    Very Nice Site, which I will bookmark for future ref.


    • April 26, 2010 at 12:08 pm

      Pete, thank you for your feedback! While the lenses you listed are great, the 18-55mm and 28-80mm are not specifically made for beautiful bokeh. You might want to look into a cheap portrait lens like Canon 50mm f/1.8 or Canon 50mm f/1.4 USM to get beautiful background blur. Your 70-300mm, however, is capable of producing good bokeh and separating subjects – you just need to put the subject close enough to the lens and set your aperture to the smallest number.

      Hope this helps :)

      • 9.1.1) Pete
        April 26, 2010 at 12:16 pm

        Hi Nasim & thanks very much for taking the time to reply the lenses I have are just standard Canon stuff its 75-300 MK II not the L

        I will have a look about and see if i can get hold of a reasonable priced canon “Nifty 50”

        Thanks Again

        • Profile photo of Nasim Mansurov Nasim Mansurov
          April 26, 2010 at 12:34 pm

          Pete, you’re most welcome. If budget is an issue, get the $100 f/1.8 version – it is also excellent!

          • Pete
            April 26, 2010 at 12:47 pm

            Hi Nasim
            Im having a look now & came accross a Pentacon 1.8 50mm m42 fit for a 300D for £25 UK

            What would you recommend is this lens ok & worth the asking price?


            • Profile photo of Nasim Mansurov Nasim Mansurov
              April 26, 2010 at 12:54 pm

              Pete, I honestly do not like 3rd part vendor lenses. They are not always accurate on focusing and the image quality also suffers in most cases.

              I recommend saving up and buying the Canon version instead…

  10. 10) Pete
    April 26, 2010 at 1:02 pm

    Thanks for reply the canon version it will be & in the meantime try learn to use what I already have ;)


  11. 11) keith
    May 10, 2010 at 5:05 am

    hi nasim,

    i just bought my nikon d90 today with kit lens. so far i have problem with the aperture priority mode. when i set it to ”A”, should i manual focus or let it auto focus ? When i’m still at ”A” mode and i wanted to shoot an object that is close to me ( i set aperture at the lowest ), the camera cant seem to focus on it and the object is blur, any reason why ?

    thanks alot for your help.

    • May 10, 2010 at 10:43 am

      Keith, I do not recommend using manual focus, unless you really know what you are doing. One thing to check, how close are you standing to the subject? Bear in mind that every lens has a minimum focus distance and if you stand closer than that distance, the subject will be blurry.

      Also, if you are focusing on an object from a close distance, try to focus on something that has plenty of contrast. Focusing on a plain color without any textures will confuse the autofocus system and the lens will not be able to acquire correct focus. It is best to focus on something that stands out – for example, black text on a white paper or very distinct textures on a subject.

      Hope this helps.

  12. 12) angela
    May 15, 2010 at 5:05 pm

    Hi. I was just wondering if you can give me tips in using my D80. it is really hard for me to take “really good” pictures. I usually practice using Manual mode. but I am guessing what shutter and aperture is good for the object. i dont know the right number of balance and recipe for the picture. can you help me?

  13. 13) angela
    May 15, 2010 at 5:07 pm

    and also… can you use beginners language :P haha. thank you very much :)

  14. 14) Pete
    May 15, 2010 at 6:37 pm

    Hi Angela
    The best person to help you with this is Nasim, pity he is not online atm Im learning myself but would say it would depend on what kind of subjects you are taking photos of

    Sport, Wildlife, Portraits. I am trying to get the hang of Bokeh. This is a good website & Im sure you will get the answers you are looking for. The good thing about Digital you can try anything you like without having to pay to get film developed :)

    Good Luck

    • May 24, 2010 at 1:21 am

      Pete, thank you for your response and for helping me out, I appreciate it.

  15. 15) angela
    May 16, 2010 at 5:00 am

    Thanks Pete. Actually I’m eager to see his answer. :))) It was very interesting for me to read this site and I really want to learn more about taking photos. some of my questions were answered when i read some of your post.

    BTW, I took pictures at my brother’s event a while ago. And it was really fun. I use the P mode everytime I can’t adjust with the light. the object was too wide so i can’t adjust with it. and also, i don’t have the right lens for it. :) anyway, I usually use the Aperture when I want to focus on a near object. I wanna learn more about the perfect lightings and color combination in taking photos. I want to learn the basic first before anything else. :)

    It is a different feeling when I share some stuffs about me doing my “learning” about photography. Haha. :)) actually, I was inspired with my cousin’s photos. he took very good pictures. and I was eager to learn too. and also it is related in my course in school. but too bad, my cousin was just not that patient to teach me :(

    • May 24, 2010 at 1:22 am

      Angela, do you have any specific situations that you are having issues with? Let me know what your challenges are and I will try to help you out.

  16. 16) Nikon D5000
    May 29, 2010 at 5:32 pm

    I just bought a Nikon D5000, and I was wondering how I could get those pictures where one object is focused, and very clear, and the background is slightly blurry. Help!

    • June 5, 2010 at 11:28 am

      You need to have a lens with fast aperture (such as Nikon 50mm f/1.4G) or a telephoto lens that will allow you to separate subject from the background.

      Hope this helps.

  17. 17) :)
    June 9, 2010 at 8:32 pm

    question. how can i focus on a object without using manual mode for the “focus”.

    • June 11, 2010 at 4:09 pm

      Could you please clarify your question? Do you mean autofocus when you shoot in Manual Mode?

  18. 18) Jenee Schontz
    August 19, 2010 at 7:31 pm

    Thanks for sharing

  19. 19) kyawkyawtun
    October 22, 2010 at 11:50 am

    I really looking suitable camera for me either nikon or canon.I am beginner so should i buy nikon D3000 or D5000 please suggest to me.Also my budget is between in this two item.thanks and regards.

  20. 20) Dennis Miller
    January 25, 2011 at 5:47 pm

    Thanks for the tip, just got a Nikon d90 and was looking for some tips.

  21. 21) Armin
    June 7, 2011 at 12:09 pm

    Hi nasim.I have a canon ds126071.How can i take pictures of close items using manual mode.is there a way(like digital cameras) to use both macro and manual mode?
    thank you!

  22. July 5, 2011 at 8:14 am

    Thanks… I’ve been experimenting in Manual but think the Av mode might work well for me when I’m shooting in certain settings.

    Feedback on my images is welcome… oh and also am upgrading from my Canon T1i and have the opportunity to get an EXCELLENT deal on the 5d Mark II w/ the 24-105 L series lens. Thoughts??? Could get similar for 7d (education pricing – being a teacher has extra perks sometimes!).

  23. 23) Paul
    August 7, 2011 at 9:40 pm

    Hi Nasim,

    I have a Nikon D300s and I would like to know and understand how depth of field preview button works. Can you give me a walkthrough on this. I tried searching through the internet and I don’t see any guides on how this function works. Even the manual does not explain the functionality. I really want to utilize this camera function but I need some help. Im using a 35mm 1.8G DX lens.

    Thanks in advance

  24. 24) Niles
    September 1, 2011 at 8:48 pm

    Hi Nasim,
    i have recently bought a D7000 and a 28~300 VR lens, i am using Apeture priority , but i still cannot get a nice picture. you have mentioned if i set the apeture the camera will choose the right settings, but i get darker picture. the exposure has issue, i need to manually increase the exposure level based on the F level i set. what mistake am i making?

  25. 25) Brendan
    February 1, 2012 at 4:07 am

    Hi Nasim,

    Thank you for the great explanations on well, everything!

    There is one thing I am wondering though…
    Do you use Auto ISO or Manual ISO when in Aperture Priority Mode (or P/S/M modes for that matter)?

    You have posted some excellent pics in your Shutter Speed section. What ISO did you use for the dolphin, the waterfall and the second pic of the Caspian Tern (with water splash)?

    Thank you!

  26. 26) Babar
    February 6, 2012 at 2:48 am

    Sir, i am able to shoot better pictures since i have been reading your articles.
    You are doing a fabulous job helping the amateurs.

    Thanks a lot.

  27. 27) kashooni
    March 15, 2012 at 10:17 am

    1) You explained issues just right fo rme. thanks for that good job.
    2) What is the name of the mode on which the camera will take a picture every so often (based on your setting i. e. 5 seconds, 5 minutes, 1 hour, etc.).
    3) I have an Olympus fe-280 8mp point & shoot Camera. would you know if it contains the above mode.

  28. 28) Mellany
    May 2, 2012 at 1:35 am

    Hi Nasim,

    If I switch my D3000 Camera on “M” mode I will set also my lens to Manual?

  29. 29) Srikanth
    May 4, 2012 at 12:41 pm

    I am using Nikon d5100 with 18-55 mm
    3.5-5.6 lens. When I started, the aperture
    Ring was changing correspondingly to f stop
    selected. When i am at 18 mm i use to
    get full ring and when I zoom to 55mm,
    I use to get almost half ring. After I started
    Playing with it for a while suddenly my camera
    started behaving differently. It’s not changing
    the ring size even I am zooming in to 55mm.

    Please help me in explaining this.

  30. 30) kimberly
    May 17, 2012 at 8:06 am

    Hi there,
    I have a question about spot metering. When I use sport metering on my canon 7D for portraiture I want to meter off the subject however, the focus square in the middle only allows this metering and then the focus is also in the same place. Canon only allows spot metering from the center focal point. How do I change focal points without changing the metering. All this is in manual too.

  31. May 23, 2012 at 3:59 am

    When I first got my Nikon D70 I used aperture priority primarily, and manual for night shots and panoramas, including manual focus, but having read Ken Rockwell on using the D70 I now no longer see the point to Aperture and Shutter priority, when you can make all the same adjustments, much quicker, in Program Mode by twirling one of the wheels. If I set my camera up in all 3 modes the settings are all the same unless I over or under expose. When you have your camera set in Program mode the front dial sets depth of field/ aperture or exposure/shutter. I would love someone to explain the point of using aperture and shutter priority, because the only person I have found on the internet who doesn’t keep repeating the same mantra is http://www.kenrockwell.com/nikon/d90/users-guide/controls-top.htm

  32. 32) Raj
    June 13, 2012 at 1:57 pm

    Awesome Article. Really helped me understand the modes. I always use P. But now I’m going to try S or A for speed purpose.

  33. 33) Lisette
    July 24, 2012 at 5:35 pm

    Hi Nasim! I absolutely love your website and all the info you share! I have already subscribed to your site. You give great detailed information which helps me to understand clearly. I just purchased the Nikon D5100 and so far I love it. Obviously, I am an amateur photographer and trying to learn the ropes. I want to follow in your foot steps in terms of shooting primarily in “AP” mode. Should I manually set my ISO with this camera of should I leave it on “AUTO ISO”. I currently change it manually.


  34. August 16, 2012 at 7:55 pm

    Very helpful. Thank you!

  35. September 6, 2012 at 5:43 am

    Hi Nasim,

    what are your reviews on Nikon D5100 ?? Its a newly launched camera from Nikon. Any sugestion for this, as m planning to buy this one.


  36. 36) Maria Botnari
    October 19, 2012 at 10:22 pm

    I just want to take a minute and thank you Nasim very much! I am learning so much everyday! at first i though my camera has to be fixed, pictures were terrible, now i understant that i am the one who has to be “fixed” :)
    I am thinking on buying Nikon 24-70 mm f 2.8 , what do you think of it as a starter general lens for wedding photography? or what whould you commander? I owe Nikon d7000 but i am thinking also on buying full frame camera.
    Thank you very much again!

    • October 20, 2012 at 12:14 am

      Maria, you are most welcome! Don’t get the 24-70mm as the first lens for weddings. Instead, get the Nikon 50mm f/1.8G lens – it is superb and both Lola and I use it for weddings.

  37. 37) Maria
    October 20, 2012 at 12:23 am

    Thank you for your fast reply! I have nikkor 50 mm 1.8 , it actually looks a bit different from the one y
    ou sent me.. i bought it last year, and thats the only lense i have, and i feel very limited, close up pictures are cool, but if i try to make a picture of a family first i have to move in farest corner of the room so I can catch them all in one pic and after that i get a pic and i dont really enjoy the quality…

    • October 20, 2012 at 12:42 am

      Maria, the link that I gave you is for the new version, which is better than the one you have. But there is no reason to exchange the lens, since yours will do fine. Instead of the bulky 24-70mm, here is another great lens to consider – Nikon 28mm f/1.8G (here is my review).

      Don’t get me wrong, I love the 24-70mm, it is a great lens. But it is very heavy and bulky (which is often a problems for long weddings), which is why I prefer using primes for weddings instead…

  38. January 6, 2013 at 10:35 am

    Thank you very much for creating this website! I love the way you explain yourself about photography, it make sense! I used to have a cyber-shot Sony for 7 months (Pictures in my website) but then I started to get frustrated and bought myself a DSLR over Christmas!
    I did read magazines, books etc over the last couple of months… but I discover your website two days ago while I was looking for an explication about Aperture… and I really like what I am reading! I have decided to do like if I never read anything about photography and Now, all the time I have 15 mins or even more free time, I am reading and taking notes of your tuition’s… I just cannot STOP reading your stuffs!!! So Thank you so much Nasim!!!

  39. 39) slitish
    January 9, 2013 at 3:44 pm

    Hi ,

    Nice detailed explanations of all the modes in dslr.I’m using Canon t3i and when i tried to capture a pic of a tap water with the shutter speed of 1/2500 or 1/4ooo i’m getting black plain photo and nothing else.When i tried with the flash on i was not able to increase the shutter speed more than 1/200.Please clarify as i want to capture pouring water/fountain those kind of splash photos.

  40. 40) Aakash
    February 3, 2013 at 1:31 am

    Hey Nasim,
    You have done a really commendable job . I enjoy reading your blogs ..
    I have 1 query –
    If the automatic mode is so good in the camera , then why and when do wen need to go for the manual settings . It might appear silly but still I keep pondering on this question . It would be great if you answer this question ..

    Regards ,

  41. 41) Jovana
    April 18, 2013 at 6:04 am

    Mr Nasim ,i m a beginneer,Iwas crazy to buy dlsr camera,and i got it,but I thought ohotography with dlsr cameras is easy. :( I have multiple problems,and i dont know if that is normal.
    1.In modes such like portrait,macro etc,my flash is always activating .
    2. When i switch it on P mode,sometimes my photos are blur even its possible for camera to shoot them .
    I m really worried.. Help
    i own canon 400D with 18 -55 mm

  42. 42) John
    April 26, 2013 at 12:33 am

    Hi Nasim,

    I’ve been reading almost all of your article here and was having fun and learned a lot of stuff. I’m kinda new on photography never thought I’d enjoy this much. Keep those lessons pouring in.


  43. 43) Chayito
    July 4, 2013 at 3:29 pm

    Hi Nasim,

    I needed to know how to take good fireworks pictures, and I feel so blessed that I found your website- I love it!
    Thank you so much for all the great information. Happy fourth!

  44. 44) Otilia
    September 9, 2013 at 6:28 am

    Undeniably believe that which you stated. Your favorite reason seemed to be on the net the easiest thing to be aware of.
    I say to you, I certainly get annoyed while people consider worries that they plainly don’t know about.

    You managed to hit the nail upon the top and defined out the whole
    thing without having side-effects , people could take a signal.
    Will probably be back to get more. Thanks

  45. October 16, 2013 at 9:16 pm

    I never knew how much information you could find out there about this!
    Thank you for making this simple to get the picture

  46. 46) costas
    January 12, 2014 at 9:21 am

    if i choose to ta ke several pictures at the shuter priority mode , how can I measyre the exposure or see when i have the right exposure

  47. 47) Orighomisan Ogbebor
    June 29, 2014 at 4:19 pm

    Hi Nasim,

    On Aperture Priority Mode, my Nikon D800e Shutter Speed doesn’t go beyond 1/60

  48. 48) Debra
    August 2, 2014 at 4:54 pm

    Hi Nasim,
    I have a Nikon D80 with an AF-NIKKOR 18-135 mm lens. I almost always have it set on Auto with the green camera icon. When taking photos inside a high school gym or auditorium they turn out dark and grainy and the shutter speed is so slow that I miss the shot I am attempting if I take a photo just prior to the one I really want. My daughter will be graduating next year and I hope to have all my photography issues resolved. Can you please tell me the best settings or if I need a different lens with a higher aperature # to allow more light in? Perhaps I need a flash, if so is there one you would recommend? Thanks so much for any advice you may have. In the mean time I will read up on photography tips for beginners.

  49. 49) daud
    October 9, 2014 at 4:51 am

    iam buying a used nikon d3000 but iam new to use it and i didn’t know how to use it and please guide me about the camera about all the modes etc PLEASE

  50. 50) Sarina
    November 10, 2014 at 11:32 am

    thank you for your website and helpful tips!! they come in handy when in a rut of different ideas and things to try with your camera!

  51. 51) viswakanth
    December 29, 2014 at 7:11 am


  52. 52) Lindsey
    January 6, 2015 at 1:54 pm

    well, I’m in photography class and im trying to come up with the best picture for my presentation in 3 weeks any advice?

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