Most digital cameras
support a number of digital camera modes
for use in various situations. Professional dSLR
cameras modes focus more on manual modes, consumer point-and-shoot
cameras focus on automatic modes, and amateur prosumer
cameras often have a wide variety of both manual and automatic modes.
Manual modes give the photographer control over the various parameters of an exposure. They include:
- P: Program mode offers partial control over shutter speed and aperture.
- Tv or S: Shutter priority controls the shutter speed, and aperture is calculated by the camera.
- Av or A: Aperture priority controls the aperture, and shutter speed is calculated by the camera.
- M: Manual mode controls shutter speed and aperture independently.
In automatic modes the camera determines all aspects of exposure, choosing exposure parameters according to the application within the constraints of correct exposure, including exposure, aperture, focussing, light metering, white balance, and equivalent sensitivity. For example in portrait mode the camera would use a wider aperture to to render the background out of focus, and would seek out and focus on a human face rather than other image content. In the same light conditions a smaller aperture would be used for a landscape, and recognition of faces would not be enabled for focusing.
Some cameras have tens of modes. Many cameras do not document exactly what their many modes do; for full mastery of the camera one must experiment with them.
- Action or sports modes increase ISO and uses a short shutter speed to capture action.
- Landscape modes uses a small aperture to gain depth of field.
- Portrait mode widens the aperture to throw the background out of focus. The camera may recognise and focus on a human face.
- Night portrait modes uses an exposure long enough to capture background detail, with fill-in flash to illuminate a nearby subject.
- Fireworks modes, for use on a tripod, use an extended exposure (around four seconds) which results in showing several fireworks as well as their paths.
- Water modes, depending on what the mode is designed to do, will either widen the aperture and shorten the shutter for an action shot or shrink the aperture and slow the shutter to show the motion of the water.
- Snow modes compensate for the misinformation the white snow gives the light meter and increases exposure in order to properly photograph subjects.
- Natural light or night snapshot modes attempt to raise the ISO and use a very wide aperture in order to take a photograph using the limited natural light, rather than a flash.
- Macro or close-up modes tend to direct the camera's focus to be nearer the camera. It may shrink the aperture and restrict the camera to wide-angle in an attempt to broaden the depth of field (to include closer objects).
- Movie mode allows a still camera to take moving pictures.
Aside from the main modes which control exposure, there are usually other, secondary settings common to digital cameras.
- "Burst" or "rapid fire" mode will take a number of photographs in quick succession, often used when a photograph of a specific instance is needed (eg the end of a race).
- Although also sometimes used as a scenery mode, macro modes are often not used with the scene mode and rather only change the focus area and nothing else.
- Flash modes allow the user to choose between common settings such as "Fill flash" to always use flash, "Auto flash" which will use flash in low-lit areas, "Red-eye reduction" which may flash once before the actual photo in order to shrink the subject's pupils and reduce red-eye, or "Flash off" which will never use flash.
- For use with both manual and automatic modes, the camera's ISO setting can usually be manually controlled.
- Some cameras provide options of fine-tuning things such as sharpness and saturation.
- Some cameras offer color-altering settings to do things such as make the photograph black-and-white, sepia tone, swap specific colors, or isolate colors.