There’s many food bloggers out there who always shoot in one of the “automatic” camera modes. I get told this in class all the time. I’m going to break down each of the modes here so you can understand what the camera is doing in each one.
Different cameras might not have all these modes you see here and other cameras might have a few extra ones as well. If you see other icons for other modes on your camera mode dial, you can look these up in your manual or goolge it to see what they do. For instance, I’ve seen a little flower to represent close up or macro shooting with some Canon Rebels.
I’ve seen many posts about camera modes by other food bloggers and they are leaving out critical details about each camera mode or are just incorrect about what each mode handles with the setting of your camera and what each mode DOES NOT handle with your cameras. With each mode below please see the note for each one and what settings your are still responsible for when using that mode.
Fully Automatic Mode
I’ll start with the green box mode, which on most cameras means fully automatic – like a point and shoot camera. You set nothing and the camera does its best to determine the correct exposures, white balance, ISO, etc. This is the ONLY mode that handles all your setting for you. All other modes only handle selected settings and you have to choose the rest.
CA – Creative Automatic Mode
The “CA” means Creative Automatic mode and with this camera mode that means you can choose several functions that you might want quick access to in order to change them. You will have to look this up in your camera manual for specifics. I have to say I’ve never shot in this mode. If you choose some functions to gain quick access to in this setting as soon as you turn your camera off the camera goes back to what it was before so when its turned back on you’d have to reset the functions again.
P – Program Mode
The “P” mode means Program. The camera will pick your shutter speed and F-stop. Please note: you still have to pick your ISO and many other settings like white balance, color style, etc.
TV – Shutter Priority Mode
The “Tv” mode means Shutter Priority. You will pick the shutter speed and the camera will pick the F-Stop. Please note: you also have to pick the white balance, ISO, color styles, etc. This would be helpful is you are hand holding and want to make sure your camera will not shoot below the shutter speed of 1/125 of a second so that you don’t get motion blur.
AV – Aperture Priority Mode
The “Av” mode means Aperture Priority. You will pick your F-Stop and the camera will pick the shutter speed. This is where you control your depth of field so if you want to make sure you have nice shallow depth of field at say F 1.4 on a 50mm lens, then you would set you camera here. Please note: you also have to pick the white balance and ISO, color styles, etc.
M – Manual Mode
And now for my favorite shooting mode, “M” for manual. This is where you have total control and have to tell the camera all the settings.
B – Bulb Mode
“B” stands for Bulb and means that when the shutter release button is pressed the entire time you are holding down that shutter release button the camera is taking a picture, the shutter is open the entire time. This is used mostly for night photography and obviously on a tripod.
C1, C2, C3 – Custom Modes
The other modes on my dial above, C1, C2, C3, are for the user to make custom settings and then save them for later use. The camera will retain these settings that you program after you turn off the camera, unlike the CA mode mentioned above.
I suggest to use these semi-automatic shooting modes when you simply don’t have the time to shoot manually. These modes can work well under certain conditions – which usually are landscapes and portraits outside. With shooting food these automatic settings can be difficult to get good exposures with and usually have to be combined with other settings like Exposure Compensation to get a good exposure.
If you have been shooting in these semi automatic modes and have not looked at your other settings like ISO, white balance and color style I suggest you look at them right now and see what they are set to. Often times the default will have these settings set to “automatic”. But if you discover that they are not set to “automatic” this could explain if you are having issues with white balance or issues with exposures in general, if you discover your ISO is set to 1600 for instance. As I’ve mentioned before I am never a fan of putting settings to automatic when I’m shooting food in the studio, especially the white balance and ISO because every time you take a shot these settings will shift which will alter the color and quality of your shots and give you inconsistent results frame by frame.
Now is the time to see what your color settings are set to on your camera. These are called different things on different cameras. Canon cameras calls this setting “Picture Style”. Nikons call this “Set Picture Control”. This setting is for people who will not use a computer to do any image editing at all. We are going to do some editing, so we don’t want the camera to adjust these settings. Make sure for both brands you are set to “Neutral”.
Happy Shooting friends!
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