In Full Auto mode, the camera tries to figure out what type of picture you want to take by assessing what it sees through the lens. If you don't want to rely on the camera to make that judgment, your camera offers six other fully automatic modes that are specifically designed for taking popular categories of pictures. For example, most people prefer portraits that have softly focused backgrounds. So in Portrait mode, the camera selects settings that can produce that type of background.
These six automatic modes — the ones represented by the little pictographs on the Mode dial — are officially known as Image Zone modes in Canon lingo and in your camera manual. For reasons I state in Chapter 1, I avoid using the whole "zone" moniker system in this book and instead refer to the six Image Zone modes as automatic scene modes. But if you should seek information about these modes elsewhere, whether online or in your manual, be sure to search for the topic under its official name.
Whatever you call them, all six modes share a few limitations — or benefits, depending on how you look at things:
1 Color: As with Full Auto mode, you can't tweak color. Some modes manipulate colors in ways that you may or may not appreciate, and you're stuck if you have a color cast problem.
1 Exposure: The camera takes complete control of exposure, too.
1 Quality: You can't take advantage of the Raw file format (CR2, on your Canon); you must use the JPEG format. See Chapter 3 to find out which of the JPEG settings is most appropriate for the way you plan to use your pictures.
In the next sections, you can read about the unique features of each of the six automatic scene modes. To see whether you approve of how your camera approaches the different scenes, take some test shots. If you aren't happy with the results, you can switch to one of the advanced exposure modes and then check out Chapters 5-7 to find out how to manipulate whatever aspect of the picture isn't to your liking.
In addition, Portrait mode selects these camera settings:
1 Picture Style: Logically enough, the camera automatically sets the Picture Style option to Portrait. As detailed in Chapter 6, this Picture Style results in a slightly less sharp image, the main idea being to keep skin texture nice and soft. Colors are also adjusted subtly to enhance skin tones.
1 Drive mode: Contrary to what you may expect, the Drive mode is set to Continuous, which means that the camera records a series of images in rapid succession as long as you hold down the shutter button. This technique can come in especially handy if your portrait subject can't be counted on to remain still for very long — a toddler or pet, for example.
Should you want to include yourself in the shot, you can switch the Drive mode setting to the Self-Timer/Remote Control mode. See the end of this chapter for details.
Portrait mode attempts to select exposure settings that produce a blurry background, which puts the visual emphasis on your subject. Figure 2-8 offers an example. Keep in mind, though, that in certain lighting conditions, the camera may not be able to choose the exposure settings that best produce the soft background. Additionally, the background blurring requires that your subject be at least a few feet from the background. The extent to which the background blurs also depends on the other depth-of-field factors that I discuss in Chapter 6.
i Flash: You have the option of using regular or Red-Eye Reduction mode — but only if the camera decides that you need a flash to properly light the scene.
For outdoor portraits, this can pose a problem: A flash generally improves outdoor portraits, and if the ambient light is very bright, the camera doesn't give you access to the flash. For an illustration of the difference a flash can make, see Chapter 7. That chapter also contains tips on using flash in nighttime and indoor portraits.
i Autofocusing: Portrait mode employs the One-Shot AF (autofocus) mode. This is one of three AF modes available on your camera, all detailed in Chapter 6. In One-Shot mode, the camera locks focus when you press the shutter button halfway. Typically, the camera locks focus on the object that's closest to the camera. If your subject moves out of the selected autofocus point, the camera doesn't adjust focus to compensate.
Keep in mind that you can use Portrait mode any time you want a slightly blurry background, not just for people pictures. Try this mode when shooting statues, still-life arrangements (such as a vase of flowers on a kitchen table), and the like. And one more tip: If you're not sure that your subject will remain motionless, Sports mode, which is designed to capture moving subjects without blur, may deliver better results. I often suggest this mode for shooting children and pets, for example.
Whereas Portrait mode aims for a very shallow depth of field (small zone of sharp focus), Landscape mode, which is designed for capturing scenic vistas, city skylines, and other large-scale subjects, produces a large depth of field. As a result, objects both close to the camera and at a distance appear sharply focused. Figure 2-9 offers an example. Notice that everything from the foreground saplings to the architectural ruins to the background trees appear about the same in terms of sharpness.
Like Portrait mode, Landscape mode achieves the greater depth of field by manipulating the exposure settings — specifically, the aperture, or f-stop setting. So the extent to which the camera can succeed in keeping everything in sharp focus depends on the available light. To fully understand this issue, see Chapter 6. And in the meantime, know that you also can extend depth of field by zooming out, if your camera offers a zoom lens.
As for other camera settings, Landscape mode results in the following options:
^ Picture Style: The camera automatically sets the Picture Style option to Landscape, which produces a sharper image, with well-defined "edges" — the borders between areas of contrast or color change. The Picture Style setting also produces more vivid blues and greens, which is what most people prefer from their landscape photos. You can read more about Picture Styles in Chapter 6.
^ Drive mode: The camera selects the Single option, which records one image for each press of the shutter button. As with the other scene modes, you can switch to self-timer or remote-control shooting by following the steps laid out at the end of this chapter.
^ Flash: The built-in flash is disabled, which is typically no big deal: Because of its limited range, a built-in flash is of little use when shooting most landscapes anyway.
^ Autofocusing: The AF mode is set to One-Shot, which means that focus is locked when you depress the shutter button halfway. (See Chapter 6 for details.) Focus usually is set on the nearest object, but remember that because of the large depth of field that the Landscape mode produces, both far and near objects may appear equally sharp, depending on their distance from the lens.
Again, think beyond the Landscape moniker when you look for good ways to put this mode to use: Try it when shooting long-range pictures of animals at the zoo, for example, so that critters both near and far appear sharp.
^ Switching to Close-Up mode doesn't enable you to focus at a closer distance to your subject than normal as it does on some non-SLR cameras. The close-focusing capabilities of your camera depend entirely on the lens you bought.
But choosing Close-Up mode does result in exposure settings that are designed to blur background objects so that they don't compete for attention with your main subject. As with Portrait mode, though, how much the background blurs varies depending on the distance between your subject and the background as well as on the lighting conditions.
For example, the amount of background blurring in the Close-Up mode example shown in Figure 2-10 isn't as great as in the earlier Portrait example because not as much distance exists between subject and background. Still, you can see a slight shift in focus from the front of the wagon wheel to the blue wagon bed behind it. Should you prefer a greater or shorter depth of field, see Chapter 6 for other ways to adjust this aspect of your pictures.
Other settings selected for you in Close-Up mode are as follows:
^ Picture Style: Close-Up mode uses the Standard picture style, just like Full Auto. The resulting image features crisp edges and vivid colors.
^ Drive mode: The Drive mode is set to Single, so you record one photo each time you fully depress the shutter button. You can, however, select Self-Timer/Remote Control mode if needed.
^ Flash: Flash is enabled when the camera thinks additional light is needed and disabled if not. You can set the flash to Red-Eye Reduction mode, but frankly, you shouldn't be firing the flash at close range to either human or animal subjects — you can hurt their eyes.
^ Autofocusing: The AF mode is set to One-Shot mode; again, that simply means that when you depress the shutter button halfway, the camera locks focus, usually on the nearest object.
See Chapter 6 for more details about AF modes and other focusing issues. Chapter 7 offers additional tips on close-up photography.
Sports mode l^i Sports mode results in a number of settings that can help you photograph ^^^ moving objects such as the swinging girl in Figure 2-11. First, the camera selects a fast shutter speed, which is needed to "stop motion." Shutter speed is an exposure control that you can explore in Chapter 5.
Also keep these Sports mode settings in mind:
^ Picture Style: The camera automatically sets the Picture Style option to Standard, the same one used for Full Auto and Close-Up mode. This picture style is designed to produce sharp images with bold colors.
^ Drive mode: To enable rapid-fire image capture, the Drive mode is set to Continuous. This mode enables you to record multiple frames with a single press of the shutter button. You also have the option of switching to the Self-Timer/Remote Control mode. Check out the end of this chapter for details on both Drive mode settings.
^ Flash: Flash is disabled, which can be a problem in low-light situations, but it also enables you to shoot successive images more quickly because the flash needs a brief period to recycle between shots.
^ Autofocusing: The AF mode is set to AI Servo. In this mode, the camera establishes focus initially when you depress the shutter button halfway. But if the subject moves, the camera Figure 2-11: To capture moving subjects without attempts to refocus. blur, try Sports mode.
For this feature to work correctly, you must adjust framing so that your subject remains within one of the autofocus points. You may find it easier to simply switch to manual focusing and twist the focusing ring as needed to track the subject's movement yourself.
The other critical thing to understand about Sports mode is that whether the camera can select a shutter speed fast enough to stop motion depends on the available light and the speed of the subject itself. In Figure 2-11, the camera selected a shutter speed that did, in fact, catch my subject in midswing, although if you look very closely, you can see some slight blurring of the foot near the bottom of the frame.
To fully understand shutter speed, visit Chapter 6. And for more tips on action photography, check out Chapter 7.
^ As its name implies, Night Portrait mode is designed to deliver a better-looking I portrait at night (or in any dimly lit environment). It does so by combining flash with a slow shutter speed. That slow shutter speed produces a longer exposure time, which enables the camera to rely more on ambient light and less on the flash to expose the picture. The result is a brighter background and softer, more even lighting.
I cover the issue of using a slow shutter speed in detail in Chapter 5; Chapter 7 has some additional nighttime photography tips. For now, the critical thing to know is that the slower shutter speed means that you probably need a tripod; if you try to handhold the camera, you run the risk of moving the camera during the long exposure, resulting in a blurry image. Your subjects also must stay perfectly still during the exposure, which can also be a challenge.
If you do try Night Portrait mode, be aware of these other settings that are automatically selected by the camera:
1 Picture Style: The Standard setting, designed to deliver sharp, bold photos, is selected. See Chapter 6 for more about Picture Style options and how they affect your images.
1 Drive mode: The default setting is Single, but you also can choose the Self-Timer/Remote Control mode. Check out the end of this chapter for details on both Drive mode settings.
1 Flash: Flash is enabled when the camera thinks ambient light is needed — which, assuming that you're actually shooting at night, should be most of the time. You can set the flash to Red-Eye Reduction mode if you prefer. See the section "Using Flash in Automatic Exposure Modes," earlier in this chapter, for details.
1 Autofocusing: The AF mode is set to One-Shot, which locks focus when you depress the shutter button halfway. Focus isn't adjusted if your subject moves out of the selected autofocusing point before you record the image.
Flash Off mode
The Flash Off mode delivers the same results as Full Auto mode but ensures that the flash doesn't fire, even in dim lighting. This mode provides an easy way to ensure that you don't break the rules when shooting in locations that don't permit flash: museums, churches, and so on. But it can also come in handy any time you prefer not to use flash. See Chapters 5 and 7 for information about flash photography.
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Compared to film cameras, digital cameras are easy to use, fun and extremely versatile. Every day there’s more features being designed. Whether you have the cheapest model or a high end model, digital cameras can do an endless number of things. Let’s look at how to get the most out of your digital camera.