Automatic scene modes aka Image Zone modes

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 highlighted in Figure 2-8 — 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 fully 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 couple of limitations — or benefits, depending on how you look at things:

✓ 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.

✓ Exposure: The camera makes all exposure decisions, too, including whether the flash fires or not.

In the next sections, you can read about the unique features of each of the scene modes.

Portrait mode

Portrait mode attempts to select an aperture (f-stop) setting that results in a short depth of field, which blurs the background and puts the visual emphasis on your subject. Figure 2-9 offers an example. Keep in mind, though, that the short depth of field produced by Portrait mode may result in softer focus on objects set in front of your subject, not just those behind it. Either way, the extent to which the depth of field is reduced depends on the current lighting conditions (which affect the range of f-stops the camera can use), the distance between your subject and those foreground or background objects, and a couple of other factors that I discuss in Chapter 6.

Figure 2-9: Portrait setting produces a softly focused background.

Along with favoring an f-stop that produces a shorter depth of field, the camera selects these settings in Portrait mode:

✓ 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 idea being to keep skin texture nice and soft. Colors are also adjusted subtly to enhance skin tones.

✓ 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 portrait, you can switch the Drive mode setting to a Self-Timer or Remote Control mode. See the end of this chapter for details.

✓ Flash: Auto flash is used; the camera decides whether you need flash or not. 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.

Although you can't control whether the flash fires, you can choose to enable or disable Red-Eye Reduction flash, explained a little earlier in this chapter.

✓ 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 closest object that falls under one of the nine autofocus points. If your subject moves out of the selected autofocus point, the camera doesn't adjust focus to compensate.

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