Digital Camera Scene Modes
Have you ever noticed that many digital cameras have scene modes (sometimes called shooting modes) in their menus? There is usually quite a selection, but it’s hard to know what exactly they should be used for. They can be extremely useful for the average user because they preset the camera to take pictures in various lighting conditions, which results in better photos.
Professional photographers may scoff at scene modes and camera presets, but for the average user who wouldn’t know an f-stop from an image crop the scene modes can be a lifesaver. We’ve compiled a list for you of the most common scene modes and what they do for you so you’ll know what to use when the time comes.
This is by far the most common scene mode among all the different brands of digital cameras. It is designed to take pictures of one or more people (generally not moving). This is the setting you’ll use if you’re taking pictures of friends and family. The portrait scene mode is designed to make skin tones look richer and smoother by adjusting color sensitivity. It also causes many digital cameras to blur the background so that the focus of the picture is on the person. Some cameras even come with a function that automatically identifies faces and focuses on them in order to guarantee good portraits.
This scene mode is designed to make night photos lighter and less grainy. When you take photos at night, the camera will only pick up nearby things illuminated by the flash, but if you also want to capture lights or objects in the distance or don’t want to use the flash, the night scene mode will help improve exposure. The scene mode adjusts light sensitivity, but it also keeps the shutter open for a longer period of time. The camera will gather more light, however you should use a tripod and avoid taking pictures of moving objects because the picture will blur.
Some cameras have separate beach and snow scene modes, but they essentially do the same thing: take pictures in bright settings. Some digital cameras also adjust color for these settings. Use this scene mode when on the beach or in snow (obviously), but also in very bright areas where you have a lot of sun. You’ll find that this setting will give you better exposure and more accurate colors.
This scene mode is for all the incredible vistas and viewpoints you discover: distant mountains, sandy beaches, deep canyons, beautiful lakes and so forth. The camera sets up the focus to make everything crisp and clear so you can see detail in the distance.
While you may think that the landscape scene mode would be good for capturing sunrises and sunsets, you would actually be better off using the sunset/sunrise setting. This setting adjusts the color in pictures to better show the golden tones that are highlighted by early and late sunlight. This setting will make pictures appear the most vibrant and accurate when taking pictures in the early hours of the morning or as the sun sets in the evening.
High ISO/Low Light/Indoor/Museum
There are several different names for this scene mode, depending on the brand of digital camera you use. But the functions are all similar. This scene mode is designed to be used in areas where the lighting isn’t as good as the camera needs for a normal shot. This is especially useful if you don’t want to use a flash in the shot because the flash tends to make the background dark (or because you can’t use the flash, like in concerts and some museums). The high ISO (sensitivity) scene mode makes the camera more sensitive to light and creates better photos in areas where you can’t use a flash.
The sports scene mode is designed to capture motion without blurring. It’s perfect for capturing shots of athletes, runners, cars and anything else that’s moving swiftly. The camera sets the shutter speed as high as it will go for the lighting conditions, which reduces blur. This setting works best if there is more light because the shutter speed can go to its highest setting.
A panorama is made by taking a picture, moving slightly to one side, taking another picture and so on. Many people use it to capture a long image of scenic landscapes and beautiful interiors that can’t be condensed into one shot. Many cameras have a panorama scene mode that helps to maintain consistent exposures and coloration for all the pictures in a panorama.
Now you can feel free to experiment with the settings on your digital camera. In the market for a new digital camera? TopTenREVIEWS has digital camera reviews for three types of digital cameras: Professional dSLR, Sleek and Slim, and Standard. Each review includes our review, other expert reviews from across the Internet and user reviews. Each product is ranked on an overall best value score and displayed in the easy to use side-by-side comparison chart. At TopTenREVIEWS— We do the research so you don’t have to.
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