Wednesday, February 13, 2013

All About Scene Modes

Harness the power of your camera's scene modes to make better pictures in any circumstances
By William Sawalich Published in Shooting
PANORAMA/STITCHING MODE is unique in that it doesn't use special settings (with the exception of turning off the flash), but it will provide alignment guides or an overlay to assist in alignment of subsequent exposures to stitch together a panorama.

FOOD MODE is a lot like Macro mode, but with the flash disabled so food looks appetizing lit strictly by ambient light.

PETS/KIDS MODE defaults to a fast shutter speed (much like Sports mode) to keep those fast-moving children and pets in sharp focus, but with a camera with face-detecting autofocus, this mode also will fire off a couple of quick shots as soon as it detects focus on a child's or pet's face.


They say everybody wants to direct. Maybe that's why almost every digital camera also features a Movie mode for capturing video. Here are a few tips for getting started with your camera's Movie mode.

1. Depending on the camera, your high-definition resolution options may be limited to 720p, or they also may include the higher-resolution 1080 option. If you're really trying to maximize quality, choose 1080. But if you just want to be sure you have a nice video to share on Facebook or YouTube, 720 is more than enough. (Either way, you probably want to step up from standard def or VGA.)

2. Frame rates—which represent how frequently the image in a video is refreshed— likely aren't going to make or break the average user's video, but your choices are usually 24 or 30, or maybe even 48 or 60. The higher the better, theoretically, as a 60 fps rate creates a video with twice as many frames as one with 30 frames per second. If your camera allows you to choose from "p" or "i", as in 1080p or 1080i, you'll probably want to choose "p". It stands for progressive, rather than interlaced, and is generally deemed to create a higher-quality, more seamless finished video, especially with fast-moving subjects.

3. Your camera may give you some autofocus options as well, since focusing video can be kind of tricky. The single-focus approach will focus once at the beginning of a recording and that's it, while continuous autofocus will keep refocusing the scene throughout recording.

If you have the camera locked down to a tripod and your subject is sitting or standing still, you should be happy with single focus. This way, your camera won't be trying to refocus unnecessarily throughout the recording. But if your subject is a tricky one, moving throughout the composition during filming, you may be better off choosing continuous AF.

4. With your camera in manual exposure mode, you'd better make sure you have your exposure correct before you start shooting video. Alternately, you can select an auto-exposure mode so the camera will adjust the exposure appropriately throughout recording. This is helpful if you'll be encountering changing lighting scenarios throughout the shot, but it also could be distracting if the camera compensates for subtle lighting changes that cause the iris to open and close.

An alternative, on some cameras, is to use the exposure-lock button to gain the benefit of an initial auto exposure, but then the stability of a constant exposure during recording.

5. If you'll be handholding your camera while shooting video, consider keeping your zoom lens at its widest position to help mask any of the normal vibrations from handholding. Locking the camera to a tripod for stability will make telephoto shooting much more feasible—and will help keep viewers of the finished product from suffering the effects of motion sickness.

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