Point And Shoot Like A Pro
Why à la modes?
All digital SLR cameras offer the traditional exposure modes: program AE, shutter-priority AE, aperture-priority AE and metered manual exposure control. These are the mainstays of "serious" photographers because they provide control over important aspects of each shot.
Entry-level (and some midrange) D-SLRs also offer a number of subject programs. These allow less-experienced photographers to set the camera ideally for photographing popular subject types, such as portraits, landscapes, close-ups, sports/action and night portraits, merely by rotating a dial to the appropriate icon, no special knowledge required. While these subject modes were designed for point-and-shooters, they also provide more advanced users with a quick way to set the camera for specific subjects and shooting situations. Before getting into subject modes, though, let's briefly review the mainstays.
In program AE mode, the camera sets both the shutter speed and the aperture for correct exposure, leaving you free to concentrate on composing the photo. You can quickly set a desired shutter speed or aperture (generally by rotating a dial), however, and the camera automatically sets the other control to maintain correct exposure.
In aperture-priority AE mode, set the aperture you wish to use, and the camera automatically sets the corresponding shutter speed to maintain proper exposure. This mode is handy when depth of field is a consideration. You can set a small aperture when you need lots of depth of field or a wide aperture when you want to limit depth of field. You can also set the lens to its maximum aperture in aperture-priority AE mode to assure the highest possible shutter speed under any given lighting conditions.
In shutter-priority AE, set the shutter speed you wish to use, and the camera automatically sets the corresponding aperture to maintain proper exposure. This mode is handy when you wish to shoot at a specific shutter speed-a fast one to freeze a fast-moving subject or a slow one to creatively blur a subject.
In manual mode, set both the shutter speed and the aperture based on the camera meter's indications, a handheld meter reading or your own experience.