I noticed a question somewhere in the photography community asking if camera settings define the photographer.
In a way I have to say yes camera settings do matter and in a way they also do not. Here is why.
AUTO: Photographers who leave their cameras on full automatic are basically giving all control to the camera’s operating system. For that, I think it definitely defines the photographer. It might mean the photographer has no passion for the art, or simply does not care how the photographs turn out.
P: Program mode is kind of like automatic but with a few minor exceptions. In this mode, the camera’s exposure is determined by the operating system. However, the photographer has the ability to change the ISO setting, whether the flash will fire or not, and other settings specific to the camera. A photographer shooting on P mode is likely lazy and does not care about their shutter speed or aperture. It is also possible that a photographer like that does not realize what their camera’s ISO is set to, or has it on Auto ISO.
Auto ISO: Speaking of Auto ISO – this is a setting where your camera’s operating system will decide the best ISO to use in any given situation. That means during a long exposure it could bump up the ISO to shorten the exposure. Makes sense for that to happen, right? Not so much. Take control over your ISO and turn it off Auto ISO. Unless of course you are shooting an event because then Auto ISO could come in handy. So really, my point is to know your craft, understand the setting and use it when it can be beneficial. If you are using Auto ISO without caring then that says a lot about your photography.
A: Aperture Priority can be very useful for certain situations, just as Auto ISO can. In this mode, the camera will determine the best shutter speed to use based on the aperture that you choose. This can be useful for HDR, event photography and even product photography (when on a tripod). However, this is not helpful for every type of photography. So again, know your craft and when to use Aperture Priority.
S: Shutter Priority can also be useful like Aperture Priority. In this mode, the camera will determine the best aperture to use based on the shutter that you choose.
Hopefully if you are using either Aperture Priority or Shutter Priority then you know what is necessary to capture the photograph and do not mind relying on the camera’s algorithms to determine exposure.
M – My mode of choice for practically every situation. Shooting on manual removes the camera’s operating system from the exposure equation. Of course many photographers will continue to rely on the camera’s exposure meter to determine exposure but handheld meters like the ones from Sekonic can be beneficial in determining perfect exposure.
What do camera settings mean for you?
So what do the camera settings mode mean for you as a photographer? Some might say that Manual Mode means a photographer is a control freak or that Shutter Priority and Aperture Priority makes for a lazy photographer. I personally feel as though Auto ISO, Program and Auto mode make for a lazy photographer.
Here are some thoughts from friends:
I am 98% a manual mode shooter. Part of that way of working stems from my days of shooting film and wanting to produce the best negatives I could. That has carried over on to the digital side of things. Does that define me as a photographer? I am not sure. I would much rather be defined by the kinds of images I capture than the tools I use (and how I use them). – Seshu of Tiffinbox
Camera settings are the paintbrush in an artists hands. You are able to create a style that can not always be achieved via auto. The reason for this is a camera in auto mode defines “perfect focus & exposure” but that doesn’t always equate to the story you are telling. I always suggest that if a photographer is defining who they are they should define how they shoot rather than rely on equipment to make the decision. – Stacie of Colorvale Actions
I think it does contribute a bit to your style but obviously not exclusively. Some photographers use wide apertures most of the time so there images have shallow DOF often. Some are using high ISO and they like the grainy look. – Jasser of JAG Photography
Manual or bust! – Sandra of Forcoco
P is for professional. duh – Rachel of The Law Tog
In the end, the reason for someone to use any auto mode versus manual says a lot about the photographer. One photographer might use P mode with reasoning behind it. That’s strategy and technique. Another photographer might use P mode because it’s easy. That says a lot.
Please comment below and let me know what you think about camera settings. How do you feel about shooting in any auto mode versus manual mode?
Thanks for reading and happy shooting,