How to Use a DSLR Camera Like a Pro – Go Beyond Auto Mode

How to Use a DSLR Camera Like a Pro – Go Beyond Auto Mode

how to use a dslr camera

That’s me in the photo :D

Do you know some friends who brought a expensive camera but do not know how to use a DSLR except the auto mode? It sounds funny and will be laughed by others if it happens on you. Therefore, the most important thing is to learn how to use the a DSLR camera like a pro by learning how to use different camera mode. Knowing different modes of the camera is very essential in order to take the photo that you want . You must know each mode so that you can control the brightness of the photo, the depth of field (DOF), motion blur of object etc in the fastest way. For a prosumer grade and up camera, there are always four modes: P mode, A/Av mode, S/Tv mode, and M mode. They are programmed auto mode, aperture-priority mode, shutter-priority mode and manual mode respectively.


Auto Mode

All the setting is automated. You cannot make changes to the setting. It is just the foolproof mode. But still you can create great images by using auto mode. The important thing is that you know your camera well.

Programmed Auto Mode (P Mode)

PModeThis mode can have more flexibility to control the different setting. The shutter speed and aperture is set for you. But you can still control the exposure compensation, flash, ISO sensitivity, focusing method, etc. Someone say this is called “professional mode”. Yes, some of the professional photographer usually use this mode because they focus on the composition and lighting, and leave the setting to the camera. This is a kind of fully utilization of the equipment. But you need to get the feeling of how’s the camera is thinking first, because different brands have different controllability in this mode.

Aperture-Priority Mode (A/Av mode)

AvModeIn this mode, you have to select the aperture manually. The camera will calculate the corresponding shutter speed for you. This is the mode that I use most often in taking pictures. By setting the aperture manually, I can control the depth of field. In many cases, I want a sharp image with controllable depth of field. Av mode is great to take a sharp image.

Shutter-Priority Mode (S/Tv Mode)

TvModeYou are going to set you shutter speed in this mode. Aperture will be automatic set for you after that. This mode is great when you want some motion blur. For example, you want to take a picture of moving cars. You want some motion to represent the car is moving. In this case, you  need to have a slower shutter speed to make the car blur. I will discuss about this in more detail in next topic.

Manual Mode (M Mode)

MModeIn this mode, you have to adjust all settings manually. You have to set you aperture and shutter speed. This is most difficult mode to handle. You need to do photometry to know what is the aperture and shutter speed you need. I use this mode when I am shooting in indoor or in an environment with constant lighting. This is because once I finish the setting, I will have the same exposure in every photo. I just need to slightly adjust shutter speed to make it brighter or dimmer for a fixed aperture.

How to Use a DSLR Camera Mode Correctly?

Different photographers have their own habit to use the camera mode. I am not say that my way of choosing the camera is the best but you can take it as a reference when you are still familiarising on how to use a DSLR camera. Below are some setting in different sense.

  • Normal Case

    Most of the time I am using the A mode (aperture priority) together with the lowest ISO sensitivity as possible because I would like to have control of the depth of field of the image while let the camera to decide how fast the shutter speed is. If the shutter speed turn out is too slow, the final image may be blurry because of my handshake. In this case, I will boost up the ISO until the shutter speed is faster than the safety shutter speed. This method can apply to all situation that I want a sharp image.

  • Shoot Sport or Wildlife

    When shooting animals or athletes, the object are moving very fast. The object can go from a shadow place to under the sun within a second. I have no time to change the ISO setting most of the time. Therefore, in this case, I will set to A mode with auto ISO sensitivity. I will also set the max ISO that the camera can use because where will be too much noise when ISO boost up to extreme level. In the setting like this, I can focus on focus and composition.

  • Night Sense or Need to Show Motion

    For night sense or sometimes I want to show some movement in the picture, I will use S Mode (shutter priority). For these kinds of image, the duration of exposure is more important. Depth of field is very deep or even focus on infinity. That mean the only variation is the shutter speed. For example, I am panning a moving car, I will set to 1/30 second and leave other thing to the camera. Then I can have the most success rate of capturing the image.

  • Indoor, HDR and Panorama

    When shooting in indoor, I normally will spend a few minutes in setting aperture, shutter speed and ISO manually. As the lighting of indoor is not changing, what I have been set is good for the whole environment. On the other hand, I also use M mode in shooting HDR and panorama image. In HDR shooting, it required change of shutter speed while the aperture is kept constant while in panorama shooting, all shutter speed and aperture need to be kept the same.

So far you have learnt how to use a DSLR camera with four different camera mode. I hope you enjoy this tutorial and I think it is the time for you to go out and try these different modes. You know, practise always makes perfect. On the other hand, I would be happy if you can share it with your friends by clicking the share buttons below.