Auto mode?


TPF Noob!
Apr 22, 2013
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Just curious. Does anyone ever just shoot in full auto mode? I have family visiting and wanted to snap a few quick shots of everyone together so I thought this would be the perfect time for something like that. Thoughts?
Oh dear, bet you'd bend over and pick the soap up in prison too :eek:
It doesn't matter what mode you use. What is important that you learn to use each mode you have, learn your aperture, ISO and shutter speed so that if you wish, you can shoot in full manual all the way to full auto and all inbetween. From there you're the one with the choice; you're empowered to make the choice for what you want in the given situation and can choose the mode that will give you the best result in the given situation.

Note this relies upon two thing:
1) Really do learn - don't just try it once, learn to shoot in the various modes to the point where you can use them well. It will take practice and time but its very rewarding and very empowering to be able to make the choice yourself.

2) Learn to pre-visualise as you learn to shoot. Learn how the various settings affect your shoot and from there how you can predict what the shot will look like - and how you want it to look.

The latter point is often a big reason why people who can use all the mods will often not use auto mode; because they get an image in their head of the image they want; and that makes them want to have control - at least some control over the camera. Maybe its in program mode - or aperture priority or full manual or any other mode.

PS - if your camera has macro/landscape/sports modes remember they are only adjusting the same core 3 settings (aperture, ISO, shutter speed). They are just like full auto mode with a weighting toward certain setting values - for example macro will lean toward a smaller aperture; whilst sports will lean toward a faster shutter speed (full auto tends to lean toward general exposure and portrait shooting).
I used to use it, then I used the semi auto "p" mode quite a bit and the other semi automatic modes. Nowadays I tend not to use them and most of the time I shoot in manual mode. For me it was a natural progression as none of the auto modes could quite pick the settings I wanted. I'm pretty quick at picking my settings now, and taking a few test shots (actually that's a good excuse to get some unposed family snaps if they are used to you with a camera) to get it in the ballpark. more often when I'm just taking snaps of friends and family I'll choose an apeture, shutter speed, set my metering mode to expose for my subjects and put the ISO on auto. I find that it gives me a bit more control of the settings but still gives me the ability to get those quick shots too.
Just curious. Does anyone ever just shoot in full auto mode? I have family visiting and wanted to snap a few quick shots of everyone together so I thought this would be the perfect time for something like that. Thoughts?

If you want more creative control over the resulting images, you can use semi-auto modes where you control at least one part of the exposure.

I often use semi-auto modes with people work.
I consider Auto as a setting to 'get' almost any shot, even those in terrible low light conditions. Cellphone and tablet cameras do the same. Based on a meter reading, and adjusted by what is, these days, surprisingly 'intelligent' firmware, the camera will take the picture. Auto mode today is like the former Kodak Instamatic or even the Brownie cameras...point and shoot. No thought/setup/settings required. It's akin to using nothing but a 50mm lens for all your picture taking. It works. It gets the shot. For the large majority of the general population, those cameras, and Auto mode today is quite sufficient.

But when you have some unusual lighting that the camera can't figure out, or you intentionally want a thin depth of field, for example, then it's time to take over some or all of the settings.

I recently went to an outdoor car show and simply set my camera on Av where I picked the aperture (f16 to get a 'good sized' DOF for the cars...from 10-20 feet away) and let the camera do the rest. Auto mode (for taking pictures of automobiles, right?) likely would have done just as well, but I wanted to 'guarantee' my DOF, so I took control of the aperture. Indoor, low light, no flash? I want to ensure that subject motion is stopped, I want the shutter speed in the range of 1/125 or faster. But as I frequently have to come to an 'acceptable compromise' (someone here came up with that phrase a couple of weeks ago, and I have come to use it a lot) where a little more ISO, a thinner DOF, and a bit slower shutter speed have to be set to get an acceptable exposure. The only way to do that is full manual.

But then, shooting 'cityscapes' in Chicago recently, I simply put the camera in Auto and fired away. I knew the camera would get completely acceptable shots just about every time. But when I wanted to capture an old fire-escape stairway in a dimly lit alley, I went to Av and selected f22 as I wanted to get most, if not all, the 10 story staircase in focus.

What it comes down to is letting the camera 'do its thing' when I want to, but when I recognize some special circumstances that I want to have control for something, I can make the needed settings and get the shot. But that doesn't mean my first shot in manual mode is 'right'. Often, I end up taking a couple of pictures looking at the histogram and making adjustment(s) to fix any over/under exposure and take another. There's times the metering is wrong, and resultant histogram, too... (did I remember to change metering modes?) and simply looking at the picture in the LCD and adjusting again is sometimes necessary.

As Overread said above: "What is important that you learn to use each mode you have, learn your aperture, ISO and shutter speed so that if you wish, you can shoot in full manual all the way to full auto and all inbetween."
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Never. There's no correlation between mode and quality. What matters is how you use it and why. Full auto simply means the camera makes every decision about the exposure triangle. You can still influence it. Could be good, could be bad. It could be equally bad if a photographer with no understanding of photography uses manual mode. What's better is when the photographer who understands photography makes creative decisions to get the results he wants. There are no rules to good photographs; there are only good photographs. If anything, family would be a better time to experiment with more control.
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There's nothing inherently "wrong" with auto mode. But it is just sort of rolling the dice. It might produce the ideal exposure, it might not. It will almost always produce at least an okay exposure. If you just want to relax, and take snapshots, it's fine. Especially if you're still not comfortable with other modes yet, and don't want to stress out, just to get some family snaps. Most people who shoot a lot don't use auto mode, mostly because it's not a hassle at all to shoot in another mode. Inside I'd almost always shoot manual, just because I shoot so much it doesn't take any real thought to get the exposure I want. If you shoot a whole lot, you really don't think about exposure, except in tricky situations.

Someone who's newer to the game would probably be better off shooting in auto, and focusing on capturing the moment, and getting the composition right, if they really want those shots. and gradually practice with the other modes (A,P,S,M), when you can afford to fiddle with them, and don't "have" to get the shot.
I sometimes see people rationalize the use of auto by saying “yeah, I just wanted to take a few quick photos so I threw it in auto and fired away”, but that doesn’t make much sense coming from somebody who understands the fundamentals. If anything, I think if I used full-auto it would slow me down, because for every shot I’d be obsessively rotating my eyeball around inside the viewfinder to see what settings the camera was choosing, to make sure it wasn’t doing anything contrary to what I want. Why go through that nonsense when I can just put my big-boy pants on and force the camera to do what I want?

IMO, one need not gain a very advanced understanding of photography before green-box auto becomes good for nothing but superfluous clutter on the mode dial. Maybe I’m wrong, but I’ve always just assumed that the only reason it even exists on DSLR cameras is so that the big companies can open up the DSLR market to include consumers who are in fact prime candidates for point-and-shoot cameras, but who have more money than brains and are easily manipulated by spec sheets and marketing.

I’m probably over-thinking it, though. The simple fact is that full-auto is no damn fun at all.
Full auto is for when you hand your camera to another person (non-photographer) to take photos of you. I tried to hand mine to my wife in Program mode and I thought I made the right adjustments before hand but the photos came out dark and had some camera shake. Guess I will be trying fully auto next time.

For me, when I want just a quick shot, I put it in Program mode. (on the suggestion from Scott Kelby in one of his books. He says it uses P for his street photography)

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