Automatic Modes

Greiver

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So, I suddenly had a thought in my head as I was fiddling around with my Nikon, bored. I was checking the settings and everything and I looked upon the mode dial, which lets us change what shooting mode the camera is in and I found that I never used the automatic ones anymore (ie. Night, landscape, portrait, etc) and I wondered if more seasoned people sometimes fell back on them for everyday stuff when a masterful shot isn't necessary.

So, I ask you all, do you still use those automatic modes or does your experience make you stick up your nose at the very thought?
 

dbvirago

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I don't think it's a matter of sticking up their nose as knowing what those modes are doing and doing it in a more controlled and intentional fashion with aperture and shutter speed.
 
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Greiver

Greiver

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I don't think it's a matter of sticking up their nose as knowing what those modes are doing and doing it in a more controlled and intentional fashion with aperture and shutter speed.
What I meant was not bothering to use them.
 

480sparky

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If you look at what the Scene Modes actually change (which is very little, to tell the truth!), you'll realize how pitifully worthless they really are.
 

Overread

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Sparky is about right - the scenic modes are really there to cater for and ease the point and shoot camera market into the DSLR market because they've been brought up on cameras which have "MODES" for things instead of settings. So they are not used to the idea of settings for things and instead rely upon modes.

The scene modes in a DSLR basically just weight one or two of the 3 settings you have (aperture, shutter speed and (if set to auto) ISO) based upon the metered light. Macro will aim for flash use and a small aperture - landscape will assume a tripod and go for small aperture - sports will go for a wide aperture and fast shutter speed, portrait is probably aiming for handheld 5.6 or so etc...

Once you realise that they are just rough guessing things you can easily just use aperture priority mode to get most of that yourself. Experience also helps, the more you shoot the easier it becomes so you'll rely less and less on the auto scene modes - even when you're shooting less familiar subjects or just casually shooting. You might dip into program mode and some might also just set it to auto.

In the end all that matters is that you get the right settings for the scene before you based upon your creative ideas when taking the shot.


Myself I've not touched the auto scene modes in years - I've not even used program or full auto and shoot most of the time in aperture priority mode. Heck one of my cameras (7D) doesn't even have any scene modes.
 

TCampbell

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For any given shot, there are quite a number of 'equivalent' exposures which will capture the same amount of light... while using different combinations of aperture and shutter (and possibly ISO.)

Changing aperture & shutter speed will have a big effect on the "look" of the image even though the amount of light collected is the same (as long as you trade off one value for another to maintain the balance.)

The "scene" modes simply tell the camera what your intended subject-matter is so that the computer can bias the exposure with one more favorable for that type of shot. For example... if you're shooting a portrait, you might want a deliberately narrow depth of field and you don't care about shutter speed. So the camera will go for a fairly wide aperture (low f-stop value). If you're shooting sports, it'll go for a fast shutter speed. If you're shooting a landscape, it'll go for maximum depth of field.

Experienced shooters know to do these things anyway -- so the "scene" modes aren't actually providing any new functionality... they really are just there to make life easier for novices who may not know what settings to change for optimal exposures.

On high-end bodies, they don't include "scene" modes on the dial anymore (at least Canon does not) because they probably would never be used. My Rebel body had them. My 5D bodies do not.
 

cynicaster

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I had a Canon PowerShot point and shoot camera as my only camera from 2008 to just before 2012 and it actually had most of the same stuff on the mode dial that my DSLR has: M, Av, Tv, P, and all the "scene" bullchit. It wasn't the best camera but I used it to learn the fundamentals, and eventually decided it was high time that I moved to DSLR. I can honestly say that since moving to DSLR in December 2011, I haven't taken a single photograph using the scene modes. Not one. I don't mean to sound like a douche in saying that; the simple fact is, if you understand the fundamentals, those settings are beyond useless.

I guess the scene modes are a necessary evil if the camera companies want to capitalize on the very lucrative "more expensive camera = guaranteed pulitzer prize pictures" consumer mentality. Now, I'm not claiming that higher end (expensive) cameras don't net results, I'm simply saying that even those cameras would take crappy pictures in the hands of 95% of buyers if it weren't for the autopilot modes. Hence their existence.

A few weeks ago I sold a zoom lens to a local guy who said he wanted to take some pics of his son playing little league baseball. He came over to look at the lens, seemed to be satisfied that it was in good condition and worth the price, but then he asked me to get my camera to show him how to remove a lens and put on a different one (???). I decided that if I was going to do that, I might as well attach the lens I was selling him so he could see that it was in full working order. I put the lens on, handed him my camera, and suggested that he snap a test shot or two out my back door. He lifted the camera to his eye and said "well, looks OK I guess, maybe a bit blurry." Yeah... unfortunately, even autofocus requires a bit of human intervention.

Call it a hunch, but that guy struck me as a candidate for the "sports" scene mode to take those pics of his son. I made a point of suggesting it to him; not sure if he even understood what I was talking about.
 

kathyt

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Once you learn to take control of your camera settings, there is no need to let you camera control you.
 

480sparky

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SceneModes.jpg~original
 

Vtec44

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I don't think I've ever used any of the scene modes on a DSLR. I will step forward and admit that I use a mix of Aperture Priority and Manual Mode, depending on what I need. Manual Mode is often when I shoot with OCF's. There's no shame in my game. :D
 

IByte

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Once you learn to take control of your camera settings, there is no need to let you camera control you.

You will soon realize there is no spoon.
 

Derrel

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My camera does not offer any Scene modes. Looking at the table 480sparky supplied, I see that 11 of the modes disable the camera's pop-up flash, and eight leave the flash on AUTO, so that if needed, it will be elevated, if not needed it will not pop up. There's a good mix of Picture Control settings, balanced between Landscape, Portrait, Vivid, and Standard. In nine of the modes, the in-camera Saturation control is set to a specific level. For people shooting JPEGs, these scene modes adjust the parameters probably more often,more appropriately,and more radically than 90% of shooters would do on their own. In other words, these scene modes each set (at least) eleven different capture and or image processing parameters, with the click of a switch.

Keep in one thing fully in mind: the people telling you these modes are worthless are the same people who say they never use them. The less experience they have with them, the louder they seem to condemn scene modes. So....
 

480sparky

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...........Keep in one thing fully in mind: the people telling you these modes are worthless are the same people who say they never use them. The less experience they have with them, the louder they seem to condemn scene modes. So....


worth·less

/ˈwərTHlis/
Adjective

  1. Having no real value or use.
So, by definition, if it's worthless, then why bother trying to use it? It's like trying to dig a ditch with a toothpick.
 

bratkinson

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I think the scene modes are great. Yes, for those who don't really know or care to know the exposure triangle, it's a good way to get decent pictures knowing little more than point and shoot. After I moved from film to a point and shoot, I used the scene modes when I thought they would produce desired results. The problem, however, quickly became one of remembering (make that, failing to remember) to switch to/from the scene modes when the situation required. So I wound up taking 'landscape' shots indoors, etc.

Once I started to relearn making manual camera settings, that's the way I went. That way, I have no problems remembering to think about what settings are needed for EVERY shot. Although I will admit I sometimes put my 5D3 on "A" and fire away when I'm in one of my 'close enough is good enough' shooting mentality, knowing I can make exposure adjustments in post. And for what it's worth, "A" on a 5D3 does exceedingly well!
 

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