Canon Group
Close Close
Menu Menu Close Close Search

Understanding camera modes and settings for beginners

There are so many great memories and images waiting to be released, but you just haven’t taken them yet!

With just a little more exploration of your camera settings you will soon discover a whole new set of images beyond the auto button.

There are so many simple features that will help to improve your photography. So here’s the help you need to unleash the power of your camera settings.

Below we have provided seven great examples of different camera settings beyond auto. Many of these can be explored very easily to help you create better images.

1. AV and TV modes

When it comes to shooting modes on your camera, cameras have a scale of control. At one end there is the auto option, where the camera basically controls you and your shot. At the other end of the scale manual settings allow you full control of the camera.

AV and TV sit somewhere in the middle of that scale, allowing you to experiment and understand the camera features. This is a good place to start and build your confidence.

• AV or Aperture Value lets you control your depth of field by either opening or closing your aperture.

• TV or Time Value, lets you control how you freeze motion by either speeding up or slowing down your shutter speed.

When to use AV: To best demonstrate this camera setting, it is best to use this when photographing outside in nature, with family and friends out walking or enjoying the sun. With the camera on AV, it allows you to create a difference between near and far. For example, if you are shooting portraits of people, you open the aperture to create a blurry background. Conversely, when shooting landscapes, you close down the aperture to get a crisp and deep depth of field.

When to use TV: Turning to the TV camera setting, this allows you to play with your shutter speed. Imagine taking a photo of someone on a mountain bike or skiing with lots of movement, but you have a choice of how you capture this with the different shutter speeds on your camera settings.

With a fast shutter speed on your camera setting, it is possible to ‘freeze’ the motion or, to add a little more drama and impact, slow the shutter speed down to add some blur to the motion.

2. Focus Modes

Autofocus is pretty incredible these days, but with a little more experimentation, you’ll take even sharper shots. There are further built-in focus camera settings that ensure you secure pin-sharp photos every time.

3. White Balance

White balance is a camera setting that allows you to really create natural light photography with beautiful, accurate colours in your images. There are some great presets built into the camera settings that feature some of the most used lighting scenarios.

When to use White balance: For example, if you are outside in the beautiful sunshine, you can set the white balance to daylight preset, and if you are shooting outside you can just leave the preset on all day and not have to think about it. Really easy.

Equally if shooting in the shade, the light will be a different colour so we can switch our white balance to the shade preset, to ensure that image is still great.

4. Eye Tracking

A great feature to use when taking photos of people is eye tracking

When to use Eye Tracking: Put your camera setting to the servo focus mode when you are tracking subjects moving towards you. This is perfect for portrait and landscape images.

With sports photography, where there is a lot of movement, it is often tricky to focus quickly. Within the camera settings there are focus mode presets that allow better tracking fast moving subjects.

5. Silent shutter

There are certain occasions when the ‘click click’ of the shutter opening and closing can be a distraction, especially when shooting intimate events such, young children or sport such as tennis.

By using the silent shutter feature in your camera settings, this will help keep your subjects at ease and in the moment.

6. Raw Vs JPEG

Raw and JPEG are two valuable camera features that help with speed and convenience. There are times when you want full control to edit and manipulate your images and other times when you want to capture a great image and get it on social media ASAP.

When to Use RAW: Whilst RAW unleashes the full power of the camera, the files are a lot bigger and will take more time to process and edit. RAW will store these images for you to work on separately and really work on the quality of the image.

When to use JPEG: However, when you need to work quickly you can switch the camera settings to shooting JPEGs which come out of the camera looking great and ready to post. The latter is a more contemporary use of the camera in a world where images are transferred to Instagram within seconds

7. Quick Menu

Over time you will find that you will discover and use more of your camera settings than others. These most frequently used camera settings are then immediately available in your quick menu, otherwise known as the Q Menu. This will save you time, so you don't miss out on that once in a lifetime shot.