Pros and Cons for Different Camera Mode for Underwater Photography

Choosing the correct camera mode for underwater photography can be a challenging task, especially if you are a beginner underwater photographer. There are many modes available on a digital camera, including auto mode, program mode, aperture priority mode, shutter priority mode, manual mode and underwater mode. The guide below will help you choose which mode to use when you are using a flash or strobe, and when you are only using natural light.

Auto Mode

Whether you are using a flash or strobe for your underwater photography, or if you are taking photos in only natural light, auto mode should be avoided. By using auto mode, you will give up control of the flash and other important settings.

Program Mode

If you are using program mode in conjunction with a flash or strobe, you should choose the forced flash option. This will ensure that the flash fires. The camera will choose the aperture in this mode. You should only use program mode with a flash or strobe if this is the only mode available.

If you are using this mode to take underwater photographs in natural light, you should choose the flash off option to prevent the flash or strobe from firing. The camera will set the aperture and shutter speed. Using program mode with natural lighting will produce decent photos with ambient light photos.

Aperture Priority Mode

Using aperture priority mode with a flash or strobe is a good choice, although not the best. In this mode, you will set the aperture, and the camera will choose the shutter speed. If you use an f-stop of 8, you can block out as much ambient light as possible, which produces images with better color, contrast and sharpness.

Aperture priority mode works well in natural lighting if you need to control the depth of field. You will set the aperture, and the camera will set the shutter speed.

Shutter Priority Mode

This is the opposite of aperture priority mode. In shutter priority mode, you set the shutter speed, and the camera sets the aperture. If you need to freeze the motion of a fast moving subject when using a flash or strobe, shutter priority mode is recommended. Shutter priority mode also works well in natural lighting, especially if you need a slow shutter for creative effects.

Manual Mode

If your camera offers full manual mode, this is the better mode to use when also using a flash or strobe. You have full control over the aperture and shutter speed settings. The downside of using manual mode with a flash or strobe is that you lose TTL. This can be corrected by setting the strobe power manually, though.

Manual mode should only be used with natural lighting if you are not getting the exposure needed with other modes. This mode is especially useful in natural lighting if there is too much sun in the photograph.

Underwater Mode

Underwater mode is not recommended if you are using a flash or strobe. Underwater mode tends to make these photos look red because of the white balances it uses. If you are shooting in natural light, underwater mode gives great results in shallow water. This is because underwater mode will try to automatically color correct natural light photos.

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