Understanding Shutter Priority Modes on Digital Cameras

Semi-manual modes, such as shutter priority mode, allow the photographer to control a single camera setting while the camera makes any other necessary adjustments. In the case of shutter priority mode, the photographer sets the desired shutter speed and the camera automatically adjusts the white balance, ISO, and aperture to create a well exposed shot. Semi-manual modes are an excellent tool for intermediate photographers to progress beyond fully automatic modes and learn the intricacies of shutter speed, aperture and depth of field.

How to Use Shutter Priority Mode

Most digital cameras are manufactured to allow the photographer to switch between modes using a dial located on top of the camera. Shutter priority mode is usually indicated by an S or TV. In Shutter priority mode, the photographer can set the desired shutter speed and the camera will select the appropriate aperture setting (f/stop).

Why Use Shutter Priority Mode?

Shutter priority mode provides photographers with full creative freedom when shooting moving subjects. By using a semi-manual mode, such as shutter priority mode, the photographer is able to focus on a single stetting, in this case shutter speed, without having to constantly adjust and tweak other camera settings. When focusing on one camera setting, intermediate photographers can increase their understanding of shutter speed and its' effect on a shot's motion.

When to Use Shutter Priority Mode

Shutter priority mode is the ideal mode for shooting moving objects. In shutter priority mode, the photographer is allowed control over the shutter speed and can decide how best to shoot moving objects. A fast shutter speed will stop action and provide the photographer with a crisp, clean image that appears suspended in time. A slow shutter speed will give the image a more fluid look that portrays the object's motion.

In shutter priority mode, the camera automatically adjusts the aperture setting which affects the shot's depth of field. When using a fast shutter speed to freeze action, the shot will have a narrow depth of field. Conversely, when using a slower shutter speed, the camera will adjust the aperture to create a larger depth of field.

Tips for Using Shutter Priority Mode

Shutter priority mode allows the photographer to experiment and create a variety of different movement effects. For example, shooting a waterfall with a fast shutter speed freezes the action of the water and highlights individual streams and water droplets. If the photographer shoots the same waterfall with a slow shutter speed, the water will appear smoother and more fluid. Using shutter priority mode at night allows the photographer to experiment with variations in movement and lights, to create interesting and creative shots.

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