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Using Aperture Priority Mode On Your DSLR


11 February, 2021



Using Aperture Priority Mode On Your DSLR

When you invest in your first DSLR you’ll probably be encouraged to go fully manual, but transitioning to that by using aperture priority mode is a great idea. Many pros and experienced amateurs do prefer the control manual operation gives, but equally as many are happy with AP mode (aperture priority), and this week we’ll show you why.

Aperture priority is manual (sort of)!

What? Aperture priority is a manual mode too? If you select aperture priority on your DSLR and look through the camera you’ll see that your aperture doesn’t change on your viewfinder screen when you point your camera around the scene, but your shutter speed does; how then can we call this a manual mode?

With AP mode we set the aperture ourselves and the camera adjusts the shutter speed to achieve a balanced exposure, but we can adjust the exposure compensation to account for anomalies in how the camera exposes.

Essentially, the exposure compensation dial acts as a shutter speed dial, in a similar way to shooting in manual, by increasing or decreasing the amount of light that hits the sensor. The difference is that the shutter speed still changes when you move the camera – but with the manual adjustment you've dialled in.

What does this mean and how can we use it to our advantage?

This means that AP mode gives us the freedom to use the camera’s inbuilt light metre, like in automatic mode, alongside the control of manual mode – it’s the perfect happy medium!

Aperture priority is the ideal mode for creative photography in changeable lighting conditions because it gives us full control of our depth of field, while the camera adjusts our shutter speed to maintain a correct exposure. We only need to use our exposure compensation dial when the light fools our camera – for example, when there’s a strong backlight that will fool our camera into underexposing our subject in the foreground.

Is aperture priority all we need?

There are occasions when manual or shutter priority mode suits the situation best: manual mode is perfect for studio work because the light is under our control, and shutter priority works well when shooting motorsport, for example, but for all other situations we recommend AP.

As you can see, aperture priority mode is the ideal stepping stone to full manual control of your DSLR, but don’t be afraid to stick with it forever, if it suits you. Many of the finest images that we print to canvas in our lab have been shot this way, and once they’re hanging on your wall nobody will ask what mode you used to capture them!

Tags camera, photo to canvas, priority mode


11 February, 2021

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