📷 Exposure Control and Modes

Now that you’re well-versed in exposure theory, let’s dive in to putting to practice. Your camera will have at least one scrolling wheel which can be assigned to control your aperture and/or your shutter. Generally speaking, most full frame cameras will have dedicated dials for aperture and shutter speed. Note that when using a ‘manual’ lens, your aperture control could be a physical ring on the lens itself.

Shooting Modes

I alluded to the fact that there’s an easier way to expose. These modes will explain how to use the camera you paid for.


This mode is exactly what it sounds like. You set shutter speed, aperture, and ISO.

Aperture Priority

You pick the aperture and the camera sets the shutter speed to give you a balanced exposure.

Shutter Priority

You pick the shutter and the camera sets the aperture to give you a balanced exposure.

Program Mode

You can pick between different combinations of shutter and aperture.

This can sometimes be useful when shooting video since the shutter speed is usually fixed.

Custom (C1)

Custom settings allow you to define a set of parameters (beyond simple exposure settings) that can be recalled simply by flipping a dial to a custom mode. For example, one could select a custom setting designed for shooting kids, configured something like shutter priority, auto ISO, auto AF area and focus tracking. Some cameras even let you assign a setting preset like this to a button which activates these settings when depressed.

Note that ISO in any of these modes can often be assigned as “Auto” where the camera will try its best to use it to “correct” your exposure, or you can leave ISO under manual control. As mentioned, ISO will affect both dynamic range (we’ll get into that more later) and the amount of noise in your photo. Experiment with your camera to see how much noise is acceptable for your personal taste.