35 Things Every PC User Should Know

Decipher Digital Camera Mode Icons

The little icons that appear on the control wheel of your digital camera may look pretty, but unless you've spent time with your camera's manual, you're likely to be baffled by what they all mean. Each represents a distinct camera mode, and selecting the right one can make the difference between a great shot and a dud.

Here's a cheat sheet of some of the most common icons and how the modes work. (Caveat: Every model of camera is designed differently, so you may notice some variations on the items below.) Note that shooting modes may not all appear on the control dial--some modes may be on a menu.

Automatic: Sets the camera's flash and focus to automatic and uses average exposure settings. Generally the default on digital cameras. Sometimes the icon reads 'AUTO'.
Close-up: Use this mode for taking photos from about 2 feet away or closer. Note that the flash may not fire unless set manually in this mode.
Landscape: For distant subjects. The flash should not fire. Sometimes indicated by the ∞ symbol.
Sport Mode: For photographing moving subjects. Sets the shutter speed to the fastest mark and generally uses the flash as needed.
Night Mode: For low-light conditions. Uses a slow shutter speed and may fire the flash. The icon may also indicate a backlight mode that fires a fill flash so that you can properly compensate for the shadowed subject.
Portrait Mode: For faces. Tries to blur out the background and may use red-eye reduction mode.
Video Mode: For shooting short video clips.
Image Stabilization: Turns on the image stabilizer in order to counter shaky hands.
Aperture-Priority Mode: You manually determine the aperture setting (the diameter of the lens), and the camera controls the shutter speed.
Shutter-Priority Mode: You manually determine the shutter speed, and the camera controls the lens aperture.
Manual Mode: This setting gives you complete control over your camera's aperture and shutter speed.

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