Better to shoot in Aperture, Shutter priority or Manual mode

edited March 2012 Posted in » Canon T2i Forum
I was talking with a fellow T2i owner over on my Facebook page and she was wondering whether it is best to shoot in Aperture priority and Shutter Priority or if Manual mode is better. I thought it would be beneficial to share our conversation with all of you...

Gina's Question: I have shot in Av, Tv, and M modes. The nice thing about the Av and Tv modes is that you select your primary control for the pic whether that is aperture or shutter speed and the camera does the rest. Thus, it doesn't take much time to mess around with settings to finally get a decent shot. Do you find yourself using these modes more than M? Obviously M mode lets you control it all and sometimes that results in some better shots. I was just hoping for some basic manual mode tips to get good quality pictures. I am mostly interested in landscape and portrait photography. By the way, the lenses I own are 18-135mm and 50mm f1.8.

Moose's Answer: Yep, when I'm out in the field I use Aperture priority and Shutter priority like 95% of the time. The only time I really use Manual mode is when I'm shooting in controlled lighting environments, like my photography studio. For portraits and landscapes, you can just stay in Aperture priority. As you probably already know, lower f-numbers will allow you to isolate your subject against a blurry background (great for portraits), while higher f-numbers will lengthen the depth of field and put everything into focus (great for landscapes).

The 50mm f/1.8 that you already own is great for portrait photography. If you don't already own a speedlight, I would start saving up today. An external speedlight can dramatically improve the look of your portraits when shooting indoors or in low light. The reason for this is the ability to bounce light off a ceiling rather than directly at your subject. By bouncing the light, you're spreading the light evenly throughout the room which helps you achieve more natural looking shots. The Canon 320EX is a great starter speedlight capable of bouncing light when shooting horizontally or vertically.

In regards to landscapes, if you haven't already I recommend experimenting with the process of HDR. HDR is comprised of shooting 3 to 5 shots of the same scene at varying levels of exposure (using the exposure compensation button) from dark to light. You then take these photos and merge them using HDR software like Photomatix Pro. You may also want to look at purchasing a circular polarizer, which will allow you to capture deep blue skies and more cloud detail in your landscape shots. If you do decide to go with a circular polarizer, I highly recommend Hoya branded filters. The Hoya 67 circular polarizer will fit your 18-135mm lens.

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