What Are Scene Modes On My Camera?

  • Thread starter CaptainDan
  • Start date


Aug 2, 2020
  • #1
We all know about the automatic modes our cameras offer and we also know about the priority modes, such as Aperture Priority and Shutter Priority, but how well do we know the scene modes? If you look at your camera's top dial, you'll see small pictures that may include a flower, mountain, face, or things similar. They're probably separated by a line or two, keeping them distant from the other modes. These scene modes can truly help out the beginner and experienced photographer alike.

What is it about scene modes that differentiate them from the other priority modes? Well, for starters, when used, the camera makes all the settings for you, depending on which scene you choose. So if you're taking photos of landscapes, the camera will reduce the size of the lens's aperture and will set the shutter speed accordingly. Another thing the camera will do is adjust the lens's focusing, depending on what type of image is being captured. And finally, once the shutter has done its thing, the camera will process the image a certain way, depending on what's called for. Think color saturation and sharpness.

In this post, I'll walk through the various scene modes that are available on many DSLR and mirrorless cameras. While every mode I discuss here may not be available on every camera, this list will cover much of what you might see on yours.

Landscape Mode

This mode is all about a deep depth of field, so the camera will automatically select a smaller sized aperture than what might be used for a normal photograph. Consequently, a slower shutter speed will also be used, which is fine because landscape shots are oftentimes taken while using a tripod. This mode also emphasizes the edges of objects captured in the scene and makes the colors bolder while the image is being processed inside of the camera. Finally, Landscape Mode also emphasizes the contrast between lights and darks in the image.


Portrait/Baby Mode

When set to this mode, the camera makes two primary settings. First, it enlarges the aperture size so the subject of the image is more isolated, meaning, there's a more shallow depth of field. This offers a softer foreground and background (blur). It also softens the entire image during processing. If your camera has a child mode, it may add some warmth to the final image as well. This really depends on the camera though. For the most part, you'll find a shallow depth of field and a softer image overall.


Flash Off Mode

Some cameras offer a specific mode that keeps the flash turned off. Personally, I use Program Mode to accomplish this. Having the flash kept off is my number one priority for most shots. With full automatic mode, the camera will use the flash when it deems it necessary and that's problematic. Either one of these modes are sufficient for keeping the flash off.


Sports Mode

This mode is all about movement and action. Being so, the camera uses a much faster shutter speed than it ordinarily would when simply metering for exposure. To make up for the lack of light of a fast shutter, the aperture may be opened wider and the ISO value may be increased. With Sports Mode, the camera will generally choose a Continuous or a Predictive focus setting, to better handle the movement.


Macro Mode

With this mode, your camera will adjust the focusing distance between it and the subject being captured. It will also likely adjust the aperture size to allow for a much more shallow depth of field. You can expect a more shallow depth of field than you normally would while taking these types of shots because of the relatively close proximity to the subject. The closer the camera is, the more foreground and background blur.


Night Portrait Mode

With this mode, the flash will be used, but the camera will meter the scene to account for light that's already existing. The flash won't create a harsh effect, but a complementary one. The camera's goal with this mode is to produce a natural looking photograph that uses the flash for capture.


Do you know of any more scene modes? If so, what are they and how do they work on your camera? Please share below.
What Are Scene Modes On My Camera? was posted on 02-25-2021 by CaptainDan in the Photography Forum forum.

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