What do the letters on my camera's dial mean?

There are many different shooting modes on many different cameras.  On a SLR or DSLR camera you will see these modes.



A+ = Auto

P = Program

Tv = Shutter Priority

Av = Aperture Priority

M = Manual

B = Bulb


Here’s what they mean.

Auto mode is when the camera makes all the decisions for you.  It will pick the ISO, Aperture and Shutter Speed depending on your metering mode and what the camera thinks are the optimal settings for the scene you are shooting.

Program mode is when the camera will choose the optimal shutter speed and aperture depending on your metering mode.

Shutter Priority mode is when the camera will choose the optimal aperture depending on the shutter speed you have selected.

Aperture Priority mode is when the camera will choose the optimal shutter speed depending on the aperture you have selected.

Manual mode is when you make the decisions on all the settings. ISO, Aperture and Shutter speed.

Bulb is for when you want to leave the shutter open for longer than 30 seconds. This is usually done with an external trigger for your camera.

On a Canon camera the C1-C3 selectors are for custom settings that are saved to those dials.

Understanding these modes is essential in learning how to operate your camera. You will sometimes come across situations where Manual mode just isn’t feasible, you’ll have to pick either Av or Tv to get the shots you are after. This all depends on what you are wanting from your camera.

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