Does Your Camera Offer These Scene Modes? The New Ones You Can't Afford To Miss! :: Digital Photo Secrets

Does Your Camera Offer These Scene Modes? The New Ones You Can't Afford To Miss!

by David Peterson 1 comment

Camera technology just keeps improving year after year. It’s amazing where it’s gotten. Not too long ago, you had to tell your camera everything, and now there are more automatic scene modes than ever to make snapping pictures a breeze. You’ve seriously got to check out some of these new point-and-shoot models. They might not give you the same versatility as a DSLR, but when it fits in your pocket, who cares? Does your camera feature these unique scene modes?

Fireworks mode

That’s right. Newer camera models actually have an automatic mode for taking pictures of fireworks. How does it work? Simple. Your camera keeps the shutter open just a little longer to record the streaks of color as the fireworks explode. To get the best results in this mode, either bring a tripod or rest your camera on a flat surface as you take the picture. When you keep it still, the explosions from the fireworks become more sharp and defined.

Fireworks mode isn’t just good for taking pictures of fireworks. It’s also good for getting those cool looking images of cars streaking by at night. As long as you remember to bring a tripod, you should be pretty happy with the results.

Backlight scene mode

Do you remember how I always keep harping on automatic modes for never being able to recognize when you’re taking a picture in a backlit situation? Well, camera manufacturers must have been listening. The backlight scene mode is handy when you’re taking portraits, and you know the light source is behind your friend. Just switch over to it, and your camera will lighten your subject while keeping the background the same. Brilliant!

Smile detection mode

Why wait for that perfect photographic moment when your camera will do it for you? With smile detection mode, your camera waits until it detects a smile, and then it goes in for the shot. A few cameras have appeared in the market with this feature, and although they’ll have you believe it works in a lot situations, it’s really quite limiting.

To get smile detection to work, you first have to pick a person to receive the treatment. Then you press down the shutter and wait until the camera detects a smile. Once it does, the shutter will release, and you’ll hopefully capture your friend’s smile.

Most people who used this feature weren’t entirely impressed. It works when you don’t really need it, and it doesn’t work when you really want it to work. I thought it would be neat to use this feature to capture an infant’s smile, but it doesn’t even work at all on infants. As a matter of fact, most manufacturers recommend that you shoot with people aged three and up. Bummer.

High sensitivity mode

Most point-and-shoot cameras won’t allow you to change the ISO speed directly, but high sensitivity mode certainly helps. If you pick this mode, you’ll be able to capture fast moving things in low light situations. It’s also great for indoor photography where the available light is sparse, and you don’t want to ruin the photo by using a flash.

Intelligent scene mode

And finally, we arrive at intelligent scene mode. This is the scene mode of scene modes, the master key to
them all. As camera makers built more and more scene modes (up to 25 for some cameras), it became apparent that users were going to start getting confused. Sometimes you just don’t have the time to pick the right scene mode for the shooting situation in front of you. That’s where intelligent scene mode helps.

Intelligent scene mode works by attempting to figure out what type of scene you want to capture, primarily using the light from the lens. If it’s dark, intelligent scene mode jumps into night mode. If you’re photographing bugs, it knows to switch over to macro mode. Intelligent scene mode doesn’t support all of the other scene modes, but it is a nice start on cameras that are getting increasingly complicated.

Those are the big ones for now. I’m sure that as camera makers keep coming up with new technologies and gimmicks, there will be more next year. I’m simultaneously filled with a sense of glee and dread wondering what those might be.

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  1. Ian Norval says:

    I really enjoy your posts and find them very useful. In fact, I have recommended quite a few friends to sign up for them.

    While I have been seriously taking photos since my high-school days, I still find them a good way to refresh as well as to extend my skills(?). I retired almost 17 years ago and a few years ago I took the plunge and bought a Nikon D800, adding several accessories and lenses since then. Photography now is my main hobby and we take several 4x4 trips each year inspired by photography as much as the pleasure of exploring new places and camping.

    David, thank you again for this wonderful series, I totally enjoy it


    • David Peterson says:

      Thanks for your kind words, Ian! Glad you enjoy the tips.


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