Basic Digital Camera Settings for Dummies


Understanding the basic digital camera settings is important if you have a photography device with you. You can capture beautiful photos if you know the necessary settings. There are different types of cameras in the market. But all of them have some basic mechanisms in common. Here I am giving a comprehensive idea to explore the settings yourself.

 There are different types of modes in a camera such as automatic mode, semi-automatic mode and fully manual mode.


Automatic mode:

Auto mode:

The camera settings can be kept in auto mode where you can have the perfect use of ISO, shutter speed, flash, aperture and focus. In effect, the device itself assume the nature of shot you are planning to take and sets the settings automatically. But remember to keep the necessary parameters in right manner.

 Landscape mode

This mode is much useful if you are planning to cover much area in the image. This can be better used to shot a large scene. The camera uses a smaller aperture for shooting in landscape mode and it is often advised to make use of a tripod to ensure quality photos.

Portrait mode

For an image of smaller area, we need to use a large aperture and hence it is selected for portrait photography too. In this case, less importance is given to the background details while more focus is given to the subject itself.

Night mode

When the light source is very less (night condition), it is better to use longer shutter speed so that the details of the image can be captured well. Usually we go for flash in such a situation to have more light on the subject under consideration. But it is also interesting to avoid flash to take some shots with a different feel.

Macro mode


For macro shots, this one is the perfect mode. You can focus on tiny objects (like insects) and get deeper details with macro mode. It is often difficult to focus well on the subject as the filed depth is considerably narrow. Since you are capturing close up pictures, it is better to avoid flash.

Semi-automatic mode:

Program mode

It is almost same as that of automatic mode. The notable difference is you have better control and freedom over some settings like ISO, flash etc.

Aperture priority mode (A or AV)


If the scene in focus is large, it implies a larger aperture and vice versa. If using larger aperture, the shutter speed will be considerably slow. But with small area shots, the focus is on a small area and hence demands fast shutter speed. If you are using large aperture, adequate lightning is vital to appropriately shot the image.

Fully Manual mode:

If you are taking photography seriously, then it is better to use the manual mode so that you can understand each of the settings in depth. You need to study the functioning of shutter speed, white balance etc.

In manual mode, you are free to set any parameter and explore the results. It is often difficult for beginners in photography to set exact values and take perfect shots. But keep in mind that “Practice makes man perfect”.


It is the process that adjusts the film or the digital camera sensor to make it more responsive to light. If the ISO value is high, it implies higher responsiveness to light. But the camera noise will be much higher with higher ISO. So it is better to experiment with different ISO value and find a suitable picture with negligible noise issues.

White balance


To preserve the exact color of subjects in the images, you need to use the correct white balance settings. The way of changing white balance may differ with the type of camera you have.

beginners camera settings

So you need to check the manual clearly before getting started. Most of the digital cameras come with automatic white balance settings like Cloudy, Tungsten, Shade, Auto etc.