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How to Use Aperture Priority Mode

Posted by Jacob Hawthorne on

How to Use Aperture Priority Mode

Aperture priority is a semi-automatic mode that allows you to decide on the aperture value and ISO sensitivity you want for your camera while your camera automatically chooses the shutter speed for the proper exposure. Typically, when you open your aperture wider, it will let more light into the camera. The camera will compensate by making your shutter speed faster. 

Read on to find out more about aperture priority mode and how to use it to get great pictures. 

How to Set Your Camera for Aperture Priority Mode

Most cameras will denote aperture priority mode with an A. You can set your camera to the mode by turning our camera’s dial or you may have a pop-up screen menu. Once you enable the setting, you will see your aperture number change. 

How it Affects Depth of Field

Aperture directly affects the depth of field. So, if you want a small slice of your frame in focus, which will produce a shallow depth of field, choose a wide aperture like f/2.8. If you want a long depth of field, a narrow aperture like f/16 will be best. 

How the Aperture Priority Mode Works

If you head out in bright sunlight and with your camera in aperture priority mode, it will lower the ISO to the lowest possible setting and the highest shutter speed. Conversely, if you are shooting in a dark setting, it will raise the ISO and lower the shutter speed. 

This is a good combination as it's likely to reduce grain and camera shake. It also allows you to shoot faster than you would in manual mode. 

Factors to Consider When Using Aperture Priority Mode

When using aperture priority mode, you will choose the aperture setting and your camera will do the rest of the work for you. However, you can’t always count on the camera to get the perfect setting. For example, if you are shooting a backlit photo, your camera may expose the brightness behind your subject and darken the subject itself. 

If this is the case, you may want to use exposure compensation to balance the image. Another option is to go into manual mode. 

The aperture may also not be ideal if you are shooting panoramas, photo stacking, or doing Milky Way photography. Even with exposure compensation, your image may come out too dark in these types of shots. 

Most cameras will also restrict your shutter speed to 30 seconds which can affect your ability to use the camera bulb or time mode. It’s also not the best choice for flash photography. 

Aperture priority mode is not always the best option, but in many cases, it will help you get great photos. Will you be using it the next time you shoot? 

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