I’ve been thinking about mode snobbery. The tendency of a photographer to describe the pre-programmed modes in a camera in disparaging terms. My old cameras, Canon EOS 300D and 350D both had multiple pre-programmed modes, such as “sport” or “landscape”. I never used them, preferring to shoot in the “creative zone” modes, mostly to have more control over the image but partly to look like I knew what I was doing. Sad. I would set the camera to fully-automatic mode when lending it to anyone and on occasion felt pretty smug about having to do so, reassured of my ability to use the more advanced modes and exert more control over my photos.
The other day I saw something in which some camera modes were talked about in a slightly disparaging way. “Real” photographers could never use those modes, right? Only I’m not talking about the pre-programmed “sports” modes, or even the fully automatic or Program (P) modes here, I’m talking about Aperture Priority (Av) and Shutter Priority (Tv) modes. In Av mode the photographer sets the ISO they want to work at (unless that is also set to automatic) and selects the aperture (Av) they want to use. The camera works out the best shutter speed to expose the frame correctly, depending on the metering mode in use. Similarly in Tv mode, the photographer picks the ISO and shutter speed, and the camera selects the aperture. In both cases the camera will indicate if it can’t select a shutter speed or aperture size to expose the frame properly.
These are the two modes I currently use the most. I suddenly felt a little put upon. The suggestion was that great photographers shoot in full manual mode. Clearly there are times when shooting in these modes can’t deliver the results desired, such as very high or low light levels or high contrast in a frame. Just as clearly it was the wrong mode to be using in the situation that was being described, but are there times when it’s acceptable to use them? I would imagine that sports photographers use Tv to ensure they capture the right amount of detail or motion blur in their pictures without worrying about setting apertures too. Maybe not.
When I started shooting 35mm, I was shooting fully manually. So it’s not that I can’t do it. I also occasionally use manual mode on my digital camera when I can’t get the effect I’m after in Tv or Av. Also, having paid for a camera which can make my life easier by doing some of the maths and metering itself, it seems churlish to reject its help. Accepting that there are situations for which Av and Tv are inappropriate, is it wrong to use them when they are? Is using fully manual just mode snobbery or do the semi-automatic modes really restrict creativity and control?Pin It