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Why use Aperture or Shutter Priority?

Discussion in 'Open Discussion' started by Frunch, Oct 5, 2011.

  1. Frunch

    Frunch Mu-43 Regular

    Aug 5, 2011
    I am pretty much a beginner at photography and don't know where to put this post, so I thought General Discussion would be a good place for it. I have gotten tons of good info from the members of this group so I figured I would start here...anyway...

    I have an E-PL2, my first camera that is not a simple P&S, and I was wondering why one would choose to use Aperture Priority or Shutter Priority. I always shoot in Manual mode so I can control both of those features(in addition to ISO), so what advantages would I reap by using Aperture or Shutter Priority?

    Thanks for any and all help! :smile:
  2. Promit

    Promit Mu-43 All-Pro

    Jun 6, 2011
    Baltimore, MD
    Promit Roy
    It's just convenience. For a particular ISO, the camera's usually already going to choose a good aperture or shutter speed, depending.
    • Like Like x 1
  3. pxpaulx

    pxpaulx Mu-43 All-Pro

    Jan 19, 2010
    On a basic level, if you only need to control the speed of the shot (i.e. if you have a moving subject that requires a minimum speed) or you only want to control the depth of area in focus (i.e. getting a blurred background) but want to leave the remaining control to the camera, you'd use one of these modes.
    • Like Like x 1
  4. carpandean

    carpandean Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Oct 29, 2010
    Western NY
    I'm no expert, but basically I think of it like this: with exposure compensation, you basically get the same number of controls as M mode when using A or S, but instead of choosing the second value absolutely, you choose it relative to a rough guess by your camera. So, for example, if you choose S mode, then you can set the shutter speed appropriate for the type of shot that you want (say, high speed for sports), then the camera guesses the appropriate aperture (@ 0 exposure compensation), which you can adjust up or down. The nice thing about is that if you know you'll want to adjust one between shots, you won't have the to touch the other much, if at all. Otherwise, you'd have to change both to keep the same exposure level.
    • Like Like x 1
  5. Ned

    Ned Mu-43 Legend

    Jul 18, 2010
    Alberta, Canada
    Do you use the camera's light meter when using Manual Mode? If so, then you are doing the same thing as Aperture or Shutter priority. Most likely you set one before the other depending on whether you have a required shutter speed (for stopping motion or shake, perhaps) or if you have a required DOF (this is the priority factor). From there, you adjust the other (lesser priority) factor to match your meter reading, or where you would like to end up on the meter (ie, +0.3EV, +0.7EV, etc). In Aperture or Shutter Priority mode, the camera takes over the second part for you, and adjusts directly to the meter the way you want (the way you've adjusted your Exposure Compensation). It just reduces the same process by one step.

    For most of us, ISO bumps come into play when neither of the first two factors will get you in the range you need, then a bump in ISO will bring you into a new shutter speed bracket. That doesn't change whether in a priority mode or manual mode. However, in Shutter Priority an Auto ISO can be very handy for once the lens reaches its maximum aperture the Auto ISO then takes over to obtain your required shutter speed. This is a good combination for quick action shooting, taking away the time needed to make manual adjustments. Another good use for Shutter Priority is shooting in the studio when you have a lot of strobe lights and want to keep at max sync speed. The camera will then stop down the aperture as much as needed to expose properly with that sync speed (assuming you can keep within your camera's limits for Exposure Compensation!).
    • Like Like x 1
  6. JohnF

    JohnF Mu-43 Regular

    Apr 1, 2010
    Oberursel, Germany
    Hi -

    Think of it this way.

    Your full automatic runs with a series of pre-determined fstops and shutter speeds depending on the lighting conditions. This will give you a nice exposure for most conditions.

    But what happens when you go, for instance, to an air show? Planes flying around at high speeds, bright sunlight? The pre-determined fstops and shutter speeds would give you a combination that stops down the lens significantly. But what you really need is a very fast shutter speed, preferably as fast as your camera can manage.

    Alternatively, you want to take pictures of two kids. They've been persuaded to sit down together quietly, but only if they can sit behind each other. You want both to be in focus: you choose the aperture to ensure that if the camera focuses on the back kid, the front kid will also be in focus.

    Different needs, different programs, different results. :) 

    • Like Like x 1
  7. scotth

    scotth Mu-43 Regular

    Feb 3, 2011
    I always use aperture priority, so I can control depth of field. If the shutter speed is too fast or too slow for the aperture I want I may adjust ISO or the apeture if needed.

    In automatic mode, most cameras will prioritize shutter speed over aperture to minimize blur from shake. Typically I am less concerned with speed, and more concerned with depth of field, so aperture priority is a better fit for me.
    • Like Like x 1
  8. phigmov

    phigmov Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    Apr 4, 2010
    • Like Like x 2
  9. Aniseedvan

    Aniseedvan Mu-43 Regular

    Sep 25, 2011
    I also use all three modes in different situations..

    Shutter priority for panning at motorsports (1/60s say, or much faster for crashes!)
    shutter priority at air shows for prop planes and helicopters for rotor blur, but aperture priority for jets (f8 or as close to it for the really sweet spot on my particular lens)

    Then manual for Studio work given the meter in the camera would be completely fooled by those lighting conditions!
    • Like Like x 1
  10. avidone

    avidone Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Jun 24, 2011
    Rome, Italy
    • Like Like x 1
  11. Frunch

    Frunch Mu-43 Regular

    Aug 5, 2011
    Thank you all for your responses! I have a much better understanding now. :smile: I can see how they can be used to one's advantage...I'll give them a try!

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