The Benefits for Using Auto Modes on Your Digital Camera

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Aside from the fully automatic modes, DSLR and many point-and-shoot cameras feature Aperture Priority, Shutter Priority, and Manual shooting modes. I’ve met more than a few rookie DSLR users at photography workshops over the past several years who, while struggling with the complexities of their new cameras, claimed that “professional photographers” told them that they needed to start shooting in Manual mode—choosing shutter speed and aperture for each shot—and that they should never use the automatic modes. They were advised that they were “giving up all creative control” of their photography by not shooting in Manual mode.

The new photographers suddenly became more intimidated by their DSLRs as they thought, in order to be like the “pros,” they needed to forgo the camera’s Automatic modes and shoot in manual mode only.

I disagree with this logic. Yes, you might be giving the camera control of shutter speed and aperture, but does this mean that you will not get a good photograph? Certainly not. How do I know? Well, first of all, there are many cameras in the world that do not allow the photographer to control shutter speed and/or aperture, and wonderful photographs have been taken with these tools.

“…when working with students who have been using point-and-shoot cameras and smartphone cameras for years, adding manual control is often confusing and intimidating.”

Are today’s Formula 1 race-car drivers crippled by the fact that they no longer have manual transmissions with which to select gears? Should we forgo autofocus as well?

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