Shooting MODES are part of you camera settings, and should be the first step in getting to know your camera. MODE is going to be all caps in this post to get us into the habit of thinking of these settings correctly, as MODES.
Let's start by looking at a typical dial on a camera.
This is the MODE dial on a Canon EOS Digital Rebel, EOS 300D
For the most part, almost all cameras use the same symbols to represent similar MODES.
The green square is the fully automatic MODE. Using this mode lets your camera have full control of the photo. You have no input or choice, so avoid this MODE!
The symbols on the right side, as we look at this image, are for automated MODES based on what you tell the camera you're shooting.
In order, they are:
Portrait MODE- for taking portraits, lower f-stop, and faster shutter speeds with less contrast.
Landscape MODE- for taking landscape style shots, higher f-stop, and slower shutter speeds with more contrast.
Close-up MODE- for macro or close-up shots of things.
Action MODE- for fast moving scenes, uses a higher ISO and faster shutter where possible.
Night scene MODE- for poorly illuminated subjects, usually used at night. High ISO, lower f-stops, slow shutter speeds.
Flash off, but fully automated settings.
It is important to note that none of these MODES offer you any choice of settings, including ISO. They will also use the pop-up flash whenever the camera wants to.
Moving over to the left side, we have:
P- Programmed MODE. You can set the ISO, Exposure Compensation, but not much else. More like the above MODES, with some limited choices.
AV- Aperture priority MODE. You set the ISO and f-stop, and the camera chooses the shutter speed for a correct exposure.
TV- Shutter Priority MODE. You set the shutter speed and ISO, and the camera chooses an f-stop to get a nice exposure.
M- Manual MODE. You set everything, this is where knowing your f-stops, shutter speeds, and ISOs is very important.
On newer cameras you also have
B- Bulb MODE. You use a remote trigger and as long as it's pressed, the shutter stays open. Great for low light and night time pics!
C1...etc- these are for you to pre-program settings that you use a lot.
Most point and shoot cameras have the automated settings MODES. Look for the symbols in the above pic and choose the MODE you want. If you dig around, you can find some advanced setting. For instance, on the Fuji, you can compensate for exposure by moving it up or down, usually in 1/3 of a stop increments. This is very helpful when taking pictures in a room with bright but uneven lighting or outside on a bright day.
So, if your camera tells you it should be shooting 1/250, f8, at ISO 100, but you want the background to be sharper. Switch over to AV MODE and set your f-stop to 11, your shutter speed should automatically go to 1/125.
If you're camera tells you 1/125, ISO 100, f11 but that's too slow for something you're trying to capture. Switch over to TV MODE and set your shutter speed to 1/250, your f-stop should automatically go to f8.
One of the best things you can do right now, is read your owner's manual for your camera. After you finish, read it again, while you have your camera, and try out some of the MODES.