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Chapter 2. Buy Your Camera Gear > Auto and Manual Modes

Auto and Manual Modes

All cameras offer an automatic exposure setting. The camera determines how much light is coming in and sets the exposure accordingly. Some cameras also give you the ability to set the exposure manually. If you want that kind of control, say for handling tricky lighting situations, night shots, or special effects, you'll want this feature. Many cameras include preset auto settings, specifically for night shots, bright sunlight, and other common shooting situations. These presets give you the best of both worlds—good control without your having to know exactly how to do it.

Most cameras have autofocus. This allows you to specify (usually by aiming at your subject while holding the shutter button) exactly what you want the camera to focus on. You'll use this setting for the majority of your shots. Some less expensive cameras have fixed focus. This means that everything from a few feet to infinity will be in focus when you take a picture. But you'll have no control if you want to take a shot with the focus set at a particular distance. You'll find this particularly limiting when you want to get a close-up. Some cameras have manual focus in addition to autofocus. Manual focus lets you specify the focus distance. If you are an advanced photographer and want that kind of control, opt for this feature.


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