Skip to main content

Mode Dial

Lesson 4 from: Nikon D7500 Fast Start

John Greengo

buy this class


Sale Ends Soon!

starting under


Unlock this classplus 2200+ more >

Lesson Info

4. Mode Dial

Next Lesson: Top Of Camera

Lesson Info

Mode Dial

On the left of your camera is the mode dial with a lock button. Anytime you wanna change modes, you gotta press in on that lock button and turn around. This is gonna control the shutter speeds and apertures and really requires a closer look. Let's take a look at what we're working with here. This dial is broken up into different areas and we do have manual modes and some more automatic modes. When you are in the automatic modes, you might be limited in the other changes that you can make on the camera. As we go through this class, you're gonna be exposed to a lotta different things that you can do with the camera. If you leave the camera in the automatic mode, you may not be able to make all those changes. If you wanna have access to those, you're gonna wanna look at using some of the more manual modes. Let's take a look at this, starting with the simplest of all the modes, which is the auto mode. This is where the camera will set shutter speeds, apertures for you, handle all the expos...

ure. The flash will pop up if it's dark and it thinks it needs flash and flash will help. There are a number of buttons on the camera that are locked and that you will not have access to. I think for anyone who owns this camera that really wants to take full advantage of it, you're probably not gonna wanna use this mode because there's just too many child safety locks on all the cool features that you might wanna get into and play with. I think it's a great mode for putting the camera into this mode if you need to hand the camera over to somebody else to take photos. You don't time to explain how to work the entire camera. Just say, here it is, it's in the point and shoot mode. Take photos and have fun. That way, they're not gonna mess up your settings and they're gonna get good basic photos of most anything they shoot. One of the problems with the full auto mode at least in my opinion is that the flash is popping up all the time and that may not be appropriate or allowed in some situations. They do make a flash-off mode, which is the same as the auto mode, except for the fact that the flash does not pop up. Everything else is auto. It tries to give you a shutter speed fast enough so that you're not getting blurry photographs. If you were gonna hand the camera to somebody who was gonna be photographing in a museum that did not allow flash, you'd wanna put it in the no flash zone for that. As you get to the more manual modes, the flash doesn't pop up but it becomes more of a manual setting. As far as an automatic setting with no flash, that's what this is really designed for. Next up is the scene mode. In the scene mode, this is where you can tell the camera a little bit of information about what you are shooting and then it will be able to make adjustments to the shutter speed, aperture, ISO, metering system, and a number of other features on the camera to try to get the best photos it can from that little bit of information on it. What you need to do here is put it into scene mode, and turn the back dial on the camera, and you'll be able to change from one scene to the next. When you do that, this camera's gonna be optimized for that particular scene. The flash may or may not fire. Jpeg and raw images, depending on the file type, will be available here. One thing to note is that there is nothing that you can't do yourself. If there is something that you really wanna do well, you can do it yourself if you're willing to go into one of the more manual modes. Let me just show you real quickly on my camera. I got my camera currently in the scene mode now. That part is set. If you wanna change the scenes, it's just a matter of turning the back dial. Gotta press halfway down on the shutter release just to wake the camera up. You can see little examples and icons of exactly the modes that you are going to. If you are very astute, you'll notice that as we change, let's go find a sports mode. Here's a sports mode. You'll see that the camera is setting a faster shutter speed of five hundredths of a second. Let's try going to a landscape mode and see if that changes things a little bit as I suspect it should. In this case, it goes to a smaller aperture for a bit more depth of field. It's making lots of changes. You can use these scene modes as kind of a cheater mode, to see, well I kinda know what I'm doing, what should I change on my camera? You might be able to see some of the things that the camera is changing for you as you go through these different scene modes. If there's anything that you really wanna do well, you can take the information from what the camera is set, and take it further yourself if you are armed with the right information. Next up is a special mode. This is kind of an unusual mode. This is the effects mode. This is kinda like Instagram filters. This is where the camera takes a normal image and then it tweaks with it to make it look notably different. You can see there's some unusual options here. Lemme show you a quick view of what some of these things look like. It's oftentimes playing around with the colors that you're recording, the contrast, the saturation, the lightness and darkness of the entire photo. If you wanna play around with something, it's a fine mode to play around in. I would be very careful if you are trying to take serious photos in here because once you shoot a photo in here, it's only recording a jpeg image. You're gonna have a hard time undoing any effect that you might have in here. As I say, it's fun to play around with, but I would be real careful about using it on anything too important. Now we're getting into the modes where we have a little bit more manual control. In the program mode, the camera is gonna select shutter speeds and apertures for you. As far as everything else in the camera, you're gonna have full access to go in and change it. If you wanna change something in the metering system, the drive, the mode, the focusing, all of that, you can go in and change that. It's just that the camera is taking care of shutter speeds and apertures. To see those shutter speeds and apertures, they're gonna be available in a number of different spots, notably in the view finder where you're likely to be looking as you compose your subject. The shutter speed will be the first number on the left and the aperture will be the number right after the F, as in F stop. You'll see your shutter speeds and apertures right there. This is a good mode to be in if you wanna have full access to all the features on the camera, but you still want things pretty easily set up. The downside is that you may not be getting the exact shutter speeds and apertures that you would prefer for any particular situation. If you do wanna change it, it's very easy to change it. By turning the back dial on the camera, you can go into something called flexible program. Lemme give you a little demo of that with my camera here. I've got my camera in the program mode. Right now, it's recommending a shutter speed of an eighth of a second at F 4.5. Let's go ahead and see how it does. I'm gonna go ahead and take a photo. Lemme adjust my camera just a little bit here. Lemme throw this into live view because I wanna see what the camera's pointed at. Just make sure we have something in the frame here to focus on. I'm gonna kick it back into normal mode here. Take a photo here, let's take a look at this photo here. We're getting a proper exposure on this, that's good. But what if I said I don't want to shoot at F 4.5? I would prefer to have another number here. Well, I can just turn this dial and I can get more depth of field, or I can get a faster shutter speed by going to the right. One of the things that you will notice is that next to the P is a little asterisk comes up, and that lets us know that we have made an adjustment. I can still shoot a picture here. (camera shutter clicks) It's a longer shutter speed but it should be a good exposure. I move the camera just slightly. Whoops, that's not the same, there we go. It's the same brightness as that but I have chosen different numbers for it. One of the things that I've noticed on some Nikon cameras is that if you keep turning in one direction, notice the dial doesn't do anything right now and that's because I came too far over to the right. I need to go back over to the left and they will start moving again. I don't know why it's got this little hitch. If I go too far to the left, couple clicks it came back, but if I go too far to the right, now that dial doesn't do anything. But if come back to the left enough, then it gets back into the range. If nothing's happening, just keep turning it one direction or the other and it should work on there. This is gonna be really good for any times that you just wanna adjust the camera a little bit for shutter speeds or apertures 'cause it's not quite where you want it to be. It's a good general mode to have your camera in. Good place to have your camera just when it's in the camera bag and you don't know what the next shot's gonna be. Next up is shutter priority. This is where you get to choose the shutter speed. The camera will figure out the rest of the equation. You can choose really fast shutter speeds like a thousandth of a second to stop anything that's moving really quickly. If you wanna have a little bit of fun with slow shutter speeds, you can slow it down to one second or more. As something is moving, it's gonna blur. It could look kind of interesting when you let it do that blurry movement. Shutter priority is kind of an interesting mode. Gotta be careful with it though because the camera has a limited range of apertures that you can use and it's possible that you may go beyond that range. I prefer the accompanying program to this, which is the next one on the list, aperture priority. In this case, you'll change apertures on the front of the camera and you can change apertures to control the depth of field. You might stop it down to F to have very great depth of field. Things in the foreground in focus as well as the background. You can choose very shallow depth of field like 1.4 if your lens has that. Not all lenses have that, very few do actually. That allows you to shoot with very, very shallow depth of field. You can change your apertures just by turning that front dial. There are more shutter speeds than there are apertures. So there's almost always gonna be an available aperture. Let's go ahead and do a little demo here. Lemme put my camera in aperture priority. We'll do a couple of shots here. If I want to have shallow depth of field, I would set my aperture, now I gotta change the right dial here. On the front of the camera to the lowest number possible, in this particular case with this lens right now, it's F 4.5. If I wanna have more depth of field, I can set this up here at 29. It's a whole five second exposure, so I'm gonna slow that up just a little bit. At F 18, it's a two second exposure. These are both gonna be properly exposed photos. There's a different depth of field. Kinda hard to tell 'cause everything we're shooting in this sample shot is all at the same distance or very close to it. But what I wanna really show you here is what happens when we go to shutter priority. I'm gonna flip it over to shutter priority on the mode dial. You can see we're in S right there. Now we change shutter speeds with the back dial. If I choose something that's appropriate for the light level, which in here let's just say a quarter of a second. (camera shutter clicks) Take a photo and that's a good exposure there. That's perfectly fine. But if I choose a shutter speed that is too fast, one of the things that you'll notice is that this little exposure indicator is starting to go over to the minus side. This is letting me know, as well as the blinking of the F 4.5, that I'm not letting in enough light to take an exposure here. If I take a photo, (camera shutter clicks) it will allow me to shoot but let's take a look at that photo. That photo looks a little dark. There's the normal one. There is our dark one. In shutter priority, you can take really dark photos unintentionally if you're not paying attention. Lemme hit the info button so that we can see this a little more clearly here. You can see that we are underexposed. If I set a more normal shutter speed in this case, a sixth of a second we're good. We're all good here. It's possible that we can let in too much light by going to 30 seconds in this case. If you are using shutter priority, just be careful that the F stops are not blinking at you or you're getting an indication with this exposure indicator below it. You'll see similar but slightly different information in the view finder itself and up on the control panel on the top. Just be aware of anything that's blinking. That's generally something not good. Alright, full manuals. If you wanna full manual control of the exposure system, set it to M. You will then set the shutter speeds in front and the apertures in back. Where do you set them? Well, it depends on what you're shooting photos of, but you're probably gonna need the light meter in the view finder of the camera. This is how you're gonna figure out what the appropriate combination is. There's many different reasons to shoot in manual. One of the most important reasons that I like it is when I wanna get consistent results. I might play around a little bit at first to figure out what the appropriate combination is. But once I start shooting photos, I want 'em all to come out about the same brightness. Very good for consistent results. It's also very good under tricky lighting situations where the camera's meter may be fooled in some way or another. Those are the times when you wanna try to dive into the manual mode so that you get exactly what you want on a consistent basis. You'll be able to set shutter speeds from an eight thousandth of a second down to 30. But then there's an additional one below that called 'bulb'. Bulb is kind of interesting 'cause it's for long-time exposures. What it is, is it gives you the ability to press down on the shutter release and open the shutter and it will stay open as long as your finger is on that button. When you wanna release it, you just take your finger off the button and it closes the shutter. If you wanna leave it open for a minute, you gotta leave your finger on the camera for a minute, which is not a very good idea and a good reason for using one of the cable releases. The camera has another option, which is sometimes called 'time' and in other places, it's just two dashes. This is similar to bulb, but it's a little bit easier to work with in some cases because it's one press to start the process and then it's one press to stop the process. For anybody who does nighttime photography, you'll have two different options and you can choose whichever one works best for whatever you're trying. There is one additional option, which is called X 250. This is for anyone who wants to put their camera into the flash sync mode of 1/250th of a second. If you're using flash, the fastest shutter speed is 1/250th of a second. You could select 250 or X 250. It's just at the end of the dial and less likely to get bumped, you might say, into one of the wrong directions. The bulb exposures can be really nice, as they say, for nighttime photography. If you wanna leave the shutter open for a long period of time to get those car tail lights all streaking there, that's one of the possibilities. Lemme take a little demo here and show you how to set up your camera manually. I'm gonna set my camera in manual on the model dial on the top of the camera. I'm gonna hit the info button here on the back of the camera so that you can see what we're doing here. Let's just say that I would prefer in this case to have an aperture of F 11. I'm gonna change my front dial to F 11. Now I'm just gonna turn my shutter speeds until the light meter gets me right down to zero, an indicator right below zero. That's gonna mean an even exposure. Gonna adjust the camera here a little bit. Make sure that's turned on. Actually now I moved the camera a little bit so I need to make a small adjustment. Let's go ahead and take a picture right here. (camera shutter clicks) Take a look if this looks like a normal exposure. That looks like a pretty good exposure to me. That system does work quite well. That light meter that you see on the back here, there'll be a similar one that you'll see in the view finder. And there'll be another one here on the top control panel as well. If you said, well I like this photo here. That's not bad, let's get that photo back up. But maybe it should be just a tad darker 'cause I think the colors would look better. What we can do is we can adjust either our shutter speeds or our apertures so that the indicator is just a little bit on the minus side. We could do it with shutter speeds or we could do it with apertures. Let's just do two-thirds of a stop here. Take the photo again. Let's make a little adjustment on the camera. (camera shutter clicks) See how this looks here. Now it's a little bit darker and maybe we get a little bit more saturated colors. There's the brighter version and the darker version. You can have either one of those in there. That is setting your camera up in manual exposure and that's the way I like to shoot for a lot of images anytime I'm going to shoot a series of images and I want 'em to have a very consistent look to them. Next up is U1 and U2. This is a user mode where you get to choose how the camera is gonna shoot with the exposure system, the focusing system, and all the other features in the camera. The idea is that you would set the camera up exactly as you want it to work. Aperture priority, F 2.8, particular metering system, drive system, auto focus system, all those sorts of things. Then you dive into the set up menu and you save the user setting under U1 or U2. Obviously, you can do this for two completely different types of photography. That way, if you switch back and forth from U1 to U2, you could potentially be changing dozens of different features just with one flick of the fingers. It's good for those kinda more complicated setups that would require lots of menu changes from one to the other. If there's anything that you do on a regular basis that requires kinda a complex setting change, U1 and U2 is a great place to pre-program those and have all of that ready so that you can just quickly get into that mode when it's time. The camera has a fair number of different shooting modes. Don't feel guilty if you don't use all of these on a regular basis. Nobody uses all of these all the time. Most photographers are gonna pick two or three that they really like to work in and that's where they're gonna spend all of their time. That's very, very normal. Figure out which works for you. Have a little bit of fun. Play around with all of them from time to time. You should be able to get great results using almost any one of those, as long as you know the little particulars of how they work.

Class Materials

Bonus Materials with Purchase

Nikon D7500 Recommended Settings
Keynote Part 1
Keynote Part 2
Keynote Part 3
Keynote Part 4

Ratings and Reviews

Thomas Sielaff

Great, great course. Could not be any clearer on what to know, what to do, and in all, making understanding my camera a fun thing! Well, well, worth that cost. A steal really!!


Helps you master the camera controls very quickly. I'm glad I took the course. Without it, I'm sure it would have taken me years to know and use the full power of this camera. Great Course. Highly recommend.

Roy Shenfield

This is a great course! I recently bought a D7500 and was somewhat stymied by the large number of different possible settings and the several hundred page user manual and menu guide. This course covers the vast majority of what I need to know and in a reasonable amount of detail. I especially liked the material on menus as he went through most of them in detail. Additionally all the slides shown in the course are available in pdf as well as several pages detailing the authors recommended settings. I highly recommend, especially given the $24.00 special offering for this.

Student Work