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Shooting with Scene Modes on a Nikon D3100

Your Nikon D3100 offers six Scene modes, which select settings designed to capture specific scenes in ways that are traditionally considered best from a creative standpoint. For example, most people prefer portraits that have softly focused backgrounds. So in Portrait mode, the camera selects settings that can produce that type of background.

To see whether you approve of how your camera approaches the different scenes, take some test shots.

Portrait and Child Scene modes on a Nikon D3100

The Portrait and Child modes are so closely related that it makes sense to consider them together.

Portrait mode selects an aperture setting designed to produce a short depth of field, which results in a slightly blurry background and thus puts the visual emphasis on your subject. Portrait mode also selects settings designed to produce natural skin tones.

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Child mode, represented by the toddler icon, offers a slight variation on the theme. In Child mode, the camera renders hues that are traditionally found in clothing and backgrounds more boldly than in Portrait mode. Skin tones are left natural, although they, too, can appear a little more saturated, depending on the subject and the lighting.

Child mode also tries to use a slightly faster shutter speed than Portrait mode. The idea is that a faster shutter speed, which "freezes" action, helps you get a sharp picture of children who aren't sitting perfectly still.

Landscape mode on a D3100

Landscape mode is designed for capturing scenic vistas, city skylines, and other large-scale subjects, selecting an aperture setting (f-stop) that produces a large depth of field. As a result, objects both close to the camera and at a distance appear sharply focused.

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The Nikon D3100’s Sports mode

Sports mode activates a number of settings that can help you photograph a moving object, whether it’s an athlete, a race car, or a romping dog.

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To catch a moving subject without blur, you need a fast shutter speed. So in Sports mode, the camera automatically chooses that fast shutter speed for you.

Additionally, Sports mode sets the Focus mode to AF-A, which means that if the camera detects motion, it continually adjusts focus up to the time you fully depress the shutter button and take the shot. Your other option is MF mode, for manual focusing.

If your subject moves after you press the shutter button halfway, be sure that you adjust the framing so that the subject remains under one of the focus points. Otherwise, the camera may not lock focus on the subject correctly.

Shooting with your D3100 in Close Up mode

Switching to Close Up mode doesn’t enable you to focus at a closer distance to your subject than normal as it does on some non-SLR cameras. The close-focusing capabilities of your camera depend entirely on the lens you bought, so check your lens manual for details.

Close Up mode, like Portrait mode, selects an aperture setting designed to produce short depth of field, which helps keep background objects from competing for attention with your main subject.

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Night Portrait mode on a Nikon D3100

This goal of this mode is to deliver a better-looking flash portrait at night (or in any dimly lit environment). It does so by constraining you to using Auto Slow-Sync, Auto Slow-Sync with Red-Eye Reduction, or Off Flash modes. In the first two Flash modes, the camera selects a shutter speed that results in a long exposure time. That slow shutter speed enables the camera to rely more on ambient light and less on the flash to expose the picture, which produces softer, more even lighting. If you disable flash, an even slower shutter speed is used.

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