Exposure Modes for Canon EOS Rebel T3 Series Cameras - dummies

Exposure Modes for Canon EOS Rebel T3 Series Cameras

By Julie Adair King

The very first picture-taking setting to consider with your Canon Rebel T3 or T3i is the exposure mode, which you select via the Mode dial. Your choice determines how much control you have over two critical exposure settings — aperture and shutter speed — as well as many other options, including those related to color and flash photography.


Canon categorizes the various exposure modes as follows:

  • Basic Zone: The Basic Zone category includes the following point-and-shoot modes:

    • Scene Intelligent Auto: This is the most basic mode; the camera analyzes the scene in front of the lens, determines what settings would best capture that scene, and then handles everything but framing and focusing for you. (On the T3, this mode is called Full Auto.)

    • Flash Off: This one works just like Scene Intelligent Auto except that the flash is disabled.

    • Creative Auto: This mode is like Scene Intelligent Auto on steroids, taking control of most settings but giving you an easy way to tweak some picture qualities, such as how much the background blurs.

    • Image Zone modes: This subgroup includes five modes that are geared to capturing specific types of scenes:

      Portrait, for taking traditional portraits

      Landscape, for capturing scenic vistas

      Close-up, for shooting flowers and other subjects at close range

      Sports, for capturing moving subjects (whether they happen to be playing a sport or not)

      Night Portrait, for outdoor photographs of people at night.

    Be forewarned: To remain easy to use, all these automatic modes prevent you from taking advantage of most of the camera’s exposure, color, and autofocusing controls. You can still adjust the options discussed, but the camera takes control of most everything else.

  • Creative Zone: When you’re ready to take full control over the camera, step up to one of the Creative Zone modes. This category includes the advanced exposure modes (P, Tv, Av, M, and A-DEP).

  • Movie: Movie mode is outside the zoning limits, because it stands on its own, with no zone moniker. Before you can begin recording a movie or access the movie options on the menus, you must set the dial to this mode.

One very important and often misunderstood aspect about all the exposure modes: Although your access to exposure and color controls, as well as to some other advanced camera features, depends on the setting of the Mode dial, it has no bearing on your focusing choices. You can choose from manual focusing or autofocusing in any mode, assuming that your lens offers autofocusing. However, access to options that modify how the autofocus system works is limited to the advanced exposure modes.