How to Choose an Exposure Mode on the Canon EOS 60D - dummies

How to Choose an Exposure Mode on the Canon EOS 60D

By Julie Adair King, Robert Correll

With a Canon EOS 60D, the very first picture-taking setting to consider 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. To change the mode, press down on the Mode dial lock-release button while turning the dial.


Canon categorizes the various modes as follows:

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

    • Full Auto: This is the most basic of the camera’s modes; the camera determines what type of scene you’re trying to capture and handles everything but framing and focusing for you.

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

    • Creative Auto: This mode is like Full Auto on steroids, 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, Landscape, Close-up, Sports, and Night Portrait.

    To remain easy to use, all these automatic modes prevent you from taking advantage of most of the camera’s exposure, color, and focusing controls. You can still adjust some options, 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, and M). In addition, this zone offers B mode, which stands for bulb. With a bulb exposure, the shutter stays open as long as you keep the shutter button pressed; this option is handy for shooting fireworks and other special subjects where you want to control exposure time “on the fly” rather than dialing in a specific shutter speed between shots. This zone also offers C mode, which is a custom mode you can create using your own favorite settings.

  • Movie: Movie mode is outside the zoning limits, as it stands on its own, with no zone moniker.

One very important and often misunderstood aspect about 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.

All exposure modes are found on the Mode dial. Change modes by depressing and holding down the center of the Mode dial to unlock it while turning the knob to the mode of your choice. There is no other way to change exposure modes.