Camera Settings That Aren't Manual: A Beginner's Guide


For many photographers, the thought of adjusting camera settings can be daunting. Manual settings can be overwhelming, and adjusting them can take time away from capturing the perfect shot. Luckily, there are still plenty of camera settings that aren’t manual that can help you achieve great results. In this article, we’ll go over some of the most useful non-manual camera settings for beginners.

The Basics

Before we dive into the specific camera settings, let’s review some basic terminology. Exposure refers to the amount of light that enters the camera lens and hits the sensor. Shutter speed is the amount of time the camera’s shutter stays open, allowing light to hit the sensor. Aperture is the size of the opening in the lens that allows light to enter. ISO refers to the sensitivity of the camera’s sensor to light.

Auto ISO

One of the easiest non-manual settings to try out is auto ISO. This setting allows the camera to automatically adjust the ISO based on the lighting conditions. This can be especially useful in situations where the lighting is constantly changing, such as when shooting outdoors on a cloudy day.

Shutter Priority Mode

Shutter priority mode is a semi-automatic mode that allows you to set the shutter speed while the camera adjusts the other settings. This mode can be useful when you want to capture motion, such as in sports photography. A faster shutter speed will freeze the action, while a slower shutter speed can create motion blur.

Aperture Priority Mode

Aperture priority mode is another semi-automatic mode that allows you to set the aperture while the camera adjusts the other settings. This mode can be useful when you want to control the depth of field, or the amount of the image that is in focus. A larger aperture (smaller f-number) will create a shallow depth of field, while a smaller aperture (larger f-number) will create a deeper depth of field.

Program Mode

Program mode is a fully automatic mode that allows the camera to adjust all the settings. This mode can be useful when you’re in a hurry or aren’t sure which settings to use. However, keep in mind that the camera may not always choose the optimal settings for the situation.

Advanced Settings

Once you’re comfortable with the basics, there are some more advanced non-manual settings to try out.

Exposure Compensation

Exposure compensation allows you to adjust the exposure up or down in small increments. This can be useful when the camera’s metering system is not quite accurate, such as when shooting a subject that is mostly white or black. You can use exposure compensation to adjust the exposure to your liking.

White Balance

White balance refers to the color temperature of the light. Different types of light have different color temperatures, and the camera’s white balance setting can affect the color of your images. The auto white balance setting can work well in many situations, but you may want to experiment with the other settings, such as daylight, cloudy, or tungsten.

Focus Modes

There are several focus modes to choose from, including single shot, continuous, and manual focus. Single shot mode is useful for stationary subjects, while continuous mode can help you capture moving subjects. Manual focus can be useful when you want complete control over the focus.


While manual camera settings can be intimidating, there are plenty of non-manual camera settings that can help you achieve great results. From auto ISO to focus modes, the settings we’ve covered in this article can help you take better photos without spending hours adjusting manual settings. As you become more comfortable with these non-manual settings, you may find yourself wanting to experiment with manual settings as well.