Digital Camera Modes Symbols Guide

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Updated July 25, 2022

If you are browsing for the best digital camera mode symbols guide to help you understand how they work, you are in the right place. Camera modes impact the aperture, ISO sensitivity, and shutter speeds, allowing photographers to capture the best image content.


  • (P): The camera is responsible for selecting the aperture and the shutter speed.
  • (M): You have control over all the settings of the camera.
  • (Tv/S): You adjust the shutter speed while the camera selects the aperture settings.
  • (Av/A): You pick the settings of the aperture while the camera sets the shutter speed.

Also known as shooting modes, you can adjust the digital camera modes by using different icons on the camera wheel or dial. You can easily see these symbols on the upper part of the camera’s body. The main modes are ALSO known as the shooting modes P.A.S.M. or Camera Modes P.A.S.M., some of these modes are manual, and others are auto-modes.

So, what do digital camera icons mean? And how can you utilize them to execute key techniques such as horizontal slip focusing screen? Read on to learn more.

Different Camera Modes

Ideally, we are going to look at the main camera modes and other camera modes. The common modes include primary camera mode (P), Shutter Priority Mode (Tv/S), Aperture Priority Mode (Av/A), and Manual Camera Mode (M). However, if you notice you are unable to capture the best images even after utilizing these modes, you need to repair your digital camera screen to fix the issue.

(P) Camera Mode

The program camera mode is the most basic model in the camera, and it is an auto-mode. The ‘P’ camera mode will enable you to set the shutter speed and aperture depending on the area’s lighting to get a zero exposure value. Beginners use this as a good camera mode to start with, especially for those scenarios when it is tough to determine the best settings to use.

(M) Camera Mode

What does the ‘M’ mean on the screen? The manual camera mode is an advanced camera mode that is considered a manual mode. With full manual control over the Canon digital camera, you can pick the best exposure settings according to the environment and your target. This mode is great when shooting panoramas. You can use this camera mode on mirrorless and digital S.L.R. cameras.

(TV/S) Camera Mode

Shutter Priority mode is a semi-automatic camera mode. What does ‘S’ mode mean on a Polaroid digital camera? The T.V. or S setting allows you to set the shutter speed, while the camera sets the aperture for the best histogram. A fast shutter speed leads to a wide aperture, while a slow shutter speed will lead to a narrow aperture. This mode is ideal in situations where you know the required shutter speed to freeze fast-moving subjects. Essentially, TV/S mode is the best camera mode for sports.

(AV/A) Camera Mode

Aperture Priority is a semi-automatic camera mode that allows you to select the aperture. In contrast, the camera picks the perfect shutter speed to get a balanced exposure. When you select a faster shutter speed, your camera will select a slow shutter speed. Unlike the Tv mode, this camera mode provides better results because there is no limitation to the shutter speed. Professional photographers most favor the AV/A mode for wildlife photography.

Insider Tip

Camera modes impact the aperture, ISO sensitivity, and shutter speeds, allowing photographers to capture the best image content.

AUTO ISO and Digital Camera Modes

What about ISO? Is it reliant on the type of camera mode? By default, ISO sensitivity has to be manually adjusted. However, you can use AUTO ISO in manual and other camera modes. Let us look at the options we have with AUTO ISO:

  • Inactive AUTO ISO: You will need to adjust the ISO manually to help you keep a balanced exposure on any camera mode.
  • Active AUTO ISO: Since the camera will automatically set this setting, your camera will choose the best ISO according to the camera settings in any camera mode.

If you are a beginner who wants to use Auto ISO, set a limit. If not, you will have digital noise depending on other camera specs you have selected. A general rule of thumb, beginners should stick to a maximum of ISO 3200 and ISO 6400 for professionals.

Other Camera Modes

Some entry-level cameras have additional shooting preset modes to assist in selecting the best model for a subject. The symbols that represent these camera modes include a person running, mountains, and a flower. Some of these modes include:

Full Auto Mode

A favorite of most novice photographers, it allows you to select all the camera settings automatically. The camera will set the metering mode, focus mode, color profile, and white balance. It’s not an ideal option because it is very limiting; professionals avoid this option.

Portrait Mode

The setting provides a wide aperture that allows your depth of field to be shallow and blur the background for portrait shots.

Landscape Mode

With a mountain symbol on the camera dial, you get a narrow depth of field and use it for landscape shooting. Alternatively, you’ll want to know how many still shots a digital camera will take in one second if you’re doing still life photography.

Macro Mode

You can shoot subjects close to the lens because the camera focuses on nearby objects.

Sports Mode

The shutter speed increase and freezes subjects in motion for the best action photography shots.

Insider Tip

Also known as shooting modes, you can adjust the digital camera modes by using different icons on the camera wheel or dial.


Which is the most recommended camera mode?

For beginners, program mode or any of the priority modes is ideal. However, for advanced photographers, the manual focus mode is the best camera mode.

Why are there different modes on a camera?

There are three shooting modes, scene, auto, and P.S.A.M. modes. In P.S.A.M., photographers have the choice of controlling either shutter speed or aperture. In scene and auto modes, the camera controls the aperture and the shutter speed.

Do photographers shoot using auto mode?

Yes. It depends on the light conditions and the type of shoot.

STAT: In 2020, Canon held over 45% of the global digital cameras market. Sony had 20% and Nikon 19%. Panasonic and Fujifilm held under 5% each. (source)

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