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S: Shutter Priority Mode

common02.jpg The S on the mode dial stands for Shutter Priority mode. Like the Program Auto and Aperture Priority modes, Shutter Priority mode gives us freedom to control certain aspects of our photography. In this case, you select the shutter speed and ISO, and the camera chooses the aperture value.

The shutter speed determines just how long you expose your camera’s sensor to light. The longer the shutter remains open, the more time your sensor has to gather light. Two of the major influences on the sharpness of an image are camera shake and the subject’s movement. The shutter speed can affect how sharp your photographs are. This is different from the image being sharply in focus. Because a slower shutter speed means that light from your subject is hitting the sensor for a longer period of time, any movement by you or your subject will show up in your photos as blur.

When to use Shutter Priority (S) mode

  • When working with fast-moving subjects where you want to freeze the action (Figure 4.6); much more on this in Chapter 5

    Figure 4.6

    Figure 4.6 Fast-moving subjects can be frozen with the right shutter speed.

    ISO 200 • 1/1000 sec. • f/8 • 70–200mm lens

  • When you want to emphasize movement in your subject with panning or with motion blur (Figure 4.7)

    Figure 4.7

    Figure 4.7 I used a relatively slow shutter speed and panned the camera to follow the subject and create this motion blur effect.

    ISO 400 • 1/60 sec. • f/20 • 28–300mm lens

  • When you want to create silky-looking water in a waterfall (Figure 4.8); more on this in Chapter 7

    Figure 4.8

    Figure 4.8 A long exposure was used to give the flowing water a silky look. A tripod is a must for shots like this.

As you can see, the subject of your photo usually determines when you will use S mode. If freezing action or showing motion is the most important factor in making the photo you want, then Shutter Priority mode might be the way to go. It is important that you are able to visualize the result of using a particular shutter speed. The great thing about shooting with digital cameras is that you get instant feedback by checking your shot on the LCD screen, but you don’t always get a second chance to shoot a fast-moving subject. It is important to practice and learn what those speeds represent in terms of their ability to stop the action or show motion blur.

First, let’s examine just how much control you have over the shutter speeds. The GX7/GM1 has a shutter speed range from 1/8000 of a second all the way down to 60 seconds. With that much latitude, you should have enough control to capture almost any subject. The other thing to think about is that S mode is considered a “semiautomatic” mode. This means that you are taking control over two aspects of the total exposure while the camera handles the other. In this instance, you are controlling the shutter speed and ISO, and the camera is controlling the aperture. This is important to know because there will be times that you want to use a particular shutter speed but your lens won’t be able to accommodate your request.

For example, you might encounter this problem when shooting in low-light situations: If you are shooting a fast-moving subject that will blur at a shutter speed slower than 1/125 of a second but your lens’s largest aperture is f/3.5, you might see your aperture display in the electronic viewfinder and the rear LCD panel begin to blink. This is your warning that there won’t be enough light available for the shot—due to the limitations of the lens—so your picture will be underexposed (too dark).

Another case where you might run into this situation is when you are shooting moving water. To get that look of silky, flowing water, it’s usually necessary to use a shutter speed of at least 1/15 of a second, if not longer. If your waterfall is in full sunlight, you may get that blinking aperture display once again because the lens you are using only closes down to f/22 at its smallest opening. In this instance, your camera is warning you that you will be overexposing your image (too light). There are workarounds for these problems, which we will discuss later (see Chapter 7), but it is important to know that there can be limitations when using S mode.

Setting up and shooting in S mode

  1. Turn your camera on, and then turn the Mode dial to align the S with the indicator line.
  2. To select your ISO on the GX7, press the ISO button (arr-u.jpg), rotate the Rear dial to the desired setting, and press the Rear dial to select (the ISO selection will appear in the electronic viewfinder and the rear LCD panel).

    On the GM1, press the Fn1 button we assigned to ISO in Chapter 1. Rotate the Control dial to the desired setting and press MENU/SET.

  3. Turn the Front dial (GM1: Control dial) to select the shutter speed. Turn the dial to the right for faster shutter speeds and to the left for slower speeds.
  4. Point the camera at your subject, and then activate the camera meter by depressing the shutter button halfway.
  5. View the exposure information in the electronic viewfinder or on the rear LCD panel.
  6. Press and turn the rear dial (GM1: arr-u.jpg, then Control dial) to change the exposure compensation to make the image brighter or darker.
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