Automatic Mode: This mode will give you nice results in many shooting conditions, however you need to keep in mind that you are not telling your camera any extra information about the type of shot you are taking so its guessing as to what you want. Some modes might be more appropriate to select as they give your camera a few hints.
Portrait Mode: Your camera will automatically select a large aperture (small numbers) which helps to keep your background out of focus narrow depth of field ensuring your subject is the only thing in focus. Works best when you are photographing a single subject, so it gets in close enough to your subject so that your photographing the head and shoulders of them.
Macro Mode: Lets you move your closer into your subject to take closer picture and it’s great for shooting flowers, insects or other small objects. Marco Modes with different capabilities including different focusing distances and when you use macro mode you will notice that focusing is more difficult as at short distances of depth of field is very narrow.
Landscape Mode: This mode is almost the exact opposite of portrait mode in that it sets the camera up with a small aperture (large number) to make sure as much of the scene you are photographing will be in focus as possible, gives you a large depth of field. At times your camera might also select a slower shutter speed in this mode (to compensate for the small aperture) so you might want to consider a tripod or other method of ensuring your camera is still.
Sports Mode: Sports mode attempts to freeze the action by increasing the shutter speed. When photographing fast moving subjects you can also increase your chances of capturing them with panning of your camera along with the subject or by attempting to pre focus your camera on the spot where the subject will be when you photograph.
Night Mode: Night Mode is for shooting in low light situations and sets your camera to use a longer shutter speed to help capture details of the background, but it also fires off a flash to illuminate the foreground and subject. If you use this mode for a serious or well balanced shot you should use a tripod or your background will be blurred – however its also fun to take shots with this handheld to purposely blur your backgrounds – especially when there is a situation with lights behind your subject as it can give a fun experimental look.
Movie Mode: This mode extends your digital camera from just capturing still images to capturing moving ones and the quality is generally not up to video camera standards but its handy mode to have when you come across that perfect subject that just cant be capture with a still image. Keep in mind that moving images takes up significantly more space on your memory storage than still images.
Semi-Automatic Modes/ Aperture Priority Mode (A or AV): This mode is really a semi-automatic is where the mode you choose the aperture and where your camera chooses the other settings to ensure you have a well-balanced exposure. Aperture priority mode is useful when you are looking to control the depth of field in a shot.
Shutter priority Mode (S or TV): Shutter priority is very similar to aperture priority mode but is the mode where you select a shutter speed and the camera then chooses all the other settings. You would use this mode where you want to control over shutter speed.
Program Mode (P): Program Mode is like auto but gives you a little more control over some other features including flash, white balance, ISO and more. Check your digital camera’s manual for how the program mode differs from Automatic in your particular Model.
Fully Manual Mode/ Manual Mode: In this mode you have full control over your camera and need to think about all settings including shutter speed, aperture, ISO, white balance, flash and more it gives you the flexibility to set your shots up as you wish. You also need to have some idea of what you are doing in manual mode so most digital camera owners that I have anything to do with tend to stick to one of the priority modes.