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SCENE modes

Quite an important new feature in the 880 is SCENE exposure mode (dubbed "Assisted Creative Photography"). In SCENE mode you select one of eleven different predefined shooting modes. Each mode is indicated by an icon (below).


Portrait

Party/Indoor

Night Portrait

Beach/Snow

Landscape

Sunset

Night Landscape

Fireworks Show

Close Up

Copy

Backlight
 

Each of these predefined SCENE modes sets the camera up in a slightly different way, it ensures that you have the optimal settings for shooting in a particular situation. What's also interesting is that these modes go further than that, they also appear to have preprogrammed image filters (similar to a combination of S curves in Photoshop) to ensure that images come out with a look appropriate to the selected scene. This also makes it easier for a beginner to get a good looking image ready to print without having to tweak every shot in a photo package.

At first I wasn't too keen on this concept, but it does grow on you after a while, I'm happy handing the 880 to a friend who may never have used a digital camera and suggesting they use the SCENE modes, knowing I won't have to tutor them on what particular settings to use in different modes and knowing they'll probably come back with some really great shots. Best of all Nikon haven't crippled the 880 by removing it's manual modes, you can still shoot with the same flexibility as the 990, same manual features like manual focus, aperture priority, full manual etc.

Another interesting note is that the manual indicates a camera shake level for each scene mode, this rates the chance of the shot suffering from blur because of camera shake (I've included them in the table below). The following assumptions are made in SCENE mode:

  • White balance is set to AUTO
  • ISO is either fixed or set to AUTO and cannot be set
  • Exposure compensation can be made (exposure compensation button + 4-way controller)
  • Flash mode can be changed (depends on scene mode, see table below)
  • Exposure mode is P (programmed auto exposure)
  • Focus mode can be changed (depends on scene mode, see table below)
  • Settings such as sharpening, image adjustment and bracketing cannot be altered
Scene Mode Focus modes Flash modes ISO Notes

Portrait
5 focus-area selection
• Normal
• Self Timer
• Any 100 Slowest sync speed 1/60 sec, short depth of field (locked to large aperture, small F number)

Party/Indoor
• Normal
• Self Timer
• Slow Sync with Anti-Redeye AUTO Slow sync flash freezes foreground and leaves background looking natural, slowest sync speed 1/8 sec
Camera shake: *

Night Portrait
• Normal
• Self Timer
• Slow Sync with Anti-Redeye AUTO Similar to party mode, slowest shutter speed 2 seconds
Camera shake: *

Beach/Snow
• Any • Any 100 Slowest shutter speed 1/60 sec

Landscape
• Infinity lock • Flash Cancel AUTO Slowest shutter speed 1 second.

Sunset
• Normal
• Self Timer
• Infinity lock
• Flash Cancel AUTO Slowest shutter speed 1 second.

Night Landscape
• Infinity lock • Flash Cancel AUTO Slowest shutter speed 2 seconds, Camera shake: **

Fireworks Show
• Infinity lock • Flash Cancel 100

Large depth of field (locked to small aperture, large F number), slowest shutter speed 4 seconds
Camera shake: ***


Close up
5 focus-area selection
• Macro
• Macro & Self Timer
• Flash Cancel AUTO Slowest shutter speed 1 second, increased saturation look to image
Camera shake: *

Copy
• Any • Any AUTO Black & White high contrast image filter, slowest shutter speed 1 second

Back Light
• Normal
• Self Timer
• Flash Fill 100 Camera seems to spot meter, slowest sync speed 1/60 sec

Camera shake rating

* Support the camera steadily in both hands with your elbows held against your torso
** Steady the camera by placing it on a flat, level surface such as a wall or table
*** Use a tripod to steady the camera

Below we've provided a few samples from different SCENE modes, unfortunately I wasn't able to recreate scenes suitable for each potential scenario but I hope the samples below will go some way to giving you an idea of what SCENE mode is all about.

Portrait

SCENE mode: Portrait (with flash) SCENE mode: Portrait (no flash)

Party/Indoor

SCENE mode: Party/Indoor

Landscape

SCENE mode: Landscape SCENE mode: Landscape

It's difficult to see what more Landscape mode does other than locking focus to Infinity and canceling the flash. However it's perfectly suited to this kind of daylight shot.

Night Landscape

SCENE mode: Night Landscape SCENE mode: Night Landscape

Exposure info: ISO 400, 2 seconds, F3.6, Metered light: 0.6 EV. Interesting, Nikon have chosen to use higher ISO for shooting night scenes, this does make for the fastest possible shutter speed (and thus less chance of blur), having said that you'll be shooting on a tripod anyway so shutter speed could be as long as possible. Noise is visible and it appears as though sharpening has been set to low or none to help mask this noise. Unfortunately white balance is locked at Auto which meant in this shot I couldn't compensate for the yellow street lights.

Close Up (Macro)

SCENE mode: Close Up P mode: Macro

As you can see in this example Close Up in SCENE mode seems to push up image saturation, it makes colours look much more vivid than a standard Macro shot in P mode.

Copy

SCENE mode: Copy P mode: Black & White

At first the two images look similar, but on closer inspection it's obvious that Copy mode uses a higher contrast setting to create a clearer distinction between white background (assumed in this mode to be paper) and black (text).

Back Light

SCENE mode: Back Light SCENE mode: Back Light

First Image: when I first aimed for this shot I was in P mode, the sign itself appeared completely black, rather than fiddling with switching to spot metering and fill flash I simply turned to SCENE mode Back Light which achieved the same aim, despite the very strong back light the camera has metered correctly for the center of the frame and used fill flash (you can hardly tell a flash was used) to slightly lighten the foreground subject.

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