When I set my camera to “Portrait” mode the images look quite soft. I checked the EXIF data and it says the camera is using the “soft” setting in the “sharpness” category. If I switch to “Landscape” mode the camera uses “sharp”. Is there a way to make portrait mode use the sharp setting?

If you use Scene Modes you’re stuck with the settings the camera gives you.

Scene Modes are designed to make photography simple – you pick the subject (sports, landscape, portrait, macro, etc) the camera does the rest. The downside is that you don’t have much control over the image making process. If you want to make the image darker, lighter or sharper you can’t.

Your camera selects “soft” when you select “portrait” because soft portraits are kinder to wrinkles and blemishes.

What’s the solution? Take control of your camera. Stop using scene modes and start using the creative modes: Aperture Priority (A or Av), Shutter Priority (S or Tv) and Manual (M). In these modes you’ll be able to set sharpness, contrast, saturation and colour values. Further you’ll have full control of aperture and shutter speed so you can change the way the camera captures motion and depth-of-field.

If you use the same settings regularly, many cameras allow you to set up Custom Functions, each with different settings. One might be optimised for pictures of the kids, another for landscapes and yet another for macros.

Article first published in Digital Photography + Design.

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