This controls the camera’s various exposure modes, which include fully auto options suitable for beginners, special effects and image styles and the kind of semi-automatic and manual modes that enthusiasts and professionals will need. To turn the mode dial you have to press and hold the button in the centre – this is so that the dial doesn’t get turned accidentally, which can often happen with other cameras. We’ll start with the basic ‘green’ Auto setting and work round in an anti-clockwise direction.
Auto: The camera takes care of all the settings for you, choosing the shutter speed, lens aperture and ISO automatically, popping up the flash if it thinks the scene needs extra light. It uses the D7200’s Auto Area AF mode to select a focus point automatically.
Flash off: This works in just the same way as the Auto mode, but the flash is disabled. This is so that you can use the camera in churches, theatres, museums or other places where flash photography is banned. It’s also useful in places where flash would kill he atmosphere or be too weak to have any effect, e.g. sports arenas.
Scene: Like many cameras, the D7200 has special modes for specific subjects. It’s like full auto operation, but with settings that are tweaked to suit that particular subject. If you turn the rear command dial, the main LCD display activates, and if you keep turning you can cycle through the different scene modes available: Portrait, Landscape, Child, Sports, Close up, Night portrait, Night landscape, Party/Indoor, Beach/Snow, Sunset, Dusk/Dawn, Pet portrait, Candlelight, Blossom, Autumn colours, Food.
U1/U2: These are custom user settings you can save for particular subjects or styles of photography. For example, you can could set the camera to Manual mode, set the Picture Control to Monochrome and then use the menu to save this to the U! setting. Now, when you turn he mode dial to U1, it sets the camera up with these options.
Effects: These are a combination of camera settings and processing options that produce effects you’d normally need a computer to achieve. They include a Night vision effect, Color sketch effect, Miniature effect, Selective Color, Silhouette, High key and Low key effects. As with the Scene setting, you turn the rear command dial to activate the rear display and select an effect.
M (Manual): In this mode, you have complete control over both the lens aperture and the shutter speed. The camera will still display an exposure bar based on the light levels in the scene and your current settings, but this is for information only. You use the front dial to change the aperture, the rear dial to change the shutter speed.
A (Aperture priority): In this mode, you choose the lens aperture (using the front dial) and the camera then selects the shutter speed needed to give the correct exposure. You use this mode if you want precise control over the depth of field in the scene and the shutter speed is less important.
S (Shutter priority): Here, you choose the shutter speed (using the rear dial) and the camera selects the lens aperture needed to give the correct exposure. You use this mode when you need precise control over movement blur (or lack of it) in the picture and depth of field is relatively unimportant.
P (Program): In this mode, the camera chooses the shutter speed and lens aperture automatically, trying to find the best combination for giving reasonable depth of field while avoiding camera shake. It’s much more powerful than the Auto mode, though, because you have full manual control over all the other settings like ISO, focus point, flash mode and more. You can also turn the rear command dial to enter ‘Flexible program’ mode, where you can select different combinations of shutter speed and lens aperture to choose faster speeds or smaller apertures, for example.