If you’re always shooting in auto or manual mode, then there may be a whole world of creative camera modes and filters built into your camera that you are totally missing out on!
I’ve not long bought a new camera and I am going to spend the day taking pictures. I want to find out if using the rarely used creative filters and effects on my camera are really worth all the bad press.
Firstly, if you’ve never used creative camera modes and filters before they have names from brand to brand. They may be called Creative filters, Creative modes, Photo filters, Fun effects, or Picture styles.
You just need to look through your camera menu to find them. On the Sony A6000 camera, I’m using for this tutorial they are built into apps that I need to download to the camera first – most of them are free.
Secondly, we’re not going to take any extra lighting or lenses on this challenge. We’re just going to use the camera as is with a standard kit lens. That way I don’t get accused of manipulating the results.
I just want to see how useful they are, if at all!
You will have to dig around your camera menu to find out what creative modes are available, if any. Not all cameras carry these commercial features. The more high end your camera is, the less likely they are. Older cameras too may not have these options either. But there is an alternative.
Though I’m using a Sony A6000 mirrorless camera there are tonnes of phone apps that can recreate similar effects. So if your main DSLR isn’t compatible then just use your smartphone instead.
Let’s begin with our review of 6 creative camera modes and filters on the Sony A6000.
First off, I used the Toy Mode. It’s described as adding a soft vignette around the edges of the shot and reduces overall sharpness.
Therefore, I expect it to be a little lower quality and old fashioned. And the shots prove that; the colours are intense and contrasted leaving a smaller dynamic range. There’s a lack of detail when zooming in. Maybe they’d look better in black and white than colour.
Next up I’ve selected the Pop Colour creative mode. From what I’ve read it’s meant to really saturate colours. From the photos I think this could be great to shoot some pretty florals. Shooting yellow buttercups in the summer really allows the colours to stand out.
The whole shot is very intense and saturated. This could be great if you want your shots to look bold and fun, but they do lack detail and tone.
Now I’m moving on to use the Posterization camera filter. If you’ve used a similar effect on Photoshop, then you know it’s going to be a really high contrasted effect.
It could look really cool in black and white as my colour version isn’t really that amazing. With that in mind I think some clean cut urban architectural shots to help would be great under this posterization filter as relies on demonstrating shape rather than detail.
Who doesn’t love using their cameras retro filter? Maybe it’s a little overdone now but the Sony A6000’s Retro Photo camera mode is the next setting I’ve not tried out.
It’s adding the traditional brown/orange tints of sepia. The rest of the colour just fade out somewhat, but really intense colours I think would still be visible.
I wondered how it would look on a portrait. Again, the colours are soft the highlights look quite nice but it didn’t really give me that ‘retro’ look I’ve seen on other creative camera modes.
There is one more creative camera mode I’ve been desperate to try out since finding it on this Sony A6000 and that’s the miniature effect.
It’s meant to replicate a tilt-shift lens which adds a blur to the top and bottom of your shot making the middle third look tiny. I needed to choose a higher vantage point for this to work. This is why landscape photography looks great with tilt shift lenses.
If your camera angle is too low, you won’t really get the full effect of the unusual blur. But this time it’s a pretty cool effect. This is probably my favourite of the 6 camera modes I’ve been trying out.
Watercolour is the last effect that I’m going to try out. There are a few more on this Sony A6000, but I just want to try out the most dramatic ones to see if they’re effective.
Supposedly the watercolour effect replicates that of a painting with ink bleeds and blurring. So, let’s try and create a watercolour landscape with a camera by shooting into the trees. The effect is quite painterly, much like using a filter on Prisma. The lines are softened, and the detail is mostly removed.
I can see this watercolour effect working well on most subjects but would probably be best on natural textures such as trees and flowers etc.
There we go, I tried out 6 different creative camera modes and filters on the Sony A6000 and I think I got some really good results, in parts. At least I’ve learnt a little bit more about what the camera can do and that can’t be a bad thing.
Let me know which of the 6 creative filter effects was your favourite. Was it the Toy Camera, Pop Colour, Posterization, Retro, Miniature or Watercolour effect?
If you’ve been playing along with our challenge, then we want to see your results. Tag us in your pictures on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram and I’ll share out some of the best ones! Show us some other effects that you’ve got that I’ve not tried too.
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