Using Auto to Learn Manual – A Great First Step for Beginners

0Comments

If you’re just learning photography and you feel that learning to use your DSLR camera on manual is too daunting, here’s a little tip I used when learning to think for my camera: let the auto settings guide you. By auto settings, I mean the ones where the settings are set for certain situations and you don’t have to do anything else. These include portrait, macro, sports, landscape, etc.

Take sports mode for instance. On a Canon 500d, the sport mode while I was indoors at the time was set at: f/3.5, 1/320th sec, auto ISO.

What can you learn from this? A fast shutter speed captures and freezes motion quickly. When I first was learning about why my camera used a smaller f/stop in sports mode, I was confused. Landscape mode used high f/stops (exe: f/11). And when doing sports photography, aren’t you taking photos from far away just like you are with a landscape? I was even more confused when the f/stop on the sports mode was the same as on the macro mode for taking super close-ups. Why the low aperture? Remember, the lower the number, the more open which means more light getting to your sensor. A super-fast shutter is essential to freeze motion but the faster the shutter, the less light is getting in. So you compensate by opening up your aperture.

If you’re using sports mode and the shutter still isn’t quick enough to freeze the action, you now have a starting point to go into manual and apply the same settings you saw in sport mode, but this time, speed up the shutter a bit. You might have to then adjust the aperture or ISO to make up for less light being let in by the sensor, but this will help you learn without feeling the pressure of not knowing where to begin.

You could even give yourself a challenge to take one setting per week or month and really delve into learning everything you can about why they are set in that way. Before you know it, you’ll be shooting in manual and thinking for your camera like a pro!

Read more from our Tips & Tutorials category

Elizabeth Halford is a photographer and advertising creative producer in Orlando, FL. She wrote her first article for dPS in 2010. Her most popular one racked up over 100k shares!

  • In many situations I encounter manual mode is the only way to get a great photo. I mostly photograph live music and AE / TV on my Canon doesn’t get the job done.

    I learned by using using TV but as I advanced I switched to Manual mode using the knowledge I gained from TV and by making slight aperture and shutter adjustments. I am a big fan of knowing some baseline settings for your subject matter and progressing from there.

    I discuss some of my baseline settings in a recent blog post: http://grtaylor2.com/2010/04/country-thunder-florence-az-part-1-willie-nelson/

    The more you photograph certain subject the more comfortable you’ll be with manual mode and your settings, Just keep on shooting!

  • Santhosh

    Fantastic tip!

  • Diana Lee

    I just made the switch to a DSL and have been trying out manual…and being VERY frustrated with the results. This is a great tip! Thanks!

  • I have just done a concert with very low-light… I should say reeeeally low light. So I set up my Nikon D80 to Auto to see what was I going to get… of course first thing that it happened (the flash popped up!). Then, set up to Aperture Priority and set it to f/2.8 and the results were better but still to dark unless i was using a tripod. So I got a little closer to the stage and set to f/2.0 and 1/100 with a 50mm prime lens… and the results were amazing!
    I agree that playing with your auto modes gives you an idea of what to do, what to focus on, even look for the bright spot so you can get more light into your camera. And if you are outdoors with bright sun even better, more fun and a bigger chance to play with your settings.

    Here is an example of how I used my manual mode to play with low light:

    http://www.istockphoto.com/stock-photo-11178088-beautiful-woman-really-frustated.php

    Happy shooting!

  • It makes a lot of sense to shoot in manual mode. However, one has to be careful to check the aperture / shutter speed time to time. At times I shoot with wrong settings and end up with under exposed or over exposed shots.

    One occasion where I go program mode is while shooting subjects that are not very co-operative like butterflies, birds and children. They tend to run all over the place with different lighting conditions and most of the time I would not get enough time to change the shutter speed or aperture and I go to Program mode. Has anyone got better ideas?

  • I think there’s a word, or a few words, missing in this sentence “…the lower the number, the more open which means…” I think you want to add after open the words “the aperture becomes”.

    Also “…to make up for less light being let in by the sensor” is incorrect. The aperture of the lens determines how much light is let in to the sensor. The sensor doesn’t control the amount of light.

    Other than these little nits you offer some good advice to get people experimenting with modes other than the square green mode (full auto on Canon’s).

  • guille

    Learning about how your camera choose settings on auto programs and then checking the results give you the ability to use a good auto program (P, TV, Av or Auto) and start working with Exposure Compensation.
    Once you know your camera you get a really fast workflow using Exposure Compensation because basically you just move one dial instead of two (speed and aperture)

  • I would recommend using Aperture Priority to learn how to shoot manually myself, and just advised a photography student to try that this morning. However this student did have a grasp of aperture and ISO already, so maybe a bit of a jump to Aperture Priority without that knowledge, but not that much.

  • Manuel

    What I’am learning to do often is that when shooting in aperture priority mode I set the exxposure moving the speed .When speed mode I set the exposure opening and closing the aperture.All this I’am learning to do unconsiously while looking at the viewfinder information without taking my eyes from the scene.Since my camera is a Nikon D90 all this is done very effortlessly with both commander and subcommander dials.If the Scene I’am looking at is rather tricky I bracket + or – 1 stop ,look at the results on my camera display and histogram and go from there.

  • Manuel

    Sorry guys, almost forgot.The frist thing I set is the ISO depending on the Scene.If the ISO I’am aiming at can’t get me the results I’am looking for neither with speed or aperture then I go lower or higher on the ISO trying always to stay as low as posible to avoid high ISO noise.

  • I was taught to use manual because you get consistent results from it. When you use auto the exposure is set according to the overall luminance of the frame rather than the true lighting conditions. If you shoot a picture with a lot of light colors your camera will want to under expose it and when you take a picture with a lot of dark tones your camera will want to over expose it. In manual as long as your lighting conditions are the same you will expose it the same every time. If you do improperly expose it is easier to fix in post because you can batch edit everything.

  • Mark Pashia

    Just the other day I gave the same advice to a friend. As I explained the exposure triangle his eyes glazed over, so it was easier to have him try the shots he wanted (night cityscapes from up high) set on the preprogramed setting, watch what the camera chose for settings, and then try using Aperture priority to get similar settings to start with and make minor changes to see what happened.

    However, I also told him to take a notepad and write down the settings and image name on each attempt so that he could look later and SEE THE DIFFERENCE! Without notes, he would be lost looking at the images later.

  • Carleton Akana

    Darren, i’ve been using pre-set modes. If i’m shooting a “portrait”, the portrait is set. Then i go to ISO ( 800 as prescribed by Fong ). Color Temp is next depending on the lighting situation in or outdoors. Been using Gary Fongs’ Univ. Lightsphere II Dome with amazing results. 3 dome covers ( of different shades ) are in my kit. Instructions are included.
    With this setup you can’t go wrong. I take sample shots indoors. Which ever color temp. ( natural ) fits the scene, i then post it in that setting. My pictures come out so natural. Histograms are the key issue here. You set the EV +/- compensation as to what the histogram tells you.
    To much to the left or right, you be the judge.

  • I am not very accomplished, but playing with manual mode immediately after seeing what my camera chose in auto really helped me learn the triangle. My next step was using manual and taking multiple identical pics changing one variable at a time. Now – I feel comfortable – though forever learning.

  • “However, I also told him to take a notepad and write down the settings and image name on each attempt so that he could look later and SEE THE DIFFERENCE! Without notes, he would be lost looking at the images later.”
    EXIF data?

  • Manual mode is the only mode you should be shooting in very low light, you can control the shutter with one dial in the main and the app. in the other dial while still keeping your eye in the viewfinder so you dont miss that special shot. Manual, shutter , apature is all the same relation to light, that is the only relationship that remains the same in any mode. without light , no picture, with light more control ect. Manual just makes in easier for fast adjustments on the camera. If you have a dancer on stage and is dancing in the light you still need a fast shutter speed,but you can dial up the app. is needed for dop. Iso is also a factor in low lighting, keeping it as low for the shutter speed you need. all this can be done in manual mode without taking your eyes off the viewfinder,just know your camera settings and where they are. No matter what your shooting subjects are the key is LIGHTING,shutter, app, manual, iso bottom line is the amount of light you need for the shoot you are taking, Manual is the easiest and fasest for me for money pictures.(no flash for this comment

  • I don’t agree that the way to learn manual is to use auto. Never trust your camera to get the light right. What if you’re shooting and it’s very low light and your camera stops up and sets a slow shutter speed and sets the ISO to 1600? You’ve got a blurry, noisy photo with shallow DOF.

    So what did you learn? Never to do that again.

    Learning what aperture does and what shutter speed does isn’t all that hard a concept to grasp. I could see using either aperture or shutter priority and exposure compensation as someone else pointed out.

    If you want to learn manual, then put the camera in manual mode. There are hundreds of tutorials on the internet.

    What I do see auto mode being used for is teaching composition. If you’re new to photography, you need to shoot everything and see what looks cool and what doesn’t.

    I guess since I learned this way back in the dark ages of film, I may be missing the point and I could very well be wrong.

  • johnp

    Yes I do agree. For me using the “P” mode (rather than full auto) has gradually (I’m a slow learner!) made me realise what the camera is doing so I now make my own settings. The only time I go back to “P” is if I’m in a situation that is constantly changing or for quick “grab” shots where I don’t have time to check all my settings. That might be in very busy market places for example but then I always bracket my shots to give me a bit more control over the final image.

  • Merinda

    i LOVE this website. LOVE LOVE LOVE. I think i visit at least 5 times a day.

  • What a great idea! That is so true that the auto setting has a lot to teach a photographer, especially to those who are quick to pick up the camera and start snapping the shutter before reading the manual (pretty much everyone right??) I’ll have to pass on this idea to some friends who are struggling to learn their SLRs

    Cabin Fever in Vermont

  • Amy

    Darren, i’ve been using pre-set modes. If i’m shooting a “portrait”, the portrait is set. Then i go to ISO ( 800 as prescribed by Fong ). Color Temp is next depending on the lighting situation in or outdoors. Been using Gary Fongs’ Univ. Lightsphere II Dome with amazing results. 3 dome covers ( of different shades ) are in my kit. Instructions are included.
    With this setup you can’t go wrong. I take sample shots indoors. Which ever color temp. ( natural ) fits the scene, i then post it in that setting. My pictures come out so natural. Histograms are the key issue here. You set the EV +/- compensation as to what the histogram tells you.
    To much to the left or right, you be the judge.

  • This lesson is great. It is true that the automatic settings can lead you to taking better pictures. But once you get a taste of the manual settings you want to always photograph on them. But this is a perfect starting point.

  • If you are using iAuto on Olympus E-PL1 then you can see the difference and you can change the picture in camera. So if you get to less coulor….you just simply turn on the volume and to colour and get more coulor…there are of course many scenery modes and you can do what the pros are doing with your photo in camera…no need to use photoshop… http://www.ipernity.com/group/e-pl1

  • Rob

    I use the auto program mode (P) to give me a quick judgement of the settings required for a situation. Then use that to move on to either manual or use one of the priority auto modes ( TV, av etc ).

    You eventally learn by instinct what settings are likely to work, but this way helps to speeds things up.Plus its helpful that you have digital that you can review everytime to see if the exposure is correct.

  • Since you most likely want to control the look of the photo by setting a particular DOF, use Av mode to get your base settings. Then switch to manual and set the same / similar depending if you think the camera got it right or wrong! If the camera set the ISO and shutter speed high, you know you can drop the ISO and slow the shutter to get the same results, but you’ll soon learn how much and how 1 stop in ISO relates to 1 stop in shutter speed / aperture size. Check your histogram and turn on the ‘flashies’ to identify over exposed areas (I don;t worry too much about blowing out skies if the subject of the picture is correctly exposed).

  • For me part of the art is using the manual mode to really understand how my camera and lighting work. The “auto” just takes the fun out of it πŸ˜‰

  • rick buch

    Good information for a beginner that has no clue. In the 70’s I shot 35mm slr and learned to use the built in light meter. Then 3 years ago I bought my first dslr. I was lost. I couldn’t remember a thing from the 70’s. Thanks to the digital age the learning curve is speeded up by being able to view results instantly and unlimited capture media. Most dslr’s still have manual meters in the view finder, you just have to learn it like the old school film photogs. Then practice, practice, practice on non critical subjects(it doesn’t cost a penny) so you are ready and confident for the critical shots.

  • Dan Ketcham

    I use this sometimes when I am having a problem getting exactly what I want, or to see what auto gives me … then tweak from there!
    thanks for the write up! kinda sweet that I already use this tip, but .. there is always something to learn

  • that is exactly what my cousin or uncle told me to do when I get into sticky situations, like concert photography and stuff πŸ™‚

  • Lisa

    Excellent tip! Thank you!

  • Thanks so much for making the seemingly insurmountable overwhelmingly complex subject of photograhpy manageable. It gives the newbie hope that maybe, just maybe, he can take a real picture one day. This unique combination of Pros and Joes is such a helpful community as well.

  • I believed for beginner really need to brave enough to trying the manual. Otherwise, u should know that you are not using a professional camera but still a common one. Very nice tips here. Beginner can try some start from here.

  • Eduardo B

    Very nice tip. Especially for people just beginning with photography. I would just add that the thing to do to learn the fastest is: experiment, experiment and experiment!

  • Tina

    I’m so glad I found this!!! I’ve started to get very frustrated trying to set my DSLR manually. I’ve finally gotten a solid understanding of aperture, ISO, and shutter speed, but knowing where to start with these settings on my camera is a totally different story. I will try this and see if it helps.

  • chrissie

    this has been really insightful – i’m about to go o/s for a month to the carribean and just got myself a Canon 600D (figured it would be a perfect opportunity to take great shots and move more into photography) but i was struggling w/working out which was the best setting to use – i’ve got heaps of photographer friends and they’ve all suggested the same as the above which makes me feel a little less lost πŸ™‚ starting w/one of the pre-set settings then working backwards and tweaking it to the current context gives me (personally) a great starting point!

  • Janice Kassanyi

    I LOVE this website. Most (though not all) of what I read is pretty down to earth and understandable. I have always had an interest in learning photography, but just now have the time to devote to really doing it. I have been reading everything I can get my hands on, and especially enjoy finding a useful link at the end of each segment. I got a Nikon D3100 as a gift, and am just getting comfortable with handling it. I’ve been thinking of using some of the preset modes to sort of get an idea of what settings the camera would use, and then venturing into the manual settings to see what I can start doing by myself. I especially was thinking of writing down some notes to help me see what kind of final results I get with changing the settings.

    I have a “once in a lifetime” trip coming up in a couple of weeks, petting the whales in Mexico. I’m so new to photograpy that my game plan is to take some snapshots in auto mode (just for the memories) and then some in a preset mode. I’m thinking sports because of the movement and action. I don’t want to waste the limited amount of time available with the whales by fussing with settings on the camera that I’m not skilled enough to use successfully. I want to enjoy the event, not get bogged down with numbers, settings, mechanics of the camera, etc.

    Can anyone offer me any advice or suggestions?

Some Older Comments

  • Janice Kassanyi February 16, 2013 03:15 pm

    I LOVE this website. Most (though not all) of what I read is pretty down to earth and understandable. I have always had an interest in learning photography, but just now have the time to devote to really doing it. I have been reading everything I can get my hands on, and especially enjoy finding a useful link at the end of each segment. I got a Nikon D3100 as a gift, and am just getting comfortable with handling it. I've been thinking of using some of the preset modes to sort of get an idea of what settings the camera would use, and then venturing into the manual settings to see what I can start doing by myself. I especially was thinking of writing down some notes to help me see what kind of final results I get with changing the settings.

    I have a "once in a lifetime" trip coming up in a couple of weeks, petting the whales in Mexico. I'm so new to photograpy that my game plan is to take some snapshots in auto mode (just for the memories) and then some in a preset mode. I'm thinking sports because of the movement and action. I don't want to waste the limited amount of time available with the whales by fussing with settings on the camera that I'm not skilled enough to use successfully. I want to enjoy the event, not get bogged down with numbers, settings, mechanics of the camera, etc.

    Can anyone offer me any advice or suggestions?

  • chrissie December 5, 2011 12:34 pm

    this has been really insightful - i'm about to go o/s for a month to the carribean and just got myself a Canon 600D (figured it would be a perfect opportunity to take great shots and move more into photography) but i was struggling w/working out which was the best setting to use - i've got heaps of photographer friends and they've all suggested the same as the above which makes me feel a little less lost :) starting w/one of the pre-set settings then working backwards and tweaking it to the current context gives me (personally) a great starting point!

  • Tina August 7, 2011 02:28 pm

    I'm so glad I found this!!! I've started to get very frustrated trying to set my DSLR manually. I've finally gotten a solid understanding of aperture, ISO, and shutter speed, but knowing where to start with these settings on my camera is a totally different story. I will try this and see if it helps.

  • Eduardo B April 28, 2010 02:09 pm

    Very nice tip. Especially for people just beginning with photography. I would just add that the thing to do to learn the fastest is: experiment, experiment and experiment!

  • Tebonin April 27, 2010 04:29 pm

    I believed for beginner really need to brave enough to trying the manual. Otherwise, u should know that you are not using a professional camera but still a common one. Very nice tips here. Beginner can try some start from here.

  • David Moore April 27, 2010 10:57 am

    Thanks so much for making the seemingly insurmountable overwhelmingly complex subject of photograhpy manageable. It gives the newbie hope that maybe, just maybe, he can take a real picture one day. This unique combination of Pros and Joes is such a helpful community as well.

  • Lisa April 25, 2010 03:26 am

    Excellent tip! Thank you!

  • Tory April 24, 2010 08:17 pm

    that is exactly what my cousin or uncle told me to do when I get into sticky situations, like concert photography and stuff :)

  • Dan Ketcham April 24, 2010 05:18 am

    I use this sometimes when I am having a problem getting exactly what I want, or to see what auto gives me ... then tweak from there!
    thanks for the write up! kinda sweet that I already use this tip, but .. there is always something to learn

  • rick buch April 24, 2010 01:05 am

    Good information for a beginner that has no clue. In the 70's I shot 35mm slr and learned to use the built in light meter. Then 3 years ago I bought my first dslr. I was lost. I couldn't remember a thing from the 70's. Thanks to the digital age the learning curve is speeded up by being able to view results instantly and unlimited capture media. Most dslr's still have manual meters in the view finder, you just have to learn it like the old school film photogs. Then practice, practice, practice on non critical subjects(it doesn't cost a penny) so you are ready and confident for the critical shots.

  • Stock Photos April 24, 2010 12:46 am

    For me part of the art is using the manual mode to really understand how my camera and lighting work. The "auto" just takes the fun out of it ;-)

  • Jason Lloyd April 23, 2010 11:28 pm

    Since you most likely want to control the look of the photo by setting a particular DOF, use Av mode to get your base settings. Then switch to manual and set the same / similar depending if you think the camera got it right or wrong! If the camera set the ISO and shutter speed high, you know you can drop the ISO and slow the shutter to get the same results, but you'll soon learn how much and how 1 stop in ISO relates to 1 stop in shutter speed / aperture size. Check your histogram and turn on the 'flashies' to identify over exposed areas (I don;t worry too much about blowing out skies if the subject of the picture is correctly exposed).

  • Rob April 23, 2010 06:23 pm

    I use the auto program mode (P) to give me a quick judgement of the settings required for a situation. Then use that to move on to either manual or use one of the priority auto modes ( TV, av etc ).

    You eventally learn by instinct what settings are likely to work, but this way helps to speeds things up.Plus its helpful that you have digital that you can review everytime to see if the exposure is correct.

  • Bengt April 23, 2010 03:56 pm

    If you are using iAuto on Olympus E-PL1 then you can see the difference and you can change the picture in camera. So if you get to less coulor....you just simply turn on the volume and to colour and get more coulor...there are of course many scenery modes and you can do what the pros are doing with your photo in camera...no need to use photoshop... http://www.ipernity.com/group/e-pl1

  • Roosevelt April 23, 2010 01:52 pm

    This lesson is great. It is true that the automatic settings can lead you to taking better pictures. But once you get a taste of the manual settings you want to always photograph on them. But this is a perfect starting point.

  • Amy April 23, 2010 12:56 pm

    Darren, i've been using pre-set modes. If i'm shooting a "portrait", the portrait is set. Then i go to ISO ( 800 as prescribed by Fong ). Color Temp is next depending on the lighting situation in or outdoors. Been using Gary Fongs' Univ. Lightsphere II Dome with amazing results. 3 dome covers ( of different shades ) are in my kit. Instructions are included.
    With this setup you can't go wrong. I take sample shots indoors. Which ever color temp. ( natural ) fits the scene, i then post it in that setting. My pictures come out so natural. Histograms are the key issue here. You set the EV +/- compensation as to what the histogram tells you.
    To much to the left or right, you be the judge.

  • Jen at Cabin Fever April 23, 2010 12:31 pm

    What a great idea! That is so true that the auto setting has a lot to teach a photographer, especially to those who are quick to pick up the camera and start snapping the shutter before reading the manual (pretty much everyone right??) I'll have to pass on this idea to some friends who are struggling to learn their SLRs

    Cabin Fever in Vermont

  • Merinda April 23, 2010 10:27 am

    i LOVE this website. LOVE LOVE LOVE. I think i visit at least 5 times a day.

  • johnp April 23, 2010 10:07 am

    Yes I do agree. For me using the "P" mode (rather than full auto) has gradually (I'm a slow learner!) made me realise what the camera is doing so I now make my own settings. The only time I go back to "P" is if I'm in a situation that is constantly changing or for quick "grab" shots where I don't have time to check all my settings. That might be in very busy market places for example but then I always bracket my shots to give me a bit more control over the final image.

  • Karen Stuebing April 23, 2010 07:00 am

    I don't agree that the way to learn manual is to use auto. Never trust your camera to get the light right. What if you're shooting and it's very low light and your camera stops up and sets a slow shutter speed and sets the ISO to 1600? You've got a blurry, noisy photo with shallow DOF.

    So what did you learn? Never to do that again.

    Learning what aperture does and what shutter speed does isn't all that hard a concept to grasp. I could see using either aperture or shutter priority and exposure compensation as someone else pointed out.

    If you want to learn manual, then put the camera in manual mode. There are hundreds of tutorials on the internet.

    What I do see auto mode being used for is teaching composition. If you're new to photography, you need to shoot everything and see what looks cool and what doesn't.

    I guess since I learned this way back in the dark ages of film, I may be missing the point and I could very well be wrong.

  • jack govaert s April 23, 2010 07:00 am

    Manual mode is the only mode you should be shooting in very low light, you can control the shutter with one dial in the main and the app. in the other dial while still keeping your eye in the viewfinder so you dont miss that special shot. Manual, shutter , apature is all the same relation to light, that is the only relationship that remains the same in any mode. without light , no picture, with light more control ect. Manual just makes in easier for fast adjustments on the camera. If you have a dancer on stage and is dancing in the light you still need a fast shutter speed,but you can dial up the app. is needed for dop. Iso is also a factor in low lighting, keeping it as low for the shutter speed you need. all this can be done in manual mode without taking your eyes off the viewfinder,just know your camera settings and where they are. No matter what your shooting subjects are the key is LIGHTING,shutter, app, manual, iso bottom line is the amount of light you need for the shoot you are taking, Manual is the easiest and fasest for me for money pictures.(no flash for this comment

  • Danferno April 23, 2010 06:34 am

    "However, I also told him to take a notepad and write down the settings and image name on each attempt so that he could look later and SEE THE DIFFERENCE! Without notes, he would be lost looking at the images later."
    EXIF data?

  • Matthew April 23, 2010 06:26 am

    I am not very accomplished, but playing with manual mode immediately after seeing what my camera chose in auto really helped me learn the triangle. My next step was using manual and taking multiple identical pics changing one variable at a time. Now - I feel comfortable - though forever learning.

  • Carleton Akana April 23, 2010 04:07 am

    Darren, i've been using pre-set modes. If i'm shooting a "portrait", the portrait is set. Then i go to ISO ( 800 as prescribed by Fong ). Color Temp is next depending on the lighting situation in or outdoors. Been using Gary Fongs' Univ. Lightsphere II Dome with amazing results. 3 dome covers ( of different shades ) are in my kit. Instructions are included.
    With this setup you can't go wrong. I take sample shots indoors. Which ever color temp. ( natural ) fits the scene, i then post it in that setting. My pictures come out so natural. Histograms are the key issue here. You set the EV +/- compensation as to what the histogram tells you.
    To much to the left or right, you be the judge.

  • Mark Pashia April 23, 2010 04:01 am

    Just the other day I gave the same advice to a friend. As I explained the exposure triangle his eyes glazed over, so it was easier to have him try the shots he wanted (night cityscapes from up high) set on the preprogramed setting, watch what the camera chose for settings, and then try using Aperture priority to get similar settings to start with and make minor changes to see what happened.

    However, I also told him to take a notepad and write down the settings and image name on each attempt so that he could look later and SEE THE DIFFERENCE! Without notes, he would be lost looking at the images later.

  • Lewis April 23, 2010 03:57 am

    I was taught to use manual because you get consistent results from it. When you use auto the exposure is set according to the overall luminance of the frame rather than the true lighting conditions. If you shoot a picture with a lot of light colors your camera will want to under expose it and when you take a picture with a lot of dark tones your camera will want to over expose it. In manual as long as your lighting conditions are the same you will expose it the same every time. If you do improperly expose it is easier to fix in post because you can batch edit everything.

  • Manuel April 23, 2010 03:46 am

    Sorry guys, almost forgot.The frist thing I set is the ISO depending on the Scene.If the ISO I'am aiming at can't get me the results I'am looking for neither with speed or aperture then I go lower or higher on the ISO trying always to stay as low as posible to avoid high ISO noise.

  • Manuel April 23, 2010 03:42 am

    What I'am learning to do often is that when shooting in aperture priority mode I set the exxposure moving the speed .When speed mode I set the exposure opening and closing the aperture.All this I'am learning to do unconsiously while looking at the viewfinder information without taking my eyes from the scene.Since my camera is a Nikon D90 all this is done very effortlessly with both commander and subcommander dials.If the Scene I'am looking at is rather tricky I bracket + or - 1 stop ,look at the results on my camera display and histogram and go from there.

  • Jason Collin Photography April 23, 2010 03:13 am

    I would recommend using Aperture Priority to learn how to shoot manually myself, and just advised a photography student to try that this morning. However this student did have a grasp of aperture and ISO already, so maybe a bit of a jump to Aperture Priority without that knowledge, but not that much.

  • guille April 23, 2010 02:47 am

    Learning about how your camera choose settings on auto programs and then checking the results give you the ability to use a good auto program (P, TV, Av or Auto) and start working with Exposure Compensation.
    Once you know your camera you get a really fast workflow using Exposure Compensation because basically you just move one dial instead of two (speed and aperture)

  • Zack Jones April 23, 2010 02:36 am

    I think there's a word, or a few words, missing in this sentence "...the lower the number, the more open which means..." I think you want to add after open the words "the aperture becomes".

    Also "...to make up for less light being let in by the sensor" is incorrect. The aperture of the lens determines how much light is let in to the sensor. The sensor doesn't control the amount of light.

    Other than these little nits you offer some good advice to get people experimenting with modes other than the square green mode (full auto on Canon's).

  • Prime April 23, 2010 02:29 am

    It makes a lot of sense to shoot in manual mode. However, one has to be careful to check the aperture / shutter speed time to time. At times I shoot with wrong settings and end up with under exposed or over exposed shots.

    One occasion where I go program mode is while shooting subjects that are not very co-operative like butterflies, birds and children. They tend to run all over the place with different lighting conditions and most of the time I would not get enough time to change the shutter speed or aperture and I go to Program mode. Has anyone got better ideas?

  • Andres Calle April 23, 2010 02:28 am

    I have just done a concert with very low-light... I should say reeeeally low light. So I set up my Nikon D80 to Auto to see what was I going to get... of course first thing that it happened (the flash popped up!). Then, set up to Aperture Priority and set it to f/2.8 and the results were better but still to dark unless i was using a tripod. So I got a little closer to the stage and set to f/2.0 and 1/100 with a 50mm prime lens... and the results were amazing!
    I agree that playing with your auto modes gives you an idea of what to do, what to focus on, even look for the bright spot so you can get more light into your camera. And if you are outdoors with bright sun even better, more fun and a bigger chance to play with your settings.

    Here is an example of how I used my manual mode to play with low light:

    http://www.istockphoto.com/stock-photo-11178088-beautiful-woman-really-frustated.php

    Happy shooting!

  • Diana Lee April 23, 2010 02:11 am

    I just made the switch to a DSL and have been trying out manual...and being VERY frustrated with the results. This is a great tip! Thanks!

  • Santhosh April 23, 2010 02:10 am

    Fantastic tip!

  • Greg Taylor April 23, 2010 01:10 am

    In many situations I encounter manual mode is the only way to get a great photo. I mostly photograph live music and AE / TV on my Canon doesn't get the job done.

    I learned by using using TV but as I advanced I switched to Manual mode using the knowledge I gained from TV and by making slight aperture and shutter adjustments. I am a big fan of knowing some baseline settings for your subject matter and progressing from there.

    I discuss some of my baseline settings in a recent blog post: http://grtaylor2.com/2010/04/country-thunder-florence-az-part-1-willie-nelson/

    The more you photograph certain subject the more comfortable you'll be with manual mode and your settings, Just keep on shooting!

Join Our Email Newsletter

Thanks for subscribing!


DPS offers a free weekly newsletter with: 
1. new photography tutorials and tips
2. latest photography assignments
3. photo competitions and prizes

Enter your email below to subscribe.
Email:
 
 
Get DAILY free tips, news and reviews via our RSS feed