In order to get the best images from your camera you should understand the basics of how your camera works. Once you decide to move up from a point and shoot to a DSLR (digital single-lens reflex) or an ICL (interchangeable-lens camera), you will need to learn the basics of manual mode to get the most out of your new camera.
Most new camera owners are intimidated by manual or “M” mode on their cameras and unfortunately they stay in automatic mode. Understanding the manual mode first will make understanding the other advanced modes, such as Aperture Priority or Shutter Priority, that much easier.
Every photography instructor will tell you that shooting in manual mode is critical to get the best out of your camera, and many professionals believe it is amateurish to use pre-determined auto settings. Whether or not this is true, manual mode will give you more creative control over your photos.
The pre-determined auto setting can help you to learn how to adjust the manual settings. If you are unsure on what needs to be adjusted to get the picture you need, you can take the photo on auto and then compare the settings for ISO, aperture, and shutter speed.
Learning the manual controls does not have to be difficult. All it takes is a basic understanding and practice to see the different results each setting will have on your image.
The Three Exposure Setting
In 8 minutes, Nico from CamCrunch will help you understand what each of the 3 manual settings does, and how to use them. He covers the three parameters to achieve a properly exposed photo:
- Aperture -(f-stop) controls how wide or narrow the opening is on your lens, this affects how much light hits your sensor, aperture will also control your depth of field (how much of your image is in focus).
- Shutter Speed – controls how long your shutter is open or how long the light hits your sensor, shutter speed will also have an effect on motion.
- ISO – controls how sensitive your sensor is to the light that is hitting it, a higher ISO can also produce grain or photographic noise.
A Few Examples
This humming bird was moving very quickly so lots of motion, I could have had even a faster shutter speed to completely freeze the wings but I liked how this looked, giving the bird an impression of movement.
- 1/340 second
- ISO 3200
Miami Beach Boardwalk - taken early evening and it was starting to get quite dark. Although there was a street light that gave me a little more light to work with, I still took the photo wide open (aperture at it widest). In addition, I did not have my tripod with me so the photo is hand held limiting how slow my shutter speed could be.
- 1/70 sec
- ISO 3200
Proper exposure for photographing fireworks is counter intuitive. Even though a fireworks show is at night, the fireworks themselves are extremely bright so increasing your aperture is critical you do not want to shoot wide open. As well to get the complete effect of the fireworks you will need to keep your shutter open longer so your photo will capture the full effect of the fireworks display.
- 6 seconds
- ISO 200
If you want to fully understand exposure and increase you ability to take awesome photos I would recommend that you take a look at Bryan Peterson's book Understanding Exposure, in it he explains the relationship between aperture and shutter speed, including how to achieve successful exposures in seemingly difficult situations. With more than 350,000 copies sold, Understanding Exposure has demystified the complex concepts of exposure for countless photographers.
Give manual mode a try and let me know what you think in comments section below.
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