Beginner Don't be frightened to try manual

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Tony
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#1
I have been in to my photography about 2 years now and have totally stayed away from going "manual" and have pretty much been aperture priority all the time apart from the occasional dabbling with bulb on long exposures but I went out with a professional yesterday with 3 others (Melvin Nicholson - excellent tutor and guide) who pushed me in to trying manual and wow what have I been frightened of.

With a few basic principles and shooting in live view I quickly grasped the idea and was loving it.

If you have been like me trying to ignore it I implore you to get someone to spend an hour or so explaining it to you and I am certain you will have enough knowledge to use it comfortably.
 
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Alan
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#2
I don't think there should be any machismo in using manual mode, I think it should just be a setting and a tool you can use when appropriate.

Like you I mostly use aperture priority and I do so until the light level drops to the point that the shutter speed drops too low and then I'll probably switch to manual and dial in the aperture and shutter speed that I want and use auto ISO to do the rest or more rarely set that too. There may be other occasions than falling light levels when I'll specifically choose manual mode but at the moment I can't think what they are and they're probably few and far between, like doing panoramas maybe.
 
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tonybassplayer
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Tony
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#3
I think the main thing it gave me was a better understanding of how the combination of the aperture and shutter speed affect the image and being able to actually see it change in live view made it all more real.

I can't see that I would use it all the time but I now know it's nothing to be afraid of and I must admit to have been "manual shy" previously probably like most others relatively new to photography.
 
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Rob
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#4
I don't think there should be any machismo in using manual mode, I think it should just be a setting and a tool you can use when appropriate.
I think like you too, I never understand the whole 'you're not a photographer unless you use manual'.

Personally for wildlife I most often use manual with auto ISO as it always me to choose the shutter speed and aperture I want whilst the camera chooses the ISO. I still use aperture priority and manual for landscapes, it's just choosing the one that suits you for the subject/conditions you are shooting in.

I feel we are very blessed with ISO quality in modern cameras, with the Nikon D750 I don't worry too much with ISO up to ISO3200. Being happy with 5 stops of ISO (ISO100-ISO3200) really opens up the ability to get wildlife images in difficult conditions. I would rather my camera choose an ISO 5 stops higher than needed than a shutter speed 5 stops slower as a noisey image isn't as bad as a blurred/unsharp image. You still have to keep an idea on settings but it's gives some error room for changing light conditions across a scene.

It really depends on the genre you are photographing, portraits probably allow longer to get the right settings, with wildlife it can be over in seconds so auto ISO really is a game changer for me. A good example is the osprey hide I went to last year, 5 hours of waiting for only one dive that dive was over in 3 seconds. The light across the pond as different by around 1-2 stops because some was in shade some in full sunlight and I had no idea where it would dive. I didn't have time to check or change settings (too busy trying to locate the osprey through the viewfinder and track it with auto focus), auto ISO gave me one thing less to think about when it dived and allowed me to get something useable from the 5 hours of waiting. It would have been annoying to get a blurred image considering I only had the one chance.
 
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droj
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#5
No-one should feel that they 'ought' normally to use manual exposure setting, however it is good to be able to. What is important is to be in control of the picture-making process, and manual can have a place in that - and as Tony says, may help understanding. In the old days manual was all we had, and I think that it was a good tutor, especially if using transparency film.
 
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Ned
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#7
Without wishing to sound like a bore, if you are using auto ISO then you are not shooting manual. Manual is about fixing exposure, nothing more, nothing less.
 
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Dave
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#8
Without wishing to sound like a bore, if you are using auto ISO then you are not shooting manual. Manual is about fixing exposure, nothing more, nothing less.
If it says M on the dial you're shooting manual. :p
 
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tonybassplayer
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Tony
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#9
I was shooting a variety of subjects on a very brightly lit sea shore so had 100 ISO with f8 to f11 to keep a reasonable amount of things in focus and then utilised the shutter speed and ND filters to vary the amount of movement (or lack of it) I wanted in the sea.

Having the ability to see how the picture was going to look when lengthening or shortening the shutter time with a ten stop ND on the front was a real bonus.
 
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Ian
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#10
This is why I love my Fuji. I shoot in Av with auto ISO most of the time, but when I need manual control it takes all of two seconds to make the adjustments. I bought a P&S camera which has an "M" button, but I have no clue how to change anything. I learnt it when I got the camera, but after sleeping, I'd forgotten. It's an age thing...

It's just simply
a setting and a tool you can use when appropriate.
Manual gives you complete control. Once you know how it works, and understand the relationship between ISO, shutter and aperture you're all set to start getting creative. Tv, Av & auto ISO then become shortcuts you can use to your advantage rather than crutches.
 
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7,117
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Raymond
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#11
I understand totally how all the settings work but manual is slow, AP is much faster. It's faster for me to just dial the EXP comp +/- to suit the scene than find the setting in manual.

The only time I shoot manual is when I am controlling the light, i.e. Off camera flashes
 
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20,586
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Alan
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#12
Manual gives you complete control. Once you know how it works, and understand the relationship between ISO, shutter and aperture you're all set to start getting creative. Tv, Av & auto ISO then become shortcuts you can use to your advantage rather than crutches.
Yes, manual gives you complete control but it's slooooower.

I usually think in terms of aperture, the next thing I'll look at is the shutter speed to see if it's fast enough and then I look at the ISO to see if there's going to be a hit to image quality. All that takes time. Usually I don't care too much about the shutter speed. I don't care if it's 1/500 or 1/8000, I only care if it's 1/60 and I may consider that too slow.

YMMV but aperture priority with auto ISO and the ability to dial in exposure compensation suits me and it's mostly how I take pictures with manual coming in second and shutter priority my least used of the three.

Your comment about creativity is very valid and a few situations I'd use it in do come to mind, panoramas, creating pictures with ghost/blurry people and the like... but mostly I'm not being all that creative and just think about the subject, framing and depth of field and then look at if the shutter speed is appropriate.
 
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Alan
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#13
I feel we are very blessed with ISO quality in modern cameras,...
Yup. We don't know we're born :D I'm not a professional, I only take pictures for fun :D I manage on average a print a week for myself, family and friends but most of my pictures are saved as 2000 pixels on their longest side and zapped around the world electronically to be viewed on tablets and phones and for these uses my Micro Four Thirds and FF camera can all be use at any ISO up to and including 25,600 and I'll use the highest and no one will complain about image quality :D
 
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Slyelessar
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#14
It is always worth trying manual. You can learn a lot from it, and it is a handy skill to have.

There is nothing wrong with using other modes, but I find I get more the results I want when I am in manual mode. Same with focusing, perhaps more so for me. I still use auto focus once in a blue moon though.
 
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7,117
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Raymond
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#15
It is always worth trying manual. You can learn a lot from it, and it is a handy skill to have.

There is nothing wrong with using other modes, but I find I get more the results I want when I am in manual mode. Same with focusing, perhaps more so for me. I still use auto focus once in a blue moon though.
Best mode and best setting for it's given situation.

Doing full manual in manual focus in a wedding is just not helpful to anyone.

Where as in a landscape shot I have hours to set up the shot I will go live view, full manual with remote release, mirror lock up for the best result.
 
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Slyelessar
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#16
Best mode and best setting for it's given situation.

Doing full manual in manual focus in a wedding is just not helpful to anyone.

Where as in a landscape shot I have hours to set up the shot I will go live view, full manual with remote release, mirror lock up for the best result.
For those doing weddings, Autofocus is indeed handy.

I use manual focus for street photography though, and don't tend to miss many shots. It has been known to happen though. Again, I still use auto focus once in a while. I am just used to working and operating the cameras that way. Each to their own :)
 
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6,599
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Ned
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#18
When you're in manual how do you meter the scene?

Is that a rhetorical question? (just checking :))

Basically you use spot meter / experience to expose for the part of the scene you want exposed, or you use the histogram (in Live view or if you have an EVF) and adjust as appropriate, probably there are other ways too. If you just use the camera's matrix metering and 'centre the needle' you may as well use a semi-auto mode as all you are doing is copying the camera and doing so a million times slower than the camera can.

All of this is nothing that can't be done with a semi-auto mode and exposure compensation. The real reason to shoot manual is to FIX exposure where you want it (which would typically be in a constant lighting .but changing subject situation).
 
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Slyelessar
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#19
When you're in manual how do you meter the scene?
Experience really. Spending hours and hours, weeks, days, years shooting. Shooting film helps with that as well. For example, I shoot 400asa film at 1600 and push it two stops in development. I know/ read the kind of light I need to shoot in all conditions from just shooting. Same with digital, I shoot loads and know the gear (and understanding the exposure triangle).

Same with focusing, comparing results over a period of time. Knowing the gear. My film cameras don't have autofocus or ap priority, etc. So when I switch back and forth 9/10 I just shoot my digital cameras manual. Force of habit.

Again everyone's different. I don't claim to be all knowledgeable, I have learned the hard way and enjoy shooting like that. Everyone's workflow is different.

You get just as many people being snooty about ap mode as you do manual. Instead of getting caught up in the BS just do what works for you or what you feel makes you grow creatively. Have fun and enjoy the process :)
 
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Dave
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#20
Learn what 'correct' exposure means, then learn what commanding DoF means then you'll shoot AP like most sensible people most of the time

You also learn the (relatively) few times Manual is better than AP

Shooting Manual is not 'clever' or something to aspire to - its just another way of metering your shooting but its less useful and slower

Dave
 

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Stewart
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#21
When you're in manual how do you meter the scene?
Is that a rhetorical question? (just checking :))
I think it was a question directed at the OP. Not "how does one meter the scene" but "how do you (the OP, personally) meter the scene". Your answer was spot on. But the OP's answer.....?
 
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tonybassplayer
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Tony
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#23
I was using live view to see the image and comparing both that and the histogram. I liked the way I could alter the aperture and shutter speed until I got an image I liked. As the light was very bright I took a few pictures on more than one setting then blended them in Lightroom. One in particular was an under the pier shot.
 
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tonybassplayer
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Tony
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#24
.
 
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2,284
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Graham
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#25
Ah yes, I see. Damn wine goggles :)
Yes, I knew my comment was a little ambiguous. :)
I just wondered if the op was using manual and "Matching the needle". In which case I would suggest using either aperture or shutter priority and save a little time.
I do, however, agree that "Going full manual" is a good way to work out the relationship between the various exposure controls, but generally not the most efficient way of working.
 
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20,586
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Alan
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#26
If you just use the camera's matrix metering and 'centre the needle' you may as well use a semi-auto mode as all you are doing is copying the camera and doing so a million times slower than the camera can.

All of this is nothing that can't be done with a semi-auto mode and exposure compensation. The real reason to shoot manual is to FIX exposure where you want it (which would typically be in a constant lighting .but changing subject situation).
Not really, in manual I can set the aperture and shutter and use ISO to change the brightness of the scene, you can't do that in either aperture or shutter priority.

I'll give you an example... I'm shooting people in low light. If I shoot in Aperture the camera may well select 1/30 or something equally useless and if I'm in Shutter and dial in a real world shutter speed for moving people the camera will shoot everything wide open and I'll have no DoF. Shooting in manual even if aiming for a cursor smack in the middle of the scale allows me to set a useful aperture and shutter speed plus I can dial in compo too and up the ISO or up it manually. This is the case with every digital camera I own at the mo.
 
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John
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#27
I would recommend trying manual for people like myself who are trying to get a better understanding of photography. I found some excellent clips on YouTube about the manual process and it has revitalised my approach. If you have cut your teeth years ago on manual cameras it is probably unnecessary and tedious the majority of the time but for newcomers or those trying to get a grasp of the basics of a camera it is a must.
 
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Raymond
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#28
If you want to learn the relationships between Aperture, ISO and Shutterspeed. The better way is probably just stick it on AV, ISO 100 or 400 (stick to it, like film) and let the camera pick the shutter speed. Whilst all the time keep an eye out for what the camera is doing with the Shutter speed. Using aperture as a way to control the DoF.

That way you are learning and taking the photos that you want, the look that you want whilst getting the shot.

This, as opposed to trying to juggle all 3 criteria at the same time which can be a lot more daunting to a beginner.
 
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Stuart
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#29
A lot depends on what sort of pictures you like to take. Sometimes manual is the only viable option so it’s always worth experimenting with and not knowing how to do it will certainly limit your creativity.
 
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Grant
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#31
For me I usually start by thinking what aperture I want for the 'look' I'm going for, then pick a safe shutter speed for the scene (e.g is the subject moving or not), and whether I'm hand held or not, and then dial the ISO in to get a 'correct' exposure - but I can purposely expose for the highlights or the shadows using spot metering and under/over expose the scene accordingly, rather than the camera auto adjusting settings to get the 'correct' exposure (e.g zero'd on the light meter).

I always shoot raw, and will generally prefer to under expose by a stop or two, as I know I can recover shadow detail easily, whilst not losing any highlight detail.

I think if I was shooting something a bit more fast paced like a wedding or something I'd be inclined to use auto ISO, but I'd still want control over aperture and shutter.
 
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thomas
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#33
I thought that was a thread about manual focusing. You're only a real tog if you use manual focusing. Isn't it?

I usually shot manual with auto-iso. I'm not keen on auto shutter speed i like to keep that under control as with aperture really.
 
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tonybassplayer
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Tony
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#34
That is a lovely shot imo :)
Thank you, I was delighted with it as the sun was very bright and of course the underside of the pier was in shade.
 
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