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Why go­ing man­ual isn’t as hard as you think

Digital Camera World - - CONTENTS -

Tak­ing the mys­tery out of shoot­ing in man­ual ex­po­sure mode

MAN­UAL ex­po­sure mode, which is in­di­cated by the M on a cam­era’s mode dial, re­quires you to set the aper­ture, shut­ter speed and ISO in

or­der to make an ex­po­sure. Ac­tu­ally, you can leave the cam­era to han­dle the ISO, a fea­ture which we’ll come onto shortly, but you still have to be on your game when it comes to de­cid­ing on the best com­bi­na­tion of aper­ture and shut­ter speed to get the ef­fect you want. It’s not all about the bright­ness of a pic­ture, you see, but the look that dif­fer­ent aper­tures and shut­ter speeds can give the im­age.

Man­ual mode isn’t as con­ve­nient as shoot­ing in one of the cam­era’s ad­vanced auto-ex­po­sure modes. Most of the time, the ma­jor­ity of us can prob­a­bly get away with shoot­ing in Aper­ture Pri­or­ity and di­alling in some ex­po­sure com­pen­sa­tion to fix ex­po­sure er­rors. Shoot­ing raw also of­fers a safety net, as you can al­ways make the im­age brighter or darker when you process the file. Of course, you won’t be able to fun­da­men­tally change the

ex­po­sure – the com­bi­na­tion of aper­ture, shut­ter speed and ISO – so you need to get this right in-cam­era as the pic­ture is taken.

Where Man­ual mode trumps all oth­ers is in con­sis­tency. Once the ex­po­sure has been set on the cam­era, it will stay locked in. As long as the light­ing doesn’t change, the level of ex­po­sure will be con­sis­tent from shot to shot. Auto-ex­po­sure modes will ad­just the ex­po­sure ac­cord­ing to what’s be­ing me­tered. When you shoot a coastal land­scape, for ex­am­ple, the ex­po­sure can change as breaking white waves crash onto the beach, then roll back down to re­veal darker rocks and sand. A man­u­ally set ex­po­sure wouldn’t show this fluc­tu­a­tion be­tween frames.

Al­though Man­ual mode en­ables you to fix the ex­po­sure at the op­ti­mum set­ting, the draw­back is that it’s down to you to

Where Man­ual mode trumps all oth­ers is in con­sis­tency

aper­ture Need con­trol over the depth of field – the amount of front-to-back sharp­ness? Set the aper­ture first when mak­ing a man­ual ex­po­sure.

Shut­ter speed Shoot­ing ac­tion? Set your pre­ferred shut­ter speed first. You may need to open up the aper­ture or set a higher ISO to achieve this. sen­si­tiv­ity Low ISO set­tings give op­ti­mum qual­ity, but in­creas­ing the ISO al­lows you to use smaller aper­tures or faster shut­ter speeds – or both.

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