This post was inspired by a question in my Take 52 group on Facebook. If you are not in that group then you are missing out on all kinds of good information and a cool bunch of photographers friends too 🙂 – So join us!
“How do you set Manual Mode in your DSLR”
Shooting in manual mode is often considered the holy grail to many beginner photographers but its important to remember that there are many levels of manual shooting and it really is not the be all and end all. If you are comfortable making a few mistakes here and there though, its a great way to start taking control of your camera and learning to use it to the max.
Manual Mode should really be more clearly defined as Manual Exposure Mode. This means that you, the photographer are taking full control of the exposure of the shot. You will decide on the the Shutter Speed, the Aperture and the ISO value you need to shoot at. It is these three variables that go to make up the correct exposure. If you change one of these variables it will impact one or both of the others.
Its important to remember therefore, that there is no one correct combination of Aperture, Shutter Speed and ISO for any one scene – there are several combinations that will work. Which one you choose is at your (the photographer’s) discretion depending on the look and feel of the image that you are trying to create.
So for example, if you are a portrait photographer, and Depth of Field is really important to you, then that is the variable that is top of mind for you and you will have a certain f/stop in mind that you will want to stay within to achieve your particular look.
If you are a Sports photographer, Shutter Speed is usually the most important thing to, so you will strive to shoot at as fast a shutter speed that the conditions will allow.
Its the combination of these variables and which one do you change that trips people up in my experience.
Just remember which the the one that is most important to you, hold it where you need it to be and fiddle with the other two until you get a correct exposure.
In through the viewfinder of your camera you have a little meter that reads -3..-2..-1..0..+1..+2..+3 The goal is to have the indicator right on the 0, unless you are trying to deliberately over or underexpose your shot (then you’d shot towards the + or – side of the meter.)
In Canon cameras such as the Rebel T5i, there is a command wheel at top of the camera. Turing this dial changes the Shutter Speed value. If you have a mid-range DSLR like the new Canon 7D ii (lucky you!) you may also have a second dial either on the back of the camera body or at the top right hand corner (Nikon.) Turning this dial will change the Aperture. If you do not have this second dial then consult your user manual as you will need to press and hold another button while turning the main command dial. This gets a bit tricky and takes a bit of practice!
You can shoot in Manual exposure mode and have a whole host of other things taken care of Automatically in your camera, including Focus. The Auto-Focus on modern DSLR cameras is really excellent and there are only a few times when it doesn’t work well. (If you are shooting in low light for example or trying to photograph through glass)
So I prefer to always shoot in Auto-Focus as I trust my camera more than my eyes!
So we’ve established that in Full Manual you are in control of all three exposure variables – Shutter Speed, Aperture and ISO. The other modes in the creative zone let you control some of the settings whilst the camera controls the others.
In Av, A or Aperture Priority Mode YOU control the Aperture and the camera sets the Shutter Speed to compensate. You also can control the ISO or leave it to Auto in this mode.
In Tv, S or Shutter Priority Mode, YOU control the shutter speed and the camera sets the corresponding Aperture. You can also set the ISO in this mode.
In Program Auto you can only control the combination of the the values, you cannot change each one independently, but you can still control the ISO.
So you see there are many steps from that little Green Box of Full Auto to Full Manual. Don’t frustrate yourself by jumping in the deep end too soon and just keep shooting and paying attention to the numbers and you’ll get there eventually.
Summer is here and photo opportunities are abound. And now is a great time to start learning how to capture those memories in the way that you experienced them. No longer be intimated by your fancy DSLR camera. No longer be stuck in the Green Box Setting afraid of changing it in case you do something wrong.
By taking my Demystify your DSLR course you can begin right away to learn all about your camera in a fun and relaxed way.
No class times.
Just 4 modules to consume at your leisure and lots and lots of practice.
If you think you’d like to know more about my Demystify your DSLR course, then you can check out all the information here and get started today!
As always, just let me know if you have any questions!
P.S. Start anytime, take as long as you like to complete and review as often as you need to http://camerashycourses.com/demystify/
This post was inspired by reader Cassandra who wrote
“I just bought the P510… love love love it. Shot the moon- can’t believe the clarity. Shot a deer in the woods… couldn’t get it to focus past the tree branches- how can I focus on the subject during superzoom when there are objects nearby that the camera prefers to focus upon? help! “
This is a really common problem for DSLR users, Bridge Camera users and Point and Shoot camera users alike. The main difference between them being the choice of focus modes available to each. The Focus Mode allows you to change how the Auto Focus system determines where the focus should be in the frame. In DSLR cameras you also have the option to focus manually. Let’s look at 3 tips which will help you with focusing on difficult subjects.
1. Check your user’s manual to see how many focus points you camera users. The focus points are the little red or green blinking lights you’ll see inside the viewfinder or on your LCD screen when you half press your finger on the shutter button right before you actually take the picture. DSLRS and some Bridge cameras will actually let you select which one of these focus points you would like to use. The default setting is Auto Focus Point selection where the camera choses what IT thinks you want to be in focus. 90% of the time it gets it rght as it usually focuses on the closest thing or the largest thing in the frame.
But if you are trying to be a little creative, this may not be what you want to focus on . This is especially true if you are using a large superzoom where you might be focusing on something really far away , through trees or slightly obscured by something in the foreground. In this case you might find it best to select the Center Auto Focus Point. That way you know that only whatever is in the centre of the frame will be in focus. Again check your user manual to see how to do this for your particular camera model.
2. But what happens when you don’t want your subject to be dead center of the frame. Afterall don’t we all hear about the Rule of Thirds for a pleasing composition? That means your main subject needs to be off center a little. In order to focus on off center subjects you have a couple of choices. If your DSLR allows it you can select a focus point that is over the subject that you want to focus on. You will have to consult your specific user manual to find out how to do this . Alternatively you can use the Focus Lock Method.
The Focus Lock Method is where you –
3. The first 2 tips work very well for stationery subjects or at least those that aren’t moving too fast. If you find yourself shooting at your kids’ T-ball game, it may be a little harder to focus on a moving traget using the methods outlined above.
This is where you need to change Focus Modes. Again, you will need to consult your manual on how to do this for your particular camera model.
In Canon you’ll be changing from One Shot to AI Servo mode and for Nikon it’ll be AF-S to AF-C.
You can now lock your focus on your subject and keep shooting while the camera will constantly readjust the focus on your subject as you press the shutter button. Makes catching toddlers on the move so much easier!
P.S. For lots more in depth information about how to use your DSLR to the max check out my newly revised online “Master your DSLR” course.
Over the last few weeks I’ve been promoting my new online photography course – “Master your DSLR,” and it was brought to my attention several times that many of you might not be sure what exactly a DSLR is. For many beginners in photography this is where you take the leap from just taking snapshots to being a little more creative with your photos. As part of my Digital Camera Buying Guide series let’s look at the “Big Daddy” which is the DSLR.
A DSLR camera (Digital Single Lens Reflex camera) consists of two parts – a camera body and an interchangeable lens. The body houses the camera sensor (where the image is made), all the electronics and a mirror system that allows the photographer to see exactly the image that the camera is recording. This camera body also has the ability to add on additional flash through a hot-shoe on the top of the camera but on most entry level DSLRs there is also a pop up built-in flash unit.
The interchangeable lens is what really makes the difference between an DSLR and and compact camera. Usually a DSLR will come with a standard “kit” lens which will allow you to take a variety of shots at various focal lengths, from wide angle to telephoto. If you require additional lenses for a specific purpose, these are purchased separately and they usually don’t come cheap!
There is also a plethora of other accessories that can be used with your DSLR to enhance your photography such as tripods, lens hoods, filters, lighting systems to name a few.
If your someone who feels stifled by their Point and Shoot’s lack of creative control or someone who wants to really understand photography then a DSLR is really the only way you are going to learn and will ultimately be what will take your photography to the next level. The size of the lens alone should be an indication to you of how much better your pictures can potentially be. The beauty of today’s entry level DSLRS is that you can use them in full auto mode where the camera still does all of the thinking for you, through semi-manual shooting modes where you begin to have creative control, right through to full manual setting where you can control every aspect of the photograph.
One of my pet peeves is to see people wielding these big DSLR cameras only to switch them into Auto mode and use it like a big hefty point and shoot camera. Why bother? They are using about 10% of the camera’s functionality and paid a nice price for the privilege. If this is you I suggest you get out of your comfort zone and start experimenting! Sure your gonna end up with a few dodgy pics in there along the way, but it’s only with this experimenting that your gonna LEARN anything about photography and eventually you will improve.
Buying a DSLR is a considerable investment so it’s important to do your research and find the one that’s going to be best for you. The two top brands that are always competing head to head are Canon and Nikon. Personally I’m a Canon girl – always have been always will be I think!) but that’s only because that’s what I started out with. Nikon are equally as good and in some models boast superior features.
1. Has anyone in the family/ friends got either a Canon or Nikon.
This is important to consider as you might be able to swap and borrow lenses from them and they might be able to help you out with technical problems
2. What feels good in your hands?
Some say Canons are for girls and Nikons are for boys. While this is not true, some of the entry level Canon cameras may feel small in a guys hands and where the buttons are etc. will have an effect of the cameras ease of use for you. So although I’m a great advocate of shopping online, I also feel that its a good idea to get your hands on a few cameras before you buy. Ask a friend or go to a specialty store to get a feel for the different models. You might be surprised at their weight or by how light they are. Some people like a lightweight and others want to feel they are getting their money’s worth by the pound!
3. Special deals or twin lens kits.
In some stores you will see cameras bundled as twin lens kits with the standard lens bundled together with an additional zoom lens and sometimes a kit bag, a book, a card etc. These can be really great deals but this depends on whether or not you really think you’ll need that particular zoom lens. For example, landscapes might be your thing so in that case it might be more prudent for you to invest in a super wide angle lens at some point. Be aware that just because a lens has a huge focal length – i.e can zoom in really far away, it doesn’t mean its a great lens. There are lots of factors to consider so only buy what you need for now and buy the best you can afford – it should last you quite a while.
4. Finally, think about factoring in the cost of some education to learn how to work the thing.
There is no point in spending a lot of money on a fancy DSLR only to stick it in Green Auto and to try and learn about photography from the user manual. You will drive yourself batty! Buy a book, read a blog, take a course for some direction but put some effort into learning about your camera and you’ll be rewarded with unique photos for the rest of your life!
PS If you feel like your someone who could benefit with a little guidance on using your DSL R to it’s potential, check out www.CameraShyClasses.com for my online courses which will help you do just that!