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Manual Mode - how do you use it?

quinny 11 167 United Kingdom
28 Jan 2009 1:23PM
I am yet to try the manual mode on my camera as I have seen a few forum topics on other websites where people has been told to choose the manual mode over any other to select the aperture and shutter speed and ISO separately. Once you have set the aperture depending on the about of depth of field you need in the image, how do you know what shutter speed you will need?

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spaceman Plus
11 5.2k 3 Wales
28 Jan 2009 1:37PM
There should be some indication in the veiwfinder as to which shutter speed matches the aperture you've chosen. You'd be better off using aperture priority mode - then the camera will set the matching shutter speed for you.
ade_mcfade 11 15.2k 216 England
28 Jan 2009 1:39PM
there's a little meter thing on your camera
there's a wheel that changes the aperture
there's a wheel that changes the shutter speed

you look at the meter and move the wheels till the meter is in the right place for the shot

in a nutshell Smile

Far far easier to demonstrate than describe!

Quote:You'd be better off using aperture priority mode - then the camera will set the matching shutter speed for you

In some cases, you may be right.

but as an excercise in "understanding" exposure, there's none better than learning how to expose manually.

I never use Av, always M


Because Av doesn't know what I want - it guesses, and usually gets it wrong Sad

the ba$tard.
quinny 11 167 United Kingdom
28 Jan 2009 1:55PM
I think I understand what you mean, I'll get my camera out tonight and have a go.
spaceman Plus
11 5.2k 3 Wales
28 Jan 2009 1:56PM
What's "av" ?
28 Jan 2009 1:56PM
On the 400D you only have one wheel, which controls both Shutter Speed and Aperture.
To change shutter speed you turn the wheel, To change aperture you hold down a button whilst turning the same wheel. Without having my camera in front of me I can't tell you which button.
Once you have set the aperture, you can adjust the shutter speed accordingly, there is a little sliding bar on the LCD display which will tell you if you are under or over exposing. Of course the camera can be fooled by having a lot of black or a lot of white in the shot so you will need to compensate accordingly.
quinny 11 167 United Kingdom
28 Jan 2009 1:58PM
I've now got a Canon 30D which I am using over the 400d.

If it's got a lot of dark areas am I best over exposing? Is that the idea?
rowarrior Plus
8 4.4k 9 Scotland
28 Jan 2009 2:00PM
I think you said in your other post that you had a 30D. In the bottom of the viewfinder as you look through it you will see a green horizontal line with -2, -1, 0, 1, and 2 marked along it. There's a vertical line that will move along this to show whether or not it thinks your chosen aperture will be over or under exposed. It will blink at either end if you go past 2 stops under or over exposed.

Normally the aim is to get the green line to 0, but if you look at your histogram as well when you take the shot, it will show you whether or not that is really the correct exposure for the whole picture, as it will indicate any blown highlights (with blinkies on the image) and show if any parts are over or under exposed by looking at the ends of the graph and seeing if they are touching the edge (which is not desirable)


ade_mcfade 11 15.2k 216 England
28 Jan 2009 2:05PM
with the 30D then...

the back wheel controls the aperture
the front wheel controls the shutter

an experiment then...
you have a spot meter on a 30D - so put that spot onto some grass.
press your shutter 1/2 way - the meter in your view finder lights up.
If you're hand holding, set the shutter speed to 1/100th (depends on your focal length really, but use 1/100th for the same of explanation)
now use your thumb to adjust the aperture - if the meter is flashing to the right, then make the aperture smaller (bigger number), and vice versa. Keep going till you get to 0 - meter in the middle.
take a shot - the grass will be exposed correctly.

sounds hard - it's worth booking some time with a teacher to get it explained (PM me if you live near leeds) - but once you get the hang of it, you learn an awful lot about light and exposure.
ade_mcfade 11 15.2k 216 England
28 Jan 2009 2:11PM
just add to that...

do the same experiment, but this time put the spot on something white...

doesn't look right does it?

change the aperture till the meter reads "+2", and try the shot again.

Any better?

Tell me why it's better Wink
28 Jan 2009 2:27PM
It's only since buying the 400D and switching to manual that I now know why cameras have 2 wheels, It's a right pain in the rear having to hold down a button whilst turning a wheel. reminds me of programming on a ZX spectrum Smile
juldon 12 78 England
28 Jan 2009 2:28PM
Best thing you ever taught us Ade....use it nearly all the time now.
If not for that I dont think I would have the same use of the camera.

So my advice is learn how to use the meter and your there.
28 Jan 2009 2:36PM
Rather than use manual, you may learn more by setting your camera on a tripod or means of support with a remote release, selecting the shooting or exposure mode to aperture priority (Av or A) and running through the following apertures (F) numbers in turn F5.6, F11 and F22.

Focus on a smallish subject (e.g. a clock face with a 3-6 in diameter) about 1 metre away at an angle of about 30-45 deg. with a busy/fussy background. It is important you see this behind the subject so position the ‘clock’ slightly to one side but still allowing one or more focusing frames to be over it for focusing. It is usually better if you only select one Auto-Focus frame then the point of focus won’t shift.

Use an 18-55mm zoom (approx) set first to 55mm, then at 36mm and 18mm with the subject and camera in the same position. Remember to take the three shots per change of focal length (zoom setting) at the apertures suggested. Use the remote release or self timer to prevent shaking the camera.

Then do it again but go as close as the lens will allow to the subject at a setting of 55mm only this time. Make sure you can still see the background don't fill the viewfinder just with the 'clock'.

Finally, shoot a landscape or street scene at the same three aperture settings using the same lens at 18mm, 36 and 55mm.

When you have taken all the pictures view them as large as possible on your PC/laptop monitor and check to see how much depth of field (front to back sharpness from where you have focused) you achieved at the different settings and distances.

You can display the F numbers you have used in most software along with the corresponding shutter speed that gave the correct exposure automatically.

If you manage to do all of this you should find that you start to understand the relationship between, apertures, shutter speeds, focal length (zoom settings) and subject distances. This will help turn you into a great photographer.

What you'll discover is a) large (F) no’s e.g. F11 or F22 give greater depth of field, b) the closer you get, the less depth of field, c) the further away the greater the depth of field. D) Also when you increase the aperture e.g. from F5.6 to F11 the shutter speed becomes longer.

Hope that helps, let me know how you get on, if you are able, no problem if you can’t.
Metalhead 8 1.9k 2 England
28 Jan 2009 2:41PM
Do you guys always use Manual mode then? Or do you ever switch to Av or Tv from time to time?

For example, if you were walking a dog in a field, bright sunny day, and wanted to get some action shots of the dog running towards you. Would you meter off the dog's fur at whatever range, and use those same manual settings for the dog running towards you? Or maybe meter off the ground (be it grass) and use those settings?

Or are there too many variables eg direction of sun on the dog etc

Just wondering how the more experienced people work on a situation like that. At the mo, if I get a sunny day out with the dog, I tend to stick to Av and a widish aperture, centre focus point for (hopefully) faster AF, and click away and hope for some good shots. Would be nice to put a bit more structure into a situation like this.

I did take on board what Ade said a month or so back about metering white and black objects, like a fridge in the house, and going to +2 on the meter etc. Good advice, but how can I apply it to "quick" situations like being out with a dog?
ade_mcfade 11 15.2k 216 England
28 Jan 2009 3:11PM
I've found that in most situations I've been in, the light doesn't change that much.

ok the odd cloud will move and you'll get a bright or dark spell, but in reality, most things are pretty constant other than the odd woodland situation. Which I don't shoot to be honest!

So in reasonably unchanging light, for a portrait, say, i'd typically meter off the subject's skin - or dress at a wedding - in M and leave the settings there, occasionally checking now and then.

I do use Av in the car - I often have the camera on the passenger seat on the way to/from work in case I see something interesting. In Av, I can then just grab the thing in one hand, point and press without thinking.

I started using Av with the lensbaby at first, one less variable to think about, but I'm firmly back on M now - just so I'm in control.

Quote:For example, if you were walking a dog in a field, bright sunny day, and wanted to get some action shots of the dog running towards you. Would you meter off the dog's fur at whatever range, and use those same manual settings for the dog running towards you? Or maybe meter off the ground (be it grass) and use those settings?

In this situation, probably the grass. if the dog's face is lit by the sun, this should be fine.

If its face is in shadow, then maybe up exposure a stop IF it's the face you're really interested in.

On a daytime landscape shoot, I usually set the exposure once and maybe only vary it 1/3 stop now and then all day till the sun gets lots lower.

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