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Very basic question about manual shooting

mpdragon 19 22
29 Jan 2003 4:19PM
Hi - I'm an ex-point and shoot person and have now got a camera which has loads of options. It's actually digital, but I think the question is relevant to trad photography too!

Just how do I know what settings to use when I'm using manual mode? If, for example, I'm shooting a typical landscape - hills, a valley, winding path, cottage etc, is there a 'set' of aperture & shutter settings to use as a starting point? I know about depth of field, but if the aperture goes from 1.8 to 8.0, and the shutter from 1/1000 to 16, where do I start? I realise I can use the camera's (Olympus C5050) landscape settings, but I'd really like to know the answer!

Or does anyone have a favourite idiots guide? Please feel free to tell me these are too many questions, but with so many experts about, I hope at least someone can point me in the right direction.
nminers 19 143 United Kingdom
29 Jan 2003 4:36PM
It's impossible to say what combination of shutter speed/aperture will work without being there! Most (if not all) manual modes will have a guide as to whether the current settings will lead to an over- or under-exposed image.

However if you are going to use manual mode just to choose the combination of shutter speed/aperture that you would get using one of the cameras program modes, then you might as well not use it. Manual allows you to override the camera's default setting so you can, say, deliberately under- or over-expose to get the effect you want, not what the camera thinks you ought to have.

For landscapes, as you say you need to consider depth of field, so go to f/8 and see what shutter speed the camera suggests, then adjust according to your perception of the conditions, bracketing if desired. The camera's landscape settings will generally try to get as small an aperture as possible to achieve the same effect, but if you want more control (especially under tricky lighting conditions) then you should fiddle around with the manual mode.

Does this help?
dhphoto 18 29
29 Jan 2003 5:09PM
As you have digital you have the luxury of experimenting without incurring any expense! I suggest you go out and take loads of shots and keep a notebook of what you did. I also suggest you use your camera on manual (as in the previous reply), but then purposely over and under expose some shots (that is move the shutter speed or the aperture one way and then the other from 'normal'- bracketing) about one or even two steps (stops) to see what over and underexposure do to the results. With regard to depth of field, I'd be suprised if this were really an issue. Digital cameras use sensors that are smaller than the film they replace, this means the lenses are much shorter in focal length than their 35mm equivalents. This in turn means the depth of field is greater, therefore more of your photograph will be in focus anyway at a given f-stop(this is useful sometimes and a pain at others!)
J-P 18 396
29 Jan 2003 7:13PM
Don't know about your camera, but every camera I have ever used in manual recommends a shutter/aperture combination - either via a dig display or needles. It is then up to you wether you heed this recommendation or not.

The camera manual should have this information in it.
mpdragon 19 22
29 Jan 2003 8:15PM
Thanks, one and all, that's very helpful! I think my problem is that, not having had much experience of 'proper' photography, I've have never used manual, so am bit lost. However, I've just run off a few shots and can clearly see that when I change the settings to what the camera says, I get a better picture! And, as the information is in the exif window, I don't even need a notebook.

The only reason I said I knew I could use the landscape mode was to anticipate a question about why I was bothering with manual when I already had a preset mode! Off to practice in my flat now.... I may be back
scorchio 18 129 United Kingdom
30 Jan 2003 4:53AM
if u want to understand exposure a bit better, have a look at the zone system article on this website. although u may not be able to implement it properly, it will give u a better idea about what is going on in the viewfinder. if u want to do a bit more involved reading, purchase "the negative" by ansel adams. that will cover just about all u need to know about exposure.
Big Bri 20 16.7k United Kingdom
30 Jan 2003 8:58AM

If you are going to trust the camera's metering, it is easier to use one of the "semi-automatic" modes. If you put the camera in aperture priority mode, you choose the aperture (to control depth of field for instance) and rather than you having to set the shutter speed to what the camera recommends, the camera just does it for you. Likewise, if you want to set a particular shutter speed, to freeze motion or to prevent camera shake, you put the camera in shutter priority mode, set the speed and let the camera set the aperture. There really is no need to use fully manual if you are going to trust the camera's metering. Even if you want to over or under expose by a couple of stops, you can set an exposure compensation and still use the semi-auto modes.
I'm not saying don't use manual mode - I do all the time - just that manually setting the camera to exactly the setting the camera would make for you seems like a waste of time.
mpdragon 19 22
30 Jan 2003 2:19PM
Thanks, Big Bri, I just felt I ought to be able to work things out for myself, but now I can use the presets without feeling guilty! I just had the feeling that 'proper' photographers would prefer to work things out...bit silly, I suppose.

Off to take some shots in the Roccoco Gardens at the weekend, weather permitting.

Thanks for your help

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