How often do you shoot in "M" (manual) mode?

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by rbownes, Sep 8, 2009.


How often do you shoot in "M" (manual) mode?

  1. Always

  2. Most of the time

  3. Occasionally

  4. Never

  1. rbownes macrumors newbie

    Nov 12, 2008
    Just curious......because I am finding it hard to get nice photos with manual mode.
  2. Demosthenes X macrumors 68000

    Demosthenes X

    Oct 21, 2008
    Almost always - the exception being if I'm trying to grab a quick shot to capture a moment more than take a nice photo. But otherwise, I'm always in Manual.

    It does take some time to grasp how to use M and get the right balance of shutter, exposure, aperture, etc. The simplest advice is just to take lots of pictures. Then you start to understand the relationship between all those functions. There are lots of books that can help - Understanding Exposure gets lots of rave reviews, and I have been meaning to read it.

    Another good place to start is with Aperture priority and/or Shutter priority mode, if your camera has it. This mode allows you to set the aperture or shutter manually, and the camera sets the other functions... kind of a semi-automatic mode. I found it handy for learning how different apertures changed the same photo...

    But really, just take lots of pictures! Once you get the hang of manual mode, you'll find your pictures come out much nicer than they do in Auto mode.
  3. Nicolasdec macrumors 65816


    Dec 7, 2006
    São Paulo
    Manual is probably 2nd I use Aperture mode the most. However I defiantly use M more than shutter priority or program.
  4. dazey macrumors 6502

    Dec 9, 2005
    Manual the most, then aperture priority. Very rarely use shutter priority. I dont think I have ever used programme mode.
  5. Phrasikleia macrumors 601


    Feb 24, 2008
    Over there------->
    Same here. I use "M" whenever I'm using a tripod or whenever I want to follow a moving object without the camera changing metering on me. I'll also use it in museums, when the lighting and subjects are pretty consistent and I want to lock in the metering so all I have to worry about is composition and focus.
  6. TheStrudel macrumors 65816


    Jan 5, 2008
    Depends on what I'm shooting. Easier to lock in manual settings with a static object; I find myself shooting Aperture priority when dealing with high-light moving object situations and occasionally Shutter priority for high speed things.

    If I were a better photographer, I'd be shooting all manual, all the time. I'm a neophyte.
  7. dmmcintyre3 macrumors 68020

    Mar 4, 2007
    I shot some killer shots in full manual, and some killer shots in P or even full auto. Manual is good when you don't care for what the camera says is the "right" settings. Sometimes you just can't get the photo right in full auto or even a a semi auto mode which is when you want the manual controls.
  8. Edge100 macrumors 68000

    May 14, 2002
    Where am I???
    If I'm outside shooting portraits with flash, I'm in Av mode almost exclusively. This allows me to get an appropriate exposure for the background (by the auto shutter speed setting) AND control DoF with my selected f-stop; manual would work fine too, but outdoor portrait sessions tend to be fast moving, and I don't have time to constantly be watching the meter reading. Besides, in Av mode, I can easily drag the shutter with exposure compensation, if the camera selects a shutter speed that is too slow. So outdoor with flash is almost always: Av, ISO 200, high-speed sync on.

    Inside shooting portraits/parties/groups with flash, I'm in M mode almost exclusively; Av mode doesn't work with flash indoors because it will try to force you to use an unacceptably slow shutter speed. For indoor portraits with flash, I use ISO 200 (increases my guide number AND extends the life of my batteries vs. ISO 100, while retaining excellent S/N...I'll go to higher ISO if I have REALLY bad light or the subject is very far away), 1/250 (max sync speed of my 1DmkII), then select an appropriate f-stop to control DoF (and flash exposure in the rare instances that I use manual flash). Only in VERY poorly lit indoor scenes do I drop shutter speed below 1/250; again, no sense making my flash work harder than it needs to. So indoor with flash is always: M, ISO 200.

    For landscape and cityscape photos (i.e. no flash), I'm Av, lowest possible ISO. Tv mode only when shutter speed and not DoF is the key determinant (i.e. handheld with no flash in a poorly-lit room, moving cars/bikes/trains/etc).
  9. MattSepeta macrumors 65816


    Jul 9, 2009
    375th St. Y

    It depends on the subject...

    Normally I will start in Aperture Priority mode to get the general idea of what I am going for, then after a shot or two in Ap I switch over to manual.

    Unless I am going for certain things, like a super slow shutter speed, or if I am indoors shooting a show I will use shutter priority to keep it locked at 1/60 or whatever I am shooting at.
  10. nburwell macrumors 68040


    May 6, 2008
    I shoot on 'M' exclusively when I'm photographing cityscapes at night. The only time I stray away from 'M' is if I'm photographing a friend for a portfolio or something. But as long as it's a landscape/cityscape oriented photo, I'm shooting on 'M'.
  11. toxic macrumors 68000

    Nov 9, 2008
    most of the time - once I have the settings for a proper exposure, it's simple matter of changing the shutter speed or aperture for different lighting conditions. like I was out yesterday evening, a proper exposure was ISO 400, f/5.6 at 1/1000 (1/2000 when facing the sun), in shade it was about 2 stops darker, so 1/250. simple matter of flicking the shutter speed dial.

    if I have some time, I'll use Av, look for an important highlight, and set it at +2 EC.

    my habits are influenced by my metering choice - I use spot metering exclusively, since I know exactly what the camera is metering.
  12. Mousse macrumors 68000


    Apr 7, 2008
    Flea Bottom, King's Landing
    Indoors: M (control is necessary, lighting is pretty constant)
    Outdoors: Av (lighting varies too quickly. And I don't want to miss a shot while fiddling with the settings.)
    Sports: Tv (I hardly ever shoot sports, so it's rarely used)
  13. miloblithe macrumors 68020


    Nov 14, 2003
    Washington, DC
    I suppose like a lot of amateurs, I almost always use Av. I use M mainly for flash photography, especially indoors, but I usually try to avoid using a flash. Very rarely use Tv, usually for flash photography outdoors.
  14. Badradio macrumors 6502

    Aug 19, 2004
    I use P mode most of the time, and override the shutter/aperture pairing as I need to. It's like having both shutter and aperture priority under my thumb. I'm shooting more manual recently though, as I'm trying to get more control over my shots, and sometimes the camera just can't get the right exposure in P mode.
  15. davegregory macrumors regular

    Jul 7, 2009
    Burlington, Ontario
    I usually use manual mode. Portraits, still life, anything where I'll be in control of the light. Wildlife or sports, which I don't often do, I'll use shutter priority. I hardly use aperture priority, oddly, I'll use "P" for professional before aperture haha.
  16. Edge100 macrumors 68000

    May 14, 2002
    Where am I???
    Doesn't this cause depth of field issues, especially when using fill flash (where the camera might try to force a very high f-stop on you, resulting in very large DoF)? You might be better off with Av mode in this case, using f-stop to control depth of field (I assume you're using some variety of automatic flash exposure control, which takes care of flash exposure) and allowing the camera to choose shutter speed to control background exposure.

    I ask only because I do a lot of outdoor flash work, and Av seems to work best for me (in combo with high-speed sync); I can get perfect flash exposure with ETTL-II, and perfect background exposure by dragging the shutter as necessary with exposure compensation on the camera.
  17. namethisfile macrumors 65816


    Jan 17, 2008
    M mode 100%. but that's because i recently transitioned to dslr from 35mm film. i also think shooting in M mode is more educational, for me, at least. it helps me learn about camera, lighting, exposure, etc. i guess i am a tradionalist in this way. making mistakes helps me learn what i did because i chose those settings and change accordingly. over time, i get a handle of what those settings mean.

    but it is nice to have shutter and aperture priority mode and i am sure these will come in handy for me when the time comes.
  18. joepunk macrumors 68030


    Aug 5, 2004
    a profane existence
    All the time as I use Nikkor Manual Focus AI AIS lenses on my D50.

    Even when I use my autofocus telephoto lens I still use M mode.
  19. rbownes thread starter macrumors newbie

    Nov 12, 2008
    I was using M mode yesterday. I was at a lake and getting a shot of my son feeding some bread to a duck. It was an overcast (cloudy) day and I had the aperture at about 8 and then adjusted the shutter speed until the metering was at 0. The pictures look OK but are quite dark and underexposed. Maybe I should have put ISO to 200 instead of 100.
  20. PeteB macrumors 6502a


    Jan 14, 2008
    1) When I'm using a flash - it lets me control the ambient exposure far more than Av or Tv does.

    2) When I'm taking panoramas

    3) When I'm shooting something for which I know the camera's idea of a correct exposure won't be what I want.
  21. Acsom macrumors regular

    Jul 10, 2009
    I think many photographers choose Av frequently, not just amateurs. Under circumstances where the in camera metering is going to be correct, there's no real reason not to. After all, if you are going to use M, choose the aperture and then the shutter speed to get an exposure with compensation of 0, then you've just taken the slow road to Av.

    That being said, I also agree that the more you know about photography, and the more photographs you take, the more likely you are to know when the in camera metering is going to be wrong; or the more likely you are to want a particular appearance that can't be achieved with the in camera metering.

    I use Av for 90% of my photography, because it gives me the results I am looking for. Yeah, it's messed me up sometimes, but I'm still a real photonoob. When I went to Steamtown to shoot trains, I forgot that the in camera metering on that bright sunny day was going to try to make all those black engines look gray; hello, gray trains and blown skies. When I went to training camp to shoot football, the metering would vary as I tracked a receiver; white jersey, black helmet. Yes, I was using spot metering, but as you track a guy he bobs up and down, other guys move in and out, and your lens can't anticipate a cut or a turn. You get the guy, but the center spot isn't on what you were metering off of. Those are situations where familiarity with the function of your camera and familiarity with how to photograph the situation allow you to make informed decisions. So yes, the more you shoot the more you know the value of the M setting.
  22. rbownes thread starter macrumors newbie

    Nov 12, 2008
    So the metering helps to balance the shutter speed and aperture, but for the ISO it is tough to guess. I guess you just need to practice, practice, practice.
  23. colinmack macrumors regular

    Feb 25, 2006
    Aperture priority most often to control DoF, shutter priority if I'm shooting something in low light and I need to ensure a minimum shutter speed...and in those cases I trust the camera to work out the rest.

    Only time I use fully manual is if there's something specific I'm after, and mostly in conjunction with a tripod.
  24. cosmokanga2 macrumors 6502a


    Jan 7, 2008
    Canada, where we live in igloos.
    As Joe Mcnally said on his blog, "I didn't buy a $2000 camera just for me to do all of the work." I shoot mainly Aperture Priority only using manual when it doesn't capture an image correctly. When using flash I just use EV compensation.
  25. romanaz macrumors regular


    Aug 24, 2008
    I usually shoot on M. When I first got my XSi, I switched it to M to learn it as well, my thought process was, well, I just bought a camera for manual controls, why should I put it on semi-auto?

    Most of the time its M, except when I'm doing point and shoot crap w/ friends around the campus, then its a toss up between Tv or Av, Tv if its dark out and I'm using my 50 f/1.8, Av if its light out.

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