Understanding Manual Mode on Digital Cameras

Digital cameras come with many modes including manual mode. This is normally signified by an "M" on the mode wheel. Using this mode gives you complete control of your aperture and shutter speed, but comes at the cost of an extra second or two before snapping a shot

The Difference between Manual and Priority

If you look into your viewfinder while in manual mode, you will notice that the meter is suggesting an aperture based on the shutter speed that you have set. This looks a lot like shutter priority, but the difference is that the camera will not automatically expose this for you. In manual mode, you will have to physically set the aperture yourself. This is where the extra time comes in.

Advantage of Manual

Even though you lose that second, the benefit is that you do not have to follow the camera's exposure suggestion. Perhaps you want to keep the photo dark and moody. If you were in priority mode, the camera would automatically capture the image at a normal light level. But, in manual mode, you can deliberately expose the image a couple of stops under in order to get the desired look.

If you get used to manual mode, you can overcome the time disadvantage that comes with it. This will liberate you to make your own informed decisions.

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