23rd February 2024 6:37 am
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[HOW TO] Use your camera’s manual setting

Digital cameras come equipped with a plethora of modes and settings that will aid you in almost every situation to get the right image, but how many of us know how to make use of these settings?

The easiest and most hassle-free way to take good quality images are to switch the camera to the Auto setting and snap away. But by using the manual setting, you will have total control over how your photographs come out.

Set up

The dial close to the shutter button will present you with a number of options when it comes to controlling how your camera reacts in different situations, but for this purpose we will be taking a look at the Manual option, represented by an ‘M’ on the dial. Turn the dial in any direction until the ‘M’ is lined up and clicked in place next to the little white marker.

Changing the settings

By switching the camera to manual mode, you will be able to control how much light will be passing through the on to the sensor and for how long the shutter should be open. Most cameras have two separate little rolling dials – usually one in the front by the shutter button and one on the back close to the view finder. These will be used to manually change the shutter speed and aperture (f-stop).

Shutter speed

The shutter speed is changed on most cameras by rolling the dial on the front. The number on the view finder will represent the time in seconds it that the shutter will be open for. So if the number on the screen is 1/100, it means that the shutter will be open 100th of a second. Changing the shutter speed will allow more or less light to enter the sensor, so changing it will lighten or darken your images. Just remember, the lower the shutter speed to brighter the images will be. Using a low shutter speed is ideal for dark or low-light areas. Tweaking the shutter speed can mean the difference between a moody image with dark tones, and a happy one with bright colours. Shutter speed also affects the way moving objects are captured.

This image was taken at 1/100, with an f-stop of 4.0.
This image was taken at 1/100, with an f-stop of 4.0.
This image was taken at 1/250, with an f-stop of 4.0.
This image was taken at 1/250, with an f-stop of 4.0.
This image was taken at 1/500, with an f-stop of 4.0.
This image was taken at 1/500, with an f-stop of 4.0.

Aperture

The aperture is manually changed by rolling the dial located near the view finder on the back. Working in conjunction with the shutter speed, changing the aperture also affects the brightness or darkness of your images. Where the shutter speed determined how long the shutter stays open for, the manual aperture determines how wide it opens – measured in f-stops. It’s a delicate dancing act between shutter speed and aperture, you can create really good images. A higher f-stop, like f16 or f22 will mean darker images, while f4 or f5 should be idea for most scenarios.

This image was taken at an f-stop of 4.5
This image was taken at an f-stop of 4.5
This image was taken at an f-stop of 8.
This image was taken at an f-stop of 8.
This image was taken at an f-stop of 16.
This image was taken at an f-stop of 16.

Now that you know how to change the shutter speed and aperture setting by using the manual dials, it’s time to go outside and experiment. The beauty of photography is that you can change the mood and feel of almost any scenario just by changing the light. There are no hard and fast rules, but generally a fast shutter speed and low f-stop is used for photography in sunlight, while the inverse will be used for indoor photography.

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