I am relatively new to Nikon and have the D7000. A pro photographer friend of mine has been trying to convince me of the value of always shooting in manual mode. I have been concentrating on shooting this way, and I am learning a lot, so I am grateful for the challenge posed.
But now I feel like I'm wimping out when I contemplate using any of the other modes. Part of the reason I want to revert is that I haven't mastered shooting in manual (far from it--I'm a slow learner)and sometimes I'd rather rely on my camera's brain instead of my own.
My questions: Am I being wimpy to use the other modes and to not focus completely on shooting manual? Secondly, is manual mode something all good photographers master, or is each shot an exercise in experimentation as to what setting work best?
#1. "RE: Am I a Wimp to Use Other Modes Besides Manual?" In response to Reply # 0
Rancho Cordova, US
No. Not at all. The modes are there for you to make life easier. Shooting sports and want a good exposure with action stopping shutter speeds...go with Shutter Priority. Shooting a birthday party at the house with family and friends, or an anniversary or other event with flash...go with Program. Got a tricky scene lots of complexity...go Manual and Spot metering.
My point is this: know how your camera behaves and when to use the different modes. Do you have to do it all the time? No, get out of your comfort zone and soon you'll find that your comfort zone encompasses more than you originally thought.
#2. "RE: Am I a Wimp to Use Other Modes Besides Manual?" In response to Reply # 1
Jefferson Hills, US
What Anthony said!
I use Manual mode for sports and action. Even then, I sometimes shoot outdoor sports in Aperture priority or Shutter Priority. It depends on what I can control, and how much latitude I have. With indoor action, you are shooting primarily near wide open, and with a minimum shutter speed, so Manual lets you dial those in. That said, I still use Auto-ISO (and if you are using auto-ISO, you are not shooting purely in manual).
Most everything else, I shoot in Aperture Priority mode. For snapshots and casual travel photography, I sometimes even leave it in Program mode, and then shift it to get the Aperture I want. That way, if I'm in a hurry, I can just bang it, and know I'll at least get a good exposure.
I never use the "Scene" modes, although I have used them on a P&S camera, and they work OK for snapshots. I also never use "A" mode. This mode disables some of the camera's functions, and makes a lot of decisions not related to exposure on it's own. My son's D3200 drove me crazy one day, not being able to change settings, until I realized it was in "A" mode, and those things were disabled.
#3. "RE: Am I a Wimp to Use Other Modes Besides Manual?" In response to Reply # 0
No you're not being a wimp at all It's great to play with manual as it makes you more aware of and giving consideration, to exposure.
Many of us old timers learned "Sunny 16" back in the day and it served us well. It's still as valid today.
That said, modern metering is a thing of beauty and even pro cameras have PASM. I'd wager aperture priority is used by many many photographers by default (and shutter priority by sports photogs and the like). I also use manual a lot with studio strobes. Different tools for different tasks and all that.
Personally I never use P mode (as I like to control SOMETHING) and I've never used a scene mode in my life. A,S & M are where's it at for most, and rightly so
#4. "RE: Am I a Wimp to Use Other Modes Besides Manual?" In response to Reply # 0
Certainly not. All the modes that are available have a purpose. I agree that manual gives you complete control of your camera but when action is fast you may not have time to adjust to the existing conditions. Aperture is normally used when the dof may be important while shutter speed would be for blurring or stopping action; so in manual mode you're are more or less using A or S and adding adding the other. The scene modes are designed to take into consideration the type of shot and can take the guess work out thereby perhaps saving the day. Try each one and pay particular attention to the settings and then use them in manual mode as a learning experience. The idea is to be able to adjust as the shot dictates. If uncertain about what manual settings should be for a particular shot then go with another mode - not being wimpy but smart. A good end result will be appreciated and seldom will the mode you were in take precedence over a good photo. Good luck and have fun learning!
Nobody should seek his own good, but the good of others. <><
#6. "RE: Am I a Wimp to Use Other Modes Besides Manual?" In response to Reply # 0 Mon 25-Feb-13 09:45 PM by avm247
Rancho Cordova, US
Being a kid, growing up in the late 70s and 80s, one of my favorite exotic cars was the Vector W2. Chevy 350 twin turbo with like 600HP...but I digress. The car came with a modified Turbo Hydromatic 400 AUTOMATIC transmission. When one of the car magazine editors asked why it didn't come with a stick shift like a Ferrari, Lamborghini or Porche, the designers said (paraphrasing here): You don't see an F15 pilot shifting gears down the runway do you?
I guess my point is this: time and place for everything. I'm glad for the various exposure and metering modes on my camera.
#7. "RE: Am I a Wimp to Use Other Modes Besides Manual?" In response to Reply # 0
I asked more or less the same question when I was getting up to speed on my DSLR.
I came from a 100% manual film camera, so shooting manual came naturally to me. But I always wondered what "real" photographers did!
Now that I've become more familiar and comfortable with the gear, I find myself shooting generally in two modes: If I'm in the studio, I shoot manual since I am in complete control of the lights. Otherwise, I'm generally in aperture priority mode, since I mainly want to control DOF. Depending on conditions, I'll set the ISO such that the shutter speed works out to something reasonable (I've never gotten comfortable with the auto-ISO...I like to feel like I am in control. )
#8. "RE: Am I a Wimp to Use Other Modes Besides Manual?" In response to Reply # 0
Seattle, WA, US
The purpose of the semi-auto modes is to let the camera do some of the work for me. This does not mean that the camera is working unsupervised.
90% of the time I am shooting in aperture priority mode. I pick the ISO. I pick the aperture for artistic or light-gathering. I let the camera suggest the shutter speed. If I don't like the camera's choice then I change something, normally the ISO.
Once I am in shooting mode I will chimp the shots. If the camera is not picking what I want for exposures then I will dial in some EV compensation when the camera is off by a consistent factor. If the results are inconsistent or otherwise tricky then I will switch to manual mode.
If, when you are in manual mode, you find yourself always centering the exposure meter, then you are just manually doing the aperture- or shutter-priority does automatically. Thus, you can let the camera do the work, under your supervision.
---------+---------+---------+---------+---------+ Joseph K Seattle, WA, USA
#9. "RE: Am I a Wimp to Use Other Modes Besides Manual?" In response to Reply # 0
Robin, you've got some good answers already, but I'll chime in to say no, there's nothing wrong with using the other modes. There's not anything wrong with using the scene modes if your camera has them.
There is, however, something wrong with using a mode without knowing why you are using it or how the camera will respond to it. As you have discovered, manual mode is a great teacher. By having to adjust all of the exposure elements, you learn a great deal about how they interact. Once you understand that, there is absolutely nothing wrong with deciding that you can let the camera's systems manage one or more of the exposure parameters as long as you understand what it will do. As JosephK said, it's not unsupervised control.
I give my camera as much control as I think it is capable of managing and no more. I'm a sports shooter, and when I'm shooting basketball in a gym from down near the floor, I'm in full manual, knowing that the gym lights will frequently be in the frame and the camera will underexpose to keep them from blowing out, even though I don't care if they do blow out. When I'm shooting under "Friday night lights," I use M mode with auto ISO because I want to limit the aperture and shutter speed while using the lowest ISO possible on a field which typically has uneven lighting. When I'm shooting soccer in mixed cloud/sun daylight, I use A mode to make sure the aperture stays wide open and let the shutter speed float as needed, tweaking the ISO if the SS gets too high or too low.
Ultimately, the question is this: Under a particular set of conditions, can you ensure that you get properly exposed shots? That's what a professional has to do, and how it's accomplished is secondary. Sometimes, the best way to accomplish it is to let the camera's brain do some of the work.
#10. "RE: Am I a Wimp to Use Other Modes Besides Manual?" In response to Reply # 5 Mon 25-Feb-13 08:36 PM by Ray B
>Ray: In Program you can control something, if you choose to. > Program shift allows the same basic control as Aperture or >Shutter Priority. You just have to adjust it more often.
I know you can and it's entirely valid. It's just me Being an old relic I come from manual cameras. Ground was broken when the Canon A1 gave you P,A,S,M for the first time back in the 1980's IIRC, and we all went "wow" and then more "wow"
I guess aperture priority works for me cos I know what the corresponding shutter speed will be in my head more or roughly, and yep I use auto ISO a lot these days to adjust for that.
In other words, P rocks but us old timers grew up with other ways. Both are valid and work well
#11. "RE: Am I a Wimp to Use Other Modes Besides Manual?" In response to Reply # 0
Thanks for your responses. I am wiping the sweat from my brow now that I have "permission" to rely on other modes when I want or need to.
When you experienced and talented Nikonians shoot in manual, do you just "know" what settings to dial in from the get-go to get the perfect exposure, or do you tinker with the settings on any given shot? I'm uncertain what I'm aiming for when shooting manual. Should my goal be to "get close" to what the situation calls for and then tweak over the course of several exposures to get what I want, or does the good photographer just "know" what set?
#12. "RE: Am I a Wimp to Use Other Modes Besides Manual?" In response to Reply # 11 Mon 25-Feb-13 09:20 PM by Ray B
>Thanks for your responses. I am wiping the sweat from my brow >now that I have "permission" to rely on other modes >when I want or need to. Hey have fun, there are no rules > >When you experienced and talented Nikonians shoot in manual, >do you just "know" what settings to dial in from the >get-go to get the perfect exposure, or do you tinker with the >settings on any given shot?
If my meter in the camera broke I could make an educated guess and be there or thereabouts most times. If shooting under controlled lighting (like indoor sports) I would use the meter to establish a ballpark and maybe switch to manual to give consistent output.
Outdoors I tend to use the EV compensation button a lot and as needed, as opposed to using manual. But we are all different. For me instinct tells me what I need to alter when looking through the viewfinder. Sometimes nothing, sometimes a lot. Or I revert to spot metering. The choices are many but perhaps concentrate on getting good exposures with matrix metering and learn when the need to adjust is critical and vitally learn to understand why that adjustment is necessary.
I was walking around town the other day doing some street work in overcast UK winter conditions. I knew that ISO 200 would give me around f5.6 @ 1/80 to start with. Not essential to know but useful as one becomes more creative, as we can change the bits we need to to get the results we want.
Maybe I need a higher shutter speed to guarantee sharp shots? No problem I'll up the ISO to get there. Maybe I need less depth of field for that portrait - wow I'm good at 2.8 as I'm getting 1/250, camera shake no problem here, no need to increase ISO, awesome. Around the next corner is a great city vista. I need f11 for the depth of field, but no tripod with me. No problem!
I've decided I want 1/250 handheld at f11 to get a guaranteed sharp shot. Up the ISO accordingly! Before I set out I know that with camera "X" I'm delighted with up to ISO 1600. But for this shot, to get 1/250 at f/11 I only need ISO 800. So I'm optimal, I'm happy and I'm working the camera to suit ME
#13. "RE: Am I a Wimp to Use Other Modes Besides Manual?" In response to Reply # 11
Rancho Cordova, US
Robin, when I am shooting in Manual mode, I'm VERY slow, painfully slow. I would probably be shooting on a tripod, using spot metering, looking for that magical 18% gray tone and averaging out a scene. I'll probably set a ball park exposure for the Sunny 16 Rule (1/ISO @ f/16) and adjust from there.
I used to be faster, but in manual, I prefer to take my time, check my composition, check, my meter, check my shutter speed (camera shake), check my DOF Preview button, check focus one last time and then trip the shutter. Getting used Aperture Priority modes, I tend to be a bit faster - composition, focus, shutter speed, DOF Preview button...trip.
#14. "RE: Am I a Wimp to Use Other Modes Besides Manual?" In response to Reply # 0
I often use Aperature priority and center weighted metering for landscape shots. I program on of the buttons for AE lock and meter where experience has taught me I'll get the exposure I want then lock the exposure. You can also program a half push on the shutter release to lock exposure. I get the same effect as manual metering without having to manually adjust shutter speed.
For aircraft or birds in flight I usually use Manual mode and meter off pavement or grass to avoid the bright sky causing under exposure. Spot metering can work too but it can be hard to keep the metering spot on the subject.
#15. "RE: Am I a Wimp to Use Other Modes Besides Manual?" In response to Reply # 11
Many times I have some idea, but I rely on the meter to get me closer, then I take a test exposure or two and check the histogram to be sure.
I do a lot of high-school sports shooting. For artificially lit venues like gyms and football fields, I have a pretty good idea where to start. They don't usually differ from the mean values of such venues by more than a half stop to a stop, maximum.
Outside, the sunny-16 rule gives you a fair idea what to expect, but some subjects and locations are hard to guess. Again, meter and check with the histogram is my policy.
Where I truly have little idea is indoors in non-sports locations. Indoor lighting varies greatly, and of course our eyes adjust to it and make it hard to tell by eye what the light level is. So, metering and checking the histogram are the only way I can set exposure reliably. Usually, I just go to A mode, set the aperture for the depth-of-field I want and start tweaking the ISO to get a shutter speed I can live with. Or use flash.
#16. "RE: Am I a Wimp to Use Other Modes Besides Manual?" In response to Reply # 0
> Am I being wimpy to use the other modes and to not focus completely on shooting manual?
I think you're aiming at the wrong goal. It doesn't matter what exposure mode you use, as long as you get the right exposure. You SHOULD be focusing entirely on getting the right exposure. If that means using manual, fine. But there are other ways to get the same exposure: at least P, A and S will all get to the same exposure as M, most of the time. For a given ISO, S mode gets an equivalent exposure but allows YOU to better control the shutter speed - often important for sports, birds in flight, aircraft. A mode gets the equivalent exposure, but allows YOU to better control the depth of field - a useful thing when shooting macro, landscapes, etc. P mode allows the camera to pick the same exposure, but allows YOU to control it to some degree to bias it toward either depth of field or shutter speed, as YOU choose. What does M do? It requires that YOU pick both shutter speed and aperture - but you'll end up with pretty much the same thing as any of the other three main modes.
> is manual mode something all good photographers master, or is each shot an exercise in experimentation as to what setting work best?
That is a false dichotomy. Getting the right exposure is certainly something that all good photographers master. Once you understand that, it is a pretty simple choice as to S, A or M modes, and P is easy enough too. Speaking strictly for myself, I'd say that it is FAR from the case that each shot is an experiment. I go into each shooting situation with a clear idea of what I'm trying to accomplish, and from that it is easy to decide which mode to use. Here are some scenarios:
- I'm shooting butterflies with a 200/f4 Micro and a ring flash. Because I'm shooting macro, depth of field is crucial. I particularly don't care too much about shutter speed because I'm going to rely on the flash to help freeze motion. So I'm almost certainly going to shoot this in Aperture preferred (A) mode. I set an aperture that is small enough to achieve the right DOF, and within reason the shutter speed will be selected for me; again, since I'm shooting flash, it doesn't matter that much. (It matters, just not as much as usual, and I do watch both the shutter speed and the ambient exposure as indicated by the meter in the finder.) The result is that I can get the right DOF and for the most part I can not have to think too awfully much about shutter speed.
- I'm shooting motorsport, and I know that I want a certain amount of motion blur in the wheels to make the cars appear to be moving. From experience I know that this is best shot at speeds between about 1/160th and 1/250th or maybe 1/400th depending on focal length, distance and track conditions. So I'll shoot this in S mode, and then dial in 1/200th or so. The aperture doesn't matter so much, because probably I'm panning, so the background is going to be blurred in one way or another, even if it's super bright and the aperture ends up at f/20 or something like that. Of course, I still have to pay attention to the aperture: suppose the light goes down (thunderstorms moving in?) and even my 1/200th requires f/2... which might be a real problem if I have an f/4 lens mounted. It can go the other direction too: to get a really dramatic pan, I might turn the shutter speed down as low as 1/15th sec (yes, even with a 200 or 400mm lens). In such a case I have to be certain that the lens can stop down enough to even achieve this without blowing out the image. I may have to adjust ISO - downward - or get a polarizer or neutral density filter. The result here is that I can get the right amount of subject motion and not have to think too awfully much about aperture.
- Same situation, except that instead of shooting IndyCar or NASCAR, I'm shooting LeMans endurance cars - which notably run with headlights. Now I have a problem, because a shot at the side of the car gets one exposure on either A or S mode, but if they come directly at me, the headlight causes overall underexposure by as much as two stops. In order to address this, I'll observe how I would be exposing in S mode, then dial that in with M mode. Now it does not matter what the meter reading is if the car turns toward me - or worse, if the guy behind him spins and throws a headlight across my sensor suddenly and unexpectedly. Of course, I'll have to watch the meter from frame to frame as the sun and clouds play hide-and-seek, but at least the headlights don't play havoc with my exposure on an instant-by-instant basis.
- I'm shooting a party, with lots of casual portraits in low to very low light, although some backgrounds (the band, for example) are pretty bright. I'll use lots of flash, depending on the flash to properly expose the main subject while setting the backgrounds to be slightly underexposed. The result is a subject that tends to "pop off" the background, even if the background is relatively in focus, since our eyes are usually drawn to the brightest part of the frame. I do this by setting M mode; I set the fastest flash sync speed (1/250th on my camera), then aiming the aperture to underexpose by one stop. On the flash I've set TTL mode and one stop OVERexposure. Since I've set the ambient to a stop of underexposure, one stop of overexposure by the flash results in -1 + 1 = 0 or normal exposure for the main subject. Could I do this in A mode with -1 EV of exposure compensation? Yes, but then I wouldn't necessarily get the fastest flash sync speed, which may be helpful in avoiding flash ghosts, particularly when the background is brighter (such as the band).
- Last example: I'm shooting landscape, in Yosemite, so in black and white. It's winter, so there's a lot of snow around. Rather than A mode, which is what I normally would use for landscape for control of depth of field, I'll switch to manual. And I switch to spot meter too. Rather than just taking the overall exposure, I use the spot meter and point at the snow, then dial shutter speed and aperture such that the snow is 1.7 to 2.0 stops "overexposed" - which means that it will come out close to white but with still holding detail. Alternatively, I'm shooting black steam locomotives at night. Same situation except that I'll point the spot meter at the black of the wheels or boiler and aim for -1.7 stops underexposure, which leaves just enough exposure in the black to see detail. This is a variant of the Zone System.
The summary here is that I use at least three different exposure modes pretty commonly: A, S and M. It should be clear from the description that none of this is much of an experiment at all. I'm reasonably competent at metering and exposure, and with some experience in each of these domains, I know how to get the exposure that I need. If it seems like a lot of thinking and things to worry about, yes it is. That's what photography is about, actually: the use of the technology (camera, lens, post processing, etc) to render the intended image.
_____ Brian... a bicoastal Nikonian and Team Member
My gallery is online. Comments and critique welcomed any time!
#17. "RE: Am I a Wimp to Use Other Modes Besides Manual?" In response to Reply # 16
Los Angeles, US
The fellow who convinced me to buy the D7000 was a 747 captain. He advised me to start out shooting ONLY in manual. In order to learn all the camera controls (there are a bunch of them, as you have probably noticed).
I didn't listen. And so I spent weeks menu surfing, looking at that LCD screen. Meanwhile, I wasted time and had no comprehension at all of buttons or control dials. I simply couldn't work the camera.
First things first. Learn to manage all the controls (other than menus). M is best, but you can also get a handle on thins in A Priority Mode or S Priority Mode. The last two modes greatly simplify shooting. In M, S & A modes you'll also begin to see the relationship of shutter speed, aperture and ISO to exposure. These are fundamental to all cameras.
Meanwhile the fabulous "brain" in the D7000 will be steering you towards good exposures.
#18. "RE: Am I a Wimp to Use Other Modes Besides Manual?" In response to Reply # 16
>> is manual mode something all good photographers master, >>or is each shot an exercise in experimentation as to what >>setting work best?
>That is a false dichotomy.
Great post Brian, but the OP's question is not the logical fallacy of false dilemma (aka the either/or fallacy or the false dichotomy). The OP, I think, basically asked if manual mode (after some period of active shooting practice) would eventually become second nature, or if it never becomes second nature and requires the photographer to try different manual exposure settings in order to get (to the photographer's eye) the best exposure for each shot.
The general advice in the thread is that relying on the camera's built-in meter while in Manual exposure mode provides a generally very accurate guideline as a basis for exposure experimentation in Manual exposure mode. As the OP experiments, the advice also seems to be that he'll gradually absorb the knowledge of how tweaking manual exposure mode metering affects certain types of shots in various types of light, and how to recognize when the camera's metering provides him with the sort of exposure he prefers for any particular shot. So the answer to his, IMO non-fallacious question, is that the more he gets out a shoots in manual exposure mode, the more he'll get to know his camera, the more creative he'll become, and the more second-nature exposure settings will become for him.
#19. "RE: Am I a Wimp to Use Other Modes Besides Manual?" In response to Reply # 0
I so appreciate the discussion here and the time members have taken to address my questions. You've helped clarify for me what my goals are in developing photographic skills, as well as how to achieve them. This Nikonian community is a tremendous source of support. Thanks to you all.
#23. "RE: Am I a Wimp to Use Other Modes Besides Manual?" In response to Reply # 9
Jefferson Hills, US
"I give my camera as much control as I think it is capable of managing and no more."
Amen. I never used Auto-ISO on my D90, because I didn't trust it. I tried it on the D7000, and after a couple successful shoots, I was impressed. Now, I use it all the time for indoor sports.
That said, outdoors, I usually set ISO myself. Other than SS, ISO is the single greatest limiter in shooting sports. With DX, you can usually get by with a variety of apertures in sports shooting (I've shot everything from f1.8-f8), and the photos still look good if your focus technique and lens is good. But, the wrong SS will blur motion, and too high of an ISO will add noise and limit cropping/sharpness. So, I set SS and ISO, and if anything floats, it's aperture.
#24. "RE: Am I a Wimp to Use Other Modes Besides Manual?" In response to Reply # 15
Jefferson Hills, US
My first camera was a MF, Canon AE-1 Program film camera in high school and college, in the early 1980's. I missed the pre-onboard meter days, and even missed the days of the old needle meter and having to set both A and SS manually. So,...I'm pretty lost without a meter of some kind. That said, I've shot enough of certain subjects that could probably "remember" my settings, at least for the gyms I usually shoot in. Outdoors, it would be a total ####-shoot.
#25. "RE: Am I a Wimp to Use Other Modes Besides Manual?" In response to Reply # 22
I used to be petrified of using M mode until i read Understanding Exposure by Bryan Peterson. It gave me that Eureka moment !!! Ill be the first to admit that my first few hundred snaps were pretty hit and miss until i started to really see the Light and interpret not only what my meter was telling but what my own eyes interpreted as well based on my ever growing experience level. it,s fun to have full control !!!
Now flash .......... a whole different story but another adventure !!
BW- Big Wayner My motocross kid is faster than your A student !!
#26. "RE: Am I a Wimp to Use Other Modes Besides Manual?" In response to Reply # 16
Brian, that response was brilliant. Well written, too. I guess subject dictates mode. Oftentimes, there's no time to adjust everything. Far better to get a good shot than miss the perfect one looking at my LCD. At two years into my 1st SLR, the D7K, I'm finally learning what the camera is seeing,what it's trying to do with the exposure and why. The concept of middle grey takes some getting used to. Thanks for letting us peek over the shoulder and into the thought process of an expert. Tom
earleinatruck ...and there was light...and it was good. The more I learn, the better my camera gets. D7000 w/MB-D11 Grip Too much, yet never enough...
#27. "RE: Am I a Wimp to Use Other Modes Besides Manual?" In response to Reply # 0 Fri 01-Mar-13 03:52 PM by Vlad_IT
New Tampa, US
1. I use manual mode (saved to U1 slot) for indoor parties with flash. It allows me to set spot metering (to force the flash from TTL-BL to standard TTL mode), aperture f/4 (for groups i adjust to f5.6 and sometimes f/8) and shutter speed around 1/100, (that gets adjusted depending on the available ambient light). ISO set to 800. I let the flash adjust the power input to get correct exposure of main subject. If I’m stepping outside into day light during a party I switch to P mode and matrix metering for TTL-BL flash.
2. I use manual mode (saved to U2 slot) for BIF - Auto ISO from 400 to 1600, center weighted metering, EV -2/3, 1/2000 shutter speed (sometimes going to 1/1600 if too dark) and f/4.
3. I'm sure i used manual mode for some kid’s action shots where I needed a certain shutter speed but needed to maintain DOF fro group shots. Auto ISO is your friend here.
It is very useful if you learn how to utilize manual mode. Keep in mind that VR on the lens needs to be switched off for shutter speeds over 1/500, with exception then you are on a moving platform (than you put in from normal to active mode. YMMV.
#28. "RE: Am I a Wimp to Use Other Modes Besides Manual?" In response to Reply # 1
When I first learned 35mm photography, my camera offered either Aperture Priority or Manual Mode. I learned both but felt more comfortable in Aperture Priority. My main choice is Aperture Priority as I prefer shooting wildlife and landscapes and my main reason is to control my depth of field, but there are times when I prefer Shutter Priority (for the times I want to freeze or blur action) or Manual Mode (for the times I acquiesce to a handheld light meter instead of the camera's meter). Nothing wimpy about using other modes though!
#29. "RE: Am I a Wimp to Use Other Modes Besides Manual?" In response to Reply # 27
South Lake Tahoe, US
If you are shooting Nikon you have these choices: P for Perfect S for Spectacular M for Magnificent A for Awesome
I shoot Awesome and I'm no wimp.
Seriously, All good answers. I suggest to choose one, shoot it for a thousand shots or until you understand what it does. Use the EV to adjust your exposure to your liking. Once you are comfortable with that setting change to another and repeat. Then move on to other settings in the camera, one at a time. There are way too many choices to master them all. Find the setting that is right for you and what you shoot, then set it and forget it, and concentrate on composition and creativity. Quit fussing with all the settings in the field, you might miss the 'once in a lifetime' shot.
Another tip; use your camera everyday even if you don't make a shot. Remove and replace lenses, adjust aperture, shutter speeds, EV, ISO, etc. until you can do it in the dark. Keep doing that until it becomes like driving a car, second nature.
Jim Stamates Nikonians Academy Workshop Instructor
#30. "RE: Am I a Wimp to Use Other Modes Besides Manual?" In response to Reply # 11
>Thanks for your responses. I am wiping the sweat from my brow >now that I have "permission" to rely on other modes >when I want or need to. > >When you experienced and talented Nikonians shoot in manual, >do you just "know" what settings to dial in from the >get-go to get the perfect exposure, or do you tinker with the >settings on any given shot? I'm uncertain what I'm aiming for >when shooting manual. Should my goal be to "get >close" to what the situation calls for and then tweak >over the course of several exposures to get what I want, or >does the good photographer just "know" what set?
I've been shooting DSLRs for 40 years and was an early adopter of digital. I know how to use my camera in all different modes, but 90% of the time I shoot on "A". I always look at my shutter speed and ISO and make sure all three of those are where I want them to be for my particular shot.
A very high percentage of the time, I get great exposure trusting the camera on "A". When I have tricky lighting, I often use exposure lock (which I have set to that button on the front next to the lens), use exposure compensation, or I go on manual. But most of the time, it is much faster and very accurate to set it on "A". If I did everything on manual, I'd miss a lot of shots. What good would that be? And what would be the point!
#32. "RE: Am I a Wimp to Use Other Modes Besides Manual?" In response to Reply # 0
I just returned from several days at the St. Augustine Alligator Farm shooting more than two thousand frames of bird images. I probably split between Aperture and Manual modes.
For most wildlife photos, I'm trying to optimize sharpness and have the shallowest acceptable depth of field to create a soft background and a sharp subject. I also want a fast enough shutter speed to freeze action.
Aperture Priority allows me to chose my aperture - stopped down a stop or so from wide open - choose my ISO, and let the shutter speed vary. I watch the shutter speed to be sure it is fast enough, but at 1/1000 sec and faster it does not matter that much. If light is changing due to partial clouds, Aperture Priority manages the exposure. I check the histogram and dial in appropriate exposure compensation to handle a white bird in the scene.
I could use manual mode with Auto ISO to achieve a similar result - 1/1000 sec, f/5.6, and let the ISO vary within range as light changes. And there is no free lunch - higher ISO levels reduce the dynamic range captured and that can be a problem with white birds.
But at times the light did not vary. So regardless of my images, the settings would remain the same. But when I changed to birds in flight, the background varied from sky, to clouds, to dark foliage. If my light on the subject is constant - or nearly so - I could use manual exposure to keep the camera from changing exposure based on the background. The light on the subject is the same - but the background variations don't change exposure.
The challenge with any of these methods is highlighted with changing light due to partial clouds for birds in flight. The light and the backgrounds were changing. Whatever setting you use, you constantly are adjusting exposure and checking your histogram. Manual is probably a little easier within a range of a stop, but with greater variation in light levels aperture priority can make sense.
I use Aperture priority 90% of the time, but I'm dialing in exposure compensation on most of those images. I use manual exposure about 10% of the time - and you still need to be prepared to adjust to changes. The understanding of manual exposure and the trade-offs is important, but there is no great need to handicap yourself needlessly. Automated metering is a huge advantage if you understand exposure.
#33. "RE: Am I a Wimp to Use Other Modes Besides Manual?" In response to Reply # 0
without reading the loads of other replies, I would encourage you to not feel intimidated by anyone who insists that their way is the best and you will be inferior if you don't follow suit - maybe they are more experienced and they might be right, but you bought this super sophisticated camera to use and enjoy in your own way.
You would only be wimpy if you were hemmed in to not exploit this cameras excellent automation to the full. Matrix metering, auto focus, A, S, P, and yes, even the scene modes - all great tools there to help you get the pic you want. 9 times out of 10 the camera can get as good a shot as a fully manual set up, especially if time is of the essence. If you really want to exploit manual photography and be dictated by it's limitations, you could end up on the road to hand held light meters, large format film and timing how long you remove the lens cap for!
Put it another way, using the auto modes is no more wimpy than deciding to push the button on your auto washing machine rather than going down to the stream to beat your clothes out on a rock.
The one great benefit of doing manual everything, including setting up on a tripod, is that it is SLOW - and that can have the side effect of making you consider the shot more carefully, and therefore take a better picture. Taking time and being careful will contribute more to improving our pics than deliberately limiting our use of the available technology.
#34. "RE: Am I a Wimp to Use Other Modes Besides Manual?" In response to Reply # 13
Anthony, thank you for the information. I had never heard of the Sunny 16 rule. Are there other rules that would help novices like me i.e. rules for creating blurred backgrounds in portraits etc? Any simple rules would be greatly appreciated.
#35. "RE: Am I a Wimp to Use Other Modes Besides Manual?" In response to Reply # 34
>Anthony, thank you for the information. I had never heard of >the Sunny 16 rule. Are there other rules that would help >novices like me i.e. rules for creating blurred backgrounds in >portraits etc? Any simple rules would be greatly appreciated.
If you want a really good grounding in all the fundamental rules of exposure, Nikon USA has online a completely free series of articles that start here. As you finish each article and experiment with your camera settings, click to read the next article in the series. The articles are excellent, well organized and well written.
#36. "RE: Am I a Wimp to Use Other Modes Besides Manual?" In response to Reply # 0
Some great advice here. Personally I really only use two modes, aperture or shutter priority. For me, I'm either looking for great depth of field, or action freezing speed. Between the two, I seem to always get the results I'm looking for...
#37. "RE: Am I a Wimp to Use Other Modes Besides Manual?" In response to Reply # 36
The mode you use is irrelevant. Having control over your exposure is! In any of the priority modes, you have ISO (or Auto ISO) and exposure comp - you can fix one variable (Aperture in A, Shutter in S) and let the camera choose the other variables, but still fine tune it using ISO and exposure comp adjustments to get the exposure you want.
If your subject is stationary and your lighting is constant, using Manual can work well. Once things start moving and/or the light starts changing between shots, A or S may be a better option.
#38. "RE: Am I a Wimp to Use Other Modes Besides Manual?" In response to Reply # 37
Your not a wimp in the slightest! I agree with so much of the above and for my two penny worth: I think it great to master manual as part of developing as a photographer. That said, the other modes sure can make things easy at times and I think that all the features of a camera are there to experiment with and if the end result is a pleasing photo does it matter manual or otherwise. Reject the idea that there's something wrong with turning the dial and throw caution to the wind Just have fun with your photography!
#40. "RE: Am I a Wimp to Use Other Modes Besides Manual?" In response to Reply # 34
The blurred background comes from a combination of several things:
Shallow depth of field - f/5.6 is unlikely to have a blurred background with most lenses, but f/2.8 and f/1.8 are much more likely to allow a shallow depth of field.
Equipment - many consumer lenses don't allow f/2.8 or wider. Lenses like the 50mm f/1.8 are economical choices to buy a fast lens that produces a shallow depth of field.
Background distance - a blurred background can be achieved by having more space behind the subject. Choose a lens or composition that makes the proportion of space behind the subject much greater than the distance from the camera to the subject.
Use a longer focal length - Getting close with a longer lenses increases the effect. So at 200mm, a close up image with lots of space behind the subject will have a soft, out of focus background.
And of course to have as much in focus as possible with a sharp background (as with landscapes), you would do the opposite.