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M: Manual Mode


Manual mode is all about control. Keep in mind, this mode was not designed for those of us who want to go on autopilot and shoot to our heart's content. This mode was designed to allow the photographer to take complete control of shutter speed and aperture (Figure 4.16). The camera doesn't do any of the work for you.

Figure 4.16

Figure 4.16 For ultimate control of shutter speed and aperture, use Manual mode.

When you have your camera set to Manual (M) mode, the camera meter will give you a reading of the scene you are photographing. It's your job, though, to set both the f-stop (aperture) and the shutter speed to achieve a correct exposure. If you need a faster shutter speed, you will have to make the reciprocal change to your f-stop. Using any other mode, such as Shutter Priority or Aperture Priority, would mean that you just have to worry about one of these changes, but Manual mode means you have to do it all yourself. This can be a little challenging at first, but after a while you will have a complete understanding of how each change affects your exposure, which will, in turn, improve the way that you use the other modes.

When to Use Manual (M) Mode

  • When lighting and exposure get tricky (Figure 4.17)
    Figure 4.17

    Figure 4.17 Shooting indoors can be tricky. The wonderful thing about your D7000 is that it has an incredible ISO range with relatively low digital noise. I took this image behind glass and wanted to avoid having my flash trigger because that would have left a nasty reflection. I decided to bump up my ISO and use a large aperture to get this shot.

  • When your environment is fooling your light meter and you need to maintain a certain exposure setting (Figure 4.18)
    Figure 4.18

    Figure 4.18 Beaches and snow are always a challenge for light meters. Whenever I'm shooting something in snow I find myself switching over to manual mode. A good rule of thumb in snow is to bump your exposure up +1 or to +2 if it's really sunny. That should get you closer to the correct exposure.

  • When shooting silhouetted subjects, which requires overriding the camera's meter readings (Figure 4.19)
    Figure 4.19

    Figure 4.19 The camera's meter will do a great job most of the time, but when you want to get creative sometimes you need to use the Manual mode. Using Manual mode allowed me to silhouette the buildings while maintaining the warm glow of the sun.

Setting Up and Shooting in Manual Mode

  1. Turn your camera on and then turn the Mode dial to align the M with the indicator line.
  2. Select your ISO by pressing and holding the ISO button on the back left of the camera while rotating the main Command dial with your thumb.
  3. The ISO will appear on the top display. Choose your desired ISO, and release the ISO button on the left to lock in the change.
  4. Point the camera at your subject and then activate the camera meter by depressing the shutter button halfway.
  5. View the exposure information in the bottom area of the viewfinder or by looking at the display panel on the rear of the camera.
  6. While the meter is activated, use your thumb to roll the Command dial left and right to change your shutter speed value until the exposure mark is lined up with the zero mark. The exposure information is displayed by a scale with marks that run from –2 to +2 stops. A proper exposure will line up with the arrow mark in the middle. As the indicator moves to the left, it is a sign that you will be underexposing (there is not enough light on the sensor to provide adequate exposure). Move the indicator to the right and you will be providing more exposure than the camera meter calls for. This is overexposure.
  7. To set your exposure using the aperture, depress the shutter release button until the meter is activated. Then, while holding down the Exposure Compensation/Aperture button (located behind and to the right of the shutter release button), rotate the Command dial to change the aperture. Rotate right for a smaller aperture (large f-stop number) and left for a larger aperture (small f-stop number).
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