If you are new to photography Manual exposure mode may be intimidating but you will not get the most out of your camera until you start shooting in Manual mode. Your photography will not evolve until you get out of "auto" mode. In Manual mode there are three things you can adjust in your camera to get correct exposure: aperture, shutter speed, and ISO (the exposure triangle).
The Exposure Triangle -
Aperture: controls how much light enters your camera by setting the f-stop.
Shutter speed: controls how long the aperture is open to admit light to the digital sensor.
ISO: controls the sensitivity of your camera's sensor to light.
Aperture also affects depth of field (DOF), shutter speed affects motion blur, and ISO affects image noise.
What camera settings should you use to start off with?
1. You should set your aperture first at a setting that will give you just enough depth of field. A wider aperture is great for portraits (f1.4 - f2.8).
2. Set your ISO at a low setting to give you as little image noise as possible. 100-200 will work if there is lots of available light. If the the scene is dark, you will have to raise the ISO.
3. Keep your shutter speed at a setting that will avoid motion blur. You want to start off at 1/125 - 1/250 sec for portraits.
To determine correct exposure look at the light meter inside your camera. There is a bar that shows a + on one side and a - on the other side. When it is in the middle (or at zero) the camera is telling you that on the scene your exposure will be correct. It's up to you to determine if the reading works for what you are doing. You may want to intentionally over-expose or under-expose an image.
White Balance is also a key factor in Manual mode. We will get into detail about White Balance settings in a follow up article.
~ Danny Stygion
editor (@) sinicalmagazine (.) com