I don’t get what the big deal is with people insisting that once you get a camera that has manual settings for everything, you’re committing a deadly sin by straying towards automatic. I’m sure there are actual professionals around who actually know how to handle a camera, but I am constantly irked by those who mouth off at others about using manual, then photoshop the hell out of the single decent frame they got out of the sea of pictures that look black as the inside of an exhaust pipe or bright as the interrogation light I’m going to use to torture these people one day. One day.
People, aperture priority and shutter priority are great tools. Use them. Hell, go all the way and use full auto. God knows you can trick it into getting surprisingly good results if your cam lacks the option for manual. Do not pay heed to all the harpies going on about how you will achieve nirvana by drinking from the holy grail of manual settings.
If you’re so hell-bent on being purists, why not discard your entire heads-up-display? Banish the exposure meters to the fires of hell and bring eternal damnation upon the likes of the heathen depth-of-field preview. Who needs a viewfinder? Most people buy large-sensor cameras for image quality. They don’t buy it to show off how good they’ve studied the intricacies of its light gathering mechanism, and they sure don’t buy the things to take terrible pictures. Sure, you could learn a thing or two shooting manual but can you not do the same thing on the automatic or semi-automatic modes?
Take for example a lowly point-and-shoot. There he sits with his 12 megapixels of graininess just waiting for you to pick him up and get jiggy with his shutter. Depress the shutter release half-way and there you have it, aperture and shutter speed info! Holy mitts of a hobo, it tells you what sort of settings it’s using for this shot! Take another in different light, and the settings change. See a pattern? If you’re smart enough you’ll figure out what the numbers mean and with the help of el goog, you’ll be figuring out your own settings in no time.
See how much easier that is than wasting a few billion opportunities trying to figure out what settings to use? By all means, go on to manual settings when you’re actually confident enough for it, you’ll get much better results most of the time. You might just find that on your way to reaching this seemingly great plateau of human achievement, your camera can help you out. As always, the key is moderation. Use auto! Learn a thing or two. Switch to partly manual to see what turns up. Enjoy it. Play around! Once you get a feel for your camera, move onto the flexibility of manual. And use auto for the occasional quickie.
A lot of people buy cameras to have fun. They enjoy taking pictures. If that means allowing a computer to help you out here and there, then so be it. After all, it’s all just for the fun of it.