Shooting Manual

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.

22 Responses to “Shooting Manual”

  1. February 21, 2011 at 9:28 pm

    I think the camera craze has hit Sri Lanka and everyone’s getting a DSLR now… They might have taken a few good pictures on their point-and-shoot and now think ‘Wow, I need to get myself a DSLR’. They don’t understand that if it’s a hobby a regular point-and-shoot is fine.

    DSLRs are too cumbersome and heavy to lug around everywhere you go. For different types of pictures- marco, portraits and so on, they’ll need different lenses. A point-and-shoot can do way more than the lense the DSLR comes with- and working within the limits of that lense is restrictive.

    DSLRs are amazing but they’re only amazing if you’ve got all the other accessories- which if you aren’t a professional photographer or taking it up as a serious hobby, is a complete waste (specially when you’re just following the trend and don’t really have any talent).

    I’ve taken pics with my sis’s DSLR and I’ve taken pics with my point-and-shoot. I prefer my point-and-shoot. Sure, sometimes I wish I had a DSLR but it isn’t JUST the DSLR… Sometimes I think ‘this shot would’ve looked a lot better if I had a reflector’. Simply buying a DSLR isn’t enough, you can only get those incredible shots if you’ve got the equipment. People seem to take that for granted, because they haven’t thought it through. They just want a DSLR ’cause they think it’s cool.

    As for automatic mode, well if they don’t really know anything about the settings then it’s best for them to learn about composition and framing while using auto. When they have that down, it’s best to switch to semi-automatic or manual altogether… It’ll give them more space to be creative.

    • February 21, 2011 at 9:34 pm

      Why thank you Meg, for that sub-post.

      I agree with most of it, but you _can_ get by with just a couple lenses and some stock stuff if you’re just looking for good looking pictures. The big sensor more or less takes care of that.

      • February 21, 2011 at 9:53 pm

        Yeah, carrying around 2 extra lenses is enough. Add a sensor to that, and what have you got? One HEAVY bag to lug around.
        Not to mention each lense will cost them more than what they paid for the camera body! If they genuinely want to learn and can put up with all of that, then good for them. If it’s a trend thing- I shake my head in disappointment at them

  2. 5 Sachi
    February 21, 2011 at 10:28 pm

    Jerry !! I so agree with u !!! 😀 I owned a point and shoot for a long time. My only interest ever was to document places and things..and people..so that I could look back one day. And I also used my N 73 a LOT !!!! I loved it. I still love it. As for the D 90, i use a 50mm lens and I absolutely adore it. AND YES U R RIGHT,its cheap AND not heavy at all.

    The point is, people need to stop acting all high and mighty about knowing the technicalities and just take photos.with whatever they have.

    “People, aperture priority and shutter priority are great tools. Use them. Hell, go all the way and use full auto.” Amen !

  3. 9 Ash
    February 22, 2011 at 12:33 am

    Considering all I own is a point n shoot, gotta say I agree.

  4. February 22, 2011 at 4:56 am

    I’m with Meg on this one. A DSLR is overkill for a lot of the photos that most people take. A lot of people seem to think that ‘fancy camera = brilliant photos’, but I’ve seen quite a few mediocre photos taken with DSLRs. A brilliant photo is one that incorporates good composition, lighting and focus…and that can be achieved with any type of camera. The last two will be improved to a certain extent in a DSLR, yes…but to get the most out of a DSLR, you can’t use it as a P&S. It’s like using a supercomputer just to check email.

    Also, I know if I had a DSLR instead of my P&S, I wouldn’t have taken a lot of my favourite shots. Why? Well, because my P&S sits in my handbag. Or in my coat pocket. I can take it with me when I’m travelling, or when I go to concerts, or when I’m out with my friends – it is the definition of ‘portable’. In addition, it has all the same manual features of a DSLR, and cost about half the price of a cheap DSLR body. I do recognise the limitations of the sensor and the lens, but that just forces me to be more creative with my photography and post-processing, and I think my hobby is better for it.

    • February 22, 2011 at 9:01 am

      I disagree. It’s like using a supercomputer to write a “Hello World” app find your way around it.

      You would have to go full manual to get the most out of it but why rush it? Nobody switching from a P&S is going to be comfortable with it immediately.

  5. 12 Chavie
    February 22, 2011 at 7:12 am

    The only time I miss a proper camera is when I’m taking pics at night (my P&S can only keep its shutter open for 2 seconds max), or when I want a shallow depth of field. Or when it absolutely refuses to focus when I’m taking pics in low-light. 😦

    But other than that, P&S ftw! 🙂

  6. February 22, 2011 at 12:35 pm

    but you have to admit, holding that DSLR and striking a pose while u point it at something completely insignificant with a look of extreme focus on your face must look damn cool

    • February 22, 2011 at 10:43 pm

      Gehan and Whack
      Well yes. I obviously expect ya’ll to take pictures of me holding one. Why do you think I’m getting one in the first place? To take pictures with? Please!

  7. February 22, 2011 at 3:54 pm

    agreed with whacko. that pose, when someone actually takes a picture of you holding a dslr, against some urban background, makes u look ever so artsy.. 😀

    good post jerry. but of course, u knew that..

    • February 22, 2011 at 10:44 pm

      I’ve checked out a few EVILs. Sensor it still smaller than most DSLR’s 😛

      But yeah, they’re pretty convincing. Would’ve gotten one if lenses were easy to get at around here and the price was less.

  8. 19 Chavie
    February 22, 2011 at 10:11 pm

    http://shitphotojournalistslike.tumblr.com/post/2942680446/judging-amateurs (via Ding)

    check out the other posts too, they have some funny shit. 😀

  9. 22 Jack Point
    March 7, 2011 at 12:15 pm

    For a short while I was hooked by the camera craze and bought an SLR, it must have been the last FILM SLR there ever was, but it was on sale at the Dubai duty free and I bought it.

    Shot a few mediocre pictures, a few decent ones and many bad ones-all in point-and-shoot mode.. Lugged it around on a trip or two and then decided it was far to heavy to carry around, so dumped it. I’m pretty lazy.

    So I now travel light, no camera at all. Any pictures get taken by my phone camera….


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