Why Should I Learn Manual Camera Settings

Have you ever taken a photo on auto mode and felt underwhelmed by the result? [Nearly every photographer raises their hand! 🙋🏻‍♀️] As a new photographer, it can be frustrating not being able to capture the exact image you had in mind. But what if I told you that using the manual settings on the camera will make you a better photographer? In this post, we’ll explore the surprising benefits of using manual camera settings—benefits like improved image quality, more creative options, a deeper understanding of photography fundamentals, and greater control in challenging shooting conditions. So, whether you’re a seasoned pro or a newbie just starting out I’ll help you determine how manual camera settings can transform your photos.

Improved Image Quality

With the implementation of digital technology into nearly every area of our lives, it’s not surprising that cameras were one of the first tools to see this amazing technology take over. But digital photography didn’t necessarily create better photographers, what it did was create more photographers by opening up the accessibility of photography to a broader audience overall. Which is great, but how can we assure ourselves that we are becoming better photographers? The answer is by using the camera’s manual settings. By manually adjusting the settings in the exposure triangle—aperture, shutter speed, and ISO—you can optimize your camera to capture the exact image you have in mind. Rather than relying on the camera’s automatic settings, you have the ability to fine-tune the exposure and depth of field, which will result in sharper, more vibrant images. This level of precision is especially important in low-light situations, where your camera might struggle to capture the correct exposure. If the auto settings increase your ISO to an undesirable number (really anything over 1600) or underexpose the image then it might require more editing in post production, which could cause your image quality to suffer.

Better Creativity

Using manual settings will help you become a more creative photographer. By mastering your camera’s manual settings, you’ll will gain more options that will allow more creativity in your imagery. With the ability to adjust your aperture to your liking, you can achieve a shallow depth of field that blurs the background and brings your subject into focus. Alternatively, a larger aperture can create a wider field of view, adding depth and context to your scene. You can play with camera shake by bringing your shutter speed to a lower number, or freeze the action of your subjects with a high shutter speed. By playing with different settings, you can explore a range of creative possibilities and push the boundaries of your photography. Whether you’re looking to capture stunning landscape shots or intimate portraits, taking control of your camera’s manual settings can help you achieve the exact look and feel you’re after. This increased level of control over your images is just one of the many reasons why understanding your camera’s manual settings is so rewarding.

Deeper Understanding of The Photography Fundamentals

Manual settings are the power behind photography. Understanding the fundamentals of photography is crucial to create stunning and impactful images on purpose. Allowing your creativity to shine through by knowing why you’re changing the settings is the major difference between an artist and a hobbyist photographer. Knowing the fundamentals allows you to take control of your image and tailor it to your own precise vision. And the best part, knowing the fundamentals of photography and how to create a properly exposed image doesn’t limit your level of creativity at all. There isn’t one right answer in art and photography…there are thousands.

Greater Control in Challenging Shooting Scenarios

Once you feel comfortable with the fundamentals of photography, the multiple methods of proper exposure, and how to use your cameras manual settings, you will also gain greater control over the many challenging shooting conditions you will encounter. One such condition is low light, which can be a real problem if you’re trying to capture a moment without using flash. Knowing quickly how to let in more light (hint: it’s increasing your ISO, and decreasing your aperture and shutter speed) you can get the exposure just right, knowing you’ll be bringing out the details that would otherwise be lost in the shadows.

Another challenging condition is high contrast, especially when you’re shooting outdoors. Bright sunlight can cast harsh shadows and overexpose some areas of your photo, while leaving others dark and underexposed. By adjusting your camera’s settings, you can balance the exposure and capture the scene as you see it, without losing any important details.

So whether you’re shooting landscapes, portraits, or action shots, manual camera settings give you the flexibility to adapt to any situation. By taking the time to learn these settings and understanding the fundamentals of photography, you can capture the true essence of a moment and produce stunning images that fit your vision. Taking control of your camera’s settings can lead to a significant improvement in your photography, and help you achieve your own personal goals—be it to open your own photo studio or just enjoy capturing your travels. And if you want a quick and easy entry into semi-manual modes of photography, take the free email course on how to get off auto mode on your camera!

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I am a professional photographer & photo educator. I’m here to share with you my best (and easiest) tips and tricks for taking amazing photos. I’m sharing years of knowledge as a teaching artist to help you find a way to share your unique point of view with the world. Welcome to The Photo Method.

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HEY PHOTOGRAPHERS! The Best Beginner Camera Settings

Just got a new camera and wondering where you should start with your camera settings? This free guide gives you all the recommended settings when you are just starting out—from focus modes, to ISO, to getting off auto mode. These are the settings I have given my students for 15 years…I promise they work!

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