Learn To Use Your Digital SLR Camera In Manual Mode

If you are struggling with using your Digital SLR Camera in manual mode and don’t understand what ISO, Aperture and Shutter speed are…this post will really help demystify the technical side of your camera.

What you first need to understand is that each one of these elements control the light coming into your camera. These are what create the exposure that your final images are created from.

I would recommend watching this short video where the instructor explains how everything works together and how you can use these in your photography.

Understanding Shutter Speed

Digital Camera Shutter
When thinking about shutter speed, think about a curtain opening and closing. If you have a fast shutter, you will let less light in the camera. This can be used for various photography applications. If it’s really sunny out, you may use a faster shutter speed to let less light into the camera. On the other hand you may use a slow shutter speed at night when it’s dark to capture candles on a birthday cake.

The side effect to using a slow shutter speed is motion blur. Usually you can hand hold without motion blur at abut 1/60th of a second. Of course it depends on how steady your hands are, but usually this is a good rule of thumb. You may need to use a tripod or steady yourself on something to eliminate any blur.

You shutter speed is also used when trying to stop fast action. If you wanted to freeze your subject in a sporting event for example, you would use a fast shutter speed.

But, keep in mind that when you use a fast shutter speed, you may also have to adjust your Aperture and ISO. That’s why it’s important to understand all three of these elements and learn how to use them together.

Understanding Aperture

Learning Camera Aperture
You may have heard photographers talking about F-Stops when setting their cameras. This is another elements that allows light to enter the camera by adjusting the lens. Think about your camera’s lens like your eye ball.

The F-Stop is the size of the opening of the lens. If you have your aperture set to F1.8 you will be allowing more light into the camera. Think about the aperture like your eye for a minute and how it reacts to light.

An example would be like after you wake up and you turn the lights on and how it seems really bright. In the dark your eyes have adjusted to a higher F-Stop. Lets say it adjusted to a F22, but when you wake up and see a bright light it adjusts to a F2.

This is the easiest ways to understand how your lens works when adjusted for certain exposures.

The side effect to using these different F-Stops is depth of field. Have you ever wondered how to capture your subject in focus, but blur the background? That’s created by using a low F-Stop like F-5 or even lower. They call this a Shallow Depth Of Field.

If you want everything to be in focus from front to back, you would want to use a higher F-Stop like F8 or higher. You would want to use a higher F-stop when photography families or groups of 4 or more. If you did use a lower F-Stop on families your subjects on the ends would most likely be out of focus.

If you want to learn more about creating Shallow Depth Of Field, check out this lesson here.

Understanding ISO (Also Known As Film Speed)

Your ISO is the sensitivity of your camera’s sensor. Most cameras have an ISO setting as low as 100 and all the way up to 3,200. In most cases you will want to stay as low as possible, because a side effect of using a higher ISO is noise in your picture.

You’ve probably seen a noisy image in past and that is caused by using a high ISO usually in a low light setting.

Digital Camera Noise And ISO

So, you want to be careful when using a high ISO when photographing your images. Sometimes you don’t have a choice and have to use a high ISO to properly expose the image, but just keep in mind that you will have more noise in your final image.

They do sell filters and actions for Photoshop that help correct high noise, but it usually smooths the image making it look softer. As always…try and get it right first by adjusting your Aperture and Shutter speed. Use the ISO setting as a last resort, unless you are trying to create a unique look with noise in your image.

I hope this has helped you understand the basics to using your Digital SlR Camera in manual mode. The best thing you can do now is take these prinicples and apply them to your photography.

The more you practice shooting in manual mode the more you will understand how everything works together. Once your get this down…you will have total control over your camera and create AMAZING Pictures.

Happy Shooting :-)

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