Shooting Mode: Manual Mode
You have practiced using your ISO, shutter speed and aperture. You understand what the exposure compensation is and how to focus properly. You are now ready to tackle manual mode! Simply turn your mode dial to “M”.
In manual exposure (M) mode, the exposure meter indicates whether your settings will properly expose the image. The following figure gives you three examples. When the exposure indicator (the bar under the meter) aligns with the center point of the meter, as shown in the middle example, the current settings will produce a proper exposure. If the indicator moves toward the minus side of the scale, as in the left example in the figure, the image will be underexposed. If the indicator moves to the right of center, as in the right example, the image will be overexposed. The farther the indicator moves toward the plus or minus sign, the greater the potential exposure problem.
In manual mode, select aperture and shutter speed like so:
To adjust shutter speed: Rotate the Main dial.
To adjust aperture: Rotate the Quick Control dial.
To start using Manual, you first need to decide a scene’s priority.
If it were depth of field (how much of the shot appears sharp), you’d set a suitable aperture first. If you’re photographing action, you’d set the shutter speed first. Next, dial in a complementary shutter speed or aperture.
How do you know which setting will be correct? By using the exposure scale in the viewfinder, Live View screen or top-plate LCD as a guide. As you adjust aperture and shutter speed settings, you’ll see a bar move up and down the scale. When it lines up with the pointer in the scale’s centre, this matches the camera’s suggested exposure for the scene, based on your subject and the metering pattern.
As we know, this can be incorrect. To add overexposure (according to the meter) open the aperture or use a slower shutter speed – the bar will move towards the ‘+’ end of the scale. To underexpose, do the reverse – the indicator heads for the ‘-’ end of the scale. Adjusting ISO either way has similar effects. Experiment with Manual mode and you’ll find it a great tool to help you get your head around exposure.
If you often work in Aperture Priority (Av) mode but then sometimes work in Manual (M) shooting mode I suggest you swap the functions of the Main Dial and the Quick Control Dial in Manual Mode (see Figure 6). Access the Main Dial option (the half-circle icon) and assign it to the Av option (Aperture setting in M mode). Then access the Quick Control Dial (the full-circle icon) and assign it to the Tv option (Shutter speed setting in M mode). By doing this the Main Dial controls the aperture setting in M mode just as it does in Aperture Priority Mode, and the Quick Control Dial controls the shutter speed setting when working in Manual (M) mode. If you typically work in Av Mode and then switch over to M mode, the muscle memory of your index finger will thank you as it will instinctively turn the Main Dial to adjust the aperture setting, and this was not the default setting of the camera. If you typically work in Tv Mode and sometimes switch to M Mode, leave these buttons on the default settings.
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