PHOTO BASICS: Shooting in Manual Mode Is Easier Than You Think! (VIDEO)

Most photographers are familiar with the popular narrative that shooting in Manual Mode delivers better, or at least more predictable, results. Unfortunately, many folks hesitate to turn their camera’s mode dial to “M” because they think Manual Mode is too complicated.

The good news is that taking control of camera settings yourself is far easier than you think, with the following tips from our friends at Mango Street. In just 12 minutes, the tutorial below breaks down the basics for shooting in Manual Mode so you can get started immediately without worrying about every single nuance.

The video explains that your overall exposure is determined by the settings you make to shutter speed, aperture, and ISO. The interrelationship between these key variables affects everything from depth of field, low-light capability, the ability to freeze fast action, and more. And you’ll see what tradeoffs are involved.

The tutorial begins with a review of the various ISO settings available, and explains the conditions under which this is the first setting you should make. The tradeoff here is that higher ISO setting, typically chosen for low-light situations, can introduce more noise in an image.

You’ll then see how a slower shutter speed can also be helpful under low-light conditions (without adding noise), while a faster shutter speed can be used to advantage when photographing action sports and other fast-moving subjects. Here too there are tradeoffs to consider, and sometimes the best approach is to make a compromise between ISO and shutter speed settings..

Lastly, the video turns to aperture settings, and the choices here are often dependent upon the maximum aperture of your lens. This setting affects the depth of field in your image, thereby the ability to separate a foreground subject from a busy background. The bottom line is that ISO, shutter speed, and aperture settings combine to determine the look of an image, and this video will help you choose wisely the next time you flip that mode dial to Manual.

There are more simple shooting tips on the Mango Street YouTube channel. And be sure to check out another tutorial we posted, explaining how to use a camera’s Spot Metering Mode so you never miss an exposure again.