5 Reasons To Shoot In Manual Mode

Often times, professional photographers will always tell you to shoot in a manual mode. Most newbie photographers wonder why they need to shoot in manual mode when they can easily shoot in Automatic mode. In this article, you will learn everything you need to know about the camera manual mode and why you should be using it.

What's Manual Mode Anyway?

Manual mode is one of the main settings that come on camera (other settings include automatic and semi-automatic). This mode lets you (the user) control the camera settings such as aperture, shutter speed, and ISO manually. These 3 settings work together to determine how your image will turn out.

One problem most beginners have is that they don't even know how shutter speed, ISO, and aperture works, thus controlling them is always going to be a problem. But you shouldn't let that stop you. If you don't know these functionalities, you can search the internet or read your camera's manual to know how they work and how you can control them.

You should understand that you need to keep on learning if you want to grow as a photographer. You can start your journey by learning aperture, ISO, and shutter speed functions and control and then learning manual mode will be easy for you.

In the meantime, below are some of the best reasons why you need to be shooting in manual mode:

1. Have a Creative Control

One of the best reasons for shooting in manual mode is that it allows you to have a creative control over shutter speed and aperture or the brightness of your shot in general.

Let's take a look at these settings one after another:


You will have more control over the depth of field in your image when you manually control aperture. With a large aperture, you can be able to create shallower depths of field and can help you model stand out from the background. Moreover, you can use this feature to create amazing bokeh. Overall, shooting in manual mode allows you to make the choice based on the result you want to achieve.

Shutter Speed

When you control shutter speed manually, you can be able to capture motion in more creative ways. In fact, you can be able to capture shots where your subject shows some motion blur by selecting slower shutter speeds. Slow shutter speeds are what will help you capture those neat nighttime city shots of cars or making trails of light and waterfalls.

Alternatively, you can freeze motion when you control shutter speed manually, for instance, you can freeze motion to capture a child jumping in midair.

Overall, you can decide how you want movement in your image to be portrayed when you are able to choose your shutter speed.

2. Create Beautiful Bokeh

If you really want to create those beautiful bokeh, you need to learn to shoot in manual mode. Bokeh effect is always desirable in portraits; it can make your subject stand out. You can make your portrait stand out by choosing the maximum aperture value with the lowest possible ISO. Note that since your entire frame is filled with the subject, you need to have lower ISO value so that you avoid noise that can ruin your shots.

3. Control Light

Manual mode allows you to determine the exact amount of light you want to let in. You can do this by determining how long your shutter stays open. If you let in too little light, you will lose detail and won't be able to see what you are looking at. Alternatively, you can slow down the shutter speed to let in more light and can even blur your images. Knowing that you can control the amount of light you let in allows you to find the best scenario for your shot. Moreover, it allows you to avoid using those nasty flashes on your subject.

4. Get Consistent Exposures

When you are shooting in Auto mode, you let your camera decide how dark or bright your photo will turn out. This is just like rolling the dice every time you hit the shutter release. Your camera determines what it thinks that are ideal settings for aperture, shutter speed, and ISO in auto mode. However, as the frame changes as a result of you moving the camera or the subject moving, the exposure may also change. The implication of this is that two shots taken one after the other in the same scene may have very different exposures. This can lead to an inconsistent set of images.

On the other hand, shooting in manual mode ensures that your aperture, shutter speed, and ISO settings remained unchanged so that your shots will be consistent as far as they are taken as the same scene and the same time. You will be certain of getting consistent exposures when you are shooting in manual mode.

5. It Doesn’t Need Fancy Or Cutting-Edge Gear

Shooting in manual mode in street photography doesn't require fanciest or most cutting edge gear. You just need to ensure that your camera has the ability to manually control exposure and focus. This is better than using autofocus which demands intelligent processor and metering system to be able to produce the right results. When you are shooting in full manual mode, you can easily make use of DSLR, mirrorless or compact camera and still get great photos.

Learning Manual Mode

Manual mode demands some learning curve. The first thing you should understand is that it takes time before you can start getting it right. You will need tons of practice to learn how to adjust your settings perfectly.

I will recommend that you start with Program Mode (labeled "P"). This mode works like Auto mode. However, it allows you access to exposure compensation which you can use to determine how bright or dark your images will be. Once you get comfortable shooting in this mode, move up to Aperture Priority.

Aperture Priority mode allows you to set aperture and ISO of your camera. However, the camera will still determine the speed automatically. Aperture Priority gives you a lot more control over the depth of field in your photos. You can control the brightness of your images since this mode still gives you access to exposure compensation.

Once you are good in Aperture Priority mode, you can take that big step into shooting in Manual mode. Don't be in hurry to get to the manual mode. Practice on other modes recommended above until you get perfect.

Once you master the Manual mode, you will see a big difference in your shots and in your photography.

Get FroKnowsPhoto Guide

I recommend​ Jared Polin's guide to getting out of auto 

This guide will show you how easy it is to break free of Auto and unlock your potential to capture amazing images. You will be surprised at how easy it is to take full control of your camera and create captivating photos in any situation.​

You can find out more about the guide here.​

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