How I Learn to Love Mode “M” in DSLR.

If you have a DSLR or any mirror-less camera, there’s a good chance that you will have this “M” mode. It’s a mode where you can control shutter speed or aperture. It sounds scary for most people because at first I think I bought this quite expensive camera I think it should know best what’s good for my pictures. Mostly I want to just use either “A” for everyday shoot or “S” if I really want to control my shutter speed but rarely I use this mode. But after I have attended a flash photography course and learned to use “M” mode for a flash gun, the reason that the teacher gave us was that it consumes less battery which I think it’s not the case for camera. I was hooked up and how easy to use “M” mode and I transferred that knowledge to my DSLR.

Why “M” mode is good?

I think this is quite personal. And if you have read blogs from most professionals they will suggest you should try “M” mode for better results or just to get used to it. I have been ignored that advice for years. Personally, the good things about manual mode is that you have control over your camera. Also, when you use a flash gun your camera doesn’t know it. If you shoot in dark and use “A” mode your camera will measure the light as very dark and will try to adjust your shutter speed lower. Another good point for me is that it’s easier and more granular to adjust your stop than exposure. For example, if you shoot in “A” or “S” and you think your picture is either over or under exposure you will try to increase or decrease your exposure and sometimes I feel like it’s not what I really want after adjusted it, but adjusting either shutter speed or aperture to me feels more natural.

How I shoot in “M” mode

First I look at the light conditions to use my judgement about my lights. If it’s sunny I will base my aperture between F5.6 to F8 or even F11 and then shutter speed around 1/250 so my picture won’t get blurry. Then I shoot. Then I see if I like it or not, if not I will adjust either aperture or shutter speed. Remember to adjust one thing at a time, because it’s easier to remember. Luckily, we shoot in digital now so we can erase unwanted images immediately. If I’m comfortable with the picture now I will shoot with that settings until the light conditions change and start the process again. For example, if suddenly a cloud is in the way they you need to go up one or two stops. Practice like this for a day and you will get used to it gradually. I think it’s much more fun.

If it’s a bit shady or poor light conditions I will increase my ISO first to 400 or 600 then repeat the same process.

Updated As my colleague pointed out after a few hours, the point is to have fun and play with your camera. Enjoy his post which is to have fun with “A” or “S” mode.

Dec 16th, 2013