"M mode" - Need help

Discussion in 'Photography Beginners' Forum' started by nightflowre, Aug 11, 2008.

  1. nightflowre

    nightflowre TPF Noob!

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    I'm a totally newbie. Can anyone teach me how to use the "M mode" on my EOS 400D camera effectively? Thank you.
     
  2. tirediron

    tirediron Watch the Birdy! Staff Member Supporting Member

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    "Effectively" covers a pretty large area; I would suggest you first start by reading the information contained in your camera's manual, and if you have specific questions after that, go ahead and ask them.
     
  3. Jedo_03

    Jedo_03 TPF Noob!

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    Since you asked the same question about 'P' mode in another area of this forum, you could look that up in the manual as well...
    Jedo
     
  4. TamiyaGuy

    TamiyaGuy No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    "M" stands for Manual. In this mode, in order to make a "correct" exposure (photograph), you need to set the shutter speed, the aperture, and probably the ISO sensitivity correctly. The camera does not help you in anything, although it may give you a little meter to show you what the camera thinks might be over-exposed or under-exposed. I'm afraid I can't really help you in the technical side of things, as I shoot Nikon, but here are the basis for each of the variables.

    Shutter speed: This controls how long the camera's shutter is open for, and is usually measured in fractions of a second. For example, if the camera reads "200", then the shutter speed is 1/200th of a second. Sometimes, in very long exposures, the shutter speed (or SS) might read something like 2". this means the shutter speed is two seconds, not half a second.
    Shutter speed performs two things. First, it regulates how much light falls on to the camera's image sensor, and regulates how bright (or exposed) the photograph turns out to be. All other things being equal, a shutter speed of "50" (1/50th) will create a much brighter image than a SS of "200" (1/200th). The shutter speed also can "freeze" or blur photographs. For example, if you want to freeze a sport (e.g. a car), then you might want to select a high shutter speed, like 1/200 to 1/2500 depending on how far you are away from the action, how "long" your lens is (a 200mm lens will need a faster shutter speed to freeze action than a 20mm lens). Of course, you will need to adjust other settings in Manual mode to compensate for these changes. Likewise, if you wanted to blur a photograph, you might want to use a slower shutter speed, perhaps in the region of 1/20 to 1/250, yet again depending on the situation. You'll notice that these shutter speeds overlap, and this is simply because different lenses have wildly different characteristics; "longer" lenses will require a faster shutter speed to blur or freeze action "well" (your ideas of a good blur might be different than mine). While we're on the subject of blur, your hands can create camera blur as well, known as camera shake. If you select too slow a shutter speed, you can ruin a potentially great photograph by making every part of the photo blurred. As a general rule of thumb, in order to eliminate camera shake you should select a shutter speed equal to or faster than the lens length you are using (e.g. if you use a 200mm lens it should be 1/200 or higher, if you use a 18mm lens it should be about 1/20 or higher). Yet again, this is only a guide; you might have rock-steady hands and can shoot at much lower shutter speeds than this might suggest. And if you have a tripod, you can shoot at pretty much whatever shutter speed you like. You can change the shutter speed by scrolling the thumb wheel on the back of the camera to the left or right.

    Aperture: This, like shutter speed, also regulates how much light is allowed onto the image sensor. However, unlike shutter speeds, the aperture is a part of your lens, rather than the camera itself. When you get a lens, it will always have two main numbers on it: the lens' length, measures in millimeters, and an "f-number". This tells you the maximum aperture of the lens, and it can either be one number (e.g. f/2) or a range of numbers (e.g. f/2.8-4). I think the 18-55mm kit lens you have is f/3.5-5.6. What this means is that at the 18mm end of your lens, the maximum aperture will be f/3.5, whereas at 55mm it will be f/5.6. This is because it is generally cheaper to create a variable max aperture on a zoom lens than a constant aperture. Most pro zoom lenses have a maximum aperture of f/2.8.
    The aperture of the lens can make a photograph brighter or darker, depending on its setting. All other things being equal, a larger aperture (which is a SMALLER f-number) can create a brighter exposure than a smaller aperture (a LARGER f-number). In relation to the shutter speed, if you divide the f-number by approximately 1.4 (e.g. from f/5.6 to f/4, f/11 to f/8, etc), you can DOUBLE the shutter speed. If you halve the f-number, you can quadruple the SS.
    Another thing the aperture does is control the Depth Of Field (DOF). The depth of field is how much of your photograph is in sharp focus, and this also depends on your aperture setting. There is no exact science on depths of field, as so many things affect the DOF (lens length, focusing distance, aperture, etc), but in general the smaller the aperture (LARGER f-number), the more of a scene will be in sharp focus. Conversely, a larger aperture (smaller f-number) reduces the amount of the scene in sharp focus. For example, if you want to make a particular subject in a photograph "pop out", you should use a large aperture, nearing or at your camera's maximum aperture. But if you want to make everything in the scene in focus, you might want to use a smaller aperture. However, you should realise that all things in photography are a comprimise. For instance, in the same scene, keeping the same exposure, if you want to keep everything in the scene in focus, you will need to sacrifice some shutter speed and, at the extremes, you may even need to use a tripod. Likewise, if you want to make a subject "pop out", you will need to use a faster shutter speed. While in the subject of comprimises, a lens never performs at its best when used at its maximum or minimum apertures; the lens is its sharpest at mid-range apertures, generally f/8-f/11. However, the results aren't horrific if you use your lens at the max. or min. apertures, but it's something to keep in mind. You can adjust the aperture by scrolling the finger-wheel on the front of the camera to the left or right.

    ISO Sensitivity: Luckily, this is probably the most simple aspect of an exposure, but there are still some things you should keep an eye on. The ISO value represents how sensitive your camera's image sensor is, just like a film's ISO rating. However, unlike film, this value can be adjusted from photo to photo. The higher the ISO value, the more sensitive the sensor is, meaning you can use a faster shutter speed and/or a smaller aperture while keeping the exposure the same. "So why not constantly use ISO 1600?" You ask. The reason is that at higher ISO values, the image may become grainy or noisy. Noise is speckles or fine grain in the photo that can detract from the image quality, so you should always choose as low an ISO as you can. But if you raise the ISO wisely, you can get previously impossible photographs by choosing a higher shutter speed and/or smaller aperture. If you double the ISO sensitivity (e.g. 200 to 400), you can double the shutter speed OR multiply the f-number by 1.4, and keep the same brightness to the photo. You can adjust the ISO value in your camera's menu.



    So that's about it, really. But what is the advantage to Manual mode as compared to one of the automatic modes? The largest is probably that you have complete and total control over the photos you take. If you want to deliberately overexpose or underexpose a photograph, you can just change a setting of your choice and there ya go. Also, Manual is helpful for the moments when the camera's light meter is a little off, for example in high-contrast scenes (sunsets, bright light & shadows, etc), as you can choose the exposure that you think is good for the scene. I'll admit, manual mode takes A LOT of getting used to. You'll need to practice constantly in order to master it. But when you finally do master it, you'll be amazed you managed to live with automatic modes.
     
  5. tron

    tron TPF Noob!

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    search and you will find all the information youre lookign for. this topic has been covered multiple times, even in the past week.

    on a side note, how can someone buy a camera having no idea how to use manual mode?
     
  6. clarbin

    clarbin TPF Noob!

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    Not really relevant.

    I have purchased cars before and didn't know what all the switches and buttons were on the dash, but I still knew how to drive the car.
     
  7. elemental

    elemental TPF Noob!

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    Some new cameras have these nifty little features called "automatic exposure" modes where the camera does some of the dial spinning for you!

    Although apparently using them makes you not "pro." Sigh.
     
  8. Village Idiot

    Village Idiot No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    When did they start adding that? :meh:
     
  9. TamiyaGuy

    TamiyaGuy No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Even though I feel this thread has been somewhat de-railed, it has made me laugh! :lol:. Just thought I'd point it out ^_^
     
  10. maulrat

    maulrat TPF Noob!

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    Yup, this is me. I bought a 400D 2 weeks ago and had no idea what to do in M mode. First thing I did was, "Read the manual. Read the manual. Read the manual" and then on my spare time, I would "Read the manual".

    Second, I researched photography terms more thoroughly. What the heck is ISO, shutter speed, aperture, etc? Resources are everywhere: internet, library, friends, etc.

    Finally, I put my camera in AV mode (aperture priority) and began learning how changing my aperture affected my photos and how my camera reacts. AV mode works great because our cameras will automatically adjust/correct itself (like shutter speed) to obtain the correct metered exposure.

    Hope this helps. This is the way I am learning.
     
  11. crimson_angel

    crimson_angel TPF Noob!

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    i bought my camera so i could learn how to use it in manual mode...though i havent had any time to use it yet. Only had the camera a few days so it will take me a while to work out how and what affects the camera. The only way to learn (for me anyway) is to play around with the camera (seens as im rubbish at reading)
     
  12. elemental

    elemental TPF Noob!

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    I must say that as a destructive rather than constructive influence so far, I feel a little guilty. I will add that reading the manual is an excellent start, along with learning how your light meter works. Understand the light meter and how to change the settings and then experiment away.
     

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