Manual Mode vs. Aperture Priority w/ AE-L

Discussion in 'Beyond the Basics' started by NikonMike24, Oct 18, 2017.

  1. NikonMike24

    NikonMike24 TPF Noob!

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    Hello! This is my first post and would love any input about this topic.
    I understand that manual will always give you the most control over you camera and exposures, especially in tricky lighting.

    However, I am curious what the advantages are for shooting in manual mode over using aperture priority and locking the exposure (AE-L). Using aperture priority, BBF, and AE-L seems to give me the control I need in most shooting situations but I would love to hear what other people have to say about using this method vs. Manual.

    I shoot with mostly a D700 and various Nikon Lenses.

    Thanks and I look forward to seeing everyone's opinions! :)


     
  2. Raddy

    Raddy TPF Noob!

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    I personally only use manual mode when I'm shooting in lighting conditions that are confusing the AE settings (the AE tends to greatly overexpose a close-up picture of the moon, for example). My friend who shoots boudoir says that she will take some shots in manual mode (since background is often very dark while the models are well lit) to dial in the exposure compensation, but then she'll switch back to aperture priority and set the EV.
     
  3. TreeofLifeStairs

    TreeofLifeStairs No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    The only time I switch to manual is when I want my camera to do something that it doesn’t naturally want to do. This can be for any number of reasons though. I almost always use it when I use my flash though.


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  4. Overread

    Overread has a hat around here somewhere Staff Member Supporting Member

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    Manual mode lets you define the settings you want the camera to use without any deviation from those settings; it provides reliable setting control each and every time.

    Auto Exposure Lock works well in aperture priority to lock the settings on a specific value; but you have to be able to meter light in the scene to get those values in the first place. Now in many natural light situations that's not too hard; you might (as example) lock the exposure based on a bright part of the scene to protect the highlights.

    However there are instances where the scene might not quite give you light you can meter off easily; or under/over exposure is more than 3 or so stops away from the meter reading.
    If you have flash as the dominant light source the built in meter might not be able to find any surface that gives you the settings you want with the light.


    For myself I tend to find I use manual mode most often when using flash as the dominant light source; because then I can take a few test shots and know what the flash is doing to the scene and set the settings to ensure a good exposure.
    I also use it in low lighting indoors where I might be underexposing but where settings and situation have forced certain settings on me already (eg doing action I know I need 1/500sec at the slowest).


    All modes have a purpose and the key is that you use the right mode for your creative desires in the situation you're in. If aperture priority and exposure lock works for you most times then that's fantastic - and honestly aperture priority is probably the most commonly used mode by those who want control over their settings.
     
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  5. fmw

    fmw No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    You should use whichever mode produces the best results for you. For me they are P and M modes. The P mode is nice because, as I turn the wheel, I watch both the aperture and shutter speed change at the same exposure level. Messing with exposure comp on a Nikon is fussy so I switch to manual when I need another exposure level. With the Fuji system, exposure comp is easy since it is a knob on the top of the camera body so I use that on the Fujis.
     
  6. TreeofLifeStairs

    TreeofLifeStairs No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Sent from my iPhone using ThePhotoForum.com mobile app
     
  7. benhasajeep

    benhasajeep No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    I mostly use SAM. I go manual when I know the scene will not be changing light wise. Or when I don't trust the meter like snow scenes or lots of bright light. I really don't use exp. comp settings. As they can be forgotten. I just go manual, and adjust from there.
     
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  8. Derrel

    Derrel Mr. Rain Cloud

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    Aperture priority is very rapid at setting the shutter speed, and with AE-Lock you can press-and-hold a button to hold a specific speed, and if you wish to, you can use the camera's meter to vary the exposure by pointing the main meter circle (that 12mm-diameter scribed circle in the center of most Nikon viewfinder screens) at different areas as far as brightness goes, and can quickly change the exposure by pointing at a brighter area, or a darker area, and then hold in the AE-L button to manipulate the exposure in that manner.

    In manual mode, it takes finger-clicks to adjust the shutter speed, and in the normal, factory-default way, on a modern Nikoin, that means the right thumb is the digit that has to adjust the shutter speed (the wheel function CAN be reversed by the user if desired). At times, it's helpful to have the right thumb supporting the camera, like when using a heavy or long lens, and to NOT have to move that digit off of the place where it is supporting the camera.....OR when you are using BBF, you want that right thumb FREE....so....Aperture priority auto can be super-easy to use, whereas manual is a slight bit slower.

    If all you do is "match the diodes" (old expression, not diodes, but LCD characters these days) and go exactly with what the light meter says is correct exposure, then Aperture priority is FASTER than manually clicking thge shutter control wheel all the fricking time.
    *****

    I shoot all my flash photos in manual mode. As do most experienced shooters.
     
  9. Dave442

    Dave442 No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Usually if you are using AE-L you are locking into the exposure you want to use after you recompose. I would say just compare the steps you take to obtain the exposure, focus and composition and then try going from Aperture Priority using AE-L to Manual and evaluate the results.

    The question I have for you is - how do you have the camera set the exposure you want to then lock down by using the AE-L button? Do you find something in the scene that you can point the camera at to give the reading, or do you just focus on the subject and then dial in some EV and then hit AE-L?

    In Manual my steps with a static subject are usually to
    1) Keep the camera in the general area of settings that will work for the type of subject and lighting.
    2) Initial focus (am also using BBF).
    3) Compose and selecting focus point
    4) Check exposure and fine tune while checking composition
    5) Final focus, release AF-ON
    6) Final composition
    7) Shutter button half-way to start VR if needed
    8) Take picture

    In Item 4 - this is where you would set the exposure you want for the scene, hopefully your already within a few stops from Item 1. So while you can find something to meter and then use that setting like you would using the AE-L button, you might already know that what you plan to meter just requires another stop so you can just dial that in with the shutter speed and/or aperture wheel as best fits.

    If the subject is moving then I just keep the AF-ON button down and keep the focus point on the subject so items 5 and 6 are just one step.
     
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  10. dennybeall

    dennybeall No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Personally I don't always do anything. I like Manual because it is variable fixed whatever. If fixed speed is needed then don't change the speed, if fixed aperture is needed then don't change the aperture. You can use your skill and training and the light meter to take pictures. Can't beat that. I've even used Auto Mode with Auto ISO a few times............
     
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  11. weepete

    weepete TPF Supporters Supporting Member

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    well for me its a bit more simplistic. I use aperture priority when I want to control depth of field and shutter speed (ie movement blur) is not critical, I use shutter priority when I want to control motion blur and depth of field is not critical, I use manual mode when I want to control both motion blur and depth of field. If lighting also can vary I'll bring in auto ISO, combine that with the metering mode to set exposure.

    For flash I'm mostly manual but if the lighting situation is dynamic I'll TTL
     
  12. KmH

    KmH Helping photographers learn to fish Supporting Member

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    Which you use depends on your artistic goals for the image you are making.

    There are 9 combinations of shutter speed, aperture and ISO that will deliver essentially the same exposure.
    Only 1 of those 9 combinations will deliver your artistic goals for the shot.
     
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