Manual Mode: the REAL advantages for photographers making the switch

Metering from a dark area

Working in stops

Working in stops

When it comes to balancing the exposure settings of aperture, shutter speed and ISO, you need to think in stops. It’s an easy concept to grasp: each time you double or halve the exposure, you change the exposure by a stop.

To maintain a consistent exposure, you need to decrease one of the exposure settings if you increase one of the others.

Understanding the scale
The exposure scale shows the current exposure of 1/50sec at f/8, ISO 3200. That’s fine if we’re metering an area 1 stop darker than mid-tone, but what if we’re metering a mid-tone? Then it will be 1 stop underexposed. There are three ways to correct this and nudge the indicator back to the middle…

Working in stops: open the aperture

1 Open the aperture by 1 stop
Pros: You can maintain the same shutter speed.
Cons: The reduced depth of field can reduce the apparent sharpness in an image.


Working in stops: slow the shutter speed

2 Slow the shutter speed by 1 stop
Pros: The aperture stays the same, sharpening the image.
Cons: Could blur the shot if it’s too slow to freeze the subject or reduce camera shake.


Working in stops: increase the ISO

3 Increase the ISO by 1 stop
Pros: Lets you choose the ideal combination of aperture and shutter speed settings.
Cons: Image quality will deteriorate beyond ISO 3200.

PAGE 1: Common questions about shooting in manual mode
PAGE 2: How to set manual exposure
PAGE 3: Why metering matters in manual mode
PAGE 4: Working in stops
PAGE 5: The real advantage of using manual mode


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