October 01, 2014, 12:12:21 AM

Author Topic: Shooting in manual  (Read 5925 times)

mortadella

  • Guest
Shooting in manual
« on: September 30, 2011, 07:04:42 PM »
I've been visiting the site for quite some time now and recently joined.  Thought I'd introduce myself by asking the requisite novice question.

I've learned a lot reading the various posts here (thank you all).  And I've picked up some modest skill over the course of the past 2.5 years since purchasing my 500D, but I have yet to find a shot or a shooting situation yet, in my experience, that requires I shoot in manual mode.  I haven't done any macro or sports shooting, and I have almost no experience using flash so perhaps those are some of them..  I generally shoot landscapes, city-scapes, architecture, portraits, and birds.  I shoot with the following glass; EF 50 1.4, EF-S 17-85, EF 70-200 f4L non-IS, & a Speedlite 270EX that collects a lot of dust.

So the question is, when do you find yourselves shooting in manual, or what situations require it? 

Typically when shooting landscapes or portraits I rely on "Av" mode, since aperture is the most key adjustment for getting the right DOF for each situation.  When I'm using my tele-zoom I tend to switch over to "Tv" mode, due to the amount of camera shake at the longer Focal lengths, keeping my shutter speed high enough being the priority in those instances.  In either mode I still have the ability to adjust my exposure with the touch of a button so I've never really been "forced" to have to use manual to either get the shot or expose it properly or at least get it the way I want it exposed.

Any insight would be greatly appreciated, thanks!!!

canon rumors FORUM

Shooting in manual
« on: September 30, 2011, 07:04:42 PM »

elflord

  • 5D Mark III
  • ******
  • Posts: 705
    • View Profile
Re: Shooting in manual
« Reply #1 on: September 30, 2011, 07:58:10 PM »
I've been visiting the site for quite some time now and recently joined.  Thought I'd introduce myself by asking the requisite novice question.

I've learned a lot reading the various posts here (thank you all).  And I've picked up some modest skill over the course of the past 2.5 years since purchasing my 500D, but I have yet to find a shot or a shooting situation yet, in my experience, that requires I shoot in manual mode.  I haven't done any macro or sports shooting, and I have almost no experience using flash so perhaps those are some of them..  I generally shoot landscapes, city-scapes, architecture, portraits, and birds.  I shoot with the following glass; EF 50 1.4, EF-S 17-85, EF 70-200 f4L non-IS, & a Speedlite 270EX that collects a lot of dust.

So the question is, when do you find yourselves shooting in manual, or what situations require it? 

Whenever the cameras metering fails, you will need to either use AE lock or manual exposure. This for example can often happen if you have strong backlight. It's common for night lit scenes where there are intense contrasts and you need to make an intelligent choice about what you want the camera to meter. For landscape photos, you might have to set exposure carefully to get the sky right. If you're taking a picture of a scene with a lot of snow, the automatic metering probably won't do the right thing. Take a look at Bryan Peterson's "understanding exposure" for some interesting examples that benefit from thinking carefully about metering. If you take landscape/cityscape photos, you'll like the book (most of his shots are landscape/cityscapes)

And yes, it's useful for flash pictures -- set the shutter speed to "fast enough" and pick an aperture that gives the right depth of field.  I find Av usually doesn't do what I want when I have the flash (it uses long exposures to expose the back ground but I find it over exposes which means I'd need to adjust it anyway)

wbunnell

  • Guest
Re: Shooting in manual
« Reply #2 on: September 30, 2011, 07:59:03 PM »
I shoot a lot of sports so I'll give you an example I ran into. Normally I would use aperture priority to control my DOF  and adjust my ISO to keep my shutter speed where I need it.

I shot boxing a few months ago.  I'm ringside looking up from the ring apron at the boxers.  There is a mostly black background with bright spotlights shining back at me.  I knew it was trouble and when testing out my exposures the camera was alternating between picking up on the spotlights and the black background.  My exposures were all over the place. It would either underexpose the boxers and expose for those bright spotlights or slow my shutter and expose for the dark background.  Since the lighting was constant and not going to be changing I went to manual to properly expose for the fighters and blew out the lights.

Basically any tricky lighting situation where you feel the cameras meter would be fooled would be a good time to go manual.


mortadella

  • Guest
Re: Shooting in manual
« Reply #3 on: September 30, 2011, 08:26:38 PM »
Whenever the cameras metering fails, you will need to either use AE lock or manual exposure. This for example can often happen if you have strong backlight. It's common for night lit scenes where there are intense contrasts and you need to make an intelligent choice about what you want the camera to meter. For landscape photos, you might have to set exposure carefully to get the sky right. If you're taking a picture of a scene with a lot of snow, the automatic metering probably won't do the right thing. Take a look at Bryan Peterson's "understanding exposure" for some interesting examples that benefit from thinking carefully about metering. If you take landscape/cityscape photos, you'll like the book (most of his shots are landscape/cityscapes)

And yes, it's useful for flash pictures -- set the shutter speed to "fast enough" and pick an aperture that gives the right depth of field.  I find Av usually doesn't do what I want when I have the flash (it uses long exposures to expose the back ground but I find it over exposes which means I'd need to adjust it anyway)

I'll definitely check out Bryan Peterson's "understanding exposure".  I've had a similar situation to the one you describe and I used AE lock to resolve it.  I was "trying" to take a picture of the Chicago skyline at night and no matter what I was doing, the pictures just looked wrong.  The camera was giving me about a 5 sec shutter speed in Av mode and the sky was just this ugly orange-ish color and the building lights were consistently being blown out.  It wasn't until a few months later that I understood what the problem was and understood what AE lock button function was and how to use it, and managed to get a decent shot. Thanks for the reply.

I shoot a lot of sports so I'll give you an example I ran into. Normally I would use aperture priority to control my DOF  and adjust my ISO to keep my shutter speed where I need it.

I shot boxing a few months ago.  I'm ringside looking up from the ring apron at the boxers.  There is a mostly black background with bright spotlights shining back at me.  I knew it was trouble and when testing out my exposures the camera was alternating between picking up on the spotlights and the black background.  My exposures were all over the place. It would either underexpose the boxers and expose for those bright spotlights or slow my shutter and expose for the dark background.  Since the lighting was constant and not going to be changing I went to manual to properly expose for the fighters and blew out the lights.

Basically any tricky lighting situation where you feel the cameras meter would be fooled would be a good time to go manual.

That's awesome, I would have never imagined shooting that situation, nor when I posed the question did I think I would read about a situation quite that unique.  Really cool.  Thanks for sharing!
« Last Edit: September 30, 2011, 08:30:06 PM by mortadella »

neuroanatomist

  • CR GEEK
  • ********
  • Posts: 14527
    • View Profile
Re: Shooting in manual
« Reply #4 on: September 30, 2011, 09:43:04 PM »
I often use "M" mode for shooting birds in flight, although admittedly I sonetimes 'cheat' in that the 7D has a functional Auto ISO in M mode (unlike most other Canon bodies that fix the ISO at 400 if Auto ISO is set in Manual mode).  For BIFs, I almost always want 1/1600 s and f/6.3 - f/8 for more DoF, and Tv mode would open the aperture wider than that.
EOS 1D X, EOS M, and lots of lenses
______________________________
Flickr | TDP Profile/Gear List

PeterJ

  • 7D
  • *****
  • Posts: 342
    • View Profile
Re: Shooting in manual
« Reply #5 on: October 01, 2011, 12:13:00 AM »
I often use "M" mode for shooting birds in flight, although admittedly I sonetimes 'cheat' in that the 7D has a functional Auto ISO in M mode (unlike most other Canon bodies that fix the ISO at 400 if Auto ISO is set in Manual mode).  For BIFs, I almost always want 1/1600 s and f/6.3 - f/8 for more DoF, and Tv mode would open the aperture wider than that.
The 7D auto ISO is a good feature, I'd seen some talk of the 7D having a native ISO of 160 and multiples of that being cleaner but doing a brief test I couldn't see that, things just seemed to get gradually more noisy as you'd expect. Most of the discussions I'd seen about that were talking about video, maybe the sensor is sampled a different way for video that doesn't cope with the "in between" ISOs so well. I've never used video much.

Hillsilly

  • 1D Mark IV
  • ******
  • Posts: 768
    • View Profile
Re: Shooting in manual
« Reply #6 on: October 01, 2011, 12:16:15 AM »
I only use manual mode if I'm shooting with a flash.  I don't own a Canon speedlite, so I just choose the speed and the aperture in manual mode and adjust the flash's strength until I get the outcome I want.  I also do a lot of off-camera flash with a wireless trigger and manual mode is ideal for this.

The only other time I use it is when I'm attempting to get star trails using the Bulb setting.  But this is very rare.

I tend to use Av most of the time.   
1000FN | 7E | 3000 | 3 | LS-100TS

canon rumors FORUM

Re: Shooting in manual
« Reply #6 on: October 01, 2011, 12:16:15 AM »

DavidRiesenberg

  • 7D
  • *****
  • Posts: 332
    • View Profile
    • David Riesenberg
Re: Shooting in manual
« Reply #7 on: October 01, 2011, 12:41:02 AM »
Whenever I'm shooting multiple photos in the same location, I tend to switch to M simply for constancy.

richy

  • Guest
Re: Shooting in manual
« Reply #8 on: October 01, 2011, 03:41:35 AM »
Good question!

When do I shoot manual and why:

1- Sunset portraits using flash. When using flash in this instance you are not just working with a single exposure, you are working with two factors. A burst from a flash gun (not in high speed sync / pulse mode) is very quick, like 1/10000th of a second quick (ballpark) so the foreground is exposed very quickly as soon as the first shutter curtain has cleared the sensor / film. The aperture and flash power sets how well exposed the foreground is. The shutter speed and aperture define the exposure of the background. So basically I tend to start around 1/2 flash power, f6.7 and adjust the shutter speed, aperture and flash power to get the right balance. Use an increasing flash and aperture to keep the shutter speed under the sync. Perhaps its just how I learn. I can also do it with a combination of a negative exposure compensation and a positive flash compensation but you have to be confident of your metering (i.e. switching a focal point from a brides white dress to a grooms black tux can fool the camera in certain metering modes). Check out / google 'dragging the shutter' for a better explanation!
2- Where I know the camera will be confused by varying levels of background brightness but where the actual target is pretty much constant. Shooting windsurfers is an example, the background is pretty variable between white caps reflecting huge sun and blue ocean. Meter for the surfer and chimp, I find I get less variance this way than any metering mode.
3- Shots where I know I want to override the cameras opinion of the 'perfect exposure'. The camera is very good at getting it right for a given 'right'. Sometimes it is easier to simply work in manual rather than trying to use compensation which is usually restricted to a certain number of stops.
4- Sometimes if I know I am in a difficult situation I just revert to manual, it might just be a mentality thing, I am comfortable using it and I think I can dial it in quicker than I can correct the cameras best guess sometimes.

As others have said a basic understanding of how metering works and when a camera is likely to make a mistake is very useful. There is another factor, some of us came to photography a decade or two ago, prior to digital being a mainstream budget proposition and many of us were not rich. We often started with cameras where manual was the only option. In medium format manual is par for the course unless you sacrifice that awesome waist level finder for a  prism finder (yes there are exceptions) which is akin to putting budget tyres on a Ferrari. Basically some of us are more comfortable falling back on manual because we know it well. That is not to say it is the best for everyone or that you need to be able to use it to be a good photographer. It is useful to be able to use it. FWIW I use AV mode the most often with manual in second place and the occasional but rare jump to shutter priority. Don't be afraid to try it, electrons on a memory card are free. At the end of the day photography is about getting the interpretation of a scene out of your head and onto the memory card. Exactly how you get there is up to you, IF you find P or Av the quicker to work with, if you are getting the results then go for it! It's worthwhile looking around to learn potentially better techniques, but don't beat yourself up if they dont work for you.

Kernuak

  • 1D X
  • *******
  • Posts: 1108
    • View Profile
    • Avalon Light Photoart
Re: Shooting in manual
« Reply #9 on: October 01, 2011, 04:03:56 AM »
I always shoot manual, as I prefer the control and flexibility. With landscapes, the metering will vary according to where you point the meter (depending on which mode you're using), so I find it's better to fix it on a point I either want to be exposed well or a point that is the equivalent of mid-grey. With wildlife, I often find that I'm shooting against water or sky, but sometimes shadowed woodland too. Water in particular can be a pain if you use aperture or shutter priority, because the level of reflection varies as the day progresses. I could use exposure compensation in a lot of scenes, but I find that a bit of a pain. The other thing with manual exposure, I think it makes you much more aware of light levels, which is really important when you have constantly changing light, such as when the sun goes behind a cloud. This not only gives you a better idea of exposure needed (useful for those times when the meter isn't much of a guide), but also enables you to react quicker.
Canon 5D MkIII, 7D, 300mm L IS f/2.8 and a few other L's

bycostello

  • 1D Mark IV
  • ******
  • Posts: 910
    • View Profile
    • London Weddings
Re: Shooting in manual
« Reply #10 on: October 01, 2011, 04:44:01 AM »
every situation for me requires manual....  whilst the camera technology is good at guessing what you are wanting and creating, it can't know.. only you know that...  so manual settings all the way, I make the picture not the camera.

scottkinfw

  • 1D Mark IV
  • ******
  • Posts: 760
    • View Profile
    • kasden.smug.com
Re: Shooting in manual
« Reply #11 on: October 01, 2011, 09:50:34 AM »
No right or wrong answer here.

I read and agree with the posts.  My advice is not to fear the M.  I would say that since you are the analytical, if not cautious type, play with it on shoots that either don't really matter, or use it after you get your shot.  Adjust different settings and compare results.

sek


I've been visiting the site for quite some time now and recently joined.  Thought I'd introduce myself by asking the requisite novice question.

I've learned a lot reading the various posts here (thank you all).  And I've picked up some modest skill over the course of the past 2.5 years since purchasing my 500D, but I have yet to find a shot or a shooting situation yet, in my experience, that requires I shoot in manual mode.  I haven't done any macro or sports shooting, and I have almost no experience using flash so perhaps those are some of them..  I generally shoot landscapes, city-scapes, architecture, portraits, and birds.  I shoot with the following glass; EF 50 1.4, EF-S 17-85, EF 70-200 f4L non-IS, & a Speedlite 270EX that collects a lot of dust.

So the question is, when do you find yourselves shooting in manual, or what situations require it? 

Typically when shooting landscapes or portraits I rely on "Av" mode, since aperture is the most key adjustment for getting the right DOF for each situation.  When I'm using my tele-zoom I tend to switch over to "Tv" mode, due to the amount of camera shake at the longer Focal lengths, keeping my shutter speed high enough being the priority in those instances.  In either mode I still have the ability to adjust my exposure with the touch of a button so I've never really been "forced" to have to use manual to either get the shot or expose it properly or at least get it the way I want it exposed.

Any insight would be greatly appreciated, thanks!!!
sek Cameras: 5D III, 5D II, EOS M  Lenses:  24-70 2.8 II IS, 24-105 f4L, 70-200 f4L IS, 70-200 f2.8L IS II, EF 300 f4L IS, EF 400 5.6L, 300 2.8 IS II, Samyang 14 mm 2.8 Flashes: 580 EX II600EX-RT X 2, ST-E3-RT
Plus lots of stuff that just didn't work for me

mortadella

  • Guest
Re: Shooting in manual
« Reply #12 on: October 01, 2011, 01:16:45 PM »
Lots of good responses, much appreciated. 

Seems to be the most common situations are either; while using a flash, for consistency when shooting in a fixed environment, or when you have a background consisting of a mix of highlights and shadows that might fool the metering system.

I wouldn't say that I'm afraid of using "M", but since I didn't start off using it, its more time consuming for me to get to the proper exposure than either in "Av" or "Tv".  I was really trying to find a reason to use it more than anything, so I'll pay attention to whenever I come across these situations in the future.

It also came to mind that when using a zoom, which I typically do, using AE lock can can solve the problem of the "confusing" backgrounds, by zooming on the subject and locking the exposure, then zooming out and recomposing the shot (if you don't have a moving subject and can zoom enough to frame the subject only).  Obviously this may be difficult/impossible when using a prime without the luxury of framing the subject to expose it properly.  However, using the zoom/lock technique may take more time than just correcting the exposure in manual, I guess however you can get to the proper exposure quickest would be the way to go.  Just thinking that using a prime might necessitate "M" more frequently given this same set of circumstances.

canon rumors FORUM

Re: Shooting in manual
« Reply #12 on: October 01, 2011, 01:16:45 PM »

elflord

  • 5D Mark III
  • ******
  • Posts: 705
    • View Profile
Re: Shooting in manual
« Reply #13 on: October 01, 2011, 03:02:42 PM »
Lots of good responses, much appreciated. 

Seems to be the most common situations are either; while using a flash, for consistency when shooting in a fixed environment, or when you have a background consisting of a mix of highlights and shadows that might fool the metering system.

I wouldn't say that I'm afraid of using "M", but since I didn't start off using it, its more time consuming for me to get to the proper exposure than either in "Av" or "Tv".  I was really trying to find a reason to use it more than anything, so I'll pay attention to whenever I come across these situations in the future.

It gets faster with practice. Start with the right aperture (or shutter speed). You probably already know what an appropriate ISO is. Tap the shutter button to get a meter reading. The +- exposure scale on the bottom of the viewfinder (and the LCD) will tell you if you're over or under exposed, and will change as you turn the shutter/aperture dials. With a bit of practice as long as your exposure is in the right ballpark to begin with (e.g. within a few stops), you can dial the right exposure in a couple of seconds.

Quote
It also came to mind that when using a zoom, which I typically do, using AE lock can can solve the problem of the "confusing" backgrounds, by zooming on the subject and locking the exposure, then zooming out and recomposing the shot (if you don't have a moving subject and can zoom enough to frame the subject only).  Obviously this may be difficult/impossible when using a prime without the luxury of framing the subject to expose it properly. 

Well yes and no. Using AE lock works well for some scenarios. However, having a zoom doesn't buy you as much as you might think -- partly because someone who uses fast primes is likely to also use spot metering (so they can "meter and recompose") and can also "zoom in with their feet". So the prime user can also use the AE lock trick.

A limitation of the AE trick is that if you do this and want to take another photo, you have to do your AE lock trick all over. If you're the guy taking boxing shots, or a night time street photographer, this approach is just a non starter -- you will spend so much time fighting the cameras metering system that you will miss your shots. If you are shooting with manual exposure, you can set the right exposure and the camera will not mess with it on your next shot. The boxing guy for example can probably meter once and use that exposure for the next several shots -- as long as the lighting in the ring is fairly constant, he doesn't need to take a separate meter reading for every shot. He has plenty of time to do the initial metering, but when it's time to capture the decisive moment, he wants to hit the shutter, not the AE lock.

« Last Edit: October 01, 2011, 03:07:51 PM by elflord »

Leopard Lupus

  • Guest
Re: Shooting in manual
« Reply #14 on: October 01, 2011, 09:29:59 PM »
When shooting Manual, you are given much more control over the image as a whole. To put it simply, I would recommend using your camera on Manual in different situations as to "play around" with the results you receive. Some photographers don't realize the use of Manual can lead to more pleasing shots, even if the preset-shooting modes give you clean results. Plus, it's fun to shoot in Manual!

canon rumors FORUM

Re: Shooting in manual
« Reply #14 on: October 01, 2011, 09:29:59 PM »