How To Shoot in Manual Mode for Beginners

Shooting in manual mode is easy! I thought it was complicated, but I was missing 1 key step.

See this meter?
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You have to turn the dial on your camera to move the cursor to the center! (in-depth explanation of metering)

I learned this tip from my Obi Wan of photography, Michelle. She created a great video tutorial to go along with this post.

I also learned some tricks from my Yoda, Darcy, at Relevant. I explain them below!

Important Settings

1. Shutter Speed – a number, usually 1/n
2. f-number – Ex. 4.0 or 5.6
3. ISO – a number from 100 or 200 to 6400 or more, depending on your camera

How To Shoot In Any Setting:

Indoor Settings

Above- ISO: 3200 – f-number: 5.6 – Shutter Speed: 1/80

ISO – highest possible (This depends on your camera.)
f-number (amount in focus) – lowest possible
Shutter Speed – above 50 (1/80 is great.)
White Balance – Auto or adjust

Indoor Tips: Go as low as you can ISO while keeping Shutter Speed at 1/50 or above. If your shutter speed is at 1/200 or above when centered, lower your ISO.

Outdoor Settings

outdoor manual settings
Above- ISO: 400 – f-number: 4.0 – Shutter Speed: 1/60

ISO – lowest possible (This depends on your camera. A Canon will go down to 100. A Nikon goes to 200.)
f-number (amount in focus) – low for detail shots / high for large groups
Shutter Speed – Center your meter.
White Balance – Auto or adjust setting to get the look you want.

Outdoor Tips: Stand in the same light as your subject.
Keep the light source behind you. Angle your shoulder toward the light source.
If you must shoot from shade to light, use the flash to compensate.

Kids and Other Squirmy Things

settings for kids
Above- ISO: 400 – f-number: 4.0 – Shutter Speed: 1/125

ISO – lowest possible (see Shutter Speed below)
f-number (amount in focus) – low for detail shots / high for large groups
Shutter Speed – 125 or above  - This is your priority setting! Adjust your ISO and f-stop to achieve the right shutter speed.
White Balance – Auto or adjust to your liking.

Now I love manual mode. I think you will, too!

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{Don't forget to check out the video tutorial that explains manual mode, too!}

Want to learn even more?

Photography 101 (Learning Manual Mode) , Photography 102 ::
How to take iStock Photos (and make Money!) ::


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