THIS post is specially aimed at simplifying the use of Manual Mode.

If that caught your attention, stick around because hereon the fundamental concepts of using the camera in the M mode will appear relatively easy. To understand more details, we will need to learn a few settings on the camera and how to change them. It is also important that you read the user manual of your camera model and understand where the controls are on your camera and how we change them. Once that is done we are ready to explore !

M mode

Before we begin, let us turn the mode dial so that the camera is now on Manual (M)

mode. This will allow you to take full control of the camera. Once the camera is in the M mode, you can virtually ask it to do as you wish. With a quick push of few buttons the camera will respond to anything that you may want to tweak to turn your picture into a sharp one. On most cameras the mode dial looks like the one alongside. Turn it till it aligns.

When you swith on the camera the screen will open up to display something similar to the image below. The image below mybe that of a Nikon camera, however any of the other brands would not differ by much. A quick understanding of important parameters below.


The image on the left will be visible on the LCD screen of the camera when you are using the viewfinder (eye piece) to aim and shoot. While the image on the right is what you will see when you look into the viewfinder.

M will flash on the screen to indicae that your camera is in the M mode. The other important parameters visible will be the shutter speed, apertureISO and the scale.


The scale that stretches between – and + is an indicator of how your shot will turn out. If the scale is tending towards the ‘+’ sign it means the shot will be overexposed. Here, you will need to control the amount of light that is entering the shutter. This can be done either by increasing the shutter speed or reducing the aperture. If the scale is tending towards ‘-‘ it means the shot is likely to be underexposed. Here reducing the shutter speed will allow additional light in or opening the shutter wider will help as well.

This screen will also indicate few more important parameters but we will cover those in the forthcoming posts.

Read more on ISO, Shutter Speed and Aperture here

Types of Photography and Settings:

  1. Indoor : While shooting indoor, the light settings will vary. You may need to use an external light source like the onboard flash, external flash or a strobe. Any of these will help you light up the subject enough to be able to capture it well. The settings in this scenario will broadly depend upon what you are working to capture. Most commonly in an indoor setting, turning ISO high upto 640 or higher is a good way to have SS and aperture under control. In case your camera doesnot function well on a higher ISO setting, turn it ISO on auto. This allows the camera to adjust the ISO to its optimum level depending upon the light.

High ISO

If the subject is moving the minimum shutter speed required is 1/80 sec. This will eradicate the shake effects in the shot. In case the subject is moving slightly fast the shutter speed will be required to be bumped up further. For shooting indoor sports events or a stage show the settings will need to be higher than 1/100. However, if the subject is still and not likely to move suddenly then you may safely get the shutter speed lower. Uinsg a tripod or a monopod will also help lowering the shutter speed.

What is the need to reduce shutter speed ? 

If shutter speed is low, the need to bump up ISO is negated. ISO is the sensitivity of the camera which is best when it is at its lowest. High ISO settings are required for low light conditions but need to be traded for a grainy output if not controlled properly.

DSC_0343  2. Outdoor : While shooting outdoor, the light settings are relatively easy to manage. In this setting set the ISO to 100 and forget about it. All images will turn out tack sharp as long as the focus and shakes are taken care of. Shooting in daylight is best when done during ‘Golden Hours’. Golden hours are 2 hours after sunrise and before sunset. This light is the most ideal for photography and throws magical effects.

Underexposing or overexposing a shot in varying light conditions is a skill that can be learnt with enough practice.

Hope the quick brush-up and application based tips have helped you sharpen your skills. Share your shots and experiments and we will be happy to comment.

Happy Shooting !!

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