Barely 3 days old and Joe nervously and cluelessly tries to get to grips with his Canon EOS 450D. Pouring over the owner’s manual hoping to get some tips on photography before his morning flight to Hong Kong for his company’s annual trip. But when he came back, I ask for him to show me some pictures he shrugs and said there weren’t many. Scrolling through the 450D’s LCD, I saw snap shots that are underexposed, overexposed, blurred and some which are entire white and some which are entirely black. While I do not own a 450D, but I do know this camera does take very good pictures with very accurate exposures.
Baffled, I asked what happened? He keeps shrugging his shoulders and said he has no idea what he was doing most of the time and just kept turning the scroll wheel before releasing the shutter. But no matter what he did, the pictures comes out disappointing. They say in this digital age, even an idiot can take a good picture but clearly this rule does not apply here.
Then I asked him what settings did he shoot with and he replied – M. I’m getting more confused as the conversation goes on I asked Joe, why shoot in Manual mode when you have all the other modes like Program, Aperture Priority, and Shutter Priority not to mention the full auto and scene modes to help you? They say you have to shoot in Manual to get good pictures and all the pros use Manual mode only, he replied.
This is a classic situation I encounter on a daily basis. A misconception that is almost impossible to eradicate and the worst part is that people get offended being pointed out that other options exists. While I am the first to agree that there are no right or wrong in photography, but there is a better way of doing things and manual is generally not one of them. There are situations where by there are no other choice but to shoot in manual, however for this discussion we will not go there.
What I realize after encountering so many manual shooters is that they perceive by scrolling the wheels on the camera and have the needle at zero (exposure bar) makes them professional. The more buttons or wheels you play with before taking the picture – the better they will be or so they think. Little do they realize that the camera can do that much accurately and faster than they can say manual.
Exactly what Joe though when he got his camera. And he came back with almost no shots. You cannot turn a knob on your camera to get good pictures. I believe by fully utilizing the tools is what makes the difference. We have the most accurate exposure metering in the history of photography that we have reached a point where we could almost not take a badly exposed picture and yet people think they have to shoot in manual mode. Utilize the technology that you paid for.
We will go into shutter speed priority mode in the next article and at the meantime put your DLSR in P(program) mode with your ISO set to auto and shoot away. Lets not worry about what the manual purists say and silent them with your good pictures. We turn heads with our pictures – they turn knobs and wheels.