Manual Setting on your Camera

Does your camera have a manual setting? Do you know how to use the manual setting? If not, here is a little advice.  Using the manual settings can change the look of a photograph dramatically.  Below I describe how changing your aperture can change the look of your photographs.  Depending on your camera and lens your f-stops (aperture) will vary, but below is the norm.

0.5   0.7   1.0   1.4   2   2.8   4   5.6   8   11   16   22   32   45   64   90   128
Larger aperture opening                                       smaller aperture opening

By changing the F-stops on the camera you can focus on one small part of the photograph or have the entire scene in focus.  In order to focus on one small item open the aperture all the way.  My camera’s largest aperture is f-stop  4.5.  I love using the wide open aperture because it really shows a focus on one item.  This is great if you are pinpointing one small item.  Close the aperture down a bit more and it is great for portraits.  If you keep the aperture wide open and take a portrait photo you may focus on the nose, but the eyes could be out of focus.  I like to do under 8.0 for portraits because it will soft focus the background.  If you are taking scenic photos then usually it is better to go with a smaller aperture, an 8.0 or higher f-stop setting.

Of course, the ambient light is also a factor.  Use the smaller apertures if you want your entire photograph in focus, but you need to make sure the shutter speed lets in enough light.  Most cameras come with an in camera light meter and this will help you to make sure you get the correct speed of the shutter.  I program in the aperture size I want and then aiming towards my subject I use the light meter to get my shutter speed correct.  You may need to make adjustments to the aperture if you don’t have enough light.  Keep in mind if you are hand holding your camera try to stay at a shutter speed no slower than 1/125 of a second.  If you go longer than that you may get camera shake unless you use a tripod.

I know it is a bit of a technical subject, so go out and experiment.  Now that digital cameras are so prevalent you can see what you get as soon as you take it.  If you have any questions please contact me and I will try to help.

Heidi Kelly

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4 Responses to “Manual Setting on your Camera”

  1. Kate

    Thanks, Heidi! This is so helpful. I have been using the auto setting of my camera but really want to try the other settings and have not had time for a class.

    • heidihugs

      No prob, Kate, glad it is helpful for someone!

  2. Ruthie

    I always just change the settings randomly and see how the pics turn out but I don’t know how to verbalize what I’ve done…this is good to learn a bit at a time, thanks Heidi!

  3. lilithsapothecary

    Great post!

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