Camera Class – Go Manual


Welcome back to the fourth week of our camera class – a series of quick and easy tips to help you get the most out of your photos, regardless of what kind of camera you’re using.

We’ve previous looked at the importance of light, avoiding blurry photos and the advantages of a new lens for DSRL users but this week its all about going manual!

Taking control of your shooting is not only a lot of fun but its often very easy. While most people might think that its only possible using the dials and switches of a DSLR, point and shoot cameras also have plenty of options and the camera apps on smartphones are becoming increasingly sophisticated.

So let’s dive in and take control!

It’s Easy

Have you ever been unhappy with a dark picture on your phone and clicked on the flash? Then you’ve taken manual control! Most other settings are just as simple and can make a real difference.

The simplest control you’ll find on your phone is exposure. Usually this is represented as a slider with a high and low value – one side makes things darker, the other brighter. Just using this slider you can decide how light or dark your picture is going to be, playing with things like silhouettes or keeping details in bright sunlight.

Another example is ISO. Most cameras and a good number of phones now give you the chance to adjust it on the fly. Put simply, this setting increases the light sensitivity of your camera, helping you to snap an image when it’s dark.

Controls Give You Choice

Taking manual control is the first step to being that little bit more creative. A silhouette is a good example – most cameras in auto mode will try to compensate when a subject is back lit by bringing out other detail but you may want a stark black shape against the sunlight.

Or you could enable your cameras macro mode and get in really close to a subject. Because of how their sensors are placed, point and shoot and smartphone cameras can often keep items in sharp focus even at very close range. You’d be surprised the kinds of interesting images you can get from close up.

Browse the Settings

As you get more confident changing some basic settings, you can dive further into what your camera has to offer. This is where you’ll be able to turn on things like manual focus to decide exactly what you want to be in sharp detail.

Many cameras come with further features, like turning on anti-shake detection which helps you get a clear picture and burst modes which let you take many photos very quickly. The great thing about digital cameras is that you can do whatever you like – even if you’re not happy with a photo you can just delete it and try again.

Go Advanced and Take Pictures Your Way

If you delve a little deeper into your settings you’ll soon discover both shutter speed and aperture. For manual users, these elements are incredibly important and while they can be highly technical you only need the basics to start using them.

Put simply, the smaller the number of the aperture (the f-number) the more light is let in to the camera. So a small number (like f2.2) means it’s easier to take a picture in a darker place. Shutter speed is how quickly the shutter fires, anything slower than 1/30 of a second tends to produce blur.

Its when you start to play with these settings that you discover their creative applications. A small aperture (f) number creates a small depth of field – which is the amount of the image that’s in focus. These kinds of pictures let you highlight just one part of an image and really start to make your photos look professional.

Shutter speed is most often used to freeze motion. If you’ve got a lot of light available, push it as high as it will go and you’ll get some amazing freeze frame shots of action – its great for sports photos. But you can also go the other way and add blur to the world, long shutter speeds are responsible for those awesome pictures you see of cities at night with car lights rendered as a stream of colour.

So open up those menus and get experimenting with what your cameras can really do. You’ll be surprised at the options available on even the simplest cameras and you’ll be producing more creative pics than ever before !

Shop for the full range of camera products at Harvey Norman here.

In Short: In this Camera Class we’re taking a look at the manual settings on your camera and showing you how its surprisingly easy to take control of your shots

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