Switching From Auto To Manual On Your DSLR

Level: Intermediate

Congratulations, you’ve bought your own camera. And now you have no idea how to use it without everything on Auto.. This tutorial will show you how to use your camera on Manual mode, and some of the basic features you should get used to right away if you want to take good, quality photos.

**Please note that these steps do not have to be done in this order. Sometimes it’s easier to do them out of order, or some steps more than once. Use your instincts.

1) Turn your camera on. **This step really does have to be first, though.

All images by Katie Wallace
All images by Katie Wallace

2) Switch to Manual Mode.


All images by Katie Wallace

3) Assuming you are able to preview the images on the screen before you take them, press the preview button on the upper right-hand corner above the screen.






4) You can now see the framed picture of what you’re about to capture without looking through the lens. This will drain your battery a little faster, but I always find it more helpful.


5) The lighting in the image now needs to be adjusted. The first think you can do is to change the exposure. To do this, use the wheel by the shutter button.


Exposure is how much light your camera is letting in. It is determined by how slow or fast the shutter speed is, or how slow/fast the picture is taken. Faster shutter speeds will result in action shots, such as a still-frame of someone running. Slower shutter speed will result in blurrier shots, so you will capture all the movement the subjects makes. Shutter speed and exposure are synonymous, meaning that the slower shutter speed you have, the greater exposure you’ll have (the image will be brighter). The faster shutter speed, the less exposure (the image will be darker). Exposure will vary depending on the lighting situation. Low-light areas will need a higher exposure to get good lighting.


6) When the exposure is set, or if it just isn’t bright enough without ruining the photograph, it’s time to go to ISO. This adjusts how much light is added to the image when exposure just isn’t cutting it. Be careful, though. The higher ISO you have, the more grain your image will have. I normally draw the line at 1600. ISO isn’t your enemy; use it, but don’t abuse it.

All images by Katie Wallace



7) Now that the lighting is all set, it’s time to set the focus. First, look at the switch on the lens that says “AF” and “MF”. This stands for Auto Focus and Manual Focus. Change it to MF.  Mess with wheel around the lens. Move it to the left and right until the eyes of the subject are in focus (or whatever part you want focused). The position of the focus wheel will be different, depending on what lens you have.

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8) Now all that’s left is…. Take the picture! Use the shutter button and click away!

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