Auto is easy.

Putting your camera on manual can be scary and intimidating but trust us, it’s worth it.

In fact, here’s 5 reasons why it’s worth it.

1. You can bring your artistic vision to life.

“When shooting in manual, you have complete control over your settings so you can tell your story the way you see fit. It’s liberating to know that by choosing each of your settings thoughtfully, that you can bring those visions in your head to life through your viewfinder. If you can imagine it in your mind, you can know exactly what you’d need to be able to execute it and make it a reality. And by doing this on a consistent basis, you will be able to develop your artistic voice and style, allowing others to see the world through your eyes.”

Marissa Gifford

two boys playing in the water by Marissa Gifford

2. The ability to control motion.

“When you shoot in manual you have more control which allows you more room for creativity. By adjusting your shutter speed you can show motion in a shot or stop motion. Increasing your shutter speed allows you to freeze the moment like the soccer pictures below. In these images, I used a high shutter speeds to “stop” the motion.

girl bouncing a soccer ball by Monica Wilkinson

ISO 100 | f/2.0 | 1/2000

In this image, I used a very slow shutter speed to show the motion.  Here you can see how the motion of the car and light trails adds a little fun to the shot.”

Monica Wilkinson

slow motion photo in downtown Phoenix

3. You can decide how much is in focus.

“When using manual mode, you can choose how much of your image you want in focus by adjusting your aperture. Do you want your image to be in focus from foreground to background? If so, use a smaller aperture like f/8, f/11 or higher. Most people use smaller apertures for landscape shots where they want a lot of detail from front to back. Maybe you want that creamy background with the beautiful bokeh. This is where you would use a larger aperture like a f/1.4 or a f/2.8. This allows for a more shallow depth of field which blurs out that background and keeps just your subject in focus!!

Cancun beach photo by Monica Wilkinson

ISO 200 | f/16 | 1/500

In this image I have chosen a larger aperture, giving that blurry background that so many seek out:”

Monica Wilkinson

portrait of two sisters in a field by Monica Wilkinson

ISO 200 | f/2.8 | 1/125

4. You’ll get better exposure.

“Because shooting in Manual gives you the freedom to pick each of your settings, you can more easily shoot in very low light by intentionally choosing a very high ISO. Choosing a high ISO in a low light situation will allow you to let in the appropriate amount of light to expose the image properly, while also maintaining a desirable aperture and shutter speed. In the following night-time image, the only light was coming from the hallway creating a small amount of illumination. I set my ISO at 6400, which let me keep my shutter speed fast enough to avoid camera shake.”

Lacey Meyers

black and white picture of boy sleeping by Lacey Meyers

5. Consistency.

“Shooting in manual gives consistency to your images. You can keep your white balance, color and light consistent from image to image. Instead of hoping for the best or getting lucky with your images, you will be able to get great images every time – no matter the lighting situation. Understanding what your camera is capable of, how to meter, properly expose and get correct color in camera will take your images to a whole new level.”

Rachel Nielsen

backlit photo of a bride and groom by Rachel Nielsen

So, are you ready to slide that dial over? Need some help? If you’re a forum member, we’ve got some great tutorials for you in the Beginner Photo Tips forum. If you’re not a member, you can sign up here. Or maybe you’d like some help from these 4 great photographers above in a more structured atmosphere? Consider signing up for the Mastering Manual Exposure workshop!