Shooting in one manual mode is one of those “You’re not a real photographer if you don’t…” kinds of things. It has been for years and it’s a constant debate whenever you jump into photography groups on social media. And while I personally believe it’s important to understand how to shoot in manual mode, I don’t think actually shooting in manual mode all the time (or even most of it) is essential.
That’s the topic explored in this excellent video from Pixel Village. After having somebody recently show them their work and regularly pointing out that images were shot in all manual mode, he dug a little deeper into why this photography felt it was so important to mention. His answer was basically that his photographer teacher was perpetuating the “You’re not a real photographer…” myth.
In the video, he mentions that it’s actually quite rare for him to shoot in full manual exposure mode. He hasn’t done since cameras started offering automatic and semi-automatic exposure modes, like aperture and shutter priority – even with film – typically preferring to use aperture priority mode.
There are times when manual mode offers big advantages over automatic modes. When you’re using a flash that isn’t TTL, or when you’re combining multiple flashes, for example. And it’s the use of flash that means the vast majority of my own stills are shot in manual mode. Or maybe you’re facing extremely tricky lighting conditions that the camera does create a good exposure for, but not necessarily the exposure you want.
For a lot of things you might shoot, though, the automatic modes will do the job just as well. And they’ll often let you get to where you need to go more quickly than shooting in manual mode, too, especially in situations with rapidly changing lighting conditions. Even if you do end up setting your aperture and shutter speed manually, your camera will be able to adjust your ISO way quicker than you can!
Ultimately, whatever mode lets you get the shot you want is the right mode.
Do you always shoot manual? Do you never shoot manual? Or do you switch between them as the situation dictates?