How to shoot in manual mode on your Nikon DSLR

    By | Photography Tutorials | Tutorials | 03/06/2012 07:00am

    Do you find you tend to stay within the auto modes of your Nikon DSLR? When your automatic settings deliver great results, it can difficult to think why you should venture beyond.

    But using your manual settings can offer enormous creative potential. Shooting in manual mode takes more experience, but the control it gives you over shutter speed, aperture and overall exposure at the same time means you can not only experiment, but gain new confidence in how to use a camera.

    Below we show you step by step how to shoot in manual mode on your Nikon.

    How to shoot in manual mode

    How to shoot in manual mode: switch the dial to M

    Switch to M
    On most Nikon DSLRs you can do this on the main mode dial, but on professional models like the Nikon D800 we’ve used here there’s a mode button that you use in conjunction with the command dial.

    How to shoot in manual mode: change shutter speed

    Change shutter speed
    You do this with the rear command dial. As the shutter speed changes, you’ll see the bars on the exposure indicator moving to show that the exposure is changing (for more, check out the Common mistakes at every shutter speed – and the best settings to use).

    How to shoot in manual mode: tweak aperture

    Tweak aperture
    Use the front sub-command dial if your camera has one, or on other models hold down the EV compensation button and turn the rear command dial.

    How to shoot in manual mode: use the indicator

    Use the indicator
    As you change the shutter speed and/or aperture, you’ll see bars on either side of the exposure indicator’s zero point showing under- or overexposure.

    How to shoot in manual mode: zero the setting

    Zero the setting
    When the bars are ‘zeroed’, the exposure is indicated by the camera’s meter, but it’s up to you how you interpret the reading. You can use your own skill and judgement.

    How to shoot in manual mode: compensate on the fly

    Compensate on the fly
    If your subject is very light or dark, adjust the shutter speed or aperture so the exposure indicator bars move to the left or right of centre (for more on how to do this, check out our free exposure compensation cheat sheet).


    Nikon D3200 review
    Nikon shutter speed scales: a complete guide
    Manual Focus: what you need to know to get sharp images
    How to reduce noise at your Nikon’s ISO settings
    Digital Cameras: what the manual doesn’t teach you
    10 things photographers can do to stop wasting pictures

    Posted on Sunday, June 3rd, 2012 at 7:00 am under Photography Tutorials, Tutorials. You can subscribe to comments.

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