Beginner's question on A vs. M :)

Started Feb 1, 2014 | Discussions thread
Alan Brown
Alan Brown Veteran Member • Posts: 5,593
Re: M is not the holy grail.. :)

wireless wrote:

Alan Brown wrote:

I do use M is certain situations but mostly A with the rear wheel set as easy EC. I look at a scene and will judge from experience whether to set EC in advance.; Snow or coal cellar for instance

Most newcomers I speak to see M as being in full control yet when I ask them how they determine exposure I get a blank look and find they just 'match needle' the meter! So they are not in control at all.. just making things more difficult for themselves.

If I'm in full manual I needle match as a baseline but make adjustments based on the scene. Of course you have to know what you're exposing for.

Then you are using it intelligently....

If people are in the picture, they'll often be underexposed if outside and there's any bright background so I'll automatically adjust SS so that the meter is up half or a whole stop. And check the for blinkies and histogram if necessary. Vice versa if the bright part of the photo is the subject. One can go to spot metering but I've found it's best overall to avoid and prevent anything overly blown out or unrecoverable shadows by sticking with matrix.

There is some elitism among some M users (I don't mean those who understand it and use it properly and intelligently) Yet you can mostly get the same exposure combinations with P mode, using P shift and A or S modes of course but with the speed of the cameras electronics helping you. Most of my shooting does not require any EC outside of the two stops of - or + of the EC control. If it does then M is the way to go; but it is very rare for me.

I agree there's some elitism. I think it indicates a deeper understanding of all the mechanics. The photographer makes every decision except relying on the meter. But that's not saying AP or other modes don't mean the photographer doesn't know M in depth. You for example. I think it's good though to learn the most basic way first and then work backward to fit the situation.


I have come from the Dim lighting of the ceremony in A mode and flicked the dial to P more than a few times when necessary.

I never use P mode unless I hand it to somebody to take a photo. I switch to scene mode in Sports for example if I don't have time to set every thing up, like being late to the game.

Nothing wrong with any mode used intelligently.

I agree but I think many many people with cameras use Auto or P modes and will tell you themselves their pictures aren't good.

that's because they don't use the modes intelligently ( that you can change the program) or understand the relationship between the controlling factors.. Ill just mention the two mechanical ones this reply; Shutter speed and aperture (ps I'm not saying anything else it isn't relevant before anyone jumps in)

If you are in any mode.. M A, S or P.. the meter will have a fixed light requirement for a given ISO and what it believes is correct. It is expecting you (in M mode) or the camera (in fully P) to control the light entering the lens to meet it's 'proper exposure' needs . Bear with me for a little while. Ignoring for now whether that exposure is what you want, the relationship between the aperture and shutter speed is fixed as far as the camera is concerned. it is assuming you will choose, in this particular instance, any of the following combinations that let exactly the same amount of light through to the sensor or film for that matter. It could be  f5.6 @1/125th   f4@1/250  f2.8@ 1/500th and so on.

Whether you arrive at these setting via manual or A, S or P is irrelevant to the camera and you can just as easily manipulate these parameters in all of them.. including P via Program shift.. try it... the relationship between Aperture and Shutter speed, to the camera, is fixed.

That this is obvious is seen from the readout in the viewfinder. In M mode the meter either shows  positive or negative exposure as soon as you leave that relationship. In the example above for instance you set the aperture to f5.6 @ 1/250th the camera thinks this is 1 stop underexposed.

So whether you arrive at the camera's parameters by M or A, S or P is irrelevant and mostly you can. In P Mode with program shift; spinning the front wheel shows the fixed relationship in action although it may be if different fractions of those figures I gave above.

Now this is where intelligence comes in.. How far out of those set parameters do you go; positive or negative is up to the discernment of the photographer by using EC.

Thus I don't understand why anyone should look down on any mode that allows a person to get the combination he wants. Even in P mode with the use of P shift you can set whatever combination is available to the lens and shutter that A, S can do... If you want your lens to open to f1.4 (if it does) to blur the background  you can even in P! P is not the stranglehold that many seem to think. With intelligent use of P shift and EC.. you can set the same settings as A or S mode.

If you want more that EC (the four stops total + or -) can produce for what you personally define as an acceptable exposure.. by all means go to M.

It's just knowledge of the basics that gives you choice... not following blindly by what others say.

It's like driving a new cars these days, the driver is often so removed from the driving experience by electronics and so many safety features that they don't know how to drive.

That's fair enough. some like the controls in the hand.

regards, David

my 2 cents

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Fujifilm X-T1 Fujifilm XF 35mm F1.4 R Fujifilm XF 18-55mm F2.8-4 R LM OIS
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