Is using the camera in manual that difficult.

Discussion in 'Ethics and Philosophy' started by Chan Tran, Jan 24, 2014.

  1. Chan Tran

    Chan Tran Member

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    I understand that using a camera in fully or part automation would certainly help in situations where we don't have time to make manual adjustments. It does take a little bit of muscle and a little bit of time to operate all those controls. But is it that difficult mentally that most beginners are advised to start out with a fully automatic mode? I know most of us here started out with a fully manual camera with manual exposure controls and shutter speed. How hard was it? I didn't think it was difficult at all. I found many who started out with full auto have a very hard time trying to go to manual as they progress. It's OK if one never care to use manual controls but if one does I think started out with automatic would complicate things and make it's very difficult to comprehend.
     
  2. Xmas

    Xmas Member

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    perception problem borrow box camera for day...
     
  3. snapguy

    snapguy Member

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    I learned how to take photos with a Rolleiflex and hand-held light meter. But the world has spun around a time or two since then. I don't know why anybody would tell people to start on auto but this is a do-it-now, do-it-easy, is-there-an-ap-for-that era.
    SOME high schools and colleges are starting folks out on fully manual mechanical cameras and are always scrounging around for donations of "real" cameras that are in good shape. We should support that. I think there should be a thread for that.
     
  4. LyleB

    LyleB Member

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    I fully agree with you. Learning to shoot photographs in automatic mode does not translate well into understanding the exposure triangle. Having no DOF preview limits the understanding of aperture size.

    I equate it to learning to drive a car. If you learn to drive on a standard transmission, it is very simple to transfer what you learned and feel fully comfortable driving an automatic. If, however, you learn to drive on an automatic, it still takes a lot of practice to feel comfortable driving a standard transmission. Many (most) folks never do make the transition.
     
  5. ntenny

    ntenny Member

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    Well, most people now---beginners or no---depend on auto-everything routinely. Up until the 1970s or 1980s, knowing a photographer meant knowing somebody who was forever fiddling with dials and meters; if you wanted to learn to use a camera, you expected to have to learn what all that stuff was about.

    At this point, though, I expect most people under about 30 have never seen a handheld meter, and only rarely seen anyone make manual adjustments on a camera other than turning the flash on and off; so they not unreasonably assume that using a camera involves, well, the things they see people do with cameras. I think there's a general awareness of a kind of old-school "real" photography that was much more manual than that, but it probably seems a bit like large format---something complicated, mysterious, and very different from photography as people usually see it practiced.

    Interesting question. We have younger members who fall into the generations that grew up with auto-everything cameras---hopefully some of them will weigh in with their perspectives on this subject.

    -NT
     
  6. Chris Lange

    Chris Lange Member

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    I don't think using a camera in manual is difficult at all. In fact, I find it (usually) easier to use a camera in manual than one that is in some sort of automated exposure program. Reason being, light really doesn't change all that much, or all that quickly, so depending on what sorts of values you want to emphasize, your meter is going to be changing constantly, and telling you to expose a scene in a way that you don't necessarily want.

    I would hazard that 90% of my photographs that aren't made at night are shot at 1/125 and f/4 or f/5.6 during the winter months, and at 1/250 1/500 and f/5.6 or f/8 during the brighter seasons.

    When it comes to shooting at night, give me aperture priority, a f/2 or 1.4 lens, and all the 3200 speed film I can get my hands on, because I don't take great pleasure in shooting 1/4 second exposures with 400 speed film at 2.8.

    I'm 23.
     
  7. Nikanon

    Nikanon Member

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    I use Leicas, both M and Screwmount. Everything's 1967 and prior. No meters, and nothing moves unless I push it. I keep a Pentax spot meter for reference if I'm ever unsure. My exposures are almost always just good guesses. For my work this is essential, it's intuitive, it's simple. I find automatic settings, exposures, and focus to be quite difficult to deal with, although most seem to do fine. It's all too general, and adds another interface that I have to bargain with to get the desired setting. I don't have anything against automatic settings, I just don't see why they are preferable for personal work. I never have a problem spinning my shutter dials, aperture, or focus ring to the correct setting at a moments notice. As far as printing and developing, sure you could have an assistant, but the photographing itself, why would you want someone, or in this case something, else doing it for you? (Or at least trying to).

    I am also 23.
     
  8. Pioneer

    Pioneer Member

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    Like many things I am sure that there were people who were concerned that photographers would be losing something important as the newfangled automatic aperture lenses became common on the single lens reflex cameras. Likewise when automatic exposures became common features. Personally I like the ability to work completely manual when I want, or take advantage of auto exposure, autofocus and all the rest when I want. It is nice to have options.

    As for those just starting out, they will learn what they need to know if they have the interest. Those who run around using their cell cameras to capture selfies may or may not learn it. Not because they can't or won't, but because it isn't important to them.
     
  9. Poisson Du Jour

    Poisson Du Jour Member

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    It's not a difficult task provided you have some foundation knowledge and skill in photography. No, beginners should not start out with a fully automatic camera; at least invest in the craft of photography: conceptualisation, visual-spatial arrangement, identification of subject matter and interpreting it with the camera (not just through it). You will certainly learn more about exposure nuances with a manual camera than looking through a bells-and-whistles multipattern whatchamacallit with 10fps drive. Even autofocus robs people of creative control. My 67 has rudimentary TTL, but I use it 95% of the time as a manual camera, working through a hand-held multi-spot matrix to arrive at the exposure and transferring this to the camera; this means that the camera is not deciding how the scene should be exposed but how I decide (and this was the major tenet of photography teaching decades ago, but not so much now). Yes, I do have one of those bells-and-whistles auto-everything 10fps beasts, a carry over from when I did both road cycling and mountain biking competition photography and then studio work two decades ago. Chances are here on APUG there are individuals who started out with entirely manual medium or large format and have never touched a camera with automation — I don't know, I suspect they are here, not a great number of them. Match-needle metering has been a benchmark for beginners for many decades, from there they can apply plus or minus exposure compensation — my first classes (1977) were with a Pentax K1000!, then an Olympus OM10. In summary, manual will teach you a lot more about exposure than auto, but where situations and time dictate, give the camera enough rope to get you over the line, but always consider yourself to be in charge of the photograph, and never always the camera.
     
  10. pbromaghin

    pbromaghin Subscriber

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    As others have said above, use good equipment and you will get good pictures. If you want to expand beyond that, you better know what you're doing because your brain has to substitute for all that electronic brain power. Do you know more than a computer? Good luck, buddy.

    To answer your question; yes, using a camera in manual mode is that difficult. But it is very rewarding. It's how I work almost all the time, but I screw up a lot.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 25, 2014
  11. heterolysis

    heterolysis Member

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    One problem is that a lot of people are "taught" to pick up SLRs that have meters and simply line up the needle to the middle and away they go. That was my introduction to photography. Oh, and that 'A' was "Auto". FOOLS. It also took me many rolls of film and much frustration before I realized the difference between the matrix-metered N80 and the center-weighted Nikkormat and so on....

    I've tried to set up auto modes on my camera before and just end up wasting film. There's nothing inherently difficult about setting a manual exposure, and with practice anyone could learn the nuances. But with practice I could also learn how to use Lightroom. But I won't.
     
  12. miha

    miha Member

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    I though my first real camera back then was super automated as it had TTL!
     
  13. markbarendt

    markbarendt Subscriber

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    I agree.

    The automatic vs manual transmission argument leaves out the third preference, "neither".

    My daughter is 23, an engineer, and she is a car companies worst nightmare, her preference is not to drive at all. Her bicycle has replaced 99% of her need for an auto, the rest is done with a taxi or a rental.

    I share her preference, in time her practice I hope.
     
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  15. Newt_on_Swings

    Newt_on_Swings Member

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    Nope, pretty easy once you get a bit of practice. Also having a meter built in makes things a lot faster.
     
  16. adelorenzo

    adelorenzo Subscriber

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    Oh, these lazy young people today and their desire for automatic photography....

    [​IMG]

    Kodak ad ca. 1889 via Wikimedia Commons
     
  17. wiltw

    wiltw Subscriber

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    Manual simply means 'YOU set THREE parameters in the exposure triangle'...plain and simple.
    How do you set three parameters?...well you simply set one of them (most traditionally ISO, by choice of film purchased and loaded or simply by first choosing an ISO to set in a digital camera!) and then...
    SET the aperture and shutter speed numbers that the meter in the camera displays to you in the viewfinder!
    (Gosh, not that hard, was it?!)

    The mystical Auto modes is not mysterious if you know that it simply SETS one, or two, or three of the parameters of the exposure triangle! Assuming that you had selected what ISO value...
    • Program mode sets TWO for you (aperture and shutter speed)
    • Av mode sets ONE for you (the shutter speed)
    • Tv mode sets ONE for you (the aperture)
    • Manual mode sets NONE for you (since YOU set all three)


    ...the same as if you read the numbers and cranked dials to do it manually! 'Auto' vs. 'Manual' is the 'Automation of SETTINGS'! The camera can do the settings, or you can do the settings -- both -- (an important concept to burn into your brain) per what the meter suggests. Metering is identical whether you are in Auto or in Manual!!!

    Now that the mystery of Manual has been dispelled, now we delve into some of the mysteries of 'Metering'...

    • Metering assumes the target area averages to 18% tonality (about the greyness of the 'Reply to Thread' button on this forum at the upper part of the page.
    • If your target is brighter (higher tonality value, like 70%) or darker (lower tonality value like 10%) than the 18% grey, you need to set Exposure Compensation to tell the meter "The subject/scene is brighter (or darker) than 18%...by this amount" For example, if you aimed at a white wall, the meter would ordinarily suggest some exposure combination which makes the white wall appear to be 18% grey in the photo...you tell the meter EC +1.66EV, or "the target (wall) is brighter than 18% grey by 1.66EV", and then the white wall looks white in the photo!

    In Manual, which does not use the EC control to tell the meter to "give more exposure" or "give less exposure", you simply set the indicator mark to be not 'centered' but 1.66EV to the right of center (in the case of the white wall), and you have accomplished the same thing as choosing Av or Tv and also setting EC = 1.66EV. Now no more mystical wonder about Exposure Compensation!
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 25, 2014
  18. baachitraka

    baachitraka Subscriber

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    Manual: It is easy to know what your are doing so debugging is rather easy.

    Auto: Works, but you have little control over what you are doing.
     
  19. Rick A

    Rick A Subscriber

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    Anything, and everything, is only as difficult as a person wants to make it. It's always a personal choice to decide to do something, or not.
    Whether you think you can, or you think you can't--you're right.”
    ― Henry Ford
     
  20. Chan Tran

    Chan Tran Member

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    Really? I think using camera in manual takes more of muscle power than brain power but not much at all either one. A beginner should be able to go out and shoot after about 1/2 hour learning the basic. Understanding how a modern camera with all the bells and whilstles does its things does requires more brain power.
     
  21. BrianShaw

    BrianShaw Member

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    I don't understand your dichotomy between muscle power and brain power, but I can answer this question which is at the heart of your thesis (so far as I can understand it): there are many people who, for whatever reason, do not have the desire to learn the fundamentals of photographic exposure -- they just want to take pictures and don't want to have to "be bothered" by knowing/controlling how the camera works. (See post #15)

    Another facet is that over the years the metering has become so good that it increases the chance that A-mode will produce a decent exposure. One of these days I'd like to graduate from an archaic center-weighted meter (Nikon F3) to something with a more sophisticated matrix meter. :smile:

    But if you want to talk muscle and brain power... I can't use modern DSLRs because I don't seem to have either the muscle or brain power to press all of those buttons and scroll through all of those menus. Or maybe I just can't be bothered by trying to control a camera that way.
     
  22. fotch

    fotch Member

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    My uncle taught me. He financed my first good camera, a Minolta Autocord, with monthly payments of $3. Borrowing his tripod, we went out into our yard & took a series of photos of myself holding a large card with the shutter/f stops written on it. I could then see what the relationship of the settings & the depth of field. Any good beginners book would be a an alternative.
     
  23. David Allen

    David Allen Member

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    I believe that automatics on cameras are generally not needed, impair the learning process, can lure people in to the false belief that they do not have to think and, furthermore, automatics can get in the way of getting the shot.

    True story one

    Photographer A has an Exa 1a and a Weston Master III. Photographer B has a (at that time new on the market) Canon A1. Both are on the North Devon coast in changing weather with spectacular waves. Photographer B is struggling because the meter reading is constantly changing and the level of surf and clouds requires constant adjustment of the exposure compensation dial.

    After some minutes, a particularly spectacular shaft of light comes through the clouds just as the surf rises up. After this, Photographer A sits down and opens up his thermos. Photographer B then enquires if Photographer A is giving up due to the difficult weather. Photographer A replies "no, I have just got a great shot with that shaft of light hitting the rising surf". Incredulous, Photographer B asks "but how?, you have only got that old camera and that old exposure meter. It is simply not possible that you got an accurate reading, set your camera and took the shot all in such a brief period of time." Photographer A explains: "Five minutes ago, when the sun was out, I metered a dark shadow and simply set my camera accordingly (meter reading minus two stops). When that shaft of light came out, I simply took the photo when the surf rose up."

    True story two

    Two photographers are at a press conference where a highly unpopular CEO of the local NHS Trust is rumoured to be planning to announce the closure of the A&E unit. Photographer A is there with a Hasselblad with 80mm lens and a flash. Photographer B is there with DSLR, zoom lens and flash. Before the event starts, Photographer A tests the flash to make sure which f-stop he should use. He then sets the aperture appropriately, zone focuses the lens and leaves the flash switched on. Photographer B fires off a few shots at different focal lengths and then proceeds to look at the LCD to check the exposure, auto-focus and histogram. At the same time, the CEO comes out and is immediately hit by three eggs. Photographer A caught the second egg hitting but, due to Photographer B having been looking at the LCD and the dim lighting slowing down his auto-focus, misses all three eggs and has to contend with a shot of the CEO walking away dripping with eggs.

    Bests,

    David
    www.dsallen.de
     
  24. BrianShaw

    BrianShaw Member

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    ... and the equally important part of the story is that you WANTED to learn.
     
  25. BrianShaw

    BrianShaw Member

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    David, I suspect that if the photographers in both of your stories had swapped cameras Photographer A would have always got the shot and Photographer B would not. :whistling:
     
  26. ic-racer

    ic-racer Member

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    I'm a 'manual camera' snob but I will admit that when I go out shooting with my 7 year old, I set his Nikon N75 to "P" and autofocus and just about every negative is printable. This is a far cry from my first rolls in grade school where only a few images would be printable.