Is using the camera in manual that difficult.
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.
perception problem borrow box camera for day...
Originally Posted by Chan Tran
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.
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.
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.
San Diego, CA, USA
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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 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.
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.
The simplest tools can be the hardest to master.
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.
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 pbromaghin; 01-25-2014 at 12:36 AM. Click to view previous post history.
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