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Sometimes you might have a very particular creative vision or be facing a particularly complex exposure situation. Maybe say you are shooting a scene and you want shallow depth of field and you want to blur some motion in the scene and you don't care if the whole thing is a little overexposed. Or, maybe you are used to working with a handheld light meter and using it to calculate exposure settings which you then want to dial into your camera by hand. Manual mode gives you full control of both shutter speed and aperture on your camera.
You can dial in any setting you want regardless of whether the camera's meter thinks they're a good idea. It might flash warnings at you about how it thinks you're making bad decisions. But it will still take the shot. Manual mode is the big M on your mode dial. When I switch to Manual mode, notice that now on my screen back here there's no dot under the Exposure Compensation control. I also have a box around shutter speed. That box means that I have control of shutter speed up here on my main dial. To get aperture, I press the Exposure Compensation button because I no longer have exposure compensation.
In Manual mode, there's really no need for Exposure Compensation because what Manual mode is telling the camera is you will shoot at these exposure parameters and there's no way for it to automatically know how to change them. I am going to press that button and hold it, and when I do that, the box jumps over here to aperture. So I can press and hold and now I can change aperture. Now you might be thinking, well, how do I have any idea if these settings are right for my scene, if they are good exposure settings in other words. If I half-press to meter, when I come back, now there's a little dot under here.
This is telling me now an exposure reading for my scene. This is no longer an Exposure Compensation control. It's telling me that I'm two- thirds of a stop underexposed. So I could choose to change my shutter speed until that goes back to there, or I could choose to change my aperture until that goes back to there. I could also not worry about it. I could say, no, these are the parameters that I want and I know it's going to be one stop under. That's okay. So this Exposure Compensation gauge becomes more of a light meter just to show you when you're over or underexposed.
And it's up to you to figure out which parameter you want to change, either shutter speed, aperture, or ISO to get back to either metered properly according to the camera or intentionally over or underexposed. This same display that you see here also shows up in your viewfinder, so you can do all this without ever taking your eye away from the viewfinder. Manual mode doesn't open up any hidden power in your camera. The only thing it gets you that you can't get in other modes is the ability to over or underexpose in a very particular way. On very rare occasions, this will be the only way to get the shot that you want.
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