How to Take Pictures in Manual Mode?


Photography is an art form that has been around for centuries. It became more accessible with the advent of digital cameras. Modern cameras have automatic modes that make it easier to take pictures. And manual camera settings give you more control and creativity. Few people use this mode because of some inconveniences. But this is where you can take special pictures.

No matter if you are an experienced photographer or a beginner. Learning to use manual mode can take your photos to the next level. In this guide, we'll go over the basics of manual mode. We'll also give you tips on how to take better photos by using the camera settings cheat sheet. We'll give you step-by-step instructions to help you learn how to use the mode properly. So grab your camera and get started!

manual mode in photography

What is Manual Mode in Photography?

Shooting in manual mode can also produce more consistent results. This can especially see when shooting in difficult conditions. You can also see them when trying to capture fast-moving subjects. In manual mode, you are free to adjust the settings to suit your needs. And you don't have to rely on automatic modes that don't always do their job.

Another advantage of shooting like this is that it will help you better understand how different camera settings affect your photos. 

  • Aperture relates to the size of the opening in the lens that allows light to enter the camera. 
  • Shutter speed is the amount of time the camera shutter remains open. It allows light to affect the camera's sensor. 
  • ISO refers to the sensitivity of the camera's sensor to light.

Making adjustments to these camera settings cheat sheet has several benefits. The photographer can achieve greater creative control over the final image. For example, a wider aperture can use to create a shallow depth of field. This blurs the background and makes the subject stand out. Shooting in manual mode photography can take some practice and experimentation. But in the end, it can give you more control over your photography. It can certainly help you create stunning, high-quality images.

steps to use manual mode

Steps to Use Manual Mode

Using the manual mode on a camera can seem daunting at first. But it gives photographers more control over the creative aspects of their photos. In manual mode, photographers can adjust settings to achieve the desired manual exposure, depth of field, and look of their images.

But, learning manual mode requires practice. It's also important to have a basic understanding of how light and camera work together. In this series of steps, we will look at the key aspects of using manual camera settings. We'll provide helpful tips for photographers who want to improve their skills.

Step #1: Set Aperture

In manual mode, choosing the right aperture is crucial. This is important for achieving the desired depth of field in your image. To do this, you must consider what you want to capture and the effect you want to achieve. Using a wide aperture (small f-number) creates a shallow depth of field. It blurs most of the image and keeps only a small portion of it in focus. Conversely, a narrow aperture (large f-number) provides a large depth of field. It keeps most of the image in focus.

If you want a blurry background to make your subject stand out, choose a wide aperture like f/2.8 or f/4 in the camera settings cheat sheet. On the other hand, if you want to capture a landscape with everything in focus, choose a narrow aperture like f/11 or f/16.

The aperture setting also affects the manual exposure of the image. A wider aperture lets more light into the camera. This requires adjusting the shutter speed or ISO to achieve the correct exposure. A narrower aperture transmits less light. It may require using a slower shutter speed or higher ISO. So, you need to experiment with different combinations of shutter speed and ISO. That way, you get the perfect exposure and depth of field for your image. Choose your aperture size according to the lighting conditions when shooting in manual mode photography.

Aperture Beginner Camera Settings Cheat Sheet



Depth of Field/Focus


f/16 - f/22 (Wide)

Best for bright lighting

Very deep depth of field. Most of the frame will be sharp and in focus

It is best used in landscape photography. It's also good for getting shots where the entire scene is sharp and in focus

f/8 - f/11 (Medium)

Best for moderate lighting conditions

Contains a "sweet spot". This is the aperture that produces the sharpest images with a large depth of field

Best used when you want to place most of your frame in focus. Versatile aperture range

f/2.8 - f/5.6 (Small/Medium)

Best used for fairly low-light conditions

Narrow depth of field. Often only the primary subjects will be in focus

Best used for portrait and sports photography. 

f/1.8 - f/2.8 (Small)

Best if used during low-light conditions

Very narrow depth of field. A very small area in your frame will be in focus the rest will be blurry

Best used during night photography to ensure sufficient light

Step #2: Set Shutter Speed for Sharpness

Determining the appropriate shutter speed in manual mode for your photo is crucial. It will help you get sharp and clear images. First, you need to determine how fast your subject is moving. Also important is what shutter speed you need to keep it in focus. One useful tip is the inverse ratio rule, which states that the shutter speed should be at least equal to the inverse of the focal length. For example, if you're shooting at a focal length of 50 mm, your shutter speed should be 1/50s or faster.

Personal experience and experimentation are also important in determining the ideal exposure. When shooting handheld, a general rule of thumb is to not go below 1/125s. If your subject is moving quickly, you may need a shorter shutter speed to ensure sharpness. In the manual camera settings, you can use, for example, 1/800 s.

Artistic blur can also be achieved by intentionally using slower shutter speeds. You can also use slower shutter speeds of 1/30s or slower when shooting a still subject with a tripod. That way, you get more light and detail in the shot in manual mode.

Step #3: Set Your ISO for the Best Exposure

The next step is to achieve the perfect exposure by adjusting the ISO in manual camera settings. But you may also need to adjust the aperture and shutter speed to get the ideal exposure.

Start by setting the ISO to the lowest possible value, which is usually ISO 100. But this can vary depending on your camera models, such as ISO 160, ISO 200, or ISO 50.

Then point the camera at the subject. Watch the manual exposure bar at the bottom of the viewfinder. The bar may show underexposure (skewed to the left). If this happens, you need to increase the ISO sensitivity until the exposure balance.

If the strip shows overexposure, you either need to increase the shutter speed. You can also decrease the aperture until you get a balanced exposure bar in manual mode photography.  But it's crucial to preserve any creative effects you want to achieve. When using a wide aperture to create a shallow depth of field, increase the shutter speed. So, if you use a slow shutter speed to create artistic motion blur, narrow the aperture accordingly.

manual camera settings

All about Manual Camera Settings

For beginner camera settings cheat sheet allows photographers full control over their cameras. This gives them the ability to take pictures accurately and creatively. 

In manual mode, the photographer has full control over these settings. They can also adjust them to achieve the desired exposure and creative effects. Effects can also use other manual camera settings. Among the most important settings are white balance, focus, and metering.

Mastering manual camera settings takes practice and experimentation. But it allows photographers to take their photography to achieve truly stunning images. And to make it easier for you, use the following table of beginner camera settings cheat sheet.

Exposure Settings in Action




Shutter speed

Moving waterfall



1/30 or less

Boken effect

f/4 or wider


1/60 or faster

Blurred background for portrait

Widest available


1/60 or faster


Widest available


20 seconds or longer

Blurred motion

f/8 - f/16


Slower than 1/60


f/11 - f/16


1/60 or faster

Macro photo

f/5.6 - f/11


1/60 or faster

Light painting

f/8 - f/22


10-30 seconds


f/11 - f/16



Water blur



1/15 or slower

Freezing action

f/11 or f/16



Light trails

f/5.6 - f/11


10-15 seconds

Food photography

f/4 or wider


1/60 or faster

Concert photography

f/2.8 or wider

640 or higher

1/125 or faster

What are the Differences Between Manual Mode and Manual Focus? 

Photography has two distinct concepts, namely manual mode and manual focus. Unfortunately, even seasoned photographers often get them mixed up. Here's what distinguishes one from the other:

  • Manual mode photography

Manual mode in photography means adjusting the exposure manually. This setting provides control over these manual camera settings. These include aperture, shutter speed, and ISO, as mentioned earlier. When using manual mode, the camera does not adjust the settings automatically. It does give the photographer full control over the final image.

  • Manual focus

Manual focus involves adjusting the focus of the camera lens manually. In manual focus mode, the camera does not focus on the subject automatically. The photographer has full control over the focus point. Manual focus is especially useful when shooting in low-light conditions. It is also useful when the subject is moving or the autofocus system is unable to focus properly.

The main difference between manual mode and manual focus is that manual mode is concerned with controlling exposure parameters, while manual focus is concerned with controlling the lens's focus. Manual mode photography allows the photographer to adjust the exposure of the image. At that time, manual focus determines the sharpness and clarity of the subject in the picture.

Some cameras have separate controls for manual camera settings and focusing. Others have a combined manual control. This feature allows the photographer to adjust both exposure settings and focus manually.

In conclusion, our photography website can provide many resources and information for users. It will come in handy for anyone learning about handheld photography. By offering interactive learning tools, a community of users, reviews, and recommendations. We can help users improve their photography skills and achieve their creative goals.


  • Do photographers use manual mode?

Yes. Manual mode gives photographers full control over camera settings. It allows you to adjust the aperture, shutter speed, and ISO to create the right exposure for your images. This level of control is essential for photographers. Especially when they want to achieve certain creative effects or work in difficult lighting conditions.

  • Why are pictures blurry in manual mode?

Pictures can be blurry in manual mode for a few different reasons:

  1. If the focus is not set correctly, the image will appear blurry.
  2. Camera shake can cause blurriness in the image, particularly if the shutter speed is too slow. 
  3. Motion blur can occur if there is movement in the scene or if the subject is moving too quickly. 
  4. If the exposure is incorrect, the image may appear blurry or washed out. 

Blurry images in manual mode are usually the result of incorrect camera settings. 

  • What settings does the photographer have control over in manual mode?

In manual mode, the photographer has full control over three main settings. These settings determine the exposure of the image and how much light enters the camera. Here's a brief explanation of each setting, like aperture, shutter speed, and ISO. In manual mode, the photographer can adjust these settings individually. This way, he will achieve the desired exposure and a perfect photo. 

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