Introduction: How to Set Up a Camera in Manual Mode


This tutorial is for users with DSLR cameras who are not quite sure how to shoot in manual mode. Doing so improves the quality of your pictures as well as allows you more creativity in producing images. It will allow you, the photographer, to create specific effects in your photographers.

Purpose of this instructable:

When you have finished this tutorial, you will be able to take pictures with your camera in manual mode.

Technical skills required:

You must be able to press buttons on a camera, as well as lift that camera to your face to look through the viewfinder.

Time for completion:

The time for completion varies on how quickly you pick up the concepts taught in this instructable.

List of tools:

A camera

Your camera's manual (if you are unfamiliar with the camera buttons or have a slightly different model/brand of camera)

*For troubleshooting issues, please contact the camera company or a camera service.

Step 1: Turn the Camera On

- Turn the camera on using the switch on the top of the camera.

Step 2: Begin by Selecting a Photo Size

- Select the photo size adjustment by pressing the set button located on the backside of the camera that is facing you, to the right of the screen. Press the arrow keys until the “L” is highlighted.

Step 3: More on Photo Size

- Press the set button again to view the options.

- Set your photo size by highlighting the desired photo size and pressing the set button.

Most professional photographers shoot in RAW or L + RAW
because the RAW files are more easily manipulated in postproduction processing and they are larger. If you have plans to enlarge your photos through prints, you ought to select one of the larger options here.

Step 4: Choose an ISO

- Select the ISO adjustment by pressing the set button located on the backside of the camera that is facing you, to the right of the screen. Press the arrow keys until the ISO is highlighted.

Step 5: More on ISO

- Press the set button again to view the options.

- Set your ISO based on the environment you are shooting in by highlighting the desired ISO and pressing the set button.

A higher ISO is needed for darker environments. The options
on this camera go from 100 to 3200. 400 ISO is the standard for indoor photography.

Step 6: Choose an Aperture

- Select the aperture adjustment by pressing the set button and pressing the arrow keys until the f# setting is highlighted.

Step 7: More on Aperture

- Set your aperture based on the desired affect you would like your photo to have by using the dial just behind the shutter button.

The lower the number, the larger the size the iris of the lens will be. In other words, a low number lets more light into the lens, and provides less focus on the background layer of a photograph. f5.6 is the standard for general photography.

Step 8: Select a Light Metering Type

- Select the metering adjustment by pressing the set button located on the backside of the camera that is facing you, to the right of the screen. Press the arrow keys until the box with a dot inside is highlighted.

Step 9: More on Light Metering

- Press the set button to view the options for metering and select your mode of choice by highlighting the desired metering option and pressing the set button.

These different modes offer different ways of metering the light when setting the shutter speed. The first option is a generic metering mode for beginners, called evaluative metering. The second option is called partial metering. This is often used when the photo is backlit, making sure that your subject has the correct exposure. The third option is called spot metering. This mode meters the light for one specific spot, rather than for a majority of the photo. The last mode is center-weighted average metering, and should only be used by expert photographers. The light is metered first at the center, and then averaged for the remaining parts of the photograph.

Step 10: Meter the Light in Your Photo

- Look through your viewfinder.

- On the bottom, you will see a ruler type image at the bottom.

This ruler shows you what shutter speed to use based on the metering option you choose in the previous steps.

Step 11: More on Light Metering

- Adjust the shutter speed by using the knob on the top right side of the camera, just behind the shutter-release button.

When adjusted correctly, the bottom arrow should line up at zero on the ruler. Too far to the right and the photograph will be overexposed. Too far to the left and the photo will be underexposed.

Step 12: Take Your Photo

- To take your photo, look through the viewfinder, set up your shot, and push the shutter button.

Step 13: Congratulations

You have now learned how to set up your camera in manual mode. Do not worry if this process takes you a significant amount of time at first; it will get easier. Continue to practice, and this will soon become second nature.


pintail120 (author)2016-11-21

the first picture shows the camera on A-dep ?

not manual ?

ksheil (author)2016-09-15

Thanks for this! I have to admit that the instruction manual that came with the camera never really helped me - but your instructable has helped, in fact, it's helped me a lot. Thank you and Great job!

Lovetra (author)2016-09-15

mY CAMERA is a Cannon xti rebel and I have never understood the manual.

So this "dummy" learned something from your pictured step by step beginning to function at all no matter what someone else thinks. I needed this. THANK YOU!

imerrymary (author)2016-09-15

This will be helpful. I'm making jewelry and want to photograph my chains and cabochons. I bought an old camera because I was told that white balance is necessary and I thought the other settings would be useful, too. I'll be playing with it to see what I can do. Thanks very much!

RickO8 (author)2016-09-15

Good job. A major part of manual mode has been addressed here. But you also need to manually focus your lens if you want to be "full manual". Also depending on your DSLR and lens your aperture (f stop) could be adjusted on the ring of the lens.
Thanks for the instructable

DIY Hacks and How Tos (author)2016-09-10

I need to get in the habit of doing this. I rely on automatic mode way too much.


Seriously most if not all Pro's use either Av or Tv.

painfull (author)peteandoreen12016-09-11

"Pro" here... and, no. Incorrect. We use the setting(s) required to get the shot we want. Your assumption is the same as saying "all pro golfers use either a 1 wood or a 9 iron". What about putting, or pitching out of a sand trap?

Also, knowing what those settings are doesn't even come close to making you a "Pro".

peteandoreen1 (author)painfull2016-09-11

I agree my comment was in context to the wording in the istructable.


This is what got my ire up??? and I noticed my follow up to the post has been removed.

Purpose of this instructable:

When you have
finished this tutorial, you will be able to take pictures like a
professional photographer. Before long, you will be a seasoned pro.

painfull (author)peteandoreen12016-09-11

Have to agree with you there Pete. Becoming a seasoned pro takes.... seasons I guess :) And possibly many of them. kaelanib's first instructable though. Could probably go a little easier on them. Learning curve mate ;)

kaelanib (author)painfull2016-09-11

I have changed the wording. Thanks for the nicely worded suggestion, painfull. I created this instructable for a school assignment and did not mean for everyone to get so worked up!

painfull (author)kaelanib2016-09-12

You're welcome kaelanib. Not a bad effort for a first attempt. Clear instructions, and I don't think you missed anything. Hope you keep at it and contribute more instructables. Why not tackle something that people won't find in the manual, like how to take a sharp macro photo, or perhaps star photography. Seems you have an interest in, and understanding of photography. I think you could handle it.

gowri (author)2016-09-10

explained well.Thank you

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