How To Use Manual Mode on a DSLR Camera: ISO, Shutter Speed, and Aperture

DSLR settings don't have to be tricky. Watch my youtube video that breaks down all the settings associated with manual mode: 

Shutter Speed

The shutter speed is how long the shutter stays open. You shouldn't go slower than 1/125 of a second because you will have a better chance of getting a blurry image. The only time it's okay to use a slower shutter speed is when your camera is on a tripod. Using a tripod decreases your chances of getting a blurry image because there is no chance of camera shake. Camera shake is when you accidentally move the camera as you take the shot, which happens almost always when you take photos with only your hands. That is why a fast shutter speed is suggested because if you have a fast shutter speed, the camera will take the shot so quickly that any small shake on your part isn't captured. 


Aperture is the actual opening of the lens. Moving the dial controls how wide or narrow the opening gets. The smaller the number, the wider the opening of the lens gets. This allows more light to enter your lens, which means you'll get a brighter image. It also means that more of the image is going to be thrown out of focus, so be sure to adjust your focal point to where you want the image to be sharp. Having a wide aperture (ex: f/1.8) is great for portraits because it creates separation between the subject and background by throwing the background out of focus. Having a small aperture (ex: f/22) is great for landscapes since you want greater detail in the image. However, having a small aperture also means letting in less light. A tripod would come in handy in this scenario since you will need a slow shutter speed to compensate for the small aperture. 


The ISO controls how much "noise" is present in your image. The higher the ISO, the more noise in your image. I recommend keeping your ISO between 100-400. Anything higher will create too much noise. If there's a setting lower than 100, than you should strive for that. Having a higher ISO also lets in more light and consequently gives you a better exposure.



Exposures are basically the end results you get when you combine the ISO, Aperture, and Shutter Speed. Every decision you make on all of these settings will give you an exposure. Even though there are brackets to help you get a correct exposure, it sometimes isn't accurate. There are times you're going to want to overexpose or underexpose. Overexposing means you are clipping some of the highlights. Clipping refers to losing detail. Underexposing means you are clipping some of the shadows. For instance, if you want to take a picture of the sky and follow the brackets to get an exposure, you will end up with a blown out sky. This is because the sky is brighter than everything else. The rest of the image will have a correct exposure, but that's not what we're aiming for. We will have to clip some of the shadows in order to get more detail of the sky. This will mean that the sky will have a correct exposure with a lot of detail but the rest of the image will look underexposed. If you want the whole image to be correctly exposed, you will need to take separate exposures for the sky and the ground. 



This was just a quick overview of the DSLR settings and how to use them, but most of what you will learn will be by actually going out and taking photos. I hope this was helpful! If you have any questions, please leave a comment. Or even if you don't! Thanks for watching/reading!