Using Manual Exposure Mode

Today’s Post by Joe Farace

GH4.manualObtaining the best exposure begins by correctly setting the lens aperture and shutter speed in relation to each other. You can set the exposure yourself manually or let the camera do it for you using the many modes mirrorless cameras offer. For 90% of photographs that you’ll make, the metering systems inside digital cameras do a fantastic job in producing correct exposure but its those last 10% that’ll kill you, so sometimes you have to shift into manual mode.

Manual exposure requires using a separate hand-held light meter or you can use the one that’s built into the camera. Manual mode is for shooters who would rather drive a car with a stick shift than an automatic transmission. That’s because there are lighting situations that will confuse even the most sophisticated automatic exposure system. Manual exposure can be helpful with high contrast and strong backlight but also works when trying to achieve when a specific mood.

headshot.manualSome purists claim manual exposure mode is the only one to use but I only use manual exposure mode when working under extreme lighting conditions or in the studio with electronic flash, such as this portrait shot with a Panasonic Lumix GH4 and Olympus 45mm f/1.8 lens with an exposure of 1/125 sec at f/8 and ISO 200 that was made in my in-home studio.

Also: Most cameras also offer a Bulb mode where the shutter stays open as long as the shutter release is pressed. This allows you to make really long exposures for subjects such as holiday lights or fireworks or special effects such as images of carnivals and amusement parks. Time exposures like this should be made using a sturdy tripod and you can further reduce the risk of camera shake by tripping the shutter using a cable release.