When do you use M mode

Discussion in 'Canon EOS' started by randall_pukalo, Feb 15, 2010.

  1. So, why and when do you use M mode? For me, I only use it when using flash - where I want a smaller aperture (such as f8), but want to "drag the shutter" to let in more background ambient light with a slowish shutter speed such as 1/15. Everything else I can pretty much accomplish using A, P, or Tv, with exposure comps set.
    How about you?
  2. M is extremely useful when the subject you're shooting is pretty constantly lit, but the background illumination changes quite a lot. For instance, you're photographing a person standing in a field. In one shot, a mountain is behind the subject. In another, taken at a slightly different angle, the sky is behind the subject. Both exposures should probably be done the same, but they will definitely meter differently.
    I never use the "professional" (P) mode, because I know I'm smarter than the camera and don't want it thinking otherwise. I always set the camera in either Av or "moron" (M) mode. ;-)
  3. In Av mode the flash mode is fill flash, so it will largely serve the same purpose of allowing the background lighting to register in the exposure. Of course, with M mode, you can control the precise amount of ambient better than you can in Av mode. I typically use M mode for the opposite reason -- when I'm intending for the light from my bounce flash to be the sole light for the exposure (e.g., 1/200, f/5.6, ISO 400) in indoor shooting. I also use M for shooting with off camera lighting, and pretty much any situation where the camera is on a tripod.
  4. I use it whenever I can take my time. Although a lot of times I end up setting the camera just as it would in Av mode, it forces me to slow down and really think about what I'm doing, resulting in a higher number of keepers. The semi manual modes (Av, Tv, P) can cause you to go too fast and be careless and this may cause you to forget a simple setting adjustment like ISO or white balance that can affect the end result. If you realize when you get home that the awesome landscape you shot from the tripod was set at ISO 800 b/c you didn't change it back after shooting that deer in the shade, you'll be kicking yourself. Shooting in M just makes you really look at everything before firing away. The other modes are just too easy, and this isn't always a good thing. Don't get me wrong, they are useful and I definitely use them a lot, but if I'm in no hurry the dial goes straight to M.
  5. I do use M for flash (I do a lot of indoor sports).
    Since I am a photographer, not just a snap shooter, I use the manual mode when I know the camera can't figure out the exposure and my experience tells me the camera would choose the wrong exposure. Fireworks, stage productions, macro to name a few.
  6. also, you should read the recent post about P mode. It seems most people, including me, NEVER use this mode. It lets the camera make most of the decisions for you, taking control out of your hands. When I take a photo, I know what I want it to look like and what settings must be used to accomplish that; I will set them myself instead of hoping the camera gets it right. You may as well just use a point and shoot.
  7. When I have a tripod or when I want to have full control of the exposure. When using flash.
  8. I use M all the time. I don't want the camera thinking for me.
    I shoot lots of studio work where M is perfect for working tethered, and I love shooting landscapes where M is perfect because I know what I want exposed where.
  9. >>...I never use the "professional" (P) mode...<<
    (P) is "program" mode ...unless Canon has changed the nomenclature was I was in the bathtub!
    (M) is the professional mode. ;-)
  10. I shoot mostly landscape and architecure, so it's M-mode from a tripod almost all the time...
  11. All of the above. Also, M (manual) is necessary when shooting multiple images to keep the exposure constant for stitching, or using a ND gradient filter which needs to be metered without the filter, or any time with a hand-held meter.
  12. All the time for sports, portraits, when using flash, concert or events where the stage lighting is consistent....and just about any other time where I am not rushed.
  13. What Sarah said, but to elaborate a bit: the meter in the camera measures reflected light. Remember all the pictures of photographers with light meters dangling from their necks? Many of those were ambient light meters. A reflected light meter, unlike an ambient light meter, measures whatever it is pointed at, whether you want it to or not. So, particularly in spot mode, a minor change in framing the subject can produce a major change in metering.
    So I use Av a lot when this is not a problem or when I have the meter pointed at something that is the right level of brightness. Otherwise, I take a spot metering off something that is close and set the camera manually. An old trick was to hold your palm so that it is exposed to light similarly to the subject, spot meter off that, and open up a stop or so (because your palm is about a stop lighter than neutral gray). A recent posting suggested an adaptation of the Ansel Adams zone system: find the brightest area where you want to preserve detail, spot meter off that, and open up two stops. Same basic idea.
  14. No John, the setting isn't for the photographer. It's for the camera. In P, the camera tries to be the "professional" and calls all the shots. In M, the camera is a moron and just follows orders. I'm quite sure of this! ;-)
  15. doubledouble postpost...... SorrySorry!
  16. I see, M can be used as a long lasting AE lock of sorts, when using the spotmeter. Good tip, never thought of that. Personally, I always just hold in the AE lock button (I came from Canon, but am with the Minolta/Sony system now).
    Thats right, Av mode on Canon does default to slow synch flash mode (a custom function can change this, if I remember correctly) - but still, sometimes that can give you like 1/2 second shutter speed, much too slow for hand held. Thats why I like M, to set 1/8 or 1/15 - much more hand holdable.
  17. I only use M on days that end in Y.
  18. I used M a lot when I shot film until 2 years ago. I used a handheld light meter to get metering right (couldn't check the back of the camera.)
    I have recently started using M more & more. Here is a common scenario:
    Taking multiple outdoor pictures of a person standing. Subject is on left side of horizontal composition. Middle of frame is very well light. I use Av for first few pictures and middle focus point. I focus/set exposure by pressing half way, then recompose. I find correct exposure is 2.8; 1/400 second.
    If I keep focus point in middle, I'll have to recompose a million times and in my experience, in recomposing, focus doesn't always work that well.
    If I change focus point to left (where subject is), Av exposure will still get set by middle point (on 5D), so it will say something like 2.8; 1/8000 second and still will be overexposed.
    Instead, I switch to M, set at 2.8; 1/400 second. I switch focus point to right. I then get correct exposure and up-to-date focusing.
    If there is a better way to do it, I would appreciate any advice. I know 1Ds has spot metering with any focus point, so this technique wouldn't be needed.
  19. The most important thing: use whatever mode helps you get the results you want. That is, whatever mode best helps you achieve the exposure/dof you want is the best mode to use. That said, here's how I think my usage breaks down:
    1. I use Av mode >80% of the time. It's the way I think, as I'm usually most concerned with dof, and I'd rather correct the camera's shutter speed when needed.
    2. I use Tv mode <5% of the time. I use it mostly when I have my flash on outdoors, and I want to set my shutter speed to the sync speed of the flash. Otherwise, I'll use it for panning shots when I want motion blur in the background and stuff like that.
    3. I use M mode perhaps 15% of the time. I use it when I'm using a flash indoors, when I want to compensate my exposure by more than 2 stops, when I'm going to stitch together photos to make a panorama shot, and when I'm using my spot meter. We often think of M as being "harder," but really it's easier for me when I'm in these situations.
    4. I don't P mode at all; there's nothing wrong with it, but I don't think that way.
  20. Most of the time:
    Studio/flash: to have the optimal sync time and metered f-stop
    reportage/flash with steady ambient light, so the ratios don't change according to subject
    ambient light: so my exposure is consistant for easier post editing
    other: to get the exposure the way i need it to capture the entire tonality and so the camera doesn't get tricked into a "wrong" exposure.
    I guess i'm more of a photographer than into taking snapshots and i like to control what and how i'm recoding a scene.
  21. Should have said underexposed.
  22. M mode is almost a requirement for shooting Panos because you want a single consistent exposure for the 8 - 12 exposures you are taking. Leaving your camera in one of the auto modes risks having the exposure dance around and will make stitching the frames near impossible.
  23. Randall,
    Really, the only time an automatic metering mode makes any sense is when the light is changing too rapidly for you to keep up with it. If I were shooting sports outside on a windy day with scattered clouds, I’d use aperture priority mode.
    For virtually everything else, manual exposure makes far more sense.
    When you think about it, all forms of autoexposure do nothing more than select one or more of shutter speed, aperture, and ISO. That’s it. All these fancy multi-zone evaluative woo-woo systems boil down the decision to picking one, two, or all three of those values.
    Do you really trust a simple machine to do a better job than you of figuring out if you’ve got as much depth of field as you want? Of deciding how much to blur the flowing water? Or how much noise you consider acceptable? And that’s completely ignoring the classical pitfalls, such as overexposing the tux-clad groom and underexposing the bride in her white dress.
    And light rarely changes so rapidly you don’t have time to spin a dial or two to compensate. Just keep an eye on your histogram and you’ll be fine.
  24. I use manual mode 99.9% of time. I feel like I can achieve more control over exposure than any of the auto settings, although I will use auto ISO with with a limit.
  25. Manual exposure is a very important feature:
    1. Already mentioned: Flash (to control background/foreground illumination balance), stiching
    2. Consistency of exposure across a series of shots in a situation with rapidly changing lighting conditions. (Ironically, this is the reason that some people think that auto-exposure is useful, and I suppose sometimes it is. But if consistency is what you are after, use manual exposure.)
    3. Video (you set aperture and shutter-speed and can optionally use auto-ISO depending on whether you want the camera to constantly adjust for lighting or not. Most often, I prefer it not do that, but it depends. See #2.)
    4. HDR
    I wish there were a manual "shift" mode like in the old Hasselblad lenses where the aperture and shutter speed could be synchronized, and an adjustment in one would effect an inverse adjustment of the other. Then you could dial up and down the permutations but keep the EV constant.
  26. 100% of the time and 95+% of that time I use external meters to do my exposure measurement. I don't think I have even set the D-700 to anything but manual, partly because the only lenses I use with it are AIS lenses and partly because I have no intention of letting a camera do the thinking for me. People may find it odd, but for me my D700 is nothing more than a digital Nikon F2. I don't trust algorithm's, the best exposure calculator is experience and a thorough knowledge of light via the zone system.
  27. "I wish there were a manual "shift" mode like in the old Hasselblad lenses where the aperture and shutter speed could be synchronized, and an adjustment in one would effect an inverse adjustment of the other. Then you could dial up and down the permutations but keep the EV constant."
    Am I missing something here ( I shoot Nikons and have never handled a Canon DSLR ) but assumed that both brands almost always have the same features but simply implemented in different ways. I liken it to Macs and PCs where both have similar functions in many cases simply implemented in different ways. Please don't start pointing out differences because I use both on a daily basis and am well aware they they have some key differences.
    Anyway a standard feature of Nikon cameras dating back to the first auto film cameras is something called "shift mode". I would be surprised if Canon DSLRs did not have a similar feature.
    The way I use shift mode makes aperture priority and shutter priority almost redundant. For example, when I bring my camera to my eye or when looking at the LCD the "program" has selected f-8 at 1/250 as the selected setting that in its judgement is best. If I see this and want less or more depth of depth of field, I thumb one of the control dials to change the f - stop and it changes the shutter speed accordingly. Similarly if I want more shutter speed I simply turn that dial in the opposite direction.
    The one place M mode is usually superior is when you know your exposure meter is going to get fooled so you manually compensate. I have one of my control dials set for exposure compensation so I can do this on the fly without resetting to M.
    It's not clear to me why people equate shooting in P mode as being for simpletons. P mode is a nice default mode so you are always ready but if you don't like what the camera chooses you simply override its choice. For me that takes all of a half second. If I know I am shooting landscapes I set it in Aperture priority, if I'm shooting sports I shoot in Shutter Priority, shooting Panos, Manual mode but in most cases I leave it in P mode.
    I will say that that the point shoot cameras with the various cute modes ( snow, beach, landscape, portrait, fireworks etc. ) drive me crazy because it is a bunch of clutter but I guess it helps sell cameras so I should not complain but I think in the long run it makes people lazy because rather than them controlling the device the device controls them because they think the camera has some sort of built in magic that can figure out the optimum setting for taking a portrait.
  28. I mainly use M mode when I don't want the settings to change. Typically I spot meter off a known tonality and ignore the meter thereafter. Great for macro, landscapes and studio stuff. Not so great for fast changing light and most action.
  29. Yes, I too use M mode almost 100 percent of the time. With this mode on, you are the boss. BTW, great gallery, Sarah.
  30. If the light is changing rapidly, e.g. when clouds periodically block direct sunlight, I tend not to use the M mode.
    However, for most other situations, I'll meter the scene in Av mode (either by metering or by taking sample exposures). When I get the exposure that I want, I dial switch to M mode an dial in that same exposure. Now I can shoot several shots in a row and I don't have to worry about the exposure being "thrown off" by the presence of very dark or very light objects in the frame. (Note: Auto ISO would negate the effect of this technique, so I tend not to use it.)
    M mode is also useful for long exposures at dusk and into the night.
  31. I'd like to add that I always use M mode when shooting with studio lighting. All metering is done with an incident flash meter.
  32. 1) when I'm using the camera on tripod, 2) when I'm using flash, or 3) when the variability in subject reflectance is greater than the variability in incident light.
  33. I always set the camera in either Av or "moron" (M) mode. ;-)​
    Wow. And all this time I thought it was for "manual". Looking back at my photos, it really begins to make sense now. Thank you, Sarah.
  34. 99% when I use flash and always when using studio strobes.
  35. I never use M Mode, anymore. That was what we all did in the nineteen-fifties, when there were no other choices. Now there are other modes that can do everything I need to do, but better, faster and easier, so that I can concentrate on those wonderful subjects that are in front of the camera.
  36. Ken Schwarz wrote:
    I wish there were a manual "shift" mode like in the old Hasselblad lenses where the aperture and shutter speed could be synchronized, and an adjustment in one would effect an inverse adjustment of the other. Then you could dial up and down the permutations but keep the EV constant.​
    That’s exactly what Canon’s P mode does. Spin the one dial and the EV remains the same while the aperture and shutter are proportionally changed. Spin the other dial and exposure compensation changes.
    I’d tell you which dial does what, but I never use the mode, myself….
  37. I find myself using M mode constantly with on occasion using A every now and then. But then even when I use A I check what the camera suggested and switch back to M and fine tune it from there.
  38. I use M mode anytime flash is the main light source. Canon has this annoying habit of always trying to expose my background "properly." In M mode, I choose depth of field (using aperture) and I choose the ambient level (using ISO and shutter.) The flash on E-TTL does its best to light my subject properly.
    Now, there are some variations depending whether I need to stop action, it might come down to a combo of shutter speeds and flash but the basic formula remains the same: M mode is crucial.
  39. Personally I've never used anything other than "M". For me, it's way easier to a) know what the camera will do in any situation and b) know what the finished photo will look like. Call me anal, but I don't like giving up creative control to a computer. I never know what the camera's going to pick in any situation so I'd just as soon do it myself.
  40. All the time on my M6. What else can I do? On my d300, after sundown and before sunrise. Never use flash.
  41. hey everybody i like to share with you this question :) , for me most of the time i use M i can say 99%
  42. Ben Goren wrote:
    Ken Schwarz wrote:
    I wish there were a manual "shift" mode like in the old Hasselblad lenses where the aperture and shutter speed could be synchronized, and an adjustment in one would effect an inverse adjustment of the other. Then you could dial up and down the permutations but keep the EV constant.​
    That’s exactly what Canon’s P mode does. Spin the one dial and the EV remains the same while the aperture and shutter are proportionally changed. Spin the other dial and exposure compensation changes.​
    Yes, just like the "P" mode, except that the exposure (EV) would be fixed from frame to frame and not change with changing lighting conditions.
  43. i'm in agreement with the previous examples and add that for me, i always use it whenever i am in spot metering.
    meter the critical item in the image, set your f and s, and blast away without regard to changes to background brightness, the subjects position in the frame, or the subjects changing size relative to the frame.
    and, wow, do i ever love the user settings (c1, c2, c3). i have been yearning for this for many years. c1 is set for Av with evaluative metering and c2 is set for M with spot metering. that's all i ever shoot, and sometimes i'm back and forth with every other shot. i don't even need c3. it's for sale if anyone is interested.
  44. Maybe I'm lucky, but I find that in most situations setting my Canon to Av mode does the trick. Digital cameras have three variables, not two like with film. 95% of the time I have a particular depth of field I want to have in focus, and I'll adjust the ISO if subject speed is an issue. It's true that this has it's limits (1600 will not be as good as 100), however we photographers often pick an ISO and stick with it, because that's what we did with film.
    That does not mean that I never use manual mode, because I shoot night scenes, and I often have to leave the shutter open longer than the camera will allow. Yes I know that this is "B" for the time setting, however it is manual control of aperture and time. Also, night scenes offer their own challenge, since the dynamic range of the scene combined with the inherent inaccuracies of automated exposure at low light render anything but manual problematic.
    I'll also use it for panoramas, because you want constant exposure across the image. Moving the camera will cause problems. It just does.
    Lastly, when I make an HDR image of a landscape I'll go manual to assure consistencies of exposure and depth of field. The fewer variables one has to contend with, the better.
  45. For what I shoot, I use "M" 99 % of the time. The other 1% is split between Av and Tv.
  46. I use it every time I turn the camera on.
  47. Always.
  48. When I am shooting with flash - indoors. Always when shooting with studio flash and often when shooting with my 550EX.
  49. When I'm at the track for sprint cars I normally shoot the practices and qualifying in AV Mode but once the races start I always put my camera in Manual mode for the rest of the night. When I shoot other types of motorsports, I shooting 100% in Manual mode. I hate it when i go through the photos when I get home to find that most are overexposed or underexposed. It happened to me at quite a few events, then I started to shoot Manual and I haven't gone back since and that was 3 years ago.
    Once I get my exposure down, I'm ready to rock and roll.
  50. Ken wrote:
    Yes, just like the "P" mode, except that the exposure (EV) would be fixed from frame to frame and not change with changing lighting conditions.​
    Yeah, that would be cool. Make the AE-lock sticky by default. Would seem they only need a custom function, not a whole different mode.
  51. I use manual mode almost exclusively when shooting landscape and similar static subjects. I generally initially "meter" using aV mode and then make manual settings accordingly and then fine tune them as necessary as I shoot.
    I also use manual mode when shooting certain active subjects in some lighting situations. For example, when shooting plays or concerts the automatic exposure settings can be thrown off by the odd light sources and colors. I find it better to figure out that "right" exposure and then set that manually in many cases. I've done the same thing shooting certain sports events.
  52. When I use my Exakta or Rollei 35 or other old timey cameras I always use M mode. When I use modern cameras I use P mode most of the time, but I use the other modes (especially M mode) every once in a while.
  53. Using manual mode means you have mastered ur camera's functionality...usually when u buy a new camera and you are new to photography everyone starts either auto mode or P program until then you become more familiar you may jumped to aperture.... M mode if you really know A, P , Iso, Exposure and Shutter together plus the metering...
  54. To answer the original question - I always use M. Can't remember when was the last time I used anything else!

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