Nowadays, there is a widespread wrong belief in photography. One of the most common ones is to trust that you HAVE TO exclusively use Manual exposure on your camera to be more “creative” like a “pro”.
By Franc Peret
And those who are spreading this wrong “belief”, often add: ” Professionals only use Manual settings.”
People who are speaking that way do not know what they are talking about as they are not professional in the first place.
Truth is, Professionals are using the most EFFICIENT Mode according to the lighting situation, the environment they are in, the type of subject they are shooting and the camera they have in hand (as some are not so efficient in semi-auto).
In a controlled lighting situation, such as shooting product, portrait in a studio with flash or a soccer game on a sunbathed field without shadows…, Pro will use Manual setting all the way as it eases their job a lot.
In a changing lighting situation, such as street photography randomly shooting people under sunlight, shade or indoor, the Semi-automatic mode is a more efficient choice: you preset the ISO and the Aperture and the Camera are finding out the Shutter Speed INSTANTLY. If the camera is a bit wrong, you can force it to shoot darker or brighter by just pushing a +/- button.
You get full control and get as creative as using Manual, with the addition of instant answer from your camera to changing light condition on your subject.
In a stable lighting situation, such as an outdoor event happening under a blue sky without clouds or such as an indoor event with constant lighting, Pro will use Manual or Semi-automatic Mode, according to their preference, habit and the type of camera they get in hands.
Simple rules. You control the light or the light keeps stable, go for Manual. If the light is constantly changing and you don’t know where will be your subject next, go Semi-auto, Aperture priority Mode.
And you can trust me, I am making a living with my pictures since 30 years.
I started without any automatism, fully manual (focus, exposure, no zoom lenses) and I am not going to snob an amateur because he relies on the assistance of the camera to get more success with his/her pictures.
I will encourage that person to keep that way while teaching him/her how to control the camera decision to get the best of both worlds; total creative control (same as using Manual) and smart and fast assistance from the camera.
There is ABSOLUTELY nothing wrong to go with SEMI-auto mode as soon as it is done smartly by keeping control of all decision making: exposure, focus point, focus mode, depth of field control, Point of view and composition…
And this can be efficiently done by using the right wheels and buttons, for compensation and locking features.
Only a pure amateur can imagine that ALL Pro are EXCLUSIVELY working with Manual settings. And it is a very very bad idea to listen to those people who are playing around with Manual settings just to impress beginners.
Just ask one of those “Manual Mode is absolutely needed for creativity” believers a single question; how do you know your exposure is right or wrong? if one of those 2 words, histogram or handheld light-meter, are not in the answer, this guy is pure BS.
I spent 2 months this summer to shoot fully Manual without any assistance (no auto exposure, no autofocus) and I was much slower and less efficient than usual, which is totally logical. I didn’t mind as I was shooting for myself, for my pleasure and not for a client.
Yes, as a “hobby” photographer, I enjoyed to get back to the roots and play the guessing game of light with a fully manual package: camera and lenses, but I would not play such time spending occupation in street photography if I were on a mission, an assignment or a very well paid and serious job!
I don’t do Manual to impress others, I do it only if it is more efficient to use it, if I do not care of the time spent in test and try and the many shots missed or if I am forced to for technical LIMITATION.