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How To Get out of Auto and Into Manual

Jared Polin March 25, 2011 44


When many people start in photography they start off shooting in full auto because they are afraid to venture into manual. In this video you will see how easy it is to go from auto into manual. There is honestly nothing to be afraid of. You can use auto as a way to lead you into manual. The auto settings will get you close and the manual settings will give you more control.

What I noticed when shooting the Nikon D7000 in auto for this video is that it overrode my focus settings to put it into full auto and it was missing. The camera doesn’t know where I want to focus so why let it tell you. That is a different video all together explaining how to and where to put your focusing points.

The reason I suggest starting in auto and transitioning into manual is because auto gives you a base setting which will allow you to tweak your settings better in manual. You will see that its not very hard to make subtle changes in manual. As you will see in this video I tweak my settings based off of what auto told me they should be and I was able to make them even better.

Another reason for shooting RAW is to give you the ability to make slight corrections to your exposures as you start to learn how to get your settings close. The name of the game is to get your settings as right as possible in camera to give you the cleanest RAW file possible.

I have included the full res images from every shot that is in this video.



  1. eha1990 March 25, 2011 at 11:45 am -

    Excellent tutorial. I’m looking forward to your next one. Thank you and keep up the excellent work.

    • Jared Polin March 29, 2011 at 9:21 am -

      no problem I like making these there fun.

  2. Massimo March 25, 2011 at 11:49 am -

    What r u setting with your thumb before taking the first vertical shot of Lil? The d700 has only more field and depht of f. Due to the FF sensor. The high ISO performance is equal-to-superior in the d7000

    • Jared Polin March 29, 2011 at 9:22 am -

      I prob was changing my focusing point

  3. Carsten March 25, 2011 at 11:55 am -

    From 1/20s to 1/80s one stop?!

    Some mention of the different metering modes and when to use them would be worth mentioning – it solves many exposure problems when you know how to use them

  4. Paul March 25, 2011 at 11:59 am -

    Awesome videos!

  5. ChrisX March 25, 2011 at 12:22 pm -

    thanks jared!! i needed this

  6. edmund March 25, 2011 at 12:41 pm -

    Jared, when you say “lock in”, how do you do that.
    For example when you switched from landscape to portrait in the video, did you select a different AF point or do you just have it set to center, lock on Lil and move the camera after that? Or do you even have it at auto select the AF point?


    • Jared Polin March 29, 2011 at 9:22 am -

      I switched focusing points, i always switch.

  7. Dana March 25, 2011 at 2:55 pm -

    Seriously. I have been struggling in how to learn manual for a long time now. I just get brainfreeze when I’m about to capture what I want. And not always do you have the time to fiddle to long with those settings. I guess I’m a slow learner because I really should have got it by now. however finally you gave me a tip I think I will really get helped from using. To sort of first learn to use manual on instinct. I think that’s the way for me and I’m so happy you shared this. It is another way of learning – and I really needed that as I was beginning to think I was too “stupid” for this! You guys are great!

    • Jared Polin March 29, 2011 at 9:23 am -

      thanks and congrats on picking it up.

  8. FastOut March 25, 2011 at 5:36 pm -

    In the photos you can see white dots. Is that dust in air, lens or sensor?
    Excellent tutorial!

    • Jared Polin March 29, 2011 at 9:24 am -


  9. Juan March 25, 2011 at 7:18 pm -

    thats exactly how what I did to move onto manual

  10. NikonCoupleSoFlo March 25, 2011 at 8:17 pm -

    Jared you didn’t even mention the “light meter”

    • Jared Polin March 29, 2011 at 9:24 am -

      nope not this time around.

  11. Mike Troutt March 25, 2011 at 8:42 pm -

    Until about 2 weeks ago I ony shot manual. Thanks for the vid.

  12. Chris Bourne March 25, 2011 at 9:13 pm -

    I also noticed the 1/20th – 1/80th thing – that’s two stops isn’t it? (1/4 the exposure time).

    Personally, I went for Aperture Priority first (and still use it quite a lot). That way I could dictate ISO and Aperture (which controls depth of field & sharpness – ‘creative’ elements of the photo) and let the camera handle shutter speed to complete the triangle.

    Good advice though – and particularly when shooting raw, being a little off doesn’t matter so much!

  13. JV March 26, 2011 at 12:11 am -

    1/20s to 1/80s “that’s roughly one stop”

    Tell me you’re kidding.

  14. Kaux March 26, 2011 at 12:33 am -

    Hi Jared. One question…

    When you shoot manual do you ignore or do you use the meter in your camera?

    • Jared Polin March 29, 2011 at 9:24 am -

      i pretty much ignore after I get my settings dialed in.

  15. Todd March 26, 2011 at 12:03 pm -

    Great Tutorial Jared. This is the kind of video I look forward to. Real world shooting and setting tweaking. Please do more.

    • Jared Polin March 29, 2011 at 9:25 am -

      thanks working on it.

  16. Karen March 26, 2011 at 2:05 pm -

    Loved this video! This is the type of push I need… it’s an easy trick and inspiring me to dare get out of the comfort mode!

  17. Hannes March 26, 2011 at 2:09 pm -

    Great tutorial!

    How is the Sigma 17-50 2.8?

    • Jared Polin March 29, 2011 at 9:25 am -

      its ok not the end all be all.

  18. Mike March 27, 2011 at 2:18 am -

    I don’t think it’s good to encourage chimping like this. People might as well just be shooting in P mode and tweaking exposure compensation after every shot.

    Learning to use a camera in manual mode is not rocket science. It’s a slow process at first, but it’s not hard with some practice. People need to understand how their camera’s meters react to scenes with varying levels of contrast. Relying on chimping means you’ll be less ready to react when the right moments hit.

    • SalukiJim March 27, 2011 at 8:32 am -

      Mike – if you are a beginner (the target audience for this video) – how are you supposed to KNOW at the time of the photo, whether to change a setting or not? It’s not realistic to say, take your pictures, go home, and THEN decide what you should have done!
      It is much better, as Jared says, IF YOU ARE BEGINNING TO MANUAL, to take a picture, see how it looks, and then experiment (up or down F stop, shutter speed, etc.). That is the way to learn.

    • Jared Polin March 29, 2011 at 9:27 am -

      This is just helping people get it, get that you can get out of auto one step at a time. I know how to look at the meter and understand what is going on. Once you get your settings locking in and learn to react to light changing shoot away and dont chimp.

      I shot film, I know what its like to have only 36 shots to get what you need without knowing what you are capturing.

      Seeing the settings on the screen will help people understand how to meter because they can see how it changes.

      • SalukiJim March 30, 2011 at 8:37 pm -

        Thank you Jared, I used these tips this past weekend on my new D7000. Start in A, see what it says, then try A, then M…it’s a progression :)

  19. malcolm March 27, 2011 at 3:39 am -

    How do you feel about shooting in aperture mode and adjusting the aperture and iso manually.

    • Jared Polin March 29, 2011 at 9:27 am -

      thats fine, i talk about shooting in a priority all the time.

      • Warren March 31, 2011 at 5:43 am -

        Hi Jared
        I am moving of P and am shooting alot on Apeture.. this viedo helps alot but its a slow and steady process, some are blessed enough to pivk it up straight away

        Thanks for another great video

  20. Carsten March 27, 2011 at 9:32 am -

    @Mike I agree, most of the time compensating exposure leads to good results and is faster to work with.

    But the situation where Jared shot is different. He worked under a constant illumination with one subject that had been lit quite unevenly. Even if you compensate, a tiny change of the framing might mean that you have to start over. It is much faster to establish the right EV so that the important subject details are correctly exposed and concentrate on composition afterwards.

  21. Blair March 29, 2011 at 6:56 am -


    Are you using AF-L? Do you prefer AF lock instead of AE lock?

    … curious

    • Jared Polin March 29, 2011 at 9:28 am -

      I personally do not use those.

  22. deadheart March 29, 2011 at 9:26 am -

    “That is a different video all together explaining how to and where to put your focusing points.”

    Is this the next D7000 tutorial vid? If not when can we expect to see this one?

  23. giantsfan0330 March 29, 2011 at 7:31 pm -

    Great video Jared. I really like how you are showing all of us beginners out here how to build our confidence through learning what the camera does for us in auto. Giving a starting point with the settings auto gives me I think will give me a better understanding of how I will be affecting an image when I change settings in manual.


  24. Warren April 1, 2011 at 10:48 pm -

    Its a great video Jared.. just one thing I cannot relate to as alot of newbies may not..

    You may be using the D7000… how about doing some video’s using KIT LENSES as thats what a few of us can only afford.. when you have 2 kit lenses & a prime lens.. it sometimes becomes confusing as to what lens to use on what settings in Manual/Apeture Priority

  25. Judy April 4, 2011 at 1:04 pm -

    Thanks Jared, these kinds of tutorials are awesome!

  26. angelforever April 6, 2011 at 2:31 pm -

    thanks for ypur great videos… they are very helpful for a beginner like me….
    thanks also for your D7000 tutorials….. great job Jared!!!!
    I’ve got a lot to learn…. hope to do so with your help!
    Angela from Italy!

  27. Suzy April 11, 2011 at 4:36 am -

    Thank you so much! Love your video. Clear explanation and you really make it fun!!

  28. Todd April 13, 2011 at 12:54 pm -

    Great tut for new ones, I’ll have to share this with some friends. I personally find my comfort zone in Av mode, and then I use the exposure compensation dial to over/underexpose as needed, after setting the aperture of course. In the studio though, with controlled lighting and less moving around, I use Manual mode 100% of the time.

  29. ArthurNava April 13, 2011 at 3:28 pm -

    Wouldn’t it be a good thing to teach people to read their in camera light meter? After all, that light meter is what your camera uses to take the picture when in Auto. I usually try to teach people to set their aperture depending on the depth of field they want, leave their ISO as low as possible, and then play with the shutter speed. If they have to go below 1/80 and are hand holding, I then tell them to bump up their ISO to get a faster shutter speed. Of course I have them double check their histogram to ensure a good exposure, but as we all know histograms do lie sometimes. Different strokes for different folks I guess. I do however like what you’re doing with your page. I found your page today as I am doing a lot of research so I can help spanish speakers out there much the same way you are. Keep up the good work.