When reading and researching what people are saying about how to use a digital camera, I often come across words similar to these: “Once you’ve mastered all your camera’s many settings you will be able to choose the right one that will guarantee you the perfect photo every time! And eventually, when your skills reach high levels, you can try switching to manual and leave the auto settings behind. ”
This one statement contains several misconceptions about photography. I’ll set out the myth and then the truth!
Myth number 1: You need to master all your camera’s settings including (implied) scene modes
The Truth: You don’t need to ‘master’ all the settings on the camera, you just need to understand the basic principles
Today’s digital cameras are loaded with all kinds of features and settings, but most of them are not necessary in order to make a good photograph. What is necessary is to understand the basic principles of photography!
Myth number 2: Your camera’s advanced settings will guarantee you a perfect photo
The Truth: A camera is just a machine, a tool, and it cannot guarantee perfect photos. No machine ever can because only a human with a keen and sensitive eye, and a good knowledge of the basic principles of photography, can achieve the ‘perfect photo’.
Myth number 3: Manual is difficult and requires high level skills and knowledge
The Truth: Manual is actually the easiest setting on the camera to use. It’s the setting I started out using when I bought my first camera. When learning how to use a camera you should start on Manual, then use the various types of auto. Manual is simple: Read the light meter, set the aperture, shutter speed and ISO.
Myth number 4: Advanced photographers use manual all the time
The Truth: You cannot use manual mode on a digital camera for day to day use as it is far too fiddly and time-consuming to adjust. Manual is very useful, if not essential for some purposes, and it’s great when you’re learning how to use a camera, but on a day to day basis, most experienced photographers will use one of the auto settings, and even full auto if they’re in a hurry.
It really is not difficult to learn how to use a digital camera. Once you know the basic principles of photography, most cameras are easy to use, though achieving the perfect photograph is probably more difficult!
If you’re interested in finding out more about these topics and hearing more of my forthright views on photography and cameras, why not come on one of my photography walks, workshops or book a one-to-one session.