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  1. #1
    Senior Member
    Joseph Bautsch's Avatar

    Smile D90: Using The Manual Mode Setting For Dummies

    How many of you use the manual setting on the Mode Dial? You know it's the "M" up there just above the "A". It’s the mode setting that gives you control over both the shutter speed and the aperture. How many of you, when you came to the explanation of how to set the camera on manual exposure in the book just glanced over it or didn't even read it? Is it really useful? It's easy enough to turn the Mode Dial to the “M” but what do you do with it after that? Well Nikon in all their great wisdom says in manual mode to use "The Electronic Analog Exposure Display" to make the adjustments. Wow, that's enough to scare anyone off of ever using it. Actually it's quite simple. It's nothing more than a light meter that reads your current setting for ISO, shutter speed, and f/stop and tells you if you’re under exposed or over exposed in 1/3 f/stops. It will indicate up to two stops on the over exposed side and two stops on the under exposed side of normal. Set the Mode Dial on M and look through the viewfinder.

    What you now see in the viewfinder, in the display across the bottom, on the far left, is the shutter speed. Turning the Main Command Dial with the thumb will change that to faster or slower. Moving to the right from the shutter speed is the f/stop. Turning the Sub Command Dial with the index finger will change that, increasing or decreasing in one-third stops. To the right of the f/stop, on what is empty space in other dial modes, is the “light meter”. At the center of it is a vertical line with a 0 above it representing the mid range or average exposure, or what the camera sees as normal. With an average exposure you only see that one vertical line with no shorter lines either to the left or right. To the right and left of this vertical line are two dots with a minus or plus sign over the outside dot. These dots represent movement of one f/stop.


    If you have turned the camera on and set mode dial on “M” you may already see short vertical lines radiating left or right from the bottom of the center vertical line. Each of these short lines represents 1/3 f/stop, with left (+) side being over exposed and the right (-) side being under exposed. If what you are seeing are three short lines to the right. That’s the over exposed side and it represents one stop. To get the exposure back to normal, or average, you can turn the Main Command wheel, for shutter speed, or the Sub Command wheel, for f/stop. If you turn either of the wheels toward the viewfinder the lines disappear one at a time until only the centerline is present. You now have an average or normal exposure. If the short lines appear on the left side of the center line you are over exposed and you can turn either wheel away from the view finder to eliminate them and bring the exposure back to normal or average. Also note that you may be more than two stops over or under exposed and you will have to continue turning one wheel or the other before those exposure lines start moving back toward the center line. By now you should realize that the changes in the shutter speed and the f/stop display on the left is the exposure setting being read by the light meter.

    Practice using the camera in manual mode until you get the hang of making these changes for a normal exposure. Then practice adding over exposure to add detail to shadows and under exposure to bring out highlights. Doing this will teach you more about exposure than reading a book or viewing a video ever will. It will substantially improve your exposure vision. You will learn to see the exposure you want even before you pick up the camera. You will spend more time getting the shot you want and less time pushing the delete button.

    There are other things you can do in manual mode. You can make fine adjustments in the DOF while maintaining the exposure you want. Or maintain the DOF you need and still make fine adjustments in the exposure. You can also use this mode to take up to twelve pictures for a super tonal range HDR photo. The creativity of this mode is nearly endless. Practice it and use it.


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  2. #2
    Junior Member

    Re: D90: Using The Manual Mode Setting For Dummies

    Excellent post, thanks.

  3. #3
    Aims to Misbehave
    Browncoat's Avatar

    Re: D90: Using The Manual Mode Setting For Dummies

    Aperture Priority (A) is my default shooting mode, though I am using Manual more often these days...especially when I'm also using flash.

    One thing that bothered me about Nikon's default setup was I felt the exposure meter in the viewfinder was backwards. The + and - were on the wrong ends, and when adjusting the command wheel, I would always turn it the wrong way. Luckily the D90 custom menus allow you to change this, so I did, and it's much more comfortable to use now. I dunno, maybe it's just me. I'm left-handed, so my mind works backwards anyway.
    Likes goz63, LudwigVB liked this post

    "Creativity is intelligence having fun." - Albert Einstein

  4. #4
    Captain Grammar
    Super Mod
    fotojack's Avatar

    Re: D90: Using The Manual Mode Setting For Dummies

    Excellent post, Joseph. This should be a sticky.
    Jack

    We guarantee quick answers....no matter how long it takes!

    It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain an idea without necessarily accepting it. -Aristotle
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  5. #5
    Senior Member
    Joseph Bautsch's Avatar

    Re: D90: Using The Manual Mode Setting For Dummies

    Anthony - Thanks for mentioning that. I was going to put that in there some where but it was not on my priority list and just plain forgot. Unfortunately I'm both handed and still find myself fumbling with the wheels when I know which way to turn them. I got the idea for the article from a newbie who was intimidated and reluctant to even try it. They were avoiding the one camera feature that would teach them more about exposure that any other. To be a good photographer you have to have an awareness of exposure. You have to be able to look at what you are going to shoot and decide what exposure to use. It's your sense of creativity that makes the picture and there is no setting for that on the camera.

    As a general rule I leave the mode dial set on Aperture. I use the shutter priority with my 300mm.

    You use flash in the manual mode? That's unusual. Good for you. I have found few who even use manual much less with flash.

    Maybe some of you guys who know how to use manual will write up a scenario on how and when you shoot with it.

  6. #6
    Aims to Misbehave
    Browncoat's Avatar

    Re: D90: Using The Manual Mode Setting For Dummies

    Quote Originally Posted by Joseph Bautsch View Post
    You use flash in the manual mode? That's unusual. Good for you. I have found few who even use manual much less with flash.
    Yup. I use a LumoPro LP160 flash, which isn't TTL. Since the flash sync speed for the D90 is 1/200, I found that it's actually easier to put the camera in manual mode to control my settings instead of trying to fight what the camera wants to do because it doesn't realize there is a flash.
    "Creativity is intelligence having fun." - Albert Einstein

  7. #7
    Senior Member
    hotrocks's Avatar

    Re: D90: Using The Manual Mode Setting For Dummies

    I am convinced D90's light meter is a few stops off. Perhaps it is just my model, or perhaps it is the way I expect my photographs to come out!

    Nonetheless, I always shoot a few stops higher to obtain the lighting quality and detail I want.

  8. #8
    Senior Member
    Joseph Bautsch's Avatar

    Re: D90: Using The Manual Mode Setting For Dummies

    Hotrocks - Not everyone likes the exposure values used by Nikon in their AE system. So Nikon allows for the exposure values used by the D90 to be adjustable. See the D90 users manual, page178. it's listed under b: Metering/Exposure, b4: Fine Tune Optimal Exposure. The adjustments can be made in 1/6 EV from +1 to -1. The changes you make remain until go back in and change it.

    Happy shooting,
    Joseph
    Likes hotrocks, LudwigVB liked this post


  9. #9
    Member

    Re: D90: Using The Manual Mode Setting For Dummies

    wow, very informative post I always use manual mode..very seldom any other mode.

  10. #10
    Senior Member

    Re: D90: Using The Manual Mode Setting For Dummies

    Great post! I used to use the light meter (that's all that there was) back in the 70's ans 80's. Just got back into photography again and have been having fun with all the additional controls. Thanks for a informative post.





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