Auto or manual mode, which is better?

What is better, auto or manual mode? -Murtaza Kapadia

With improving technology in electronics, auto mode is entering in all possible fields like automobile, machinery, medical and space. In those days of analog-photography, there were lots of limitation and whatever auto mode provided by equipment manufacturers, they had limited applications. They would work, provided other parameters were properly understood and taken in to consideration. For example, aperture priority mode in analog camera would work perfectly, however, its performance depends on exposure meter. In-built through the lens (TTL) exposure metering was preset to either center weight or bottom weight or spot. Now in such case, if we do not understand these settings, the exposure will fail in extreme lighting condition and image having excessive contrast ratio.

Craze of shutter bug was limited because of cost factor on films and film processing. Committed photographers were having good knowledge of the subject and they could handle manual mode more easily.

Now things have changed. People prefer automatic car compare to a manual car. Electronics are far more superior, reliable and accurate in calculations. They can be programmed according to individual consideration, for different shooting modes, lighting conditions and subjects.

Auto or manual mode, it is always better to learn the subject and understand how a camera works. However, as an amateur in the field, it takes some time to understand the subject and get command. So till that period, you can switch over to auto mode.

Auto mode will take away the burden of checking aperture and shutter speed settings. These settings are very critical, when you are shooting in available light. You have to constantly check for these settings or the result is either an under exposed or an over exposed photograph. In such case, there is a distraction on capturing a well composed photograph of a subject with perfect expressions. So switch over to auto mode in these conditions.

Aperture priority is preferable. You select the aperture and the camera will set the required shutter speed. You can use program mode also but read the camera manual thoroughly, for how this mode is programmed.

As a professional photographer, even I use these modes. When the machine is working for you, why should you divert your mind to technical settings? Better concentrate on composition and lighting.

I even use auto focus, especially when I have to shoot a child outdoors. After all, audience will appreciate the creativity. Nobody will question you that on what mode did you shoot.

Remember, this is a subject of arts. Science is just supporting it.

Manual mode is good when you are shooting with uneven light. It is also useful when the contrast ratio of light is very high and irrespective of either a completely burnt high light, you want to capture shadow details or, on the other end, irrespective of zero details in shadow, and you want to capture details in high light area. In this case, on manual mode, you can have better control.

In controlled lighting conditions of a studio, where flash lights will fire light with same intensity and you have to reset aperture only for bracketing, you may opt for a manual mode, however, most of modern DSLR cameras are having auto bracketing feature.

Auto or manual mode, which ever you select, ultimately it is the composition, lighting and pictorial appeal of a photograph, which is important and not the camera settings.

- photography forum

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