Canon 7D M: Manual Mode

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Before cameras had shooting modes such as Aperture Priority, Program, and so on, all exposures were set manually. This means that the photographer chose all of the settings, and since both the ISO and white balance were already decided depending on the kind of fi lm loaded into the camera, the photographer was only responsible for selecting the proper aperture and shutter speed. As technology advanced and automatic features were added to cameras, many photographers discovered new ways of capturing their images. However, the “old-fashioned” method of taking pictures was never set aside or forgotten about. You will fi nd that using the Manual (M) mode on the 7D will give you total control over your images.

The light meter located on the top LCD Panel ranges from -3 stops (underexposed) to +3 stops (overexposed).
FIGURE 3.13 The light meter located on the top LCD Panel ranges from -3 stops (underexposed) to +3 stops (overexposed).

When shooting in Manual mode, you choose both the aperture and shutter speed and the camera will do nothing other than give you its feedback through the internal light meter. You can view how the meter is reading a scene by looking in one of two places: the LCD on the top of the camera (Figure 3.13), or underneath the focusing frame while looking through the viewfi nder. This meter is what the camera uses when shooting images in all other modes, and its goal is always to fi nd the most balanced exposure. Sometimes, the light meter reads the scene incorrectly or the photographer wants to have full control over the exposure, and in those scenarios using the Manual mode is the best choice.

WHEN TO USE MANUAL (M) MODE

  • When learning how each exposure element interacts with the others
  • When your environment is fooling your light meter and you need to maintain a certain exposure setting, such as with a silhouette (Figure 3.14)
  • When using an artifi cial light source, such as strobes or fl ashes, in a controlled environment (Figures 3.15 and 3.16)

I prefer to use the Manual mode when using strobes or any other type of controlled light source in an unchanging environment. I also use it when I have my camera on a tripod while photographing things such as food or landscapes. The great thing about Manual mode is that it can be used in any circumstance and can yield some amazing results if you know what you are doing.

Use the Manual mode for silhouettes to obtain proper exposure.
FIGURE 3.14 Use the Manual mode for silhouettes to obtain proper exposure.
This image was photographed in a studio setting. Because the main light source was a radio-triggered strobe, I used Manual mode in order to get the correct exposure.
FIGURE 3.15 This image was photographed in a studio setting. Because the main light source was a radio-triggered strobe, I used Manual mode in order to get the correct exposure.
It’s necessary to use Manual mode for most studio portrait images when using strobe lights or fl ash units.
FIGURE 3.16 It’s necessary to use Manual mode for most studio portrait images when using strobe lights or fl ash units.

SETTING UP AND SHOOTING IN MANUAL MODE

  1. Turn your camera on and turn the Mode dial to align the M with the indicator line.
  2. Check the Quick Control Dial switch to make sure it is in the “off” position (pushed all the way to the left).
  3. Select your ISO by pressing the ISO button on the top of the camera and then turning the Main dial (the ISO selection will appear in the top LCD Panel).
  4. Point the camera at your subject and then activate the camera meter by depressing the Shutter button halfway.
  5. View the exposure information in the bottom area of the viewfi nder or by looking at the display panel on top of the camera.
  6. While the meter is activated, use your index fi nger to roll the Main dial left and right to change your shutter speed value until the exposure mark is lined up with the zero mark. The exposure information is displayed by a scale with marks that run from –3 to +3 stops. The camera will meter a proper exposure when it is lined up with the arrow mark in the middle. As the indicator moves to the
    left, it is a sign that you will be underexposing (telling you that there is not enough light on the sensor to provide adequate exposure). Move the indicator to the right and you will be providing more exposure than the camera meter calls for. This is overexposure.
  7. To set your exposure using the aperture, depress the Shutter button until the meter is activated. Then, using your thumb, scroll the Quick Control dial to change the aperture: clockwise for a smaller aperture (large f-stop number), and counterclockwise for a larger aperture (small f-stop number).