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Home > Automatic vs Manual

As a photographer, beginner or professional, you are given a choice between shooting in automatic or shooting in manual.

Automatic vs Manual

Most professional photographers choose the manual setting for a number of reasons, but who’s to say it’s right or wrong? It’s actually all dependent on personal preference and the context within which you are shooting. So, why shoot in automatic? And for that matter, why shoot in manual?


First, if you are relatively new to photography, the automatic setting can provide you with a great opportunity for exploration. It doesn’t require as much thinking or mental focus. As a beginner, getting a good, interesting and artistic shot is most important. OK, so you’re not exploring the possibilities of colour and tone or depth of focus to the same degree as you would otherwise, but this means you can think more about composition – which is an equally important feature of any visual art.

Second, it can save you. Shooting in manual is a challenge and at times you’re just not sure you can get the right shot. Trying out the shot in automatic first will help you confirm what works and what doesn’t – and if you don’t get the shot right in manual mode, you still have the auto one available as backup.

Third, subjects are rarely ever still and it can take a bit of luck and a lot of skill to capture that beautiful shot of something spontaneous and fast. Automatic mode will help you capture a quick shot for which you have no time to spare – think wildlife and sport.


With manual mode, the bottom line is that it allows you to have all of the control. You control the aperture, shutter speed and ISO. You’re the one choosing the style and the images, and can start getting truly creative in how you manipulate light.

  • You can focus on whatever subject you choose, using varying depths of field to draw attention to what you feel is most important in your imagery.

  • Control not just the amount of light in your photo, but also how your camera receives that light. Here, you can reduce shutter speed to create a greater sense of movement, or adjust the aperture to help create effects like bokeh and lens flare.

  • Let loose on your creativity and million dollar ideas.

Photography isn’t just about shooting good-quality photos, it’s about how you perceive the world and express how you think and feel. Shooting in manual gives you the opportunity to get creative and capture images in the way you want them to be seen; something that shooting in automatic doesn’t give you the same freedom to do.

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