Will the best results be obtained by hand-shooting the camera? But can automation be better? When should the exposure be left to the camera?

"The professional is only filming on the manual". Such a statement can be read on many forums or groups on Facebook associating more or less related to the film. In some cases, such a strategy actually works. However, there are situations in which an arduous attempt to set everything manually can end in catastrophe. When to trust the camera and when not to do better?

Filming in the interiors

Turning on video footage or videos for a room or studio background, you can trust the manual settings. In such cases, we should set everything manually. When it turns out that the room is dark, the camera in auto mode will raise the ISO to high values, and this can cause noise. If we move or show something to the camera, the exposure will try to adjust in this mode, and often it will look just as uninteresting.

Filming in one location

For example, if we film our hero on a parked tree in a park and he is sitting in one place all the time, we can be tempted to make manual adjustments. The auto will not set the exposure perfectly, because we will want to show the hero's best face. In the meantime, the camera in AUTO mode may suggest a translucent sun and darken the figure too much in the frame.

Filming at night

During filming at dusk we will need a bright lens and a camera that cope well with high ISO sensitivity. Is it worth using a camera here? Not completely. In case of low light, the camera will attempt to adjust the exposure as much as possible by raising the ISO and extending the shutter speed . This will result in a noisy image and blurry motion.

Filming in the day

Variable lighting conditions make the manual may not look good . Therefore, I think that with this type of outdoor filming – vlogging, documenting, filming events – the best thing to do with automation. Why? Because here the conditions change rapidly. We pass from shady place to sunlit, suddenly the sun is behind the cloud, in a moment it appears again. Especially in the case of all kinds of documentary, when we are constantly moving , continuous use of manual settings can cause us trouble. In this case, it is worth breaking up with the domain "professional working only on manual" and try to leave some things with the camera.

Priority mode instead of Auto

But do we certainly have to use full automation? Fortunately not necessarily. Modern cameras offer priority modes – P, A, S. They combine the advantages of automation with manual modes. By using one of these modes we get the ability to set a value and the rest will set the camera. For example, in A mode, we can control aperture, and in shutter mode S. In turn P mode allows us to "move" everything, assuming that what we do not set will set us a camera. And these are often the golden means by which we keep control of the camera, but at the same time we avoid overexposure or underexposure of the frame.

Na zdjęciu widoczne pokrętło trybów P,A,S,M./fot. fotoManiaK.pl

Na zdjęciu widoczne pokrętło trybów P,A,S,M./fot. fotoManiaK.pl

Limit ISO

Often, the most common problems with using automation are the ISO. Current cameras have an ISO sensitivity of up to 50,000. and more. However, it is often useful to turn up an ISO of at least several thousand. Automatically the camera raises them to a maximum value, resulting in large grain and unsuitable images. Many modern cameras, however, have the option of limiting the ISO . So we can use ISO Auto but limit its range to a reasonable value beyond which the camera will not go out. This allows us to tell at what point the image is clean and at this value "lock" the upper ISO limit.

Auto White Balance

Speaking of manual and automatic I mean mainly exposition. How about the case with the white balance? It is noteworthy that modern cameras in the vast majority of cases do well to automatically adjust the balance to the right conditions, even in the interiors. That is why in many cases we can also leave it automatic by manually adjusting the balance when we are filming in a room with an unpleasant, incandescent light – the camera can not handle it himself.


Not such a terrible Auto mode as they paint it. The professional does not have to rely solely on the manual , because in some cases skilful use of, for example, aperture-priority mode may be a better choice and will provide us with a reliable, well-exposed image. More? See other maniac guides for photographers.