Zenfolio | Karl Shreeves | Why I Use Manual Exposure (No, I Am Not a Purist)

Why I Use Manual Exposure (No, I Am Not a Purist)

September 14, 2012  •  Leave a Comment

Copyright Karl Shreeves 2012


If you know cameras and you've watched me work, you probably noticed that I generally shoot with my camera set on manual. Does this make my photos better? Am I better photographer than someone who uses the many automatic functions that modern cameras have?

Yes, it makes my photos better, and no, it does not make me a better photographer than someone who uses automatic exposure. To be honest, I shoot on manual because I think in terms of manual shooting -- it's what I've been doing for 30+ years now. As a professional, I'm mainly interested in getting the shot I want into the camera the most efficient way possible. It would be stupid to not use a particular tool just for the sake of doing something "the hard way." Why would someone do that? It's not like people look at your work and say, "Well, if you didn't use manual, it's not as good." No one cares how you get an image -- they care how good the image is. Shooting manually is what I do by habit and how I think, so most of the time it is the easiest and fastest way to get what I want. I'm not a purist and I don't have any qualms with using auto functions when they suit my needs -- you'll almost never catch me manually focusing. Why? Because autofocus focuses faster and better than I do.

Purists say "don't chimp" (that means, "don't look at the image on the back of the camera"). Are they crazy? The ability to check what I'm shooting and confirm my exposure with the histogram is one of the biggest leaps in shooting there has ever been. I would never go back to film. Heck, I SUPER CHIMP -- I send preview images to my iPad so I can look at them 8 inches by 6.

So if you notice me shooting on manual, don't read anything into it and don't compare with other photographers. Shooting on manual doesn't make someone better or worse as a photographer. The person whose images you like best is the better photographer.




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