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01-08-2011, 09:30 AM   #1
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Which would you use...M or Av?

Good morning, Forum!

After recently discovering that I know absolutely nothing about dSLRs or exposure...I decided to read Understanding Exposure, so I could get a handle on things. (Excellent book, btw! I totally get it now!! Amazing!)

Anyway, after reading, I feel like I will be trying to control my aperture value (I love DOF photography) more often than the shutter speed or ISO. I know that setting the camera to Av will allow me to do that...but, would M give me more control over my images or would it be better in some way that I am not yet aware of?

Thanks everybody!


01-08-2011, 09:57 AM   #2
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I think you will like Av mode perfectly fine. The manual mode will definitely give you more control of your pictures as you will have to setup aperture, iso, and shutter speed. If you keep auto iso mode in Av it generally selects the highest iso your range allows which isn't always a good thing. As more grain will be present in the higher iso ranges. For manual mode you will set up iso by yourself and it will allow you select which one you like. However with that said in Av mode you can also select iso and not just auto.

Another benefit for full manual mode you can slow the shutter speed to give you that blur effect in any conditions but with Av mode not completely possible. There are also lots of other things that can be done but these are just to name a few. I will let the more professional people answer your question better.
01-08-2011, 10:04 AM   #3
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Ideally... You'll want to be controlling everything.

I'd suggest you re-read the book and try stuff out til you really get a handle on 'how exposure works'

Until then if its DOF you're really intrested in... stick to Av mode...

Remember... Exposure is a trinity of 1) Shutterspeed... 2) Aperature... and 3) ISO...
All have equal importance in gaining 'correct' exposure...

Not sure what camera you're shooting with, but suggest you book a day off work/school... get some spare batteries and spend the day experimenting and perusing the manual...

Check out 'fontanaknowledge' on youtube for a really easy to understand set of visual tutorials that helped me enormously...

All the best
Dave
01-08-2011, 10:15 AM   #4
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If you like DOF, this is a really good site which explains basic concepts:
Understanding Depth of Field in Photography

By liking DOF, if you mean isolating a subject and throwing everything else out of focus, a fast lens will go a long way. f2.8 or lower.

I shoot mostly in Av mode as isolating subject in photos was my first interest when starting out with a dSLR

Best of luck.

01-08-2011, 10:28 AM   #5
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I'm gonna waffle here

It depends. Normal everyday shooting I usually use Av priority and manual ISO. ISO I pick depends on how bright it is out, and which camera I'm shooting with. If it's the K20D (my "normal" camera) usually it's 100 or 200, but I'll go as high as 800 if I have to. If I have the K-x I'll go up to 1600.
If the lighting is tricky (back lit; extreme bright or shadow or both; indoors) or fast moving subjects I'll go with M or TAv. Yes M gives you more control, but it also gives you something else you have to worry about and remember. It doesn't seem like a big deal to remember 3 different numbers and what they mean to each other and to the shot, but I'm lazy and the less I have to worry about the better. However sometimes you need the control, in those instances I go with the M. Otherwise, since I shoot mostly gardens, flowers and landscapes, I'm more concerned with DOF and I stick with Av priority. If I'm shooting with K or M lenses the debate is moot and Ihave to shoot in M anyway.

NaCl(Av priority is good in that it gives you one less thing to worry about)H2O
01-08-2011, 10:39 AM   #6
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With one e-dial, I think Av works better for me. Controlling the aperture in M mode involved too many buttons. I don't know if you can change how the e-dial works on later cameras. I would switch to M mode if I was using an older lens but otherwise, back to Av.

With two e-dials, M mode is not that much different than Av. I always have aperture in back, shutter speed in front, ISO on top, and it works great. I often wish that Pentax had not put TAv mode between M and Av on the mode dial, only because I never use that mode.

The best mode for you is whatever works without thinking about it.
01-08-2011, 11:04 AM   #7
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I shoot mostly older manual focus lenses, and always use the M setting. Getting exposure is easy, I normally preset the ISO and aperture I want, then just use the +/- EV button which sets shutter speed for me. Most of the time I go for a smaller aperture and therefore depth of field, so I generally start out on f8 and go from there. If I can get enough light to shoot f11 at ISO 200 I like it even better.

I shoot mostly ISO 200, occasionally going to 400 or 800 for low light situations, but 90% of the time it's preset to 200. ISO is never set to auto...

My favorite 50mm is a Pentax A series, I rarely use it on the A setting (on the aperture ring) because it seems more difficult to get the exposure set. Then I have to set the aperture through the camera, not the lens ring, and have to set shutter speed manually too. I've lost chances at good shots trying to reset for brighter or dimmer lighting, so I started always using full manual mode, and it works great. Click one button and shoot...it's also confusing because the EV button switches between shutter and aperture, I often wound up changing aperture thinking it was set to shutter speed, and have to completely start over...Shooting M mode solved that too.

I like Dave's comment,

The best mode for you is whatever works without thinking about it.

That about sums it up...And that's why M works well for me, I don't have to think about it, except to remember to reset when the lighting changes...you would be surprised how many way over or underexposed shots I've taken because I forgot to reset when clouds moved around...
01-08-2011, 11:12 AM   #8
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M gives you the most control over everything. Now that you get what exposure Is and you've decided what type of stuff you like to do, just set your camera to M and experiment with it. Set your camera for spot metering and play around with metering different parts of your scene to bring out the exact details you want to see in your final image. One of the greatest things about our cameras is it costs nothing but time to try different things.



01-08-2011, 11:17 AM   #9
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Hard to add anything of meaning when I follow so many good replies but I think as a newbie the AV mode is a great way to learn. When you get a good understanding of the which combination of shutter speed and aperture yields the result you want then you should try some manual shots.

With enough practice you can look at the light and and get within a couple of stops of the right setting.

The manual k1000 is a great old camera for learning light. Twist those dial and see where the meter hits, change both setting and you may still hit the sweet spot. Which setting you will use depends on the image you want.

Last edited by Colbyt; 01-08-2011 at 11:18 AM. Reason: had to hard
01-08-2011, 03:57 PM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by epqwerty Quote
If you keep auto iso mode in Av it generally selects the highest iso your range allows which isn't always a good thing.
Ah...didn't realize it would always pick the highest ISO...I don't want that!! Thanks!

QuoteOriginally posted by DaveHolmes Quote
I'd suggest you re-read the book and try stuff out til you really get a handle on 'how exposure
I definitely will! I got this book from the library, but quickly realized in was one of those books I needed to own. So, I went and bought it I'm sure I'll be reading it many times! Lol!

QuoteOriginally posted by psychdoc Quote
By liking DOF, if you mean isolating a subject and throwing everything else out of focus, a fast lens will go a long way. f2.8 or lower.
I've read this suggestion in other threads...use a 'fast lens' and I'm not sure I know what it means. Sorry ...still new! I only have the kit lens 18-55mm (F3.5-5.8) and a 70-300mm (F4-5.6). These aren't 'fast'?

QuoteOriginally posted by Just1MoreDave Quote
The best mode for you is whatever works without thinking about it.
This is my dream...being able to take a picture with my dSLR without having to think about it! Maybe some day!

Thank you so much to everybody for your suggestions/opinions! Now, if only the sun would come out so I can take a picture that isn't just various shades of grey! Darn winter in the Northeast!! Lol!
01-08-2011, 04:09 PM   #11
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QuoteQuote:
Ah...didn't realize it would always pick the highest ISO...I don't want that!! Thanks!
Weird I set mine to 200 ISO and it stays there. I have no idea what this person is talking about, and I'm on my 4th Pentax body , from *ist through to a K20D, my latest being a K-x.

QuoteQuote:
I've read this suggestion in other threads...use a 'fast lens' and I'm not sure I know what it means. Sorry ...still new! I only have the kit lens 18-55mm (F3.5-5.8) and a 70-300mm (F4-5.6). These aren't 'fast'?
Fast is a relative term but generally, if it won't open to f2:8 it's not fast in a long lens, and if it doesn't open to less than f2 ie f1.8 it's not fast a a shorter lens. Your kit lens, with the lowest aperture setting 3.5 at 18mm will exhibit similar DoF to a faster lens, and my be more what you want in that you get increased depth of field but still blur the background if the object is close to the lens. Subject close to the lens, background as far away as possible, would be the important part of that equation.

Last edited by normhead; 01-08-2011 at 04:15 PM.
01-08-2011, 04:14 PM   #12
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If you adjust your shutter settings (keeping the aperture the same for the Av-mode argument) for every shot to match the camera exposure recommendation (meter reading) there will be no difference between Av and M.

If you set the aperture and shutter once then shoot away in consistent light, you will get a uniform exposure that is not influenced by the subject tonality.

If you know a little about the "zone system" and when to apply some exposure compensation for light or dark subjects, you can use any of the semi-auto modes with respectable results.

The auto camera exposure may vary a little but will usually be close. Manual exposure will be consistent - right or wrong.
01-08-2011, 05:40 PM   #13
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I shoot in M mode almost exclusively. This gives me complete control over iso, aperture, and shutter speed. In tricky lighting situations where I know I will want to do exposure blending in post processing, I shoot in AV mode.
01-08-2011, 05:58 PM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by normhead Quote
Weird I set mine to 200 ISO and it stays there. I have no idea what this person is talking about, and I'm on my 4th Pentax body , from *ist through to a K20D, my latest being a K-x.
If you set it to "AUTO ISO" it does generally pick the highest ISO within the range you have selected... Whoever made the comment is in fact correct.
01-08-2011, 06:01 PM   #15
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In Av mode you can select it to auto iso select. Or lock it at a set iso such as 200. but if you use auto iso in av. It generally selects the highest in the range that you allot.

But yes if you select 200. it will stay at 200.

But lets say 200 - 1600 is the range that you set for auto on iso. It will generally use 1600.
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