Where to Start in Manual Mode on your DSLR (Free Printable Chart)

by SomeGirl on February 8, 2012 · 6 comments

Ok, let’s visit manual mode again…

I put together a little chart to help those of you just venturing out.

It’s a basic guideline for where to start with ISO, aperture, and shutter speed in different lighting. And a helpful companion to the video tutorial I shared a few months ago: AVery Beginner’s Guide to Manual Mode.

If you’re freaked out by the thought of shooting in manual, I promise it’s much easier than you think (and it used to totally intimidate me)!


(click here to get image on it’s own page)


Please keep in mind that these are only starting point suggestions. Find out more about shooting in manual and monitoring shutter speeds here.

Let me add that: Outside in bright light, you can shoot at just about any aperture (fstop). I just usually like to stay under f/11, but some go up to f/16 or f/20.

Keep in mind, that the lower the aperture the more blurry the background gets, making a more creative photo, in my opinion.

(Btw, the lightbulb represents indoor lighting that’s not too bright, the flame represents very low light inside – fireside, candle light, romantic lighting, etc…)

Of course, you know I LOVE and highly recommend the 50mm ($100) fixed lens for low light settings, so whenever you see f/4 or lower know that I mean f/2.8 or lower on the 50mm. :)

Be sure to stop back by next Wednesday for another free printable chart on when to use Manual, Aperture Priority (AV Mode), or Shutter Priority (TV Mode).

Hope you find these helpful!


♥ Michelle (aka SomeGirl)

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Kim Van Brunt

Thank you Michelle! The printable is a great idea. I’ve read the posts and watched tutorials, but when I’m shooting I seem to forget everything. This is great — just what I need.


What a fantastic chart! I pinned this, and have already been trying some of the settings. Thanks!

Jan Vink

Thank you for a most helpful chart. I have been scouring the internet for something exactly like this. How can I get hold of the chart about when to use either AV or TV mode.
Thank you

reg walker

thank you for making my venture into manual mode……..so much easier.and thanks again for the road map! my GPS wasnt GPSing (smile)!!


Nice work! What do you think of the sunny 16 rule?


Love your blog! I’m a very begginer! And these posts help so much. You make it sound so simple. ..how do I subscribe to get notifications of your new posts ?

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