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Setting the camera's Manual settings

edited September 2014 Posted in » Nikon D3100 Forum

I am needing to do a series of pictures in a class to show I understand BEC but am running into complications. It goes as follows

Set 1
A. Program setting: f/16 1/100
B. Aperture Priority f/16 1/100
C. Shutter Priority 1/100
D. Metering f/16 1/100
E. Manual - BEC 1/100
F. f/11 1/200
G f/22 1/50

Set 2 - Open Shade
A. Program mode f/5.6
B. Aperture Priority f/5.6
C. Shutter Priority f/5.6
D. Metering f/5.6
E. Manual BEC f/5.6
F. Manual f/4
G. M f/8

Set 3 - Closed Shade
A. Program mode f/4 1/00
B. Aperture Priority f/4 1/100
C. Shutter Priority f/4 1/00
D. Metering f/4 1/100
E. Bec F$ 1/100
F. f/2.8 1/200
G. f/5.6 1/50

I am running into trouble with setting some of the settings on manual as the shutter automatically overrides and changes. For instance, I want to set the camera to f/16 1/100 in Aperture priority but when I set to f/16 the shutter changes depending on the sunlight etc. Is there a way to set these to where they will not alter? Also, I am having a hard time understanding what exposure compensation is. If it is in the + or - of zero on the compensation it effects the picture how?

Thanks for help!


  • edited September 2014
    Go to the menu and turn off auto ISO first of all, or the camera may override your choices even in manual mode. Your manual settings will likely be kept, but the meter will attempt to correct exposure by shifting ISO, so if you are trying for an exposure that is not technically correct, it won't happen.

    Make sure you understand the different way the four control modes work. In M mode, if you have your ISO setting off of automatic, you should be able to control shutter and aperture entirely manually (even if you are utterly disobeying the meter). You'll see the meter's recommendation in the viewfinder, and as you go above and below it the display will show how far you stray. Any available shutter speed and aperture should be selectable, and the camera will use them even if they result in a bad picture or no picture at all. You can step shutter speeds by 1/3 of a stop down to 30 seconds, and up to 1/4000, and you can step apertures by 1/3 stop steps throughout the lens's range.

    In Aperture priority, you select the aperture, and the meter selects the shutter speed. If you have ISO on auto and it runs out of useable shutter speeds it will shift the ISO. If ISO is on manual it will continue to select shutter speeds even if they are too slow to hand hold. If it runs out of high speeds it will simply overexpose.

    In shutter priority you select the shutter speed and the meter selects the aperture if any aperture is available within range. If ISO is set to auto it will shift ISO when it runs out of aperture selections. If ISO is manual it will mis-expose when it runs out of apertures.

    In Program mode the camera selects both shutter speed and aperture within a narrow band. You can use the control wheel to shift preference within that band, but not to violate the meter. If auto ISO is set, ISO will change when the preferred combination of shutter and aperture is not found.

    So, if you want entirely manual control, only M will give that. All the others give you partial control but the meter still determines exposure, and it will do this "on the fly" with fine adjustments made until, and perhaps even while, the shutter is fired.

    Exposure compensation does not have an effect in M mode. In the other modes, "+" will give you relative overexposure, and "-" will give you relative underexposure. Put it on "-" and the picture will be darker. On "+" it will be brighter, or washed out. The best way to get a feel for this is simply to put it on, say, A mode, and take the same picture several times over at normal setting +2 and -2. You'll see immediately what the effect is.

    On the D3200, and I think also on the D3100, there is another poorly documented feature. If you have set an upper limit on auto ISO you cannot manually select a higher ISO. It will show as selected on the dial, but the camera will stop at your max. So, for example, if you have set auto ISO to go only up to 800 you will still see the option of 1600 on the dial, but when you actually shoot the picture it will be at 800.
  • edited September 2014
    Since @bruto has already given a very detailed explanation, I thought I would just focus on the specific question that you presented.

    “For instance I want to set the camera to f/16 1/100 in Aperture priority but when I set to f/16 the shutter changes depending on the sunlight etc. Is there a way to set these to where they will not alter?”

    1) Set Fn button to adjust ISO
    2) Rotate mode dial to A
    3) Rotate rear command dial to set aperture at f/16
    4) Put your eye on the viewfinder and compose.
    5) Note the number on the bottom left of the viewfinder. That’s the shutter speed that the camera is going to use. Using the Fn button and rear command dial, until the shutter speed is 1/100. Take your shot.

    If the lighting situation doesn’t allow the camera in A-mode to use f/16 and 1/100, then you’ll need to use exposure compensation.
    Hypothetical situation :
    If it’s super bright and you’re already using ISO 100 with f/16 and the camera still chooses something faster than 1/100, then you’ll need to over-expose.
    For example, if the camera chooses 1/200, then you’ll need to set exposure compensation at +1.0 (i.e., over expose by 1-stop). The camera will now use the slower shutter speed of 1/100.

    Hypothetical situation 2:
    If it’s super dark and you’re already using ISO 3200 with f/16 and the camera still chooses something slower than 1/100, then you’ll need to under-expose.
    For example, if the camera chooses 1/50, then you’ll need to set the exposure compensation at -1.0 (i.e., under expose by 1-stop). The camera will now use the faster shutter speed of 1/100.

    Of course, if your lighting situation fluctuates wildly (like if there are flashing or pulsing lights or colors), then it’s impossible to do this. You would need to use M-mode.
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