Manual Mode Problem

Hi! I am beginner with the Manual Mode of my Nikon D3100 and I noticed that as I was using the “Infant Indoor” Cheat Sheet I ran into a problem. When I took a picture without the flash the photo turned out completely black no matter where I shot the photo. But when I took the photo with the flash it turned out just fine. I don’t think it’s a mechanical issue but a setting that is set wrong. Any advice on how to fix this?? I’m sure it’s simple but I’m still learning. Please help! Thanks!


  • Make sure you have set the ISO correctly. You're probably going to need a high ISO but I'm not sure what the D3100 suggestions are. It's about 3200 for the D3200.

    Remember too that in manual mode, only the shutter speed is adjusted with the camera wheel alone. To adjust aperture you must push the [+/-] button as you turn the wheel.

    When you use the flash in TTL mode (the default) it will likely give you a good exposure with most ISO settings, but of course it will be a flash picture, not natural light.

    If you have the Auto ISO set on, you should turn it off, as it may attempt to correct an exposure when you don't want it to. This kind of shot is likely to require an exposure that does not quite agree with the camera's meter, but Auto ISO will use the meter to adjust ISO without informing you just what it's doing.

    If you are using an AF lens, there should be a meter reading in the viewfinder, and that should give you a ball park estimate of when the exposure is right. This is likely only a ball park, though, for this kind of shot. It will tell you if it's seriously wonky, but not necessarily that it's at its best.

    You can also go to the playback menu, choose "playback options," and check the box for "overview." This will display your basic settings, and also a histogram, which is the post-shot exposure graph. It will show graphically whether your exposure is over or under An underexposed shot will crowd all the information to the left, and overexposed to the right. A correctly exposed shot will more or less fill the area between the left and right margins.

    Remember, though, that just as with the meter, the histogram will only be a ball park estimate of what is right. If you have windows, for example, or other specular highlights like light bulbs, reflective vases, mirrors etc., they may well blow out to white in an exposure that's right for the subject, and if there are substantial dark areas, they may well go black in a correct exposure.

    Whatever playback options you choose in the menu can be selected by using the up/down arrows on the camera back when you play back. Whatever is your last setting will be the default until you change it again
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