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Old Oct 30, 2006, 9:32 AM   #1
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Does setting up a P&S camera manually always produce better pictures? Are there people who never use Auto mode even with their P&S?

I use Auto 95% of the time. I am wondering if I am limiting the potential quality of my photos by doing this. Or, maybe since I only have a P&S, in most situations, it really doesn't matter.
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Old Oct 30, 2006, 9:51 AM   #2
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In most conditions with a P&S camera model, you're not going to have any benefit from manual exposure.

The camera is selecting an aperture/shutter speed combination to expose the image based on how much light it's seeing, influenced by it's metering mode.

You can use Exposure Compensation to vary that exposure if you want it darker or brighter than the camera would normally expose it in the same conditions (for example, if you have a backlit subject, you may want to use a +EV Value with Exposure Compensation so that the camera exposes the image a bit brighter than normal).

In more extreme conditions, it could be of value from time to time. For example, you want to take long exposure night shots. Or, you're shooting closeups where you may want to use a smaller aperture (higher f/stop number) for greater depth of field.

Or, if you're shooting sports outside in good light, you may want to use a larger aperture (smaller f/stop number) so that you can get a faster shutter speed to help with motion blur. In low light, the camera's auto exposure algorithms are going to be selecting the largest available aperture anyway. So, you don't gain anything by setting it yourself.

You would probably want to control ISO speed yourself. But, I don't classify setting parameters like ISO speed, or using Exposure Compensatoin as being manual exposure.

For most conditions, manual exposure is going to be of limited value in a P&S model. For one thing, you've got much greater depth of field, so it's not of use in that area much except for closeups.

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