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6 Reasons Why You Should Ditch Auto Mode on Your Camera

Auto mode on a digital camera - Sony 7C with auto mode switched on

The auto mode might seem like a safe bet, but it’s quietly limiting your creative flair.

In this article, we’ll explore why breaking free from auto mode is crucial and how embracing manual photography can elevate your shots from good to breathtaking.

Plus, I’ll share some straightforward tips to make the transition smooth and rewarding. Buckle up; it’s time to take control of your camera and your creativity.

Here’s Why You Need to Stop Using Auto Mode on Your Camera

Let’s explore the key reasons why letting go of Auto mode is not just a choice, but a transformative journey for your photography:

1. Lack of Creative Control

In Auto mode, the camera automatically selects aperture, shutter speed, and ISO settings, stripping you of the chance to make artistic choices. While this may seem convenient, it greatly restricts your ability to express creativity.

Consider attempting a portrait photo that desires a shallow depth of field, aiming to isolate your subject from a bustling city backdrop. Auto mode may not deliver the desired effect, rendering a busy and distracting background that competes with your subject, rather than complementing it. This lack of control can turn a potentially captivating portrait into a missed opportunity to showcase your creative vision.

Portrait photo with a shallow depth of field
Portrait of my son, Nikita, that I took with shallow depth of field (blurry foreground). I've used Manual mode to take this photo.

In travel photography, capturing the unique ambiance of iconic landmarks requires a nuanced approach. Imagine wanting to capture the vibrant life and intricate sculptures of Florence Cathedral at dusk, aiming to accentuate the interplay of shadows and the fading daylight on the historic stones. Auto mode, however, might not adjust for the subtle contrasts and the richness of the scene, leaving you with an image that doesn’t do justice to the captivating atmosphere of this Renaissance square.

Florence Cathedral
Florence Cathedral

2. Inconsistent Exposure

Auto mode often struggles with maintaining consistent exposure, particularly in scenes dominated by extreme lighting conditions, such as expanses of snow.

Consider a personal experience where my friend Alex and I were hiking in Latvia during winter. We stumbled upon a field blanketed entirely in snow, resembling a vast, white, fluffy canvas.

Seizing the moment, Alex decided to dash across this snowy expanse, culminating in a joyful leap into the powdery snow, while I took a series of photos capturing this moment 🙂

Photo of male running across the field covered in snow.
Camera settings: ISO 100, f/5.0, 1/1000 sec.

Thankfully, I was using Manual mode, which allowed me to adjust the exposure settings to perfectly capture the brightness of the snow without losing the detail and vibrancy of his actions.

In contrast, a camera set to Auto mode might have struggled with the scene, likely underexposing the images due to the predominance of white. This would lead to a series of dull, lifeless photos that fail to convey the exhilaration of that winter adventure.

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3. Inadequate Low-Light Performance

Auto mode’s struggles extend to low-light situations, often leading to disappointing results. It tends to crank up the ISO settings excessively in an attempt to salvage the exposure, resulting in photos that are plagued by graininess and noise. This can be particularly frustrating when you’re aiming to capture the cozy ambiance of a dimly lit cafĂ© or the enchanting serenity of a moonlit evening.

Example of a noisy photo with high ISO
Example of a photo that has a lot of noise due to a high ISO setting

Imagine trying to convey the intimate charm of a candlelit dinner or the enchanting atmosphere of a starry night using Auto mode. Instead of preserving the subtle nuances of the low-light scene, Auto mode might leave you with images marred by distracting noise, robbing them of the mood and tranquility you intended to evoke. 

4. Flash Reliance

Auto mode often leans heavily on the use of flash, whether the lighting conditions warrant it or not. This overreliance on flash can have disastrous effects on your photos, particularly in situations where natural or ambient lighting is more fitting.

Imagine you’re in a quaint cafĂ©, the soft glow of hanging lights creating an intimate and cozy atmosphere. You decide to take a portrait photo of your partner, their face beautifully lit by the warm, ambient light. However, Auto mode has other plans and unexpectedly triggers the flash, flooding the scene with an overpowering burst of harsh light. The result? An utterly dreadful photo where your partner’s expression is marred by stark shadows and their features obscured by the blinding flash.

Example of a portrait photo taken with flash with red eyes
Example of a poor-quality portrait photo taken with flash, resulting in washed-out faces and red eyes

Even in outdoor scenarios, Auto mode may opt for flash when faced with challenging backlighting. This can lead to subjects being unnaturally illuminated, stripping away the subtleties of the natural light that sets the mood for the scene.

Mastering Manual mode grants you the power to make intentional decisions about when to employ flash, ensuring that it enhances rather than ruins your photos. This level of control not only elevates the quality of your images but also enables you to narrate a more captivating visual tale.

5. Inability to Anticipate Action

Auto mode struggles to predict and capture fast-paced moments or subjects in motion. It relies on algorithms to make decisions, often resulting in missed opportunities to freeze dynamic actions in stunning detail.

Imagine you’re at a park, and your child is joyfully playing on a swing. Their laughter fills the air as they soar higher and higher. You decide to capture this exuberant moment, but Auto mode’s hesitation and delay in assessing the scene result in a photo where your child is just a blurry figure, devoid of the excitement and energy that you intended to preserve.

Black and white portrait photo of a young boy on the swings.
Portrait photo of my son, Nikita, on the swings. Camera settings: f/2.0, 1/1600s, ISO 200.

Whether it’s a child’s gleeful antics, a bird in flight, or a car speeding past, Auto mode’s inability to anticipate and react quickly can lead to images marred by motion blur or missed entirely. In contrast, Manual mode empowers you to adapt swiftly to the ever-changing dynamics of your subjects, ensuring that you capture the action with precision and clarity. This control not only elevates the quality of your photographs but also allows you to relive those fleeting moments in all their vibrant glory.

6. Generic Results

Auto mode is engineered to deliver ‘one-size-fits-all’ results, aiming for a broadly acceptable image under typical conditions. While this may seem convenient, it often results in photographs that lack a distinctive and personal touch.

Imagine you’re photographing a beautiful sunset over a tranquil beach, the sky ablaze with vivid colors. Auto mode, designed for general use, might produce a photo that appears similar to countless other sunset snapshots. The result is an image that lacks the unique character and emotion you witnessed in that particular moment.

Photo of the sea and blue sky. Grainy photo
Example of a dull photo of the sea and sky

Whether it’s a breathtaking natural landscape or a candid street scene, Auto mode’s tendency to provide generic results can hinder your ability to infuse your photography with individuality and style. By embracing Manual mode, you take control of your creative vision, allowing your photographs to stand out as unique expressions of your perspective and storytelling. This shift from generic to personalized results can transform your photography from ordinary to extraordinary.

Mastering Manual Mode: Easier Than You Think

Learning to shoot in manual mode is a bit like learning to drive a car. Initially, it may seem complex and unfamiliar, but with a little practice, it becomes second nature. Soon, you’ll effortlessly adjust your camera settings on the fly to capture the precise results you envision, rather than relying on your camera’s default choices.

The resources listed below are a labor of love, meticulously crafted to simplify the learning process for you:

Coming Soon: I’m excited to announce that I’m currently developing an online course focused on teaching you the ins and outs of manual mode in photography. If this piques your interest, sign up for my newsletter below to receive updates and be among the first to know when the course is released.

Start Taking Stunning Photos With Manual Mode in Just 3 Days!

Why It’s Time to Abandon Auto Mode on Your Camera: Conclusion

Choosing Manual mode over Auto mode is your gateway to unlocking creative potential in photography. While it may seem daunting initially, it swiftly becomes second nature, granting you unprecedented control over your images.

The resources provided here are your guides to mastering manual photography, simplifying the learning process, and empowering you to capture your unique vision. Stay tuned for my upcoming online course, designed to make manual mode accessible to all.

So, take the plunge into manual mode, and watch your creativity flourish. With each click, you’ll craft images that resonate and stories that endure. Welcome to the world of manual photography—where you are the artist, the director, and the visionary. Happy shooting!


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Aleksandrs Karevs

Aleksandrs Karevs

Hi, my name is Aleksandrs and I am a full-stack digital marketer passionate about digital photography. In my free time, I enjoy taking photos with my everyday companion – FUJIFILM X100V. Read full story here.

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Aleksandrs Karevs OHMYCAMERA Founder & Author


Hi, my name is Aleksandr and I am a full-stack digital marketer from Riga, Latvia. In 2018 I became obsessed with photography and decided to create this blog to share my knowledge about both photography and marketing. In my free time, I enjoy taking photos with my everyday companion – FUJIFILM X100V.

Aleksandrs Karevs OHMYCAMERA Founder & Author


Hi, my name is Aleksandr and I am a full-stack digital marketer from Riga, Latvia. In 2018 I became obsessed with photography and decided to create this blog to share my knowledge about both photography and marketing. In my free time, I enjoy taking photos with my everyday companion – FUJIFILM X100V.

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