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Which beginning digital photography class is for me?

Digital cameras are changing daily, offering new features and using new technologies, which might make it difficult for you to understand which beginning digital photography course you and your camera should take together.

There are two beginning digital photography courses, tailored for two different basic types of cameras. Basically, if your camera has the ability to shoot in full manual mode, which means you have complete control over the shutter speed, aperture, and ISO, and your camera allows interchangeable lenses, then the Beginning Digital Photography with Manual Mode course is for you. Otherwise, you should probably take the Beginning Digital Photography with Compact Cameras and Phones course.

Almost all Digital Single Lens Reflex (DSLR) cameras allow you full manual control, and most Mirrorless Interchangeable-Lens (MILC) cameras do as well, and both are suitable for the Manual course.

How do I know if my camera will shoot in full manual mode?

The easiest way to figure this out is to look at the mode selection dial that is usually found on the top of your camera. Cameras that allow you to shoot in full manual will almost always have four settings that indicate this control:

mode dial
Two mode selection dials showing full manual options, highlighted within yellow border
  • "M" - indicates full manual mode
  • "A" or "Av" - indicates Aperture Priority mode
  • "S" or "Tv" - indicates Shutter Priority mode
  • "P" - indicates Program mode
NOTE: "P" or Program mode is available on many cameras that do not allow full manual control, so "P" by iteself does NOT neccessarily mean full manual!

Another way to determine if you can shoot in full manual mode is to check your camera's manual. Look in the glossary for the terms, "aperture priority", and "shutter priority". If your camera allows for these modes, it's a safe bet you can shoot full manual.

Cameras that afford the ability to shoot full manual also typically have a dial located very near the shutter release, near your right index finger, or near where your right thumb rests (some cameras have both dials). These dials facilitate changing manual settings easily.

I have Manual control, but not interchangeable lenses!

One of the main topics we discuss in the Beginning Digital Photography with Manual Mode course is interchangeable lenses, and how they affect the "look" of your photos. If you can shoot in full manual, but do not have the ability to change lenses, then it is recommended that you take the Beginning Digital Photography with Compact Cameras and Phones course, simply because much of the lens discussion will only vaguely apply to your camera.

If you have full manual control, but not interchangeable lenses, you may still take the Beginning Digital Photography with Manual Mode course, but be warned that you might feel as though you're not being able to fully participate, since a great deal of what we discuss revolves around the capabilities of the typical interchangeable lens. If you're planning on upgrading to a camera that does have the ability to change lenses, then it might be a good idea to take the Beginning Digital Photography with Manual Mode, so that you understand lenses better, which will help you make a more well-informed decision on a new camera.

Help! I still don't know which course to choose!

It's okay! I can help you figure that out! Simply use the contact form, and ask for help. Make sure to include the following information:

  • The make and model of the camera
  • Ensure you correctly enter your email address, or I can't respond!
  • Include a daytime phone number, if you feel comfortable, and the best time to call you

I understand the difference, and I'd like to purchase a new camera to take a course

If you really want to take the Beginning Digital Photography with Manual Mode course, and want to invest in a camera that allows you to fully-control your shots, then please read the camera buying guide. That page has good information to help you decide which camera to purchase.

Still have questions?

We are very happy to answer any questions you might have! Please use the contact form, or give us a call!

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