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I once met someone who was determined not to use a D-SLR until he had mastered a Manual Camera first. I thought he was a bit stuck up, maybe a little arrogant of his own abilities too...but actually, he was right. You will not truly value Photography until you go right back to basics and learn how the legendary pros did it first. So here are five top reasons why you should teach yourself photography on a manual camera!

Camera by skit-so

1) It's Cheap


Many people think that Film Photography is expensive. If you're going all out and developing your own photographs rather than taking the to a developer then it might well be expensive! However manual cameras are a dying breed and you can pick up most of the bits and pieces you need to get started, quite cheaply.

2) Manual Focus


It's the simplest reason, but it's so true. Manual Focus will save your life. Learning how to focus your camera the hard way will make you a much better Photographer in the long run.

Russian Camera by tumbler591

3) Appreciate Modernisation


Spending hours in a darkroom can be fulfilling, I've done it, and I loved it. But it can also make you appreciate modern photography that much more. Yes it's great to use a manual camera here and there, but it's even better when you can just pick up, snap and post to instagram in a few short seconds. Yes, instagram! Manual Photography will make you appreciate what we have today, so much more.

4) Iso!


Most of the pros of using a manual camera are that it's not all done for you. How easy is it to whip your camera into Auto and let it do all the work? Too easy. With a manual camera, you have the same ISO throughout a roll so you need to get it right the first time in order to get the best exposure.

5) Cost Effective


Not only is it cheap, as mentioned in point number 1, but having a manual camera will not tempt you with all the awesome and fantastic upgrades, add ons and other bits and pieces that modern photography now has. You'll save money, AND be an awesome Photographer, what more could you want?!

Old Petri camera by Pamba

Manual Photography isn't for everybody. I will say that you'll need a little more patience than usual and an interest in getting results. You'll have to plan carefully to ensure that you don't make mistakes as manual is unforgiving. But it's worth it, and if you fancy learning the basics then why not give it a go? Check out This article for more detailed tutorials.

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:iconmjp67:
MJP67 Featured By Owner Jun 29, 2013  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
I suppose I am the minority here but I don't agree. I used to shoot manual and now I shoot only digital. You can learn all the main requirements shooting digital and you can capture wonderful images with digital. You can capture wonderful images manually as well. If you are trying to emulate manual style photos with a digital well then I might agree as there is no real perfect equivalent but I think one can learn on and produce absolutely wonderful art with a dslr. I used to drive a stick shift too.. but I prefer my transmission to automatically shift now. ;)
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:iconpearwood:
pearwood Featured By Owner Jun 26, 2013  Hobbyist Photographer
Excellent.  If you want to go cheap, shoot in black and white and do your own developing then scan the negatives.  The Epson Perfection V500 flatbed goes for a bit more than US$150 and scans my medium format negatives at 3200 dpi.  That's a whole lot of pixels.   A full darkroom costs real money, but a black bag and developing reels can be had for a hundred or two, total.  Add that to the Yashica-D my sister-in-law gave me and I'm first class for very little money.
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:iconkaz-d:
Kaz-D Featured By Owner Jul 1, 2013  Hobbyist Photographer
Good tips :)
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:iconpearwood:
pearwood Featured By Owner Jul 1, 2013  Hobbyist Photographer
:)
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:iconpixlphantasy:
PixlPhantasy Featured By Owner Jun 22, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
Film isn't that cheap to develop any more here.  If you are able to develop it yourself then fine but if not, taking it to even a place like Walmart is expensive and can run you over $20 just to get it developed into prints.  Lot's of places don't even develop film anymore.

I do agree with everything else though.  I remember learning photography with an old Pentax..unfortunately I forgot half the stuff I learned. :XD:
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:iconkaz-d:
Kaz-D Featured By Owner Jul 1, 2013  Hobbyist Photographer
Hmm I guess it depends on where you are:nod:
;D
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:iconflynnryder:
FlynnRyder Featured By Owner Jun 20, 2013  Student General Artist
OH MY GOD!!!!!! I completely agree. I love knowing how to use my camera on manual. I use both film and digital. It just breaks my heart and makes me want to cry when I see people with a $1,200 camera and a $2,000 lens and they have no idea what they are doing with it. I see it all the time.
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:iconkaz-d:
Kaz-D Featured By Owner Jun 20, 2013  Hobbyist Photographer
It's an amazing gift really! :)
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:iconmiontre:
miontre Featured By Owner Jun 19, 2013  Hobbyist Photographer
Great article :D
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:iconkaz-d:
Kaz-D Featured By Owner Jun 20, 2013  Hobbyist Photographer
Thank you :)
Reply
:icondreamdaywirter:
DreamDayWirter Featured By Owner Jun 19, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
I love Manual! <3

I've stolen my dads old pentax camera. I'm working on making my own darkroom. I'm very close to having it done. But when I toke my photography class in high school. I ALWAYS found a reason to be in there.
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:iconkaz-d:
Kaz-D Featured By Owner Jun 20, 2013  Hobbyist Photographer
Would love to see shots of a homemade darkroom!
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:icondreamdaywirter:
DreamDayWirter Featured By Owner Jun 20, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
Once I get it done I will. I ran into some trouble with the enlarger.
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:iconastrikos:
Astrikos Featured By Owner Jun 19, 2013   General Artist
:la: Awesome! I usually use manual focus with either aperture priority or full manual.
It's just more fun that way.
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:iconkaz-d:
Kaz-D Featured By Owner Jun 20, 2013  Hobbyist Photographer
It is :D
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:iconkyzerkech:
KyzerKech Featured By Owner Jun 19, 2013   General Artist
pfff people don't know old school. Try them traditional stand up cameras way back when. >3 if one can nab one of those, its truly then a very wonderful photography experience. only, I don't think that would be as cheep xD
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:iconkaz-d:
Kaz-D Featured By Owner Jun 20, 2013  Hobbyist Photographer
They really don't!
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:iconkyzerkech:
KyzerKech Featured By Owner Jun 20, 2013   General Artist
actually antiques such as 1800's cam shooting equipments (which is what I'm referring to there) really do. I'm aware you mean the manual cameras of the last decade but...yea. I was not talking about those >.>
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:iconkaz-d:
Kaz-D Featured By Owner Jun 20, 2013  Hobbyist Photographer
Actually.
You said: pfff people don't know old school.
I said: They really don't!
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:iconkyzerkech:
KyzerKech Featured By Owner Jun 20, 2013   General Artist
btw, I'm just foolin with you, I know what you meant XD
Reply
:iconkyzerkech:
KyzerKech Featured By Owner Jun 20, 2013   General Artist
Prolly woulda been best to specify in your case, huh?
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:iconkaz-d:
Kaz-D Featured By Owner Jun 21, 2013  Hobbyist Photographer
In my case?
Why?
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:iconlololakitu:
LoloLakitu Featured By Owner Jun 19, 2013
I love my old rebel eos!
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:iconkaz-d:
Kaz-D Featured By Owner Jun 20, 2013  Hobbyist Photographer
:la:
Reply
:iconohmyhippogriff:
OhMyHippogriff Featured By Owner Jun 19, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
What manual camera would you recommend to start with?
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:iconkaz-d:
Kaz-D Featured By Owner Jun 20, 2013  Hobbyist Photographer
Almost anything! :) Try charity shops, Ebay that sort of place :)
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:iconkalteeinsamkeit:
KalteEinsamkeit Featured By Owner Jun 19, 2013  Hobbyist Digital Artist
I have to show this to my mother ^^ She thought the same thing! She develops black and white photographs and decided not to try digital until she was a master of traditional photography :3
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:iconkaz-d:
Kaz-D Featured By Owner Jun 20, 2013  Hobbyist Photographer
That's often the best way to learn :)
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:iconim-not-sana:
im-not-sana Featured By Owner Jun 19, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
Ooh interesting :plotting: makes me want to take out my dad's old Nikon and start shooting :eager:
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:iconkaz-d:
Kaz-D Featured By Owner Jun 20, 2013  Hobbyist Photographer
Yes indeed!
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:iconsilkenwinds:
SilkenWinds Featured By Owner Jun 19, 2013  Hobbyist Photographer
I actually started dabbling with photography with an old Ricoh X-RP 35mm SLR camera, I took lots of photos with it and did pretty good considering. On my old deviantart account I even scanned in a few of those photos to show. Still...I find the convenience of a dSLR, which allows you to take as many shots as you want on huge memory cards, to be a much better advantage. There is always a place for film photography, as an art form, and of course some people enjoy using dark rooms. For me I like to just upload my stuff directly on the computer now, so I will stick with dSLR now. The cameras are also good teaching tools, especially Canon Rebels, and even my 60D has "taught" me a lot of things, so in a way, you're getting the best of both worlds here. I have yet to use full manual, although I understand things like aperture and shutter speed pretty well, I still have a lot to learn. However, I can safely say that my use of that Ricoh, a camera I loved dearly (and no IS either! :D )served me well until I finally sold it. It gave me a passion for photography.
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:iconrockstarvanity:
RockstarVanity Featured By Owner Jun 19, 2013  Professional Photographer
I learned on a film SLR more years ago than I care to admit and I honestly believe it did me the world of good. As a result, I have never gone into a situation and shot hundreds of photos hoping that a few of them will turn out the way I want - I shoot pretty much what I need because I feel confident in my experience, knowledge and tools.

I also never use my dSLR on anything other than full manual mode. I feel kind of bad for my camera - it has the capability to do all this fancy stuff by itself but never gets a chance to. I've also never been able to really get into using the screen on the back of the camera instead of the viewfinder. That's probably just personal preference, but it feels weird not to be looking through something!

I also feel really lucky to have had the opportunity to develop my own black and white and colour film, and print my own photos in a darkroom at school and college. It makes me giggle when people talk about digital editing as if the effects it can achieve are all new - it's amazing how much you can do with physical tools and chemicals, and having the opportunity to do all this without a computer has granted me a greater understanding and respect for the digital tools that we use every day. Shooting, processing, printing and even retouching (yep, ink, a one-hair brush and no room for error!) without a computer is one hell of a valuable experience!
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:iconkaz-d:
Kaz-D Featured By Owner Jun 20, 2013  Hobbyist Photographer
I can't imagine processing without a computer - that is one mean feat! I already think we're too comfortable with what is so easily accessible now :D
Manual mode is great, i should use it more often - thank you for reminding me! ;)
Reply
:icon0illecebra0:
0illecebra0 Featured By Owner Jun 19, 2013  Hobbyist Photographer
Being able to print and manually retouch your own photos sounds like a really nice experience...I envy you!
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:icongeminiartnstock:
GeminiArtNStock Featured By Owner Jun 19, 2013   Digital Artist
interesting article
my dad had is own darkroom not to sure what camera he had any way until i got my DSLR I had always used a point and shoot but now i enjoy the fact i have more control over my pictures and have experimented in shooting manually as with instagram don't go near that lol
taking photos is a skill and so is creating art too
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:iconkaz-d:
Kaz-D Featured By Owner Jun 20, 2013  Hobbyist Photographer
Own darkroom :o so lucky!
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:icongeminiartnstock:
GeminiArtNStock Featured By Owner Jun 20, 2013   Digital Artist
thank you
Reply
:iconjane-beata:
jane-beata Featured By Owner Jun 19, 2013  Professional Traditional Artist
Good points! I'm also learning photography and my uncle gave me a manual lens to try, at first a huge pain in the ass but now I can't live without it.
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:iconkaz-d:
Kaz-D Featured By Owner Jun 20, 2013  Hobbyist Photographer
Oh yes, definitely a pain at first :D
Reply
:iconhayley--jade:
hayley--jade Featured By Owner Jun 18, 2013  Hobbyist Photographer
One day I will have money to do this :la:
I do "darkroom" digitally but I really want to try it "traditionally" too!
Reply
:iconkaz-d:
Kaz-D Featured By Owner Jun 20, 2013  Hobbyist Photographer
Definitely! I think it's amazing even to try :)
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:iconhayley--jade:
hayley--jade Featured By Owner Jun 20, 2013  Hobbyist Photographer
Indeed :)
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:iconwuthitz:
wuthitz Featured By Owner Jun 18, 2013
there's more reasons than simply five, including but probably not limited to:

- learning how light actually works
- forcing you to not only know how light works, but how it works to get the correct exposure
- forcing you to craft a properly composed photograph with the correct exposure
- the actual reward of knowing that you crafted the image from start to finish. DSLRs are enormously powerful tools; they're almost like cheating, in how google is like cheating to people who actually acquired their knowledge through research.
- manual photography is scary! every shot costs money, it has more value at the end of the day and a great shot on a film camera will be far more likely to be blown up and put on your wall because of the extra effort involved.

I have a F90, and even that is like cheating compared to any more antiquated film cameras as it has an advanced exposure meter, autofocus, and other goodies you find on DSLRS that help you get correct exposure.
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:iconkaz-d:
Kaz-D Featured By Owner Jun 20, 2013  Hobbyist Photographer
Oh yes, definitely more and those are great reasons!
Thank you :)
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:iconsarahreneecreations:
SarahReneeCreations Featured By Owner Jun 18, 2013  Hobbyist Photographer
Oh my I never thought about that. I saw an old canon slr, the other day at a thrift shop. I seriously regret not buying it now.
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:iconkaz-d:
Kaz-D Featured By Owner Jun 20, 2013  Hobbyist Photographer
It's a fantastic idea :nod: i've got a few 'old' cameras that I picked up for next to nothing!
Reply
:iconguardianoflightaura:
GuardianofLightAura Featured By Owner Jun 18, 2013  Hobbyist Digital Artist
I asked for an old-style/film photography class upon learning my school offered it, and I can say that I really learned a lot of things from it and really enjoyed it, especially my time in the dark room. My teacher put it as "an art that's slowly dying and not appreciated as much as it once was", and when I see how many people use their iPhones or iPods (I live in NYC so here it's like nearly everyone has one) you really do gain more appreciation for the original way of taking photos. At least that's my opinion.
Reply
:iconkaz-d:
Kaz-D Featured By Owner Jun 20, 2013  Hobbyist Photographer
Ah you're so lucky! When I was in school, they didn't even have generic photography classes !
Reply
:icontimothy-sim:
Timothy-Sim Featured By Owner Jun 18, 2013  Professional Photographer
Simple, yet effective journal. Brilliant!

I started on manual film photography as my first camera when learning it. Never regretted it. And I still go back to it when I want to really discipline myself.

Some really good ways to do it even on a DSLR now is:

- Shoot on Manual
- Tape up (or switch off) the playback screen completely.
- Shoot ONLY 36 frames and only 1 set ISO
- No playing back or viewing files until you finish your 36 Frames
- Only view the 36 frames when you take out the SD/CF card and load it onto the computer
- No photoshopping. What you see is what you got.

I've done it with some of my junior photographers who learn under me. They were so challenged some couldn't even do 36 frames by the time they met me the following week.
A stark difference of walking out the door and smashing a good 200 frames before coming home in one day.
Reply
:iconkaz-d:
Kaz-D Featured By Owner Jul 1, 2013  Hobbyist Photographer
Thank you :)
Thanks for the added tips too, that would be awesome to incorporate into a future article!
Reply
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