Manual Photography Cheat Sheet

Author: Miguel Yatco

Here is an easy cheat sheet to understand how the manual settings work on cameras.




– The light meter is different from the exposure setting.

– Keeping your light meter at “0” doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the perfect setting. Just don’t stray too far from the “0”. Adjust to your liking.

– Positive numbers on your exposure setting will make your photos brighter.

– Negative numbers make your photos darker.


– Small numbers (like f/1.4) have larger openings, which let in more light.

– Big numbers (like f/16) have smaller openings, which let in less light.

Shutter Speed

– Seeing 100, 250, 320, etc. on your viewfinder means “1/(number seen)”, like “1/100”.

– Try not to use 1/60 or less when handheld, that’s when you use a tripod or look for something steady.

– Using longer exposure (slow shutter speed) will let in more light.

– Using shorter exposure (fast shutter speed) will let in less light.


– ISO is the sensitivity of your camera to light

– Lower numbers are less sensitive to light, which give smoother photos.

– Higher numbers are very sensitive to light, which give very grainy and noisy photos.

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