Manual Photography Cheat Sheet

Manual Mode Photography Cheat Sheet



We’ll be creating a PDF version of this guide as a manual photography (aperture and shutter speed cheat sheet) cheat sheet soon but in the mean time here are some quick tips to get you started with manual photography mode on your camera.

Getting familiar with manual mode on your camera and all its different settings is the key to getting the most out of your DSLR.  Once you’ve unlocked manual mode, you’ll always be able to capture the moment better.

There is of course more to manual mode than Aperture, shutter speed and ISO but for the purposes of this guide we’ll stick with these as the main topics.


Aperture is the hole in the lens that light passes through and into the cameras body.  The best way to think about it is like the pupils of your eyes.  Aperture directly affects the depth of field, which in turn affects what appears sharp in your picture.

Large aperture numbers such as f/32 (smaller aperture) make both near and far objects in the shot appear in focus.


Small aperture numbers such as f/1.4 (larger aperture) make the near objects appear sharp and in focus, and objects in the distance appear more blurry.



Shutter Speed

Shutter speed or “exposure time” represents how long a camera shutter remains open allowing light onto the sensor.

A slow shutter speed allows a blur to be created in the subject.

Slow shutter speed in Paris
A fast shutter speed can create crisp clear images by freezing motion.



ISO is how sensitive your camera’s digital sensor is to available light and allows photos to be taken in low lighting.

Low ISO numbers (such as 100 and 200) symbolise a lower sensitivity to light.

High numbers (such as 400, 800, 1600)  higher levels of sensitivity. Keep in mind that high ISO values increase the amount of “noise” on the photo.

Hopefully you now have a better understanding of ISO, aperture and shutter speed and how they relate.


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