Nowadays digital SLRs are available at very affordable prices.
And, with financing available at many retailers they have become a possible purchase. Lots of hobbyists, parents, and even students are buying DSLRs.
What makes it even easier is that there are AUTO settings to take advantage of. There is no need to master the camera or the lens as the camera will put the ideal settings for you.
Right out of the box you can be taking photos within seconds.
But, why then would you shoot in manual mode?
1) The camera will work with averages. It is never quite sure what is the most important subject in the frame. Therefore it will select a mid range f-stop, ISO and white balance. It picks the best average and you're ready to go.
This is not ideal when you have something in the frame you'd rather have in focus. Or when you want a very shallow depth of field. Or if you are in a dark setting and don't want to get tons of grain in the image.
2) Focus points are very important when getting something in focus. In AUTO mode it will use all the focus points available and the camera will tell you what it wants in focus. In MANUAL mode you decide and there is no fighting with the camera or missing that important photo.
3) Low light situations always require more light. If you use a lot of focus points the camera will be fighting with you for a long time trying to lock onto something. And even when it does get it right it will give you a setting that won't be conducive to the lighting. Meaning you will most likely end up with motion blur or a very grainy photo.
4) When combining your camera and flash use it is essential to know both settings. Or, one of the two will try to overpower the other.
5) Overall, Manual mode just gives you that much more control. And it teaches you all the settings on your camera. By learning these settings you can anticipate and do your best in any lighting situation. Minor adjustments are very easy to do and later you don't need to rely on fixing in a photo editing program.
Yes it takes a long time to master, but that will set you apart from others who didn't take the time to learn these settings.
As you get more experienced you'll be able to see the difference between photos.
AUTO settings make the images look flat. Manual settings make the image sharper and with more depth of field.
So remember, if you are looking to hire someone for a photo shoot, or wedding, or important event, make sure you get someone with experience. Always find out if they shoot in manual mode.
Your photos will look better, lighting won't be an issue and you'll be happy they can get those shots that you want.