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In manual mode on my Nikon D3200 I cannot change just the f/stop setting. It only changes in relation to the other settings. How can I reproduce settings that I have found in books on photography if I cannot adjust the f/stop separately? Is this something I'm doing wrong or is it a fault with the camera?

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You're almost certainly doing something wrong. If you're truly in manual mode - i.e. the mode dial is set to the "M" position - then the aperture won't (normally) change in response to other settings. You change the shutter speed by turning the command dial normally, and you change the aperture by holding down the exposure compensation button (the "+/-" button just backwards and right of the shutter button) and turning the command dial. If that doesn't happen, try finding an experienced SLR user and asking them to try. If they can't get it to work, then's the time to start thinking there may be an issue with the camera.

The only situation I can immediately think of where changing other settings would change the aperture is zooming in on a variable aperture lens - for example, if you have a standard 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 kit lens set at 18mm, f/3.5 and then zoom in to 55mm, the aperture will change to f/5.6 as it's limited by the lens.

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    One more thing: Turn off Auto ISO, or the camera will compensate by adjusting the ISO. (Assuming the D3200 works similar to my D5100.) This doesn't affect the aperture, but it does affect the exposure, the brightness you see in the picture. – j-g-faustus May 30 '14 at 22:01
  • True, but even if you're in auto ISO, it won't change the aperture. – Philip Kendall Jun 1 '14 at 19:14
  • It will if safety shift is enabled. – Michael C Sep 14 '14 at 8:30
  • This Nikon is missing the secondary rotating dial just below the shutter button in the front of the camera that in most Nikons, I see that is not all’s, controls the aperture. Sell it secondhand, don’t look backwards and buy something else. – abetancort Oct 30 at 5:18
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Using Manual Mode (M in front of the white label in (1) ), turn the dial wheel (27) while pressing the Aperture selector (4)

Here are the commands reference

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You will need to be in "M" mode on the main control dial.. Then you can set the aperture (f/stop), shutter speed, and ISO completely independently of each other. Important to note though that any under or over exposure is therefore your issue for you to sort out. The camera is NOT making any decisions about exposure when in "M" mode.

  • Unless ISO is set to Auto, then it is. – Michael C Sep 14 '14 at 8:30
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In the D3200, the aperture cannot be changed while in live mode. All the above applies as long as the camera is not in live mode.

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If you want to change the aperture number do this. Choose the Manual mode and push and hold the 4 button [ the button <4> +/- near the info button ] and keeping this down turn the number <27> turning wheel and see the results. This works perfectly in Live but and in viwfinder.

  • This Nikon DSLR model is the most anti ergonomic one I have see in a long time (entry level or not). Only because the weird way to set aperture compared to another Nikons and Canons, deserves to be returned for a full refund and buy something else. That camera is purposely designed to shoot in program (auto or scene) and in shutter priority. This camera next to unusable to properly learn photography. Even for a very beginner the camera ergonomics will get in his way – abetancort Oct 30 at 6:37
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I was having the same issues - finally got it right! Use Manual, then press the +/- (number 4 in the picture) and turn the dial wheel - it works... Common mistake is confounding the aperture button at the bottom left of the shutter button (number 5 in the picture)

  • Number 5 is the shutter button but not the button you are referring that have to have a number in the owners manual pictures, I suppose that when you press the +/-, button 4, what you are actually doing is not changing the f-top directly but changing the exposure compensation which would only change the aperture when you are in shutter priority mode not in aperture priority where it would change the shutter speed. – abetancort Oct 30 at 5:01
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I just discovered for myself that I am unable to manually change the aperture in manual mode if taking photos using the LCD screen as the viewfinder. When I switched it back to the standard viewfinder, and hit the information button on the bottom left, I was able to control everything as normal again.

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You must set up in manual, then switch back to aperture mode to change the aperture. When you go back into manual the aperture adjustments will show up. You can not do it in manual mode and must go back and forth.

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    Really? What does manual mode let you set directly? – mattdm Jun 6 '15 at 3:03

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