Xiaomi Mi A1 Camera Manual Mode: Introduction to Professional Mode

mi a1 camera manual mode

The professional mode popularly known as the manual mode in Xiaomi Mi A1 mobile phone is almost similar to the manual mode of a DSLR camera, as it allows you to adjust the exposure as per your need. The manual mode in this phone allows you to adjust the settings of the camera such as the shutter speed, ISO, white balance, focusing mode and exposure compensation. By manually adjusting these settings you can capture creative photos such as long exposures and light trails, which otherwise would not be possible using the automatic mode.

In this post, you will get to know as to how you can use these settings in the manual mode to get the best results possible using the Mi A1 smartphone.

Shutter Speed in Manual Mode of Mi A1 Camera

Shutter Speed is the length of time for which the shutter in the camera is open to expose the image sensor. The shutter speed is denoted in seconds or fractions of a second, e.g. 2 sec, 10 sec, 1/50 sec, 1/250 sec, etc. A faster shutter speed can be used to freeze the subject in your frame, whereas slow shutter speed can be used to capture the subject in motion or a long exposure shot.

The Mi A1 camera app allows you to manually adjust the shutter speed to as fast as 1/1000 sec and as slow as 1/15 sec. I wish the lower limit of the shutter speed should have been at least 4 seconds.

Using the shutter speed of 1/500 sec or faster, you can freeze the movement of a fast moving subject such as a sportsman or a bird/animal. The fast shutter speed will ensure that the subject that is moving at a fast speed appears steady and sharp in the photo. As in the image below, I wanted to freeze the movement of the subject in my frame, so I used the fast shutter speed using the manual mode in my mobile camera app.

mi a1 camera manual mode

If you want to capture the same scene but want to show some movement, you can use a slow shutter speed in order to increase the duration for with the image sensor gets exposed for. By doing so, you would be able to capture a photo which shows movement, it could be a moving sportsperson or an animal.

To know more about shutter speed, read: UNDERSTANDING SHUTTER SPEED

NOTE: It is advised to use a tripod or some kind of a stand while using a shutter speed of slower than 1/60 sec in order to avoid camera shake, which will affect the sharpness of the photo.

ISO in Manual Mode of Mi A1 Camera

ISO is the sensitivity of your camera to the available light. This means that the lower the ISO number, more light the camera sensor requires to correctly expose the photo. Similarly, the higher the ISO number, less light the camera sensor requires to correctly expose the photo. As you increase the ISO number, the sensitivity of the image sensor increase which leads to noise/grains in the image.

The Mi A1 camera app allows you to manually adjust the ISO value to as low as ISO 100 and as high as ISO 3200.

When you double the ISO number while using the manual mode on your mobile camera app, the light required by camera reduces by half. Similarly, if you reduce the ISO number by half, the light required gets doubles in order to correctly expose the photo.

mi a1 camera manual mode

In simple language, when you want more light in your photo, increase the ISO and when you want to reduce the amount of light entering your camera, reduce the ISO number. Suppose you are clicking a photo handheld using a shutter speed of 1/100 sec but your photos are coming dark while using ISO 100, all you have to do is increase the ISO number in order to let in more light.

Another example is when you want to click a long exposure using a tripod, make sure that you set your ISO at minimum number available in your camera app in order to avoid grains and to let in less light so that the shutter speed can be reduced to capture a long exposure.

But, there is an ISO range up to which a specific mobile phone camera performs well and it usually ranges from ISO 50 to ISO 400, beyond which you will start noticing grains in your photos.

Lower ISO number = More light required = You will have to use lower shutter speed  = Less grains

Higher ISO number = Less light required = You will have to use faster shutter speed = More grains

White Balance in Manual Mode of Mi A1 Camera

The purpose of adjusting the white balance is to get the colors in the photo as accurate as possible. Different light sources have their own color temperature, a tungsten light source would add yellowing color cast to the photo whereas a fluorescent light source would add a bluish color cast.

The color cast being captured in a photo might not be visible to us as our eyes adapt themselves to adjust as per the light source, but the camera might fail to do so in auto white balance mode. This is the reason why it is important to understand how the light source will affect your white balance and how you can counter it by selecting apt white balance.

Every mobile phone camera might have different white balance temperature range like the Mi A1 has a range of 2000K to 8000K. By taking this temperature range as the sample, 2000K denotes the cool tones whereas 8000K denotes warmer tones. You can adjust the temperature depending upon the temperature of the light source being directed on the subject.

If you are getting a yellowing color cast in your photos, simply move the temperature scale towards left. If you get bluish cast in the photo, move the temperature scale towards the right to get the natural color tone of the subject.

Mi A1 also comes with white balance temperature presets such as Daylight, Cloudy, etc using which you can easily adjust the white balance in your frame.

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Focus in Manual Mode of Mi A1 Camera

The manual mode in Mi A1 smartphone allows you to manually focus on the subject, but you must be wondering why should we focus manually?

In various situations such as in low light conditions, the smartphone camera can struggle to focus on the subject correctly. So in order to ensure that your subject is well in focus, you can switch to manual focusing by tapping on the Focus tab. Once you are in manual focus mode, make sure to tap on Focus peaking text appearing on the top right corner and ensure it says ‘Focus Peaking On’.

Now simply adjust the focus scale until the outline of the subject starts appearing in red, it means that your subject is well in focus.

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3 Replies to “Xiaomi Mi A1 Camera Manual Mode: Introduction to Professional Mode”

  1. I recently started photography, so when I got your tips on manual mode, I really took good photos. Thanks # Kunal

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