First question, should you or shouldn't you be using manual mode? Answer, you should and you shouldn't. There plenty of websites and photographers who say that the only way to get a nice photo is to be shooting in Manual Mode. There are even those who call it the "magic mode". For many it's less magic than it is "mystery". But whether you believe it's magic or mystery, the question is, "What does manual mode have to do with a great photo? How does it improve your composition? On the other hand how does shooting in Auto degrade your images? If Auto was so bad why do the manufacturers spend so much time and energy developing so many of them?
Photography, as with any form of self expression is about how you communicate with the viewer. Not the tools or techniques that you use to do it with. Having said this some tools definitely work better than others in certain circumstances, but often with a little bit of ingenuity or out of the box thinking you will be able to get to your goal with whatever tools you have at hand. Although there are situations when you will want/need to use manual mode, for most day to day shooting Auto/Program is usually the better choice. Fundamentally the programming inside today's camera does an incredible job at getting you the proper exposure and white balance, however the one thing your camera has never been able to do is to compose your photographs for you. Only the person behind the camera can do this.
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