There is no right or wrong time to learn manual mode. It's always a good time to learn it. But the question is whether or not it is necessary?First. Understanding manual mode isn't rocket science and it's not a silver bullet to better photography either. The key to understanding manual mode is understanding the relationship between f/stops and shutter speeds, how to use your in house metering system to help you get to the right exposure, and understanding your hand holding capabilities. If you understand these things, manual mode is a cinch.
Is it necessary to understand manual mode? If you are a casual photography enthusiast, then the answer is unequivocally "No."
The question is why do you need to learn manual mode if you're just a casual shooter? The answer is you really don't. The need to learn how to use manual mode has to do with what it is you want to do with your photography. If you want to do special effects such as photographing fireworks, product photography or flash photography, then you may have to push to manual mode. Manual mode is also most helpful when you are using a tripod and are faced with very tough lighting conditions.
So the question is what do you want to do with your photography? Want to understand your f/stop, shutter speed and ISO relationship? Join us for Nuts & Bolts