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How to Use Exposure Compensation Camera Settings

Many beginning photographers just put the camera in the automatic mode and let it figure everything out for them. There’s nothing wrong with that at all as you can still take excellent photographs this way. But if you’d like to take even better photos it is important for you to learn how to use exposure compensation.

Even though some cameras have more dials on them than a jumbo jet, they don’t always get everything exactly right, especially when it comes to exposure. In basic terms, the exposure refers to whether the photo is too dark or too light. If it looks the way it was intended to, then the exposure is correct. However, if the photo’s too dark it’s considered to be underexposed and when it’s too light it’s known as overexposed.

It’s hard for a digital camera to get the correct exposure for the entire photograph right each time. You can alleviate this problem though if you decide to manually take over some of the camera’s settings. The way to do this is through exposure compensation. It’s basically a type of sliding scale that you can find on many digital cameras these days. It’s usually represented by a plus and minus sign and the sliding scale which generally starts at the right side at plus 2 and finishes at minus 2 on the left side of the scale. If the scale is set at zero it means the camera will take the photo automatically without any manual adjustment by you. When you set the scale at one of the numbers then it will adjust the exposure by a full f/stop (or partial f/stop if your camera allows it) in the shot.

exposure compensation chart how to use

Technically, you’re not actually setting the exposure settings in the camera. Instead, you’re sending a signal to it that the camera should set itself automatically to take a lighter or darker image. To make the shot darker you just have to slide the scale over to the negative numbers. You may want to do this if your subject is in front of a dark background since the camera may expose for the dark colors and the person or item could end up being far too bright. This should make the subject a little darker than the original shot, but if the person’s still too bright you can readjust the setting for the next photo and experiment.

On the other side of the coin, if you’re taking a photo of an item or person in front of a light background, the camera may try to underexpose the image and the subject will appear too dark. In this instance you’d need to move the sliding scale to the plus numbers to rectify the exposure and make it brighter. While it may sound like a simple solution, you’ll have to do some testing and experimenting until you get the hang of exposure compensation since each and every camera is different.

exposure compensation samples

Photo by technobuffalo

We hope you enjoyed this tutorial on how to use exposure compensation. Tell us what you think by leaving a comment below!

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