Want to take more con­trol of ex­po­sure, but don’t know where to start with man­ual mode? Ex­po­sure com­pen­sa­tion is much eas­ier to use, and much more in­tu­itive as well…

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Ex­po­sure com­pen­sa­tion is es­sen­tially a way of bright­en­ing or dark­en­ing shots in aper­ture-pri­or­ity, shut­ter-pri­or­ity, or even pro­gram mode with­out hav­ing to re­sort to man­ual ex­po­sure. This is ideal for those sit­u­a­tions where the cam­era’s au­to­matic me­ter­ing pro­duces un­der- or over-ex­posed re­sults, such as when shoot­ing very light or very dark sub­jects. when the back­ground is much darker or lighter than the sub­ject you’re shoot­ing, such as a per­son stand­ing against a win­dow. In th­ese cases, ex­po­sure com­pen­sa­tion is per­fect for en­sur­ing that your sub­ject is cor­rectly ex­posed, rather than the back­ground. You ap­ply ex­po­sure com­pen­sa­tion by hold­ing down the +/- but­ton on the cam­era body, and then us­ing the rear in­put dial to set the amount of com­pen­sa­tion re­quired. The set­tings that this af­fects will vary depend­ing on which ex­po­sure mode you are us­ing. If you’re us­ing aper­ture-pri­or­ity mode, for ex­am­ple, the aper­ture value will stay the same, but the shut­ter speed will change to let in more or less light. The op­po­site is true when you’re shoot­ing in shut­ter-pri­or­ity mode; in this case, the shut­ter speed will re­main un­changed but the aper­ture will vary, again to let in more or less light. All you need to re­mem­ber is that pos­i­tive ex­po­sure com­pen­sa­tion bright­ens images, while neg­a­tive com­pen­sa­tion dark­ens them.

Ex­actly how much ex­po­sure com­pen­sa­tion you need to dial in will vary depend­ing on how much of the scene is light or dark, but a good start­ing point is to set + or – 1, and then take a test shot. Ex­po­sure lock (AE-L) is an­other way to con­trol the ex­po­sure in all auto ex­po­sure modes, but in or­der to use it you have to point the cam­era at a sub­ject that con­tains mostly mid­tones, lock the ex­po­sure us­ing the AE-L but­ton, and then re­com­pose your im­age. This isn’t con­ve­nient in most sit­u­a­tions, so it’s usu­ally bet­ter to use ex­po­sure com­pen­sa­tion.

Your his­togram will help you check whether any parts of your pho­to­graph are un­der- or over-ex­posed

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