When To Use Exposure Compensation

  • Thread starter CampFireJack
  • Start date


Aug 1, 2020
  • #1
When you press your camera's shutter button half way down, your camera meters the scene and sets its exposure based on the entire scene. Most of the time, your camera gets it right and the lighting is perfect. But if you've got very bright or very dark elements in your scene, the exposure can be thrown off. As an example, think about taking a picture of someone who's standing in front of the sun. Their image will likely end up looking like a silhouette (the camera had to compensate for all that brightness by reducing its exposure, making the person too dark). Now think about someone who is standing in a very dark room, but who's holding a lit flashlight up to their face. Their face will likely end up far too bright and washed out looking (the camera had to compensate for all that darkness by increasing its exposure, making the face too bright). It's times like these when you'll need to override your camera's exposure choice and set your own. It's time to use your camera's exposure compensation feature.

To adjust your camera's exposure compensation, look for a button that's got a +/- symbol on it. On the Canon T6i, the button can be found on the back and looks like this:


Basically, when the exposure compensation button is pressed and the top dial is rolled to the left or the right (on the T6i), the overall exposure of the scene will increase or decrease. Essentially, the scene, through the camera's eyes, will become brighter or darker. When set to Auto, the camera will accomplish this adjustment a number of ways, from increasing or decreasing the ISO value, making the shutter speed faster or slower, increasing or decreasing the size of the lens's aperture, or a combination of these things.

To test this out, view your scene on the rear LCD screen and adjust the exposure through the exposure compensation feature. You'll see it get brighter or darker.

I've already mentioned when you might want to use this feature, but let's take a look at an example. To demonstrate, I set a can of carrots in front of a bright light. I knew the face of the can would show darker than I wanted it to. Here's the original shot, taken without any compensation.


Because the can was dark, I increased the exposure by 1, 2, and 3 stops. Here are the resulting photos. I think the second one is best.




So sometimes, to get the correct exposure of your subject, a bit of compensation is in order.

To continue on with this example, I thought I'd show you what -1, -2, and -3 stops looks like. None of them are any good in this instance, but this'll give you a good idea of how something that's too bright might be tempered by using this feature.




It's that easy. Do you have experience with your camera's exposure compensation feature? If so, please share what you know or any tips and tricks you have up your sleeve. Thanks!
When To Use Exposure Compensation was posted on 03-01-2021 by CampFireJack in the Photography Forum forum.

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