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Using Different Exposure Methods on Your Digital Camera

8 of 10 in Series: The Essentials of Using Your Digital Camera’s Built-In Features to Improve Your Pictures

The brightness or darkness of your digital camera’s image depends on exposure — the amount of light that hits the image-sensor array. The more light (the greater the exposure), the brighter the image. Too little exposure (not enough light) can make your image too dark. As this figure shows, too much light results in a washed-out, or overexposed, image (left); too little light, and the image is dark, or underexposed (right).


Here are the camera exposure options you may have:

  • Automatic: Most digital cameras have an automatic exposure setting that makes all the adjustments for you.

  • Priority: Some cameras allow you to set either the aperture or shutter speed (the priority setting) manually, and then the camera automatically sets the other for you.

  • Manual: Your camera may allow you to set both the aperture and shutter speed yourself.

  • Sensor-based: Some digital cameras don’t use a traditional shutter/aperture arrangement to control exposure. Instead, the chips in the image-sensor array simply turn on and off for different periods of time, thereby capturing more or less light.

  • Chip-based: In some cameras, exposure is controlled by boosting or reducing the strength of the electrical charge that a chip emits in response to a certain amount of light.

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