How to Modify Exposure on Your Canon EOS 7D Mark II

By Doug Sahlin

Your Canon EOS 7 D Mark II has a built-in metering device that automatically determines the proper shutter speed and aperture to create a perfectly exposed image for most lighting scenarios. However, at times, you need to modify the exposure to suit the current lighting conditions. Modify camera exposure for individual shots, or hedge your bets and create several exposures of each shot. You can also lock focus and exposure to a specific location in the scene you’re photographing.

Using exposure compensation

When your camera gets the exposure right, it’s a wonderful thing. At times, however, the camera doesn’t get it right. When you review an image on the camera LCD monitor and it’s not exposed to suit your taste, you can compensate manually by increasing or decreasing exposure. To manually compensate camera exposure:

  1. Choose P, Av, or Tv from the Mode dial.

    Exposure compensation is available only when you take pictures with Programmed Auto Exposure, Aperture Priority, or Shutter Priority modes.

  2. Press the Shutter button halfway.

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    The camera meters the scene.

  3. Rotate the Quick Control dial while looking in the viewfinder or at the LCD panel.

    Rotate the dial counterclockwise to decrease exposure or clockwise to increase exposure. As you rotate the dial, you see the exposure indicator in the viewfinder and LCD panel move, which shows you the amount of exposure compensation you’re applying.

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  4. Press the shutter button fully to take the picture.

  5. To cancel exposure compensation, rotate the Quick Control dial until the exposure indicator is in the center of the exposure compensation scale.

    You see the exposure compensation scale in the viewfinder and on the LCD panel.

Exposure compensation stays in effect even after you power off the camera. You can inadvertently add exposure compensation by accidentally rotating the Quick Control dial when you have the shutter button pressed halfway. You can safeguard against this by keeping the Quick Control switch (below the Quick Control dial) in the locked position when you don’t need to use the Quick Control dial.

Bracketing exposure

When you’re photographing an important event, properly exposed images are a must. Many photographers get lazy and don’t feel they need to get it right in the camera when they have programs like Adobe Photoshop or Adobe Photoshop Lightroom. However, you get much better results when you process an image that’s been exposed correctly.

Professional photographers bracket their exposures when they photograph important events or places they may never visit again. When you bracket an exposure, you take three pictures: one with the exposure as metered by the camera, one with exposure that’s been decreased, and one with exposure that’s been increased. You can bracket up to plus or minus 3 EV (exposure value) in 1⁄3 EV increments. To bracket your exposures:

  1. Press the Menu button.

    The menu displays.

  2. Use the Quick Control button to navigate to the Shoot tab and then use the multi-controller button to navigate to the Shoot2 menu.

    Expo Comp/AEB (automatic exposure bracketing) is the first command.

  3. Press the Set button.

    The Expo Comp/AEB setting menu appears.

  4. Rotate the Main dial to set the amount of bracketing.

    When you rotate the dial, a new mark appears on each side of the center of the exposure indicator scale. Each mark indicates 1/3 f-stop correction.

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  5. (Optional) Rotate the Quick Control dial to apply exposure compensation to the settings determined by the camera meter.

    This step is not necessary if you’re comfortable with the way the camera has been setting exposure. If you are not happy with the way the camera has been calculating exposure settings for the lighting conditions, you can use exposure compensation to increase or decrease the exposure metered by the camera. When you add exposure compensation to the mix, the automatic exposure bracketing (AEB) marks move as well. In other words, the exposure will be increased and decreased relative to the compensated exposure.

  6. Press Set.

    The settings are applied. The Expo Comp/AEB menu option shows the amount of bracketing and exposure compensation you’ve applied. The AEB icon appears in the viewfinder and LCD panel.

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  7. Press the Drive-AF button and rotate the Quick Control dial to choose one of the Continuous Drive modes.

  8. Press the shutter button halfway to achieve focus and then press the shutter button fully.

    When you press the shutter button, the camera creates three images: one with standard exposure, one with decreased exposure, and one with increased exposure. To cancel AEB, turn off the camera.

Locking exposure

You can also lock exposure on a specific part of the frame, which is handy when you want a specific part of the frame exposed correctly. To lock exposure:

  1. Look through the viewfinder and move the camera until the center of the viewfinder is over the area to which you want to lock exposure.

  2. Press the AE Lock button.

    The auto-exposure lock icon appears in the viewfinder.

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  3. Press the shutter button halfway to achieve focus.

    A green dot in the viewfinder tells you that the camera has achieved focus. You also see black rectangles that designate the areas on which the camera has focused.

  4. Press the shutter button fully to take the picture.