How to Use the Auto Lighting Optimizer on the Canon Rebel T5/1200D - dummies

How to Use the Auto Lighting Optimizer on the Canon Rebel T5/1200D

By Julie Adair King, Robert Correll

On the Canon Rebel T5/1200D the Auto Lighting Optimizer adjusts both shadows and highlights to improve the final image tonality (range of darks to lights). In other words, it functions as a contrast adjustment.

In the fully automatic exposure modes, you have no control over how much adjustment is made. But in P, Tv, Av, and M modes, you can decide whether to enable Auto Lighting Optimizer. You also can request a stronger or lighter application of the effect than the default setting. The figure below offers an example of the type of impact of each Auto Lighting Optimizer setting.


Given the level of improvement that the Auto Lighting Optimizer correction made to this photo, you may be thinking that you’d be crazy to ever disable the feature. But it’s important to note a few points:

  • The level of shift that occurs between each Auto Lighting Optimizer setting varies depending on the subject. This particular example shows a fairly noticeable difference between the Strong and Off settings. But you don’t always see this much impact from the filter. Even in this example, it’s difficult to detect much difference between Off and Low.

  • Although the filter improved this particular scene, at times you may not find it beneficial. For example, maybe you’re purposely trying to shoot a backlit subject in silhouette or produce a low-contrast image. Either way, you don’t want the camera to insert its opinions on the exposure or contrast you’re trying to achieve.

  • Because the filter is applied after you capture the photo, while the camera is writing the data to the memory card, it can slow your shooting rate.

  • In some lighting conditions, Auto Lighting Optimizer can produce an increase in image noise.

  • The corrective action taken by Auto Lighting Optimizer can make some other exposure-adjustment features less effective. So turn it off if you don’t see the results you expect when you’re using the following features:

    • Exposure compensation

    • Flash compensation

    • Automatic exposure bracketing

  • You can’t use this feature while Highlight Tone Priority, is enabled.

In the Shooting Settings and Live View displays, look for the icon representing this setting in the areas labeled in figure below. Notice the little vertical bars in the graphic — the number of bars tells you how much adjustment is being applied.

Two bars, as in the figure below, represent the Standard setting, which is the default; three bars, Strong; and one bar, Low. The bars are replaced by the word Off when the feature is disabled.


You can adjust the setting in two ways:

  • Shooting Menu 2: Select the option and press Set to display the selection screen, as shown on the left in the figure below. (Remember: This menu option appears only when the Mode dial is set to P, Tv, Av, or M.)

  • Quick Control screen: After highlighting the setting icon, rotate the Main dial to cycle through the four options. Or press Set to display a selection screen like the one shown on the right in the figure below.


If you’re not sure what level of Auto Lighting Optimizer might work best or you’re concerned about the other drawbacks of enabling the filter, consider shooting the picture in the Raw file format. For Raw pictures, the camera applies no post-capture tweaking, regardless of whether this filter or any other one is enabled.

Then, by using Canon Digital Photo Professional, the software provided free with the camera, you can apply the Auto Lighting Optimizer effect when you convert your Raw images to a standard file format.