Digital SLR Cameras' Exposure Tricks - dummies

By Robert Correll

Digital SLR camera makers use several other exposure tricks to help you solve exposure problems. Most have to do with overcoming a camera’s limited capability to photograph very high-contrast scenes.

The names of the tricks differ from brand to brand, and not every camera in every company’s lineup will have all the features. However, after reviewing them, you’ll see that most of these exposure solutions are similar.

Look for these features on Canon cameras:

  • Highlight Tone Priority improves details in highlights by expanding the camera’s dynamic range from mids to highs. Doing so enables you to capture more information in bright areas.
  • Auto Lighting Optimizer is a processing function the camera uses to automatically adjust brightness and contrast. You can modify the strength.
  • HDR mode takes a number of shots and combines them into a single finished image.

Nikon dSLRs have these features:

  • Active D-Lighting, when on, adjusts exposure to maximize the camera’s dynamic range, protecting highlights and shadows in high-contrast scenes.
  • HDR automatically takes exposure-bracketed photos to increase the camera’s dynamic range and then combines them into a single, tone-mapped image.

Sony cameras also have several tricks up their sleeve:

  • D-Range Optimizer is Sony’s method of protecting highlights and shadows in scenes with high contrast. You can choose from several strengths.
  • Auto HDR combines AEB with auto tone mapping to provide a single-step HDR capability.