Exposure Compensation on Your Digital SLR Camera - dummies

By Robert Correll

The way to successfully change the exposure your digital SLR camera sets is to use exposure compensation (EC). Although it may seem obvious, when you have the digital SLR camera in an autoexposure shooting mode (which includes everything but manual and Bulb modes), it sets the exposure for you.

To make corrections, you have to override the camera. Changing the exposure controls won’t actually change the exposure, as the camera will just work around you.

Here’s how it works:

  1. Review each photo after you take it and look to see how it’s exposed.
    You don’t have to get too technical about it. Does someone’s face need to be brighter? The photo’s underexposed; raise the exposure. Is the sky too bright? The photo’s overexposed; lower the exposure.
  2. Press and hold your exposure compensation button while you dial in exposure compensation. See the left image. As shown on the right image, your camera’s shooting information screen always shows how much EC you have entered.
    • Choose positive values, as shown in the figure, to raise the exposure and brighten the scene.
    • Choose negative values to lower the exposure and darken the photo.
  3. Release the EC button and take another shot.
  4. Review it to see if it’s closer to what you want.

    Exposure compensation stays locked in many cameras even after you turn them off, so be careful to reset to 0 after you’ve taken the shot.

Exposure compensation moves the exposure up or down.

Your camera should allow up to two stops of both positive and negative exposure correction. Some enable you to dial in as many as five stops either way.