How to Bracket Exposures on Your Nikon D5500 - dummies

How to Bracket Exposures on Your Nikon D5500

By Julie Adair King

Many photographers use exposure bracketing on the Nikon D5500 to ensure that at least one shot of a subject is properly exposed. Bracketing simply means to shoot the same subject multiple times, slightly varying the exposure settings for each image.

In the P, S, A, and M exposure modes, your camera offers automatic bracketing. When you enable this feature, your only job is to press the shutter button to record the shots; the camera automatically adjusts the exposure settings between each image.

This feature is especially helpful in situations where you don’t have time to review images and adjust exposure settings between shots. The D5500, however, takes things one step further than most cameras that offer automatic bracketing, enabling you to bracket not just basic exposure but also Active D‐Lighting or white balance.

The camera records a three‐shot series of bracketed images when you use the autoexposure and white‐balance bracketing options. For Active D‐Lighting, you get only two shots in the series: one with the feature turned off and one at the setting currently in force for the Active D‐Lighting option.

To try your hand at exposure or Active D‐Lighting bracketing, follow these steps:

  1. Set your camera to the P, S, A, or M exposure mode.

    You can’t take advantage of the feature in any other mode.

  2. Display the Custom Setting menu, highlight Bracketing/Flash, and press OK.

  3. Select Auto Bracketing Set and press OK.

    This screen is where you tell the camera whether you want to bracket the exposure (AE), white balance (WB), or Active D‐Lighting (ADL). Note that even though the first option is called AE (for autoexposure), it enables you to bracket exposure in M (manual exposure) mode just the same.

    Before enabling auto bracketing, select the feature you want the camera to adjust between shots.
    Before enabling auto bracketing, select the feature you want the camera to adjust between shots.
  4. Select the desired bracketing option and press OK.

  5. Use the control strip to specify the bracketing increment.

    After pressing the i button or tapping the i icon onscreen, select the BKT setting. On the next screen, choose the desired amount of shift you want the camera to apply when taking your bracketed shots. The available settings depend on the feature you’re bracketing, as follows:

    Set the bracketing amount from the control strip.
    Set the bracketing amount from the control strip.
    • For exposure bracketing, the settings control the amount of exposure shift between frames. The settings are based on Exposure Compensation values. For example, if you choose 0.7 for an autoexposure bracketing set, the camera makes three exposures: one with exposure values as metered by the camera, one exposure with EV +0.7, and one exposure with EV –0.7 Your choices are from 0.3 EV to 2.0 EV. Choosing Off disables bracketing.

    • For Active DLighting bracketing, you get only two options: ADL and Off. Select ADL. (This option is a little weird — if you select Off, you just disable bracketing.)

  6. Return to shooting mode by pressing the shutter button halfway.

  7. Shoot your first bracketed series.

    Remember: For autoexposure bracketing, a series consists of three shots; for Active D‐Lighting, two shots.

    When bracketing is enabled, the Information and Live View displays offer a bracketing indicator. That’s a technical way of saying, “Little bars appear under the meter, each one representing one shot in your bracketed series.” The indicator updates after each picture to show you how many more shots are left in the series.

    For example, the middle bar represents your first shot; after you take your first picture, it disappears. You then see one or two bars — and thus, one or two shots left to shoot — depending on whether you’re bracketing exposure or Active D‐Lighting. A label on top of the meter reminds you which feature you’re bracketing — AE‐BKT (autoexposure) bracketing.

    The bars under the meter tell you which frame of the bracketed series you're about to shoot.
    The bars under the meter tell you which frame of the bracketed series you’re about to shoot.
  8. To disable bracketing, repeat Step 5 and select Off from the second screen.

If you set the Release mode to Continuous Low or Continuous High, you can save yourself some button pressing: In those two Release modes, the camera records the entire bracketed series with one push of the shutter button. To change the Release mode, press the Release Mode button or select Release Mode from the Shooting menu. Remember, though, that you can’t use flash in either Release mode.