Are you familiar with exposure compensation? Do you wonder why you can’t just change your settings to adjust the exposure instead? Look no further! I’ll break it down Elizabeth Halford style: in plain English.
Exposure compensation is available on all more advanced cameras from the very lowest entry level DSLR and it looks something like this –> there is also a quick access button to turn it up or down quickly. On some cameras, this is coupled with another setting (like on the Canon 5D, when you press the ISO button, one wheel will change your ISO and the other turns the exposure compensation up and down. Some cameras have a dedicated EV (exposure value) button.
When you turn the dial to the right, you’re telling the camera to bump the exposure UP. When you go to the left, it turns the exposure DOWN. Reasons you may want to do this are:
- You’re using a filter which brings your exposure down by a couple of stops and you want to bring it back up again.
- You have come to realize that your camera over/under exposes a tad and you want to compensate.
- You simply want you images to be more/less exposed. Bumping your exposure up a stop can make your images more punchy.
- Another particularly great reason to bump it up is photographing in front of a very bright background or when shooting backlit. When faced with all that light, your camera might get confused and under expose your subject.
So why change your exposure this way instead of just altering all of your settings to change the exposure yourself? Exposure compensation is only available in the semi-manual modes like AV, SV, P and not in full manual. This means you might be shooting in aperture mode (AV) and find the need to tell the camera to set itself a bit brighter/darker. When you turn up the exposure, the camera meters everything a bit differently and alters the shutter speed to compensate and allow the photo a bit more (or less) exposure. You can still shoot at the aperture you want and not have to fiddle with the shutter speed yourself to experiment and find your desired exposure.
Further Reading on Exposure Compensation
Exposure Compensation: Manual shooting without being in manual
EV Compensation Explained