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When is the appropriate time to adjust the exposure compensation?
Hi all, and thanks for everyone's input..

When shooting under the bright sun, should I decrease the exp. compensation or leave it alone? Also, when shooting in low-light conditions should I increase the exp. compensation along with the ISO?.

D300Tokina 11-16mmNikon 17-55Nikon 18-200Nikon 70-200..

Comments (5)

You change the exposure compensation when, with the camera on anything but manual exposure, the camera's metering system is giving an incorrect exposure reading..

An example would be when shooting a bright subject against a dark background. The metering system may compensate for the dark background so you have to reduce the EC to get a correct exposure for the subject. Similarly you may have to increase the EC when shooting a dark subject against a bright background. (Spot metering is another way of avoiding incorrect exposures in these circumstances.).

You sometimes know in advance that the metering system is going to be wrong, so you can dial in the EC before you start shooting. However, I think that most people adjust EC by looking at the histogram after a shot to see whether there are any blown highlights. You can than make an adjustment, take another shot and check again..

You certainly do not automatically adjust the EC when increasing the ISO in low light.Chris R..

Comment #1

I agree with the first response and to add to it, my first thought when reading the subject was, 'when getting a shot of someone wearing a black or white shirt.' I can always count on dialing in -2/3 to a full stop for black and +2/3 for white. Variable based on skin tone of course...

Comment #2

For dark subjects you want to look dark (ie, a black car), decrease compensation. For bright objects you want to look bright (ie, a snowy scene), increase compensation. This is irrespective of how much light you have. With compensation set to 0, the camera will expose the scene so that it approximates 18% grey. Do this experiment. Use AV or TV mode.

Shoot something that is solid black. Then without changing any settings, shoot something completely white. Guess what? Both shots will look identical! 18% grey. You can repeat this experiment in bright sun, or a dimly lit room. The results will be the same..

Edward Cruz wrote:.

Hi all, and thanks for everyone's input..

When shooting under the bright sun, should I decrease the exp.compensation or leave it alone? Also, when shooting in low-lightconditions should I increase the exp. compensation along with the ISO?.

D300Tokina 11-16mmNikon 17-55Nikon 18-200Nikon 70-200.

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Comment #3

Edward Cruz wrote:.

When shooting under the bright sun, should I decrease the exp.compensation or leave it alone?.

That's an interesting question and I can see how the muddle arose. Your camera will adjust the exposure for almost any conditions of lighting in front of you provided the light is within range. In other words getting the exposure right is what it's there for and it usually does. but cameras are just stupid dumb machines doing what they've been told to do and aim for an average bland interpretation of the scene..

...Also, when shooting in low-lightconditions should I increase the exp. compensation along with the ISO?.

The answer to this is exactly the same as I typed for bright light..

Now for the reason for EV compensation. Being dumb your camera has no way of knowing what's important to you and just records what's in front of it. So point the camera towards the light (say to get a young lady's hair as a shining halo of sunlight etc) and the face will be in darkness but the average seems OK to the camera. So it takes it and you get disapponted. That's when to jump in and either use centre weighted metering for the YL's face or else increase the exposure by (say) +1 or +2 to get the face correctly exposed and, of course, everything else over exposed a little..

Equally you might want to emphasise darkness, ie someone holding a lit candle in an otherwise dark room. So again you use CW metering for the brightly lit part of the scene and ignore the rest which will come out dark. Or use EV comp as -1 or -2 or -3..

The problem with EV compensation is that you need experience of a lot of shooting to guess and get it right. That's why I suggested centre weighted metering..

Also for most people EV need not be adjusted ever, or only a small number of times, since most cameras are quite capable to sorting things out, given a chance (that means not fiddling with the settings)..

If you want to get it right then CW metering lets you decide what's important and, of course, you can also do your own averaging by getting a reading from the most important bright bit of the scene and a reading from the most important dark bit and working out where to strike (like some where in the centre of the readings or slightly off centre). At this point you'd be better off using the manual mode..

Hope this is some help..

Regards, David..

Comment #4

All good advice given already..

I just wanted to add a couple of points. First, the bright sun and low-light situations are handled automatically by the camera's built-in light meter. So there is normally no compensation required..

But a comment from my own experience of shooting in very low light. The automatic exposure metering can sometimes make the scene appear much brighter than it actually seemed to the eye at the time. The resulting pictures can appear acceptable technically, but fail to convey the mood and atmosphere. So a little negative compensation can help, while having the advantage of permitting a somewhat faster shutter speed, to reduce motion blur..

Regards,Peter..

Comment #5

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This question was taken from a support group/message board and re-posted here so others can learn from it.

 

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