Home Photo Tech Exposure Compensation: 10 Points That Explain Everything

Exposure Compensation: 10 Points That Explain Everything

It is for amateur photographers who do not know much about a significant term named Exposure Compensation which is a result of the mixture of aperture, shutter speed, and ISO. While looking through the viewfinder, you have marked a meter at the bottom with similar markings at both sides from the level. Yes, that is the thing which I am going to talk. It is the meter by which you can do the exposure compensation. You will see the same thing if you go for a live view through the camera LCD monitor.

1. How to Know About Exposure Compensation?

Exposure compensation is an easy subject. You need to know it once, and then you never need to look back for learning it again. Today in this article I shall discuss exposure compensation, and few related things to make the said topic clear. Take your camera in your hand before you go to the main article.

2. What are Exposure and Compensation?

Let’s talk about the two words of the term separately. The first word is exposure. As per the Wikipedia, the photography meaning of exposure which is jargon in photography is the amount of light per unit area reaching a photographic film or electronic image sensor which is determined by shutter speed, lens aperture, and scene luminance. The dictionary meaning of the word Compensation is a process by which difficulty is concealed by developing it in another direction.

3. What is Exposure Compensation?

Exposure compensation is the process of changing the regular exposure achieved by the camera’s artificial intelligence to get the desired exposure either to balance the exposure or to alter the exposure intentionally. Now, there will be many questions like why do we need to change, why the camera is not sufficient enough to do so, how to do it, etc. Gradually I will discuss all the points to make the topic clear.

Exposure Compensation meter

4. How Camera Makes the Exposure?

When you face your camera for capturing any photo, it makes a specific exposure using its intelligence. So, whenever you take a picture, then you will get a precise exposure provided by the camera’s artificial intelligence (AI) unless changed by yourself. The camera makes an average of the tones in view to function the metering of exposure. The standard is grey and said to be 18% grey. Below this level will be considered as underexposed and above this will be considered as overexposed to the camera intelligence.

5. Why do you need to Compensate?

If the camera is making the exposure for me then why to compensate for the exposure? Well, Artificial intelligence does not become successful always. The situation sometimes fools the camera resulting either underexposing or overexposing the image. Suppose a face of a person is the subject of your photo where the background is entirely white as there is snow all over. Now, your camera will make the average of the tone.

exposure compensation requirement

The average will make a result which will give an overexposed impression to the camera as the white portion is more. Thus the photo will be changed to an underexposed one by the camera, making a face a dark one. It is the reason you need to compensate for the exposure by other means so that you get the desired one. Again, you may get the correct exposure given by the camera, but, you want to change the exposure to add some artistic effect. So, you need to compensate for the exposure by some other means.  

6. How to Compensate?

Exposure compensation is very easy. There are usually three kinds of system in the camera. Some of the cameras have a dial with fixed numbering and marking with plus and minus values. Some have an Ev +/- sign button, pressing it enables the control of exposure meter.

After that, using the dial usually placed near the shutter button you can do the exposure compensation. And in some cases there is no extra button to start the control, the dial is the default to change the exposure unless changed for anything else.

7. How to Measure Value of Meter?

The amount of each step in the meter is one step of the exposure. When the mark is changed one level, either side means the exposure has increased or decreased by one unit. Dedicated dial for exposure compensation usually has fixed changes. Dials not dedicated for exposure compensation but used for this purpose regularly changes ⅓ of one exposure value. However, you will be able to see the change in the meter of the viewfinder or the LCD monitor of the camera.Exposure Compensation meter

8. How Does Exposure Compensation Work in Modes?

We all know the modes P, S, A, and M. it may vary in camera to the camera by naming with P, Tv, Av, M. but the things remain same. P is the program mode, S/ Tv means shutter value or time value which is the same with a different name, A/ Av means aperture value, and M is manual mode. Now let’s see what happens in these modes:

Exposure compensation modes

    • Program Mode- P

In this mode, there are few programmed combinations of shutter sped and aperture which is made by the camera. The photographer has control over choosing any of the mixes, but the exposure remains the same, and you will not have any control over aperture or shutter speed individually. It is also known as a flexible program mode.

exposure compensation program mode

    • Shutter Priority/ Time Value Mode- S/ Tv

The shutter priority or time value mode denoted as S and Tv respectively are the same things but manufacturers choose any of them. In this mode, the photographer has control over choosing the shutter speed, and the aperture is chosen by the artificial intelligence of the camera to make an optimum exposure. In this way, the exposure compensation is done in the said mode.

exposure compensation shutter

    • Aperture Priority/ Aperture Value- A/ Av

This mode is also known with different names. This mode is just opposite to the shutter priority mode to make the exposure an optimum one. The photographer does not have control over the shutter speed, but he has control over the aperture selection. The photographer selects the aperture size, and the camera selects the shutter speed making a good combination for optimum exposure.

Exposure compensation aperture priority

9. Why Do I need to Check Histogram?

A histogram is a fundamental and essential graph which shows you the proper exposure. While shooting outdoor the surrounding lights may fool you. That might look underexposed or overexposed or even perfect.

exposure compensation histogram

But the histogram you see will never mislead you. After witnessing the histogram, you can make the right correction if required. It is recommended to check the histogram after each shot so that you get the exact impression about your photo.

10. What is Bracketing? 

Bracketing is a system to take multiple photos with a single click having different exposure value. When you select this the camera will take three shots. Among these three photos, one will be underexposed, the next will be normal, and the last one will become an overexposed photo. The order may vary in different cameras.  The photographers usually do this to ensure the proper exposure in challenging lighting situation.

exposure compensation bracketing

Last Words

An overexposed or underexposed image may spoil your photography. Sometimes either overexposed or underexposed photo also becomes the perfect one. It is the reason there is a system of exposure compensation by which you can select the ideal exposure. Earlier there was no system of doing this in filmed camera with no LCD. Now we can see after each shot and understand the exposure of the camera.

Giving correction is easy nowadays with the development of camera technology. But if you do not know the reason and procedures of exposure compensation, then you will not get the desired result in your photography. I hope this writing will help you a lot in this regard.



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