72 — Exposure compensation

Pho­tog­ra­phy pod­cast #72 dis­cusses how to use expo­sure com­pen­sa­tion. It’s a fairly sim­ple con­cept that just means devi­at­ing away from (or com­pen­sat­ing against)‚ the cam­era meter’s rec­om­mended expo­sure to make the image brighter or darker. We also talk about which cam­era modes you’ll want to use expo­sure com­pen­sa­tion with, and I dis­cuss why pro­gram mode sucks and should be avoided. Even though expo­sure com­pen­sa­tion in pho­tog­ra­phy is an easy con­cept, I dis­cuss the rea­son­ing behind it, why I fre­quently use it and why you should too.

exposure compensation
The expo­sure com­pen­sa­tion dial on the Canon G10

Links /resources men­tioned in this podcast:

Orig­i­nal sug­ges­tion thread from our forum — Thanks Iggy!
September’s “New Beginnings”‚assignment on the Photography.ca forum
Please join the Photography.ca fan page on Face­book

My Face­book pro­file — Feel free to “friend” me

My Twit­ter page — I will fol­low you if you fol­low me (Hey that’s a Gabriel lyric) — Let’s con­nect

If you are still lurk­ing on our forum,
feel free to join our friendly :) Pho­tog­ra­phy forum

Thanks to Nijip, jack­la­bel, jab­ber and Tom Restis who posted a blog com­ment about our last pod­cast. Thanks as always to every­one that sent com­ments by email about our last pod­cast. Although ALL com­ments are appre­ci­ated, com­ment­ing directly in this blog is pre­ferred. Thanks as well to all the new mem­bers of the bul­letin board.

If you are look­ing at this mate­r­ial on any other site except Photography.ca — Please hop on over to the Photography.ca blog and pod­cast and get this and other pho­tog­ra­phy info directly from the source. I Sub­scribe with iTunes I Sub­scribe via RSS feed I Sub­scribe with Google Reader I Sub­scribe for free to the Pho­tog­ra­phy pod­cast — Photography.ca and get all the posts/podcasts by Email
You can down­load this pho­tog­ra­phy pod­cast directly by click­ing the pre­ced­ing link or lis­ten to it almost imme­di­ately with the embed­ded player below.


  1. admin says:

    Thanks for the com­ment David. It’s funny, expo­sure com­pen­sa­tion is a dead sim­ple con­cept and yet I con­fused a few peo­ple. These com­ments, expla­na­tions in the forum and in pod­cast 73 hope­fully will clear it up.

    Semantics/clarity can also be con­fus­ing here. I find para­graph 2 in your com­ment confusing…though I know you know what EC is.

    In terms of your last paragraph…that’s incorrect…and again seman­tics plays here.
    Of course, you can change the expo­sure in man­ual mode from the camera’s rec­om­mended expo­sure. That makes it “act” like expo­sure com­pen­sa­tion. But it’s NOT called expo­sure com­pen­sa­tion. At least Canon doesn’t call it that in the man­ual. Adjust­ing expo­sure in man­ual mode has NO spe­cial name as far as I know. Just for curios­ity you should check the def­i­n­i­tion of expo­sure com­pen­sa­tion in your manual.

    I think we are beat­ing a dead horse here but if any­one is still con­fused or wants to com­ment, it’s always my plea­sure to help.

  2. David Crowe says:

    Expo­sure com­pen­sa­tion is sim­ply chang­ing the sen­si­tiv­ity of the light meter. As sev­eral lis­ten­ers pointed out you CANNOT achieve the same result in any semi-automatic mode because the cam­era will sim­ply rebal­ance the expo­sure. If you change to a faster shut­ter speed the cam­era will either go to a lower (wider) aper­ture or a higher ISO.

    Expo­sure com­pen­sa­tion forces the cam­era to add or sub­tract the spec­i­fied num­ber of f-stops, so if you add expo­sure com­pen­sa­tion the cam­era will adjust shut­ter speed, aper­ture or ISO more or less than what the cam­era would oth­er­wise think is the per­fect exposure.

    This means you should be able to use this in a man­ual mode to. Even in a man­ual mode you may be using a light read­ing as the start­ing point for your expo­sure. You could adjust the aper­ture, for exam­ple, so that the light read­ing is say, one stop too high/too low (I assume your cam­era gives you some kind of meter­ing). Alter­na­tively you could adjust the expo­sure com­pen­sa­tion and then bal­ance the expo­sure such that it meets what the cam­era is now say­ing is the proper exposure.

    Usu­ally your pod­casts are great, but this one, sad to say, was not one of the best. Expo­sure can be really con­fus­ing at the best of times…

  3. Marko says:

    I goofed in this pod­cast — sorry.

    I incor­rectly sug­gested that you COULD change ISO in a pro­gram mode and get the same effect as expo­sure com­pen­sa­tion. This is false and my error for answer­ing a ques­tion asked in the­ory before ana­lyz­ing the ques­tion. (Hey that’s what I nor­mally do — answer ques­tions :) ).

    In pro­gram mode, the sec­ond you change ISO either the shut­ter speed or the aper­ture changes so there is NO com­pen­sa­tion. That’s why you need to use EC in these modes.

    Expo­sure com­pen­sa­tion is for pro­gram modes only.

  4. admin says:

    This is cor­rect, it (mean­ing you the pho­tog­ra­pher) over­rides the meter in incre­ments or decre­ments of 1/3 of a stop. On the Canon, yes this is done through the quick­dial in aper­ture and shut­ter modes (as well as other modes that i never use). In man­ual mode, you just move the ‘nee­dle’ right or left as you mentioned.

  5. Kent Wilson says:

    Hi Marko –

    I just lis­tened to the Expo­sure Com­pen­sa­tion pod­cast, and I have to say you (unchar­ac­ter­is­ti­cally) left me a bit con­fused. I shoot with Canon 50D (but have had 20D and 40D — they work the same, as far as I recall).

    Sup­pose I am shoot­ing in Aper­ture Pri­or­ity Mode using Eval­u­a­tive meter­ing, and my expo­sure at ISO 200 is f/4 at 1/30 sec­onds. Now if I change the ISO to 400, think­ing to lighten the image, it will not do so; instead, I will get f/4 at 1/60 sec­onds. If I look at the his­tograms for the two shots, they look the same. The meter has just given the same EV. So that is no way to achieve Exp Comp. If, how­ever, I use the Quick Con­trol Dial, and dial +1, I will get f/4 at 1/15 sec­onds. So my think­ing is that the Exp Comp func­tion over­rides the meter.

    On the Canons, I don’t think you can change the shut­ter speed with­out using the Quick Con­trol Dial, ie, other than using Exp Comp. You can change the Aper­ture, but if you let the meter deter­mine the expo­sure, no com­pen­sa­tion will be achieved.

    In Man­ual Mode, Exp Comp is achieved by mov­ing Expo­sure indi­ca­tor nee­dle (I don’t know what else to call it) either to the plus or minus side of the meter’s rec­om­mended exposure.

    Ok, that’s the way I have under­stood Exp Comp. Is that what you were say­ing, or am I totally con­fused (it wouldn’t be the first time)?

  6. jacklabel says:

    Great pod­cast Marko, thare is noth­ing much to add but your expla­na­tion is really com­plete for a sim­ple ques­tion. Also I would add that expo­sure com­pen­sa­tion is very use­ful when doing HDR shots.

Leave a Reply to Kent Wilson Cancel reply