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Use Manual Exposure for Perfect Results

Last updated 2010-01-10 - Send Feedback
Related: exposure, howto

Make all your exposures manually today, preferably recording to RAW, not JPEG.

Use the camera’s R/G/B histogram (see below for examples), and see if you can “nail” the exposure so as not to blow out highlights, yet expose as bright as possible.

After shooting, use exposure compensation for images that are too bright. See if your image quality has improved in the shadows, both in terms of lower noise and in better shadow detail.

Slightly more exposure was feasible here, opening shadows while retaining highlights
(Nikon D2x, Canon EOS 5D, Canon EOS 1Ds Mark II)

With practice manual exposure can save a lot of time and effort by avoiding blow-out or underexposed images. Use that histogram, and after a while you’ll become skilled at guessing in advance what the appropriate exposure is.

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