Digital Photography Quick Tips

Digital camera exposure tips

Written by Digicamhelp Editor

Tips and techniques for taking better exposed photos with a compact digital camera.

Exposure illustrationGetting a properly exposed photo is the goal of every photographer. It can be more difficult for compact digital camera users, whose cameras often lack advanced settings and controls to tweak exposure.

However, some compacts have a few basic controls to override the settings chosen by the camera when using fully automatic mode. Learning how and when to adjust these settings can improve photos. In addition, there are a few techniques that will help you get better control of exposure.

Watch changes on the LCD

The LCD on a digital camera can be used for more than simply framing a photo. It can give you a general idea of the overall exposure of a scene. As you move the camera around a scene, watch the exposure changes on the LCD. When the exposure looks acceptable, it’s time to take the shot.

Locking exposure

Both exposure and focus are locked when the shutter-release button if pressed halfway down. Some digital cameras let you lock exposure and focus independently (AE/AF Lock ). This is useful when a subject is much darker than the background due to backlighting, or there are strong areas of light and dark in a scene.

Adjusting exposure

Exposure Compensation (EC) is used to change the exposure from the setting automatically selected by the camera. EC is used when lighting conditions cause very bright and very dark areas in a scene. Exposure can be changed in increments such as: -1, -.7, +.7, +1. When the main subject is darker than a bright background, use a positive number. If the subject is much lighter than the background, use a negative number.


Backeting helps ensure proper exposure by taking several photos of the same scene at different exposure settings.  Many digital cameras have an automatic bracketing mode, or it can be done manually using Exposure Compensation.

Spot exposure metering

Spot metering takes a precise exposure reading only at the very center of the frame. Switch to spot meter when there are extremes in brightness in a scene such as when photographing a person in the spot-light on a stage.