How to use your camera’s Auto Exposure Bracketing (AEB)
The exposure bracketing feature on your camera is a great way to ensure you get a perfect exposure. The basic idea is to take several shots of your scene and then select the best one. This is very useful if your subject is static, such as a landscape, but it doesn’t work so well with moving subjects, such as portraits.
It was a more popular technique in the days of film photography when there were no exposure aids such as LCD screens, histograms and clipping alerts to help you out. Set the bracketing amount using the Function button.
Auto-exposure bracketing enables you to automatically take a series of shots at different exposure settings. By changing the shutter speed (or aperture), the camera brackets the original exposure in preset increments (usually between 1/3 to two stops) to capture three or more successive shots. Bracketing ensures a correct exposure in situations when you need to shoot quickly and you don’t have time to check the histogram.
Auto-exposure bracketing makes this process much easier because it allows you to take a series of frames from precisely the same position (so that overlapping frames will align correctly) with different exposure settings to record both highlight and shadow detail.
In the graphic below we’ve illustrated how your camera’s Auto Exposure Bracketing feature will record a scene, allowing you to choose the best exposure.
Most digital cameras have a default setting of three successive shots, while other cameras will allow five, seven, or nine bracketed shots, which is handy if you want to expose for a range of tones.
You can also choose the exposure increment between frames from 1/3 stop up to two stops. For a scene with subtle tonal variations, you would set an increment of around 1/2 for three shots.
For high-contrast scenes, and those that you intend to convert to HDR, for the best results, you would typically set increments of between one and two stops. Below we show you step by step how to set up your camera’s auto exposure bracketing feature.
How to set up and use your auto-exposure bracketing
Step 1: Set the exposure bracket
The method for doing this varies between cameras and brands, so you’ll need to refer to your camera’s instruction manual for precise details. Your camera may have a dedicated button for the feature, or it will be accessible via the menu.
Step 2: Set the exposure increments
Set the desired exposure increments between the successive shots. If you set the increment to one stop, the camera will take one frame at the standard exposure setting (0) a second at one stop darker (-1) and a third at one stop brighter (+1).
Step 3: Fine-tune your sequence
Most cameras enable you to use exposure compensation with bracketing. If you set the exposure compensation to +1 and the exposure increments to one stop, then the camera will take exposures at +1, 0 and +2.
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