Exposure WARNING

If you aren’t careful, you might ruin an exposure even though outwardly everything was done correctly.
If light gets in the viewfinder, your exposure can be affected because this can confuse the camera’s light meter. The worst case is when the direction of the light is pointed directly at the back of the camera (sun at your back, for example). Experiment with this. Shoot normally (looking through the viewfinder) with the light source behind you. Now repeat this except step to the side so the viewfinder is exposed to the light. Examine the two histograms. Depending on the strength of the light your exposure can be affected by a stop or more – or not at all.
Some cameras come with a viewfinder cover for this situation. If you are within reach of your camera it’s easier to cover the viewfinder with your hand than it is to attach the cover.
Almost never a problem for hand held shots – but use your tripod anyway. Never a problem when using Manual shooting mode since the meter isn’t involved in manual exposures.
This is a real potential problem for anyone using Live View on a tripod with a current Nikon camera. You are unlikely to have your eye to the viewfinder (since it’s black in Live View). However, the mirror which is up during the Live View focusing step, drops back down before going up again during the image capture stage. This is when the light readings are made and when your viewfinder is likely to be uncovered. Beware.

0 thoughts on “Exposure WARNING”

  1. It comes as a bad surprise to shooters at times. In a pinch, if I need to move from behind the camera, I put my ever-present ball cap on it to cover the view finder.

  2. I just checked this on my Canon 400D, this seems to make a 2 stop difference, i simply moved away from the viewfinder and checked the meter on the LCD and tried covering the viewfinder with my thumb and the meter says im underexposing it my 2 stops !……..thanks a ton for this tip(warning rather).

  3. Thank you for your reply. Yes, I do know the difference between manual focus and manual shooting mode. I have a friend in this photo club who believe it or not, almost always uses manual shooting mode.
    I attempt to use manual shooting mode when I am not pressed for time and want to experiment. It is rare however, for me to be in this situation, and I believe my time will be better spent following your direction.
    I admit to using Program more than I should, and I am now using every spare moment using Aperture Priority, manual FOCUS, VR off, and always, always a TRIPOD!

  4. Lois, you’re welcome but I hope you recognize the difference between manual FOCUS (which is what I stressed for the focus lesson) and the manual shooting mode (which means that NO exposure settings are automatic – you have to set both aperture & shutter speed).
    When I mentioned manual in the focus lesson, I said to place your camera in manual FOCUS for the assignments of that lesson. In the WARNING above, the mention of manual is for the SHOOTING mode and not the focus setting.
    The reason that I say this is that I’m surprised that anyone is using the Manual Shooting Mode. It’s not something that a typical photographer would do. Do you really use Manual Shooting Mode?
    D-SLR’s usually have 4 shooting modes – Aperture Priority, Shutter Priority, Program, and Manual. For the focus lesson I recommended Aperture Priority (which I use 99% of the time) and manual focus.

  5. Ed- Thanks for yet another great tip! I am trying my best to use the darn viewfinder cover which is totally a pain to apply. I am glad to know it is not needed for manual exposures.

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