Exposure Bracketing

Digital cameras have made exposure accuracy easy and accurate. But sometimes you shoot an image and on the LCD it looks great, then you leave, only to find it is under or over exposed when you get home and download it to your computer. When shooting pictures, it can be difficult to decide what exposure setting should be used in situations such as snow, a spot lit school play, or a sunset. Therefore, it is recommended that you take extra pictures with various exposure settings above (+) or below (-) what the camera tells you the exposure should be. In such a case you can use the exposure compensation (+/-) to bracket, or in the XZ series, PEN and E-System DSLRs, use the Auto Bracket (BKT) function to capture photographs with a range of exposures. Using these features allows you to take successive pictures while gradually changing the amount of exposure compensation. In Auto Bracket, you can shoot a preselected number of pictures as desired simply by keeping the shutter button pressed.

Using Auto Exposure Bracket:
The, BKT is easily reached through the camera menu as “BKT” or “Bracket” or with the “Drive” button on some cameras. As digital technology has advanced and expanded, “Bracket” now includes more than just exposure, but we will concentrate on the exposure bracket as this is the most often used. In this menu you can set the exposure range in 0.3, 0.7, or 1 (full) steps of exposure to 1 full step of exposure along with the number of images you will capture in this range. The range of exposure compensation can also be adjusted in the Exposure menu for 0.3, 0.5, or 1 EV step.

Bracketing setup menu steps for PEN camera. Step 1, Step 2, Step 3

Once set, all you need to do to shoot is simply continue pressing the shutter button. If you let go of the shutter button in the middle of auto bracketing, the pictures that have been shot up to that point will be recorded. If your camera has a sequential shooting mode, set this to its highest speed, then just press the button for the desired number of shots, this will help prevent camera movement changing the composition as you shoot.

The pictures will be recorded from left to right, in the following order:
[BKT] Correction value: 1.0 step EV / for 5 pictures. (Photos taken In cooperation with: JAL Private Resort Okuma)

Beyond just getting the right exposure, some cameras have a greater range for bracket exposure allowing you to do HDR (High Dynamic Range) photography. Setting the bracket number to the maximum of 5 or 7 images and the exposure bracket to 0.7 steps you can capture an image with a 3.5 EV range or 4.9 EV range depending on the camera. With third party software for your computer all these images can be combined into one image with much greater dynamic range, or for a more dramatic artistic image.

HDR Picture from:

-2.7 -2.0 -1.3 -0.7 0 0.7 1.3
-2.7 -2.0 -1.3

Bracketing in photography can add creative flexibility and help you obtain a correct exposure. Give it a try.

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