Exposure compensation reference guide
Lighting situation
Recommended exposure
compensation (via the scale setting)
Subject against a bright-sky background
(high clouds on a sunny day)
Overexpose by 2 (+2.0); use fill flash if
within 10 feet
Light object (white color), front-lit Overexpose by 1.5 (+1.5)
Subject against white sand or snow
(e.g., person skiing)
Overexpose by 1.5 (+1.5)
Landscape scene dominated by a
bright, hazy sky
Overexpose by 1 (+1.0)
Fair-skinned subjects with bright front
Overexpose by .5 (+.5)
Subject against green foliage in open sun
(e.g., outdoor portrait with background trees
and shrubs)
No compensation
Dark-skinned subjects with bright
front lighting
Brightly-lit subject against dark background
(e.g., theater lighting)
Dark object (black color), front-lit 
Flash mode settings
Situation Recommended flash mode*
Outdoor portrait in open shade or sun Fill flash (flash forced on)
Subject against bright background, such
as hazy sky
Fill flash (flash forced on)
indoor and outdoor shooting)
Fill flash (flash forced on)
Subject in brightly lit evening scene, such
as Times Square, New York, or Sunset
Strip, Las Vegas
Slow-synchro flash
(hold camera steady or use tripod)
Portrait against twilight sky, brightly-lit
monument, or building
Slow-synchro flash
(hold camera steady or use tripod)
Portrait in brightly-lit room where
ambient lighting needs to be preserved
Slow-synchro flash
(hold camera steady or use tripod)
Subject who typically blinks as flash fires Red eye reduction flash
(to eliminate recorded blinking)
Mood portrait by window, bright lamp, or
other light source
Flash off (steady camera with tripod or
other support)
Sporting event or outdoor concert when
shooting from the stands
Flash off (steady camera with tripod or
other support)
* On some point-and-shoot cameras, these flash settings are accessible only when you enable
manual mode. Cameras typically ship in automatic mode, which limits the number of adjust-
ments that the photographer can change. Refer to your owner’s manual for more information.
White balance settings
Lighting condition
Recommended white
balance setting
Sunny, outdoor conditions Auto or Daylight
Open shade (e.g., under a tree), indoor portraits by
window light, or when flash is on indoors
Cloudy (add fill flash
when possible)
Snow setting, bluish winter light, or when overall light
balance is too cool
Indoors with flash off, when dominant light source is
tungsten light
Outdoors at sunset or sunrise, when light is too warm Tungsten
Indoors, when dominant light source is fluorescent tubes Fluorescent
Metering modes with explanations
Metering mode* Explanation
Evaluative metering Camera divides viewing area into segments and evaluates
each area alone and in combination with others. End result is
very accurate overall exposure for most scenes. Good choice
for general photography.
Spot metering Camera reads only center portion of viewing area, usually
within the center brackets or crosshairs. Good choice
for situations that require precise exposure control on a
particular element in the scene. Most popular use is to
correctly meter a person’s face in difficult lighting situations.
Camera reads entire viewfinder area, but with more emphasis
placed on central portion of scene. Typically used for
landscape and general photography. Evaluative metering is
usually preferred over center-weighted metering.
* Many point-and-shoot cameras offer only one metering mode—usually center-weighted or
evaluative. Intermediate and advanced models usually include spot metering too.
Camera modes with explanations
Camera mode* Explanation
autoexposure (P)
Camera sets both aperture and shutter speed. Good for
general photography.
Shutter priority/
timed value (S or Tv)
Photographer sets shutter speed and camera sets
corresponding aperture. Best for action, sports, or running
water photography.
Aperture priority/
aperture value (Av)
Photographer sets aperture and camera sets corresponding
shutter speed. Best for landscape photography or any
situation that requires depth-of-field control.
Manual (M) Photographer sets both aperture and shutter speed. Advanced
mode for those with an understanding of photography.
Movie Camera records video segments and saves them as QuickTime,
AVI, or MPEG files. Some models also record sound to
accompany the video.
Panorama Camera designates a sequence of shots to be stitched together
later to create one image with a wide perspective. Some
cameras give you onscreen assistance to line up the sequence.
Nighttime Allows for longer shutter speeds (even when the flash is
turned on) to enable photography in low ambient light, such
as at sunset or for brightly-lit interiors. A tripod should be
used to help steady the camera when using this mode.
* Your camera may have all, some, or only a couple of these modes available. Typically, aperture
priority, shutter priority, and manual modes are available only on advanced models.

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