Warning Amateur photographer. When I take pictures with my Canon DSLR in the viewfinder the shutterspeed is much quicker and the pictures come out very dark. When I use the screen instead, the shutterspeed is slower and the pictures turn out fine. This has happened to me with three different canon cameras and I am very confused. I use them to stopmotion, which leads me to take many pictures in somewhat rapid succession -- could that cause it?

Today I was shooting in Av mode, but it has happened in multiple modes.

The shutter speed on a picture taken with the screen open is 1/30 and the ISO is 1250. On a picture taken with the viewfinder the shutter speed is 1/40 and the ISO is 250. These are the only things that seem to change between pictures.

Since the ISO changes so drastically between pictures, if I turned it off auto mode and set it to what the bright pictures are on (1250) could that perhaps fix the problem?


settings part two

  • \$\begingroup\$ What mode are you shooting in? (M, Av, Tv, P...?) \$\endgroup\$
    – OnBreak.
    Commented Jul 31, 2018 at 1:30
  • \$\begingroup\$ This time I was shooting in Av, but it has happened in others including M, A+, and the no flash mode. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jul 31, 2018 at 1:37
  • \$\begingroup\$ What are the shutter speeds chosen in each mode? What metering mode are you using? When taking a series in rapid succession, does the exposure change? \$\endgroup\$
    – mattdm
    Commented Jul 31, 2018 at 1:39
  • \$\begingroup\$ Sorry I'm not very knowledgable about all of the modes on this camera, bu the shutterspeed on a picture taken with the screen open is 1/30 and the ISO is 1250. On a picture taken with the viewfinder the shutterspeed is 1/40 and the ISO is 250. These are the only things that seem to change between pictures. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jul 31, 2018 at 1:44
  • \$\begingroup\$ Are you setting the cameras controls to the settings that the meter tells you is required ? The camera only sets Aperture and shutter speed if you are in auto or program mode. \$\endgroup\$
    – Alaska Man
    Commented Jul 31, 2018 at 1:44

2 Answers 2


Hannah, based on your question and your statements you seem to not have an understanding of the mechanics of a camera and how to control them. I am not judging, No one is born knowing this, we all have to learn it.

The brightness of the image you see in the view finder is not the brightness or exposure that the camera is going to record. It shows you a bright image so you can focus and compose your shot. Some cameras have live view on the LCD screen, this lets you see the exposure as it would be with the setting that have been chosen on your camera. This may be why you were getting the expected exposure while using the LCD and why you may have wrongly expected the same to be true of the viewfinder.

I did a you tube search for - Beginners guide to DSLR cameras - and - the mechanics of aperture and shutter - and got many good tutorials. I would recommend you spend some time watching as many as you can. If you are interested in photography as more than just a hobby i would advise you to volunteer to intern with a working pro photographer and take some classes.

Photography is all about light. There are TWO way you can control the amount of light that enters your camera.

Aperture, the size of the opening in your lens.

Shutter speed, the amount of time that the cameras shutter is open.

ISO also affects exposure but it dose NOT change the amount of light entering the camera it only changes how sensitive the sensor is to the amount of light your are letting in and how it records it.

Your job as a photographer is to understand light, how your camera sees and records light, how to change the settings on your camera to record the light in a scene and how to shape and create light in order to express your artistic vision of what you are trying to say with your photography.

You can not drive a car until some shows you what all the pedals, buttons, wheels are for and how to use them. Your camera is a complicated tool and it has some intelligence programed into it but your brain is far more complex and you will need to override your cameras brain in many situations so feed your brain.

Here are a few links to videos i found.




this one has an interesting graphic that is informative. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pehFC05cohw


When using the LCD the viewfinder is now exposed. This allows light to enter through the viewfinder and thus affect the exposure. Whenever taking photos where your eye is not up to the viewfinder, you have to cover the viewfinder to prevent incorrect exposures. Most cameras come with a rubber tab that fits over the viewfinder while some cameras have a screen built into the viewfinder specifically for this reason.

You can test this by using the LCD screen, getting an exposure, and then putting your thumb over the viewfinder and comparing the new exposure. The first image should be underexposed due to excess light coming into the camera via the viewfinder.

  • \$\begingroup\$ When I take a picture with the viewfinder open, my eye isn't up to the camera because I am using it for stopmotion instead of regular photography. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Aug 1, 2018 at 17:50

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