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How do I know I have the correct exposure when shooting in manual mode?

I have a canon 550d, initially the settings were fine in Manual mode, but know I see following issue in Manual Mode-Only :

  1. When I click pictures indoor the pictures are fine and on selecting the picture details on live view I see exposure value selected as zero.."0" (cursor under 0)

  2. When I click outside pictures, the pictures are too bright-- "all white" and on checking the settings on live view screen I see the cursor moved to +2 value on left bottom corner.

  3. If the cursor setting remains at 0 value then I suppose my pictures clicked inside or outside should be fine...please help me in resetting the cursor to 0 value permanently.

  4. Also I am able to change the cursor value when changing reaching almost extreme values of shutter speed or aperture setting.

  • 2
    What did you expect to happen in manual mode? I don't mean that harshly: I really want to know. You note that you can change the meter ("cursor") reading by changing shutter speed and aperture. Can you explain a little more what you did there, and why you couldn't get a correct exposure in that way? Watching the meter and turning the shutter or aperture one way or another should make clear how it works very quickly, so it almost seems to me that all your missing is "5. I adjusted the shutter and aperture correctly — problem solved." – mattdm Jan 8 '13 at 13:28

You are missing the point of manual mode. Unlike the automatic or semi-automatic modes, it is up to you to change the settings to get the exposure you want in any given scene. That's why it's called manual mode. The light varies, therefore so will the camera settings.

It is impossible to permanently 'set the cursor to 0' unless you live in a windowless box with constant lighting.

In the fully automatic modes the camera controls both shutter speed and aperture to try and get a correct exposure (0 on the light meter). In aperture and shutter speed priority modes, you control the respective settings and the camera compensates by adjusting the others.

In manual mode, you control both the aperture and shutter speed settings. This gives you more creative control over exposure.

I am not sure what you are trying to ask in point 4

To elaborate based on your comment, if you have the camera set to 1/8@f5.6 indoors and get a correct exposure, those settings will only give a correct exposure in the same light. If you go outside where it is brighter and keep the same settings, you will overexpose the shot.

I suggest you look online for The Exposure Triangle. It will help you understand how the different settings affect exposure.

  • But earlier I was not facing such problem while having shutter speed as 1/8 and aperture value 5.6...so what is the setting that have caused the picture to be soo bright...almost 100% white – manish Jan 8 '13 at 11:51
  • Shutter speed of 1/8 at f 5.6 is too slow. It will attract more light in to the camera which is more than needed, hence you see too bright picture.If you want to shoot at 1/8th then increase your aperture (by increase I mean a bigger f number) until the light meter is in the middle (cursor under 0). Hope this helps. – V.B Jan 8 '13 at 11:56
  • 3
    Attract is the wrong word. A shutter speed of 1/8 leaves the shutter open long enough for too much light to hit the sensor for a correct exposure. – ElendilTheTall Jan 8 '13 at 12:11
  • 1
    *cough* *cough* exposure triangle :) – mattdm Jan 8 '13 at 13:48
  • Already suggested. Here, have a lozenge ;) – ElendilTheTall Jan 8 '13 at 14:42

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