I'm using a third party lens (Helios 44-2) on a Canon 6D in Manual Mode.

The camera correctly meters for light and sets a correct ISO given the shutter speed. However I'm unable to set exposure compensation. It seems the only way to do so is to set the ISO manually.

Is there a reason why Canon doesn't allow exposure compenation in Manual mode?

  • 3
    \$\begingroup\$ I believe among Canon bodies only the 1D X (with the latest firmware released in the last few days) allows exposure compensation when M mode is used in conjunction with Auto ISO. Your guess is as good as anyone else' as to why this is so. \$\endgroup\$
    – Michael C
    Jan 13, 2014 at 7:08
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ Waiting impatiently for a firmware update to my 5dm3 with this feature :-) \$\endgroup\$ Jan 13, 2014 at 11:11
  • \$\begingroup\$ dont you run out of dials if you had to set EC same time as Ap and exp time? how does that work on 1dx? \$\endgroup\$ Jan 13, 2014 at 17:59
  • \$\begingroup\$ Relevant, maybe duplicate: photo.stackexchange.com/q/39960/9161 \$\endgroup\$ Jan 13, 2014 at 21:07

1 Answer 1


Exposure is defined as the total quantity of light that hits the film or sensor during the time the shutter is open.

Exposure compensation in Tv or Av modes will change the shutter speed or aperture, which in turn changes the total amount of light that hits the sensor, i.e. it changes the exposure.

When shooting in manual mode the aperture and shutter speed are chosen by you, and the camera is not allowed to change them, hence there's nothing for the exposure compensation to do.

Canon is both correct in no offering exposure compensation in manual mode, and massively short sighted in not offering an "ISO compensation" feature which biases the chosen ISO value up or down when shooting in auto ISO mode.

  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ Pentax does this really nicely. In M mode, EV compensation doesn't change exposure but does change +/- meter reading. There is a separate TAv mode where you set the shutter and aperture and the camera adjusts ISO automatically. This seems more elegant that the approach of having auto-ISO be a completely unrelated toggle (although it of course has the same effect). \$\endgroup\$
    – mattdm
    Jan 13, 2014 at 15:24

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