new on the photog forum but this question really bugs me. So the situation in which I was shooting: Dark night with some bright "light" art. Person stood in front of the art and I took the photo. Obviously the person is underexposed and I know that I should have a flash and use flash comp (or maybe even a flashlight). This is a dynamic range problem I know but when I'm auto focusing I notice something very odd.

Pretty much what happens is when the auto focus is trying to focus, I can see the exposure is perfect. The person is lit well and so is the art. It reminds me of how smartphone photos get exposed where you can see everything and nothing is under/overexposed where it's not meant to be. But once the camera is done focusing, the subject is very underexposed but the light art is exposed correctly (as expected).

This occurs often when the scene's dynamic range exceeds that of the camera but this night it was especially frustrating.

So I was wondering if I'd be able to get that correct exposure that the camera has before it finds its focus. I was thinking it might be since in my EVF I get a read off the sensor. This would eliminate the need for flash/torches/HDR etc. but I've done some fiddling and not been able to do it.


  • 1
    When you says "I can see the exposure is perfect", what are you looking at? Viewfinder, LiveScreen, automatic brain histogram function?
    – Olivier
    Jun 19, 2017 at 19:19
  • @Olivier I'm looking at the EVF. I would suppose it's the same on the LiveScreen since on the Sony they're just reads from the sensor
    – Han
    Jun 19, 2017 at 23:06
  • Commenting just to say it's not just you; my RX10/100 exhibit the same behaviour. I have not investigated it further, however, because unlike you I consider the "correct" exposure to be the one I choose, not the one that gets displayed during a fraction of a second for God knows what reason. (Probably a focusing aid.)
    – user29608
    Dec 18, 2017 at 3:45

2 Answers 2


You can get whatever exposure you want. Put the camera in manual exposure mode and select the ISO, aperture, and shutter time you need to get the result you are after.

To alter the relationship between the brightest and darkest elements of the scene you should adjust the camera's contrast control(s) if you are saving your images as jpeg files.

If you are saving the raw data you will have much more control over the brightness response curve in a post production raw conversion application such as Lightroom. You can boost the shadows and reduce the highlights in addition to adjusting overall contrast. Or you can adjust the light curves themselves (this has a steeper learning curve, however).

  • Hi Michael, I was in manual. But I think this situation is more like you're shooting your subject into the sun and they turn out like a silhouette. My camera exposes correctly and I can see the person clearly during its focusing (with the sun not blown out), but it still gives me a silhouette when I press the shutter to get the photo. I'm looking to get the result of a good exposure of the person and the sun and my camera can do it if I can see it's happening in the EVF, but why can't I? What's my camera doing in those moments its auto focusing that I can't replicate manually?
    – Han
    Jun 19, 2017 at 23:05
  • @Han Then you need to increase the exposure by changing your manual settings. Also be sure anything such as 'auto ISO' or 'auto safety shift' are turned off.
    – Michael C
    Jun 20, 2017 at 1:49
  • Hi @Michael If I increase the exposure, the light behind the subject will be very over exposed but I want to capture detail from the both of them. Neither Auto ISO or Safety Shift (I wasn't aware this feature existed but turns out it's quite a useful Canon feature)
    – Han
    Jun 20, 2017 at 4:44
  • Then reduce the contrast setting in the camera's menu if you are saving only jpegs. If you are saving the raw data you will have much more control over the brightness response curve in a post production raw conversion application such as Lightroom.
    – Michael C
    Jun 20, 2017 at 9:34
  • 1
    @MichaelClark That answer should be required reading for anyone who wants to post a question on Photography stack. Han Your camera can only capture a limited dynamic range, (even shooting RAW) you either have to choose what section of the spectrum of dynamic range you want to capture or alter the scene with additional lighting to create a dynamic range that you can (want to) capture.
    – Alaska Man
    Jun 20, 2017 at 17:48

I'm not quite sure why the exposure on your camera is changing at the last minute, but one important thing to realize is that the EVF doesn't necessarily represent the captured exposure. For one thing, a RAW capture will have significantly more information than the LCD can display. But, beyond that, many cameras have the option of having the viewfinder preview the exposure and other settings or amplify/adjust to make composition easy with no relation to the captured exposure. There are different names for this, but Sony calls it (somewhat confusingly, I think) "Live View Display". Read about it in the manual.

The default is "On"; it's possible that you have turned it off, which would give you a generally bright view when shooting, but could result in very different results in the shot itself.

  • Hello mattdm. I'm aware that the EVF isn't exact since it's just a compressed video of what the sensor captures. I have not used the camera in quite some time due to how busy I am but I was wondering if you have any other camera that you'd seen or heard of this on?
    – Han
    Aug 23, 2017 at 2:05

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