How do I change the exposure setting in manual mode on a Canon EOS 550D?

  • I have recently bought a Canon EOS 550D. In the Manual Mode, I am unable to change the exposure level. What am I missing here? I am sure there must be a way to change it.

    From Itai's answer I guess I am not able to change Exposure Compensation. The setting that ranges from -5 to +5. Sorry for that but I am still new to this world.

    There is no such thing as "exposure compensation" when running full manual. Exposure compensation means that you nudge the camera's automatic exposure by a little bit. In manual mode there is no automatic exposure, so exposure compensation is a meaningless concept. You set the exposure manually, explicitly, yourself so there is nothing to compensate!

  • Itai

    Itai Correct answer

    10 years ago

    Based on experience, I am certain you are confusing exposure and exposure-compensation.

    Exposure is a product of 3 parameters: ISO, shutter-speed, aperture. In Manual mode, you control all of these and doing so sets the exposure. @jrista shows very clearly how to control each of them. For how they relate, see What is the exposure triangle?.

    Exposure-compensation (EC), marked on most cameras including yours by a ± sign, is an offset from the exposure the camera is computing in automatic (P, Auto) and semi automatic mode (S, A). In all these modes, the camera computes an exposure (based on the metering mode) and EC is how you tell the camera to adjust the computed value by a certain amount.

    In other words:

    • In all modes except manual: The camera computes an exposure and you use EC to tell it to make things brighter or darker relative to its guess.
    • In manual mode: You set the exposure exactly using Aperture, Shutter-Speed and ISO. There is no offset the camera can apply because all the parameters have been fixed by you.

    Thanks for the answer. I guess I am a victim of the common misconception. Thanks for sparing to answer. :)

    Just to make it a bit more generalized - on some Nikons you can set exposure compensation in Manual mode. If you have autoiso on in Manual mode, then it will pick the ISO for a given aperture/shutter combo and adjust it up or down based on your compensation.

    +1, even I was having the same confusion like the OP had. But one thing I noticed is that I can still snap pics in 3 different exposure compensation in `M` mode, how is that ?

    That is *Exposure-Bracketing*. You set an exposure and the camera takes one brighter and one darker shots. On some cameras it can take up to 9 such shots with various increments (difference of bightness from 1/3 to +5 EV).

    But because of this reasoning I am not able to shoot nice smooth waterfall or silky smooth mist, because exposure comp. is always reaching +3 automatically even in ISO 100 and Aperture ranging from 9 to 18 and shutter time 1" or 2"

    @JimitPatel - Engage *Manual* exposure mode, you can pick any exposure you want and remember to turn of *Safety Shift* in the custom function menu, otherwise it can override your choice. Also note that the indicator clamps outside of -3..+3 but you exposure changes will still make a difference.

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Content dated before 7/24/2021 11:53 AM