What is auto exposure?

Learn how to use auto exposure to adjust aperture, shutter speed, and ISO for perfectly exposed photos every time.

There are many camera settings you need to monitor if you want your pictures to turn out right. Sometimes, you don’t have time to change all of those settings in the moment. That’s where auto exposure comes in.

The three elements of exposure.

“Exposure” is the amount of light that reaches your camera’s sensor (or film, if you’re using a traditional camera). If you don’t get it just right, your photos could come out too bright or too dark.

Three elements impact exposure:

If you shoot in a manual exposure mode, it’s up to you to control all three elements every time you press the shutter button, which leaves plenty of room for error if you’re not familiar with how each element works.

Auto exposure mode relieves you of this burden. It lets the camera choose the exposure settings, so all you have to do is point and shoot.

When to use auto exposure.

These are a few of the scenarios where auto exposure works best:

Luckily, even if you aren’t comfortable with exposure settings, you can always make adjustments after the fact with photo editing software like Adobe Photoshop Lightroom. Most photo editors have simple sliders that let you make the image lighter or darker, so you can compensate for any exposure problems.

Looking for more helpful photography tips and tricks?

Explore how Adobe Photoshop Lightroom can help perfect your exposures.