DSLR Underexposure


TPF Noob!
Jul 23, 2004
Reaction score
Just got my first DSLR, love it but finding that a lot of my photos taken in full shade (on sunny day) are somewhat underexposed. Even when using a grey card. Any ideas why?
Hi there, the first thing to check, that being a new camera, you haven't accidently altered the exposure compensation +/- from zero. It's easy to do this when you are fiddling with all the buttons on a new camera and forgeting to set it back. Sometimes it's easier to use the 'return to factory defaults' setting and start again, rather than trying to track down an incorrect setting.

I set my, then, new DLSR to RAW mode without realising it until I filled the card a darn sight quicker than I imagined. :grumpy:

Good luck

I did exactly what you may have done with my 20D. On the first day i was playing with settings on holiday and adjusted the overexposure to +1 1/3. I didn't realise until i had taken about 60frames. Luckilly I hadn't strayed too far from San Francisco so i could easily go visit the same places again and reshoot.
I adjusted the settings and everything was fine after that.

If you're using manual focus then it may be that the camera is using one of the focus points to the side to pick up the exposure info and that might throw it off too.
What mode are you shooting in? It will underexpose a little bit on purpose, to make sure the highlights aren't blown. I find also that the meter in my 20D is about a 1/3 stop under in most cases.
Just read an article in pcphoto I think about this. And it did mention that alot of cameras are set to underexpose slightly. It gave a how too on taking two exposures one under exposed and one over exposed so you have very good hilights, and lots of shadow detail on the combined pic from photoshop.
Its not my exposure compensation... it was at 0.

As I mentioned it seems to happen in shade only, but maybe its just more noticeable in that situation. You might be right about the cameras being set to slightly underexpose, but it seems to be about 1/2 stop to me. Gonna do some experiementing in the next couple of days, we'll see.
Maybe the White Balance is messing with the exposure...or making it look like it's underexposed. WB came right to mind when I read that it's happening only in the shade.

Most reactions