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05-02-2013, 05:48 PM   #1
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AE-L question

I've never really used the AE-L button, and am only now just beginning to realize it might be a very useful function. I'm just not sure about the process. For example, I have read that if a subject is backlit, this is a good feature to use if I want proper exposure - what is the procedure for this exactly? I have attached a photo that was taken with a very bright background and the subject is too dark. Would the AE-L feature have helped in this situation? Exactly what do I point the camera at for proper exposure before locking and reframing? Also, it should be noted that I was standing about 3 - 4 meters from the subject using my DA55-300, so I'm quite sure that a flash would not have helped in this situation.


Last edited by slr_neophyte; 07-21-2013 at 12:12 PM.
05-02-2013, 06:05 PM - 1 Like   #2
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Usually you would switch to center point metering. Then aim that at the location you want the exposure to be. Then press AE-L to lock it. Then you can recompose and take your shot.

Remember to press again to go back to it metering normally. Or it will be unlocked after the camera goes to sleep (timed off) and you wake it up again.
05-02-2013, 06:07 PM   #3
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By centre point, do you mean center-weighted, or spot metering?
05-02-2013, 06:08 PM   #4
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QuoteOriginally posted by toidpentax Quote
Usually you would switch to center point metering. Then aim that at the location you want the exposure to be. Then press AE-L to lock it. Then you can recompose and take your shot.

Remember to press again to go back to it metering normally. Or it will be unlocked after the camera goes to sleep (timed off) and you wake it up again.
Okay, so if I have my camera set to centre weighted metreing, I aim it at the subject or the area behind the subject?

05-02-2013, 06:09 PM   #5
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In the example here, I would have aimed it at her face. But basically it depends where you want the meter to expose properly for.
05-02-2013, 06:10 PM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by slr_neophyte Quote
By centre point, do you mean center-weighted, or spot metering?
I mean spot metering. You can use the other methods. But spot metering would give the most precise control.
05-02-2013, 06:11 PM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by toidpentax Quote
In your example I would have aimed it at her face. But basically it depends where you want the meter to expose properly for.
Now, what if say, you're using an old Pentax M or K lense that has no 'A' contacts? Does that make any kind of a difference?
05-02-2013, 06:17 PM   #8
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I have a K-01 and with a manual lens, I would just aim it then press the green button (set to Tv shift) so that it sets the shutter speed at appropriate exposure. The exposure then would not change, do not believe the AE-L option is useful there.

05-02-2013, 06:22 PM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by Bcrary3 Quote
Now, what if say, you're using an old Pentax M or K lense that has no 'A' contacts? Does that make any kind of a difference?
Unless you're shooting in full manual, the camera will (or should) shoot wide open and treat it as aperture priority, so it shouldn't make a difference. Point, expose, AE-L, and then fire, bearing in mind the subject will be shot wide open.
05-02-2013, 06:50 PM   #10
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I got used to this on my film camera with only center-weighted metering. The example at the top is so classic, it could be in the manual for that camera. I do it the way they said in the manual: step in so your subject fills the frame without any backlighting included, half-press to get the meter awake, press AE-L to lock those settings, step back to get the framing you want, focus and shoot. Faces are usually a good choice because they are the subject and close to middle gray, varies somewhat by race/skin tone. I think it works best with center-weighted metering but all modes should work, maybe less consistently. If the background is too bright, fill flash might work.

I also use it for lens tests. In Av mode you can just zip through different apertures.
05-02-2013, 07:19 PM   #11
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The AE-L concept was conceived with zoom lenses in mind and was particularly useful for slide photography with such narrow exposure latitude.

Zoom in (preferably on a darker area in a zone needing shadow detail), take a reading, AE-L, re-compose (zoom out usually) and re-focus if necessary. Click.

Unlike EV in which you are 2nd guessing the meter, AE-L works best with spot metering, as suggested above.

However, the photo you show, I would think matrix metering should have got this one right.
05-02-2013, 08:32 PM   #12
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My lazy method for the above would have been to dial in +1.0 ev, knowing that the subject was backlit and darker than the majority of the scene.

However,
The built in flash would cover that distance quite well.

Using built in flash would work better than exposure compensation, because it wouldn't blow out the background.
You would have to have the aperture quite open, say f/4 to f/5.6, as it's aperture that affects the range of of the flash, not shutter speed or ISO. Trick is not to over expose, because the shutter speed will be limited to 1/180 - so just watch out for that.

If you took the above shot in RAW format, it's easily recoverable, especially with something like a K5... Just move the exposure compensation up by about +1 in PP.

Edit:
PS - there's some dust on your sensor... see the light grey circles? Follow the instructions in your manual to clean the sensor, with a puffer or even better the Pentax Image Sensor Cleaning Kit O-ICK1.

Last edited by calsan; 05-02-2013 at 08:41 PM.
05-02-2013, 08:35 PM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by calsan Quote
If you took the above shot in RAW format, it's easily recoverable, especially with something like a K5... Just move the exposure compensation up by about +1 in PP.
The photo was shot in RAW (on a K-x). I played with exposure compensation after the fact, and it ended up brightening the background too much to my liking.
05-02-2013, 08:39 PM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by slr_neophyte Quote
The photo was shot in RAW (on a K-x). I played with exposure compensation after the fact, and it ended up brightening the background too much to my liking.
Then the suggestion of using fill flash above would have been the best solution if you wanted the background not to be overexposed. You could also, in theory edit the picture to only raise the exposure value of the subject only, but I am guessing that is more work than what you are looking to do.
05-02-2013, 08:48 PM   #15
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Spot meter and AE-L will help you expose the subject better, but keep in mind the entire background will be completely blown out.
Another way to capture the image is to meter the background and AE-Lock, then apply fill flash to your subject.

I use AE-L (in M mode) for my seascape shots to lock the proper exposure for crashing waves, then change the shutter speed to get a different blurred wave effect, while changing either aperture or ISO to accommodate the preferred shutter speed and keep perfect exposure.

Last edited by mikeSF; 07-18-2013 at 11:48 AM.
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