Is Exposure Compensation the Same as ISO?

Is exposure compensation the same as ISO? That is a question that many photographers ask themselves. If you’re not familiar with these terms, let’s look at them in more detail.

Is Exposure Compensation the Same as ISO?

No, they are two different things, but they do have some similarities. Exposure compensation adjusts the camera’s perception of appropriate exposure. 

Changing exposure compensation in an automated mode that makes the photo darker or brighter while making changes to the ISO alters the camera’s shutter speed or aperture to maintain an equal overall exposure.

Exposure Compensation Vs. ISO?

Exposure compensation is a feature on many digital cameras that permits you to adjust your camera’s sensor’s automatically determined exposure value (EV).  

While ISO control allows you to adjust how sensitive the camera’s sensor will be to light, exposure compensation permits you to override your camera’s suggested shutter speed and aperture settings so that they are either lighter or darker than initially determined by the meter within your device.  

This can help photographers achieve specific effects when shooting portraits, landscapes, sports photography, etc.

When to Use Exposure Compensation

Exposure compensation is best used when the lighting conditions are more extreme than your camera’s meter suggests.

For example, let’s say you’re outside taking a photo of someone, and it starts to get dark (or there isn’t enough light).  

Your camera would automatically adjust its settings so that they are optimal for whatever lighting is present. Still, in this case, the camera would underexpose your image and make it too dark.

To compensate for this lighting change, you’ll need to adjust either your ISO or exposure compensation settings until they align with where the middle of the meter lies on your camera’s LCD screen.

This same situation could occur in the opposite way where you are outside in bright sunlight. In this case, your camera would automatically adjust its settings to optimize for whatever lighting is present. Still, in this situation, it might overexpose your image and make it too light.

Once again, to compensate for this change of lighting conditions, you will need to either increase your ISO settings or decrease your exposure compensation so that the middle of the meter on your camera’s LCD screen is aligned.

When to Use ISO Control

ISO control should be used when the lighting conditions are very stable and do not change frequently.

This means that you would want to use ISO control when shooting things like landscapes, portraits, etc. because they don’t typically have drastic changes in light throughout your photoshoot.  

The exception to this rule is sports photography, requiring higher ISO settings to compensate for how quickly the action is moving. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Does Exposure Compensation Adjust ISO?

Since you’re setting the variables, exposure compensation won’t affect your photo if you attempt to modify it while you shoot in Manual mode.

Exposure Compensation will adjust the ISO to provide various exposures if you’re in Manual mode and set the Auto ISO option.

Is Exposure The Same As Iso?

No. ISO refers to how sensitive your camera sensor is to light. A higher number means your camera will need less light for images, while a lower number means it needs more light for images. 

On the other hand, exposure refers to the amount of light received by the sensor during each shot. You can vary the amount of light by changing either the shutter speed, f-stop, or both.

Final Thoughts

Since exposure compensation is not the same as ISO, it’s best to know what these differences are before making changes on your own. This will help you don’t accidentally get frustrated with the results.

Once this is mastered, and images are achieved that align with expectations (and even exceed them), you will be well on your way to becoming a better photographer.