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Mastering Auto Exposure Bracketing: Essential Tips and Techniques

Auto exposure bracketing (AEB) is a camera feature that enables multiple shots of an identical scene with different exposure levels. AEB is beneficial in situations where the photographer wants to ensure proper exposure without relying on a single exposure.

By using the AEB feature, the camera takes three or more photos with one shot taken at the optimal exposure suggested by the camera, one taken with increased exposure, and one with decreased exposure. With this process, the photographer can select the best image, which is exposed properly.

This feature is beneficial for portraits, landscapes, and other scenes with challenging lighting conditions. In photography, knowing how to use the auto-exposure bracketing feature can produce the desired results in challenging lighting conditions.

This article aims to explain the AEB feature in details, including its definition, usage, and benefits. Let’s get started!

What Is Auto Exposure Bracketing (AEB)?

Auto-exposure bracketing (AEB) is a technique used in photography to capture the same shot, but at different exposure settings. This technique allows photographers to produce high-quality images that are clear and well-lit, even if the conditions are less than ideal.

AEB is a camera feature that enables photographers to capture multiple shots of the same subject at varying exposure levels. These images can then be combined to produce a final photo with optimal brightness and contrast.

How AEB Works

When AEB is enabled in the camera settings, the camera takes a series of shots at different exposure levels. Typically, three shots are taken, one at the recommended or average exposure level, one that is underexposed, and one that is overexposed.

The exposure levels vary depending on the camera and settings used. The resulting multiple shots can then be combined to create an image with a higher dynamic range, ensuring that all aspects of the image are well-lit and balanced.

Benefits Of Using AEB

AEB can be incredibly useful in situations where the lighting is not optimal or where a photographer wants to capture a more dynamic image.

Here are some of the benefits of using AEB:

  • Improved image quality: By capturing multiple shots at varying exposures, AEB can produce a final image with a higher dynamic range, improving overall quality.
  • More creative control: AEB allows photographers to experiment with different exposure levels and improve their understanding of lighting and camera settings.
  • Greater flexibility in post-processing: With multiple shots to choose from, photographers can pick and choose the best-exposed image and potentially recover lost details in dark or bright areas of the image.
  • Time-saving: AEB eliminates the need for multiple trips back to a location to capture the same shot at different exposures, saving time for photographers.

AEB is a powerful tool for photographers looking to capture high-quality images with greater dynamic range and more creative control. With the benefits outlined above, it’s easy to see why AEB is such a popular feature among photographers in various genres.

Best Practices For Using Auto-Exposure Bracketing

AEB is an excellent feature for photographers who want to capture stunning shots in challenging lighting conditions. It takes a series of shots, each at different exposure levels to ensure you get the perfect shot.

When using AEB, there are a few best practices that you should follow to get the most out of this feature.

Choosing The Right Scene For AEB

The first step in using AEB is to choose the right scene. Ideally, you should use AEB in scenes with high contrast lighting where it would be difficult to capture details in both the shadows and highlights.

Examples of scenes that would benefit from AEB include sunsets, landscapes with the sun in the background, and indoor scenes with bright windows.

Setting Up AEB On Your Camera

Once you choose the appropriate scene, you need to set up your camera for AEB. This process may vary depending on the camera manufacturer. For most cameras, you can access AEB through the camera menu.

Here’s how to set up AEB on your camera:

  • Locate the AEB setting in your camera menu.
  • Select the number of shots you want to take in a series. This number can vary between 2 and 9, depending on your camera.
  • Choose the exposure increment value. This value determines how much each shot varies from the previous exposure value. It can be 1/3, 1/2, 1 or 2 stops.
  • Select the shooting mode. You can use AEB in any shooting mode, including manual, aperture priority, and shutter priority.

Choosing The Right Exposure Increment

Choosing the right exposure increment is critical in obtaining the desired results from AEB. If you use a small exposure value, the difference between the shots will be minimal, resulting in similar-looking photos.

Conversely, if you use a considerable difference, it may create unnatural-looking images.

Therefore, it is essential to choose the right exposure increment value based on the scene and desired outcome.

Using A Tripod For Stability

One of the challenges of using AEB is maintaining stability across the series of shots. Slight movements may result in blurry images and make it challenging to blend images in post-processing.

Therefore, it’s essential to use a sturdy tripod to hold the camera steady throughout the exposure series. This will help to reduce camera shake and ensure sharp images.

AEB is an excellent feature that allows photographers to capture stunning photos in challenging lighting conditions. By following these best practices and paying attention to detail, you can take full advantage of the feature and produce high-quality images.

Tips For Getting The Best Results With AEB

Auto exposure bracketing (AEB) is a useful feature that allows photographers to capture a range of exposures for a single shot. This technique is beneficial in situations where the lighting conditions are unpredictable, such as during sunrise or sunset or when photographing high-contrast scenes.

In this blog post, we will focus on tips for getting the best results with AEB, including setting the appropriate aperture, adjusting the iso and shutter speed, and understanding the histogram.

Setting The Appropriate Aperture

The aperture setting determines the amount of light that enters the camera and affects the depth of field in the image. When using AEB, it’s essential to set the aperture to a fixed value to keep the depth of field consistent across all the images.

  • Choose an aperture that provides a good balance between sharpness and depth of field. A value between f/8 to f/11 is a good starting point.
  • Avoid using very wide apertures, as it can result in blurry images due to shallow depth of field.
  • If you are photographing a static scene, you can use a smaller aperture like f/16 or f/22 to achieve a deeper depth of field.
  • For scenes with moving subjects, a wider aperture like f/5.6 or f/8 can be used to achieve a faster shutter speed.

Adjusting The Iso And Shutter Speed

The iso and shutter speed settings are two crucial factors that affect the exposure of the image. When using AEB, it’s essential to adjust these settings to capture a range of exposures. Here are some tips for adjusting the iso and shutter speed:

  • Set the iso to the lowest possible value to minimize noise in the image.
  • Use a slow shutter speed (1/30 sec or slower) to capture more light and achieve a brighter exposure.
  • If you are capturing a scene with moving subjects, use a faster shutter speed (1/1000 sec or higher) to freeze the motion and avoid motion blur.
  • Use exposure compensation to adjust the exposure values without changing the aperture, iso, or shutter speed settings.

Understanding The Histogram

The histogram is a graphical representation of the distribution of tones in the image. It’s a useful tool to ensure that the exposure is correct when using AEB. Here are some tips for understanding the histogram:

  • Use the histogram to check the exposure values of each image in the AEB sequence.
  • Ensure that the histogram is well-distributed and does not clip the highlights or shadows.
  • Use the exposure compensation to adjust the exposure values if necessary.
  • Review the histogram after capturing the AEB sequence to ensure that all the images are well-exposed.

Auto-exposure bracketing is a useful feature for capturing images with a range of exposures. By setting the appropriate aperture, adjusting the iso and shutter speed, and understanding the histogram, you can achieve great results with AEB.

Remember to experiment with different settings and review the images to ensure that the exposures are correct.

Post-Processing Auto-Exposure Bracketed Images

AEB is a technique used by photographers to capture a well-exposed image in a challenging lighting situation. By taking multiple shots with different exposure settings, AEB enables the photographer to combine these images to create a single photo with balanced exposure.

Once you have captured a set of AEB images, the next step is to post-process them. In this section, we will explore the different ways to merge AEB images using software, compare HDR vs exposure fusion, and share some tips for editing AEB images.

Merging AEB Images Using Software

There are several types of software available to merge AEB images, each with its own advantages and limitations.

  • Adobe lightroom: Lightroom is a popular image editing software that supports AEB merging. Simply select the AEB images, right-click, and select photo merge > HDR. This will assemble the images into a single dng file, which you can edit within lightroom.
  • Photomatix: Photomatix is a dedicated HDR software that can merge AEB shots and produce a high dynamic range image. You can use Photomatix to select the best-exposed areas of each image and create a final photo with perfectly balanced exposure.
  • Aurora HDR: Aurora HDR is another dedicated HDR software that you can use to merge AEB shots. It offers advanced tone mapping and image alignment features to ensure that your final image is sharp, clear, and has vivid colors.

HDR Vs Exposure Fusion

HDR and exposure fusion are two different methods of merging AEB images. Let’s understand the difference between these two methods:

  • HDR: HDR merges AEB images to produce a high dynamic range image. This method combines the best-exposed areas of each image to create a final image that has a broader range of tones and colors.
  • Exposure fusion: Exposure fusion merges AEB images to produce a well-exposed image with a natural look. This method blends the best-exposed areas of each image to create a final image that looks like a single shot but with balanced exposure.

Tips For Editing AEB Images

Editing AEB images can be a bit tricky, but these tips can help you get started:

  • Avoid over-processing: It’s easy to overdo editing and make your image look unrealistic. You should aim for a natural look and ensure that your image does not look too contrasty, sharpened, or saturated.
  • Adjust white balance: AEB images may have different color casts due to different exposure settings. Adjust the white balance to ensure that your image looks consistent.
  • Correct lens distortion: If you used a wide-angle lens to capture AEB shots, you may notice barrel distortion or other lens-related issues. Correct these issues using lens correction tools.

Post-processing AEB images can be challenging, but with the right tools and techniques, you can create stunning, well-exposed photos. By following the tips and merging your images using the right software, you’ll be on your way to creating beautiful HDR or exposure fusion images.

Advantages And Limitations

Auto-exposure bracketing or AEB is a camera feature that can help produce high-quality images. While many photographers prefer manual exposure control, AEB offers advantages that can make it a valuable tool in certain situations.

However, there are also limitations to using AEB that must be taken into account.

In this section, we will discuss the advantages and limitations of using AEB, and provide guidance on when to use it and when to stick to manual exposure control.

Benefits Of AEB Over Manual Exposure Control

AEB has several advantages that make it a helpful feature to have in your camera equipment arsenal.

  • AEB helps to compensate for unpredictable lighting conditions by automatically capturing a series of images with different exposures. This means that AEB can help photographers to produce more consistent images when confronted with tricky and unpredictable lighting conditions.
  • It allows photographers to experiment with different exposure settings and image styles, from a more traditional, evenly exposed image to a more creative, high-contrast look.
  • AEB saves time in post-processing, as photographers can choose the best image from a series of shots rather than having to make multiple adjustments to a single image in editing software.

Limitations And Challenges Of Using AEB

Like any camera feature, AEB has its limitations and challenges. Here are a few of the most common ones to keep in mind:

  • AEB can fill up your memory card quickly, especially when capturing high-resolution images in raw format. This is because the camera is taking several images at once, which can eat up storage space.
  • AEB can be limited in its effectiveness in situations where the lighting conditions are rapidly changing. The multiple exposures may end up capturing different elements of the scene at different times, leading to misalignment and blurry images.
  • AEB may produce images with visible halos and ghosting artifacts around high-contrast areas such as a bright sky and tree tops.

When To Use AEB And When To Use Manual Exposure Control

Knowing when to use AEB and when to stick to manual exposure control will depend on different factors such as the lighting conditions, the subject, and your personal preferences. Here are some tips to help you decide:

  • Use AEB in scenes with challenging lighting conditions where it would be difficult to get the perfect exposure with a single shot.
  • Use AEB when shooting HDR images or when you need to blend multiple exposures together to create a composite image.
  • Use manual exposure control when you have time to fine-tune your settings and experiment with different aperture, shutter speed, and iso combinations.
  • Use manual exposure control when a single exposure will suffice, such as in a landscape with even lighting.

Overall, AEB is a valuable camera feature for producing high-quality images in tricky lighting conditions. However, it is important to be aware of its limitations and to use it in appropriate situations.

By following these tips, you can make the most of AEB and manual exposure control to capture stunning images that showcase your creative vision.


How Do I Enable Auto-Exposure Bracketing?

Enabling auto-exposure bracketing varies depending on the camera model. Generally, you have to navigate to your camera’s settings menu to enable AEB. You’ll need to adjust the exposure settings, such as the number of shots and exposure increments, to your liking.

Why Use Auto Exposure Bracketing In Photography?

Using auto-exposure bracketing allows you to capture multiple shots of the same scene with different exposure values. This technique helps you achieve a balanced exposure, especially when shooting in challenging lighting conditions, such as high-contrast scenes.

It also helps in capturing fulfilling HDR images.

When Should I Use AEB?

You should use auto-exposure bracketing when you want to capture images with a balanced exposure, especially in high-contrast lighting conditions. It is also useful when creating HDR images to bring out the full dynamic range of the scene.

Can You Shoot In Raw Mode With AEB?

Yes, most cameras that support AEB can capture raw files while shooting in this mode. Raw allows you to retain more information in your images, which is ideal for post-processing. Ensure you check your camera manual to confirm its AEB and raw capabilities.

How Do I Merge AEB Shots Into An HDR Photo?

You can merge AEB shots into an HDR photo using software such as adobe lightroom, photoshop, or Photomatix. Import the images into your software, and follow the instructions to create an HDR image.

You can adjust the tone-mapping settings to create a natural-looking final image or more creative effects.


Auto exposure bracketing can help you take better photos, especially when dealing with difficult lighting situations. By giving your camera multiple exposures of the same image, you ensure that at least one of them will capture the perfect lighting and exposure.

This technique can be applied to many types of photography, including landscapes and architecture, as well as portraits and action shots. Take advantage of this feature on your camera and experiment with different settings to see what works best for your particular needs.

By utilising auto-exposure bracketing, you will have more control over your photos and create stunning images that stand out from the rest. Don’t be afraid to try new things and push the limits of your camera’s capabilities, it may surprise you with the results.

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