Exposure bracketing and white balance.

No, bracketing in photography - these are not shy girls in braces on their teeth.

Bracketing (BKT) - article by Radozhiva

Bracketing (BKT) - article from Radozhiva

Camera Bracketing - This is an opportunity to make a series of frames with different exposures. Although, in our time, there is bracketing white balanceWhere Exposition all frames in the bracketing series are the same, but white balance - different. Also, some cameras have the ability to focus bracketingwhere a series of shots just has a different focusing distance. Due to the fact that my Nikon D200 only supports bracketing exposure и white balance, there is nothing about focus bracketing in this article. You can read more in the section focus bracketing.

Usually with bracketing enabled exposurecamera takes multiple shots with different exposures. How much will change Exposition in a series of shots in bracketing mode, responds bracketing pitch. The bracketing step can almost always be set. The step answers how much the pictures will differ by exposure in the bracketing series. The step is measured in steps (feet or steps), feet are indicated by letters ev (exposure value). On almost all cameras, the standard step values ​​are 0.3 (1 \ 3) ev, 0.7 (2 \ 3) ev, 1 ev A step of 1 ev increases or decreases exposure by half.

Very often under bracketing exposure understand the symmetrical number of shots with increased and decreased exposure. In such a symmetrical mode, bracketing series consists of 3, 5, 7 or 9 shots. The number of shots may be more. For example, 3-shot bracketing means that one shot will be taken without correction exposure, one photo with exposure compensation in the “plus” and another one with exposure compensation in the “minus”.

Bracketing happens not symmetrical, but only with increase or decrease excerpts. That is, shooting in this mode, you can get pictures either only with reduced or increased exposure. One-side bracketing is used when you know exactly which way it is desirable to “move” the exposure. It is very convenient to observe the exposure shift with bar charts.

In many cameras, only bracketing is available. shutter speed and flash. This means that only a change in exposure is affected. excerpt or flash power.

Let me give you an example, let the bracketing step be 0.3 ev - this means that the pictures will differ from each other by 1/3 stops.

  • If symmetric bracketing for 3 shots is selected, pictures with + -0 ev, + 0.3ev, -0.3ev will be taken
  • If symmetric bracketing is selected for 5 pictures, then pictures with + -0 ev, + 0.3ev, + 0.7ev, -0.3ev, -0.7ev will be taken
  • If symmetric bracketing is selected for 9 shots, then pictures with + -0 ev, + 0.3ev, + 0.7ev, + 1e.v., + 1.3ev, -0.3ev, -0.7ev, -1e.v will be taken ., -1.3ev

But there are other types of exposure bracketing:

  1. Bracketing by shutter speed - changes excerpt.
  2. ISO bracketing (usually only works at auto-ISO) - ISO and / or shutter speed changes.
  3. Flash bracketing - The flash output changes.
  4. Aperture diaphragm - the aperture value changes.
  5. Often bracketing combined - change in the complex values excerpts, aperture, ISO and flash output.
Exposure bracketing for 3 pictures with a change in shutter speed (shutter \ flash mode)

Exposure bracketing for 3 pictures with a change excerpts (shutter speed / flash mode)

Aperture bracketing is rarely used, as the aperture changes the depth of field. On my camera Nikon D200 Aperture bracketing (flash \ aperture) is available only in manual mode M. In many cameras, bracketing only by shutter speed / flash is available.

Exposure bracketing for 3 pictures with aperture change (aperture / flash mode)

Exposure bracketing for 3 pictures with aperture change (aperture / flash mode)

Often, a step is limited to just one step 1e.v (from 0 to 1 ev). If symmetrical bracketing is performed on 3 pictures, then three pictures will be taken with normal exposure, increased by 1 step and reduced by 1 step. Three brackets are often called expo-saw (branching the frame into 3 takes with different settings, similar to a fork).

3-shot exposure bracketing with varying flash output (BKT flash mode)

3-shot exposure bracketing with varying flash output (BKT flash mode)

What is bracketing used for?

  1. For precise exposure. This is the main goal of bracketing. Several pictures with different exposures make it more likely to find a picture (photograph) with a good exposure.
  2. For exact selection white balance. Similarly, multiple shots with different BB will allow you to choose the most successful.
  3. For accurate focusing. From a series of shots with different focus settings, you can choose the best option. In more detail here.

Bracketing convenient to take HDR pictures. Usually, HDR is made of 3 pictures with different exposures.

Exposure bracketing for 3 shots with iSO change (shutter mode with auto ISO)

Exposure bracketing for 3 shots with iSO change (shutter mode with auto ISO)

Bracket Order

This is another bracketing option. Using it, you can set the order in which the camera will take pictures in the camera. For example, the camera can first take a picture without changing the exposure, then with a decrease in exposure, and then with an increase. Or he can first do it with an amendment to minus, because the norm (N), then with an amendment to plus. I use the latter option, it is easy to memorize it “minus, norm, plus”, or, visually “-, N, +". In different cameras in different ways, but the principle is the same.

How does bracketing take place?

Keep in mind whether bracketing is on or off.. Typically, this is indicated by the inscription BKT (bracketing) on ​​the camera display or in the viewfinder. Each shot in the bracketing series is taken separately. I highly recommend shooting with bracketing in slow mode to take one burst of shots from the brackets and not get lost in the bursts. Simply, when a series of shots with different exposures ends, the camera does not give any signal, and if you continue to shoot, a new series of shots begins. It often happens that bracketing is simply forgotten to turn off and you get pictures with different exposures in a circle. I highly recommend reviewing the bracketing instructions for your camera. For example, bracketing management on my Nikon D80, D90, D200 quite different.

White Balance Bracketing

White Balance Bracketing

 Personal experience

Personally, I rarely use bracketing, as I shoot mainly in RAW and at low ISO, which allows you to programmatically control the exposure with virtually no degradation in picture quality. RAW in this regard is a very flexible format, you can see how “pulled RAW compared to JPEG". Bracketing by white balance I don’t use at all, as BB very easy to fix in RAW using a RAW editor.

 If your camera does not have bracketing?

It's okay, it is needed in very, very rare cases, you can do without it perfectly. In order to realize bracketing on a camera where there is no such function, it is enough to take pictures with exposure compensation at the desired level. I can easily do without bracketing on my simple Nikon D40, although advanced and professional cameras use a special bracketing button, so for real pros, bracketing is a convenient tool for taking the highest quality pictures.


Exposure Bracketing - Useful for perfect exposure shots... Bracketing is very convenient for taking pictures for creating HDR photos. Instead of taking multiple shots in bracketing mode, I recommend correcting a small exposure compensation in the RAW file. White balance bracketing, too, can be done very easily with a RAW converter.

Add a comment: Nicholas



Comments: 41, on the subject: Exposure bracketing and white balance.

  • Alex

    Thank you very much for the article. Tell me, is it possible to use breaking on Nikon D90 + Soviet optics Helios 81 and Jupiter 37?

    • Arkady Shapoval

      As far as I know, in manual mode M on D90 bracketing does not work (I may be wrong)

  • Sash___OK

    Cheerful young lady with a magnifier.

  • Serg

    Appetizing tangerines turned out)))

  • dmitri

    exposure should mainly be corrected in cases where the camera’s automation is wrong, for example, when shooting snow on a sunny day.

  • Andrei

    It would be interesting to see an article from you about HDRI, personal experience so to speak ...

    • Razor


  • Denis

    thanks to the author, well done

  • Orward

    Arkady, I did not find a description of the metering modes in your table of contents:
    - Matrix
    - Center weighted
    - Chiseled
    After reading one article on one of the sites on the Internet, the author advises using mainly centrally-weighted measurement, resorting to others only when necessary.
    Matrix is ​​good for landscapes, spot for low-light objects ... I would like to hear your opinion on the choice of exposure metering mode.
    Thank you!

    • Arkady Shapoval

      I just don't have an article on exposure metering yet.
      Actually, you yourself answered your question.

  • Orward

    Mostly interested in what you would recommend as universal for urban filming, reporting, and, well, wedding work. Is Center-Weighted So Universal?

    • Arkady Shapoval

      There is no universal mode, just like there are no universal settings. Shoot in matrix mode, and then in centrally-weighted mode, and analyze the footage for yourself.

  • Orward

    Yes, I also forgot about flash photography, which metering mode should I use with it?

    • Arkady Shapoval

      The one that is most suitable for the scene you are shooting. As soon as the time comes, I will try to prepare an article.

  • Vladimir

    On my Nikon D90 in the EXPOSURE BREAKING mode, one shot is taken with one press of the shutter button, that is, each shot requires one click of the button, and not 2-3 frames with one click. Is this the way it should be or a malfunction?

    • Arkady Shapoval

      So it should be in S mode, otherwise use CL, CH.

      • Max

        Arkady, I have the same problem on Nikon 5100. Only 1 frame is taken at the push of a button. I tried both "single-frame - S" and "continuous - C" ...
        Moreover, WB bracketing shoots 3 frames at once (mode “C”), and for exposure - only in a circle: 3 different presses = 3 different frames.
        Can you tell me? Thanks in advance.

        • Arkady Shapoval

          5100 is not at hand now, for me it will be a problem to tell.

  • Vladimir

    Thanks, Arkady, everything worked out. In CL mode, bracketing produces 2-3 frames by pressing the shutter button, which I needed for the subsequent application of HDR technology.

  • Vasil

    Arkady I have d7000 - set the flash bracketing - it seems to be the best option, AE bracketing - is this exposure in the notation? But in general, you can disable bracketing on d7000 on multi-frame?

    • Arkady Shapoval

      AE - auto exposure. Bracketing is easily disabled and works in any mode.

  • Vasil

    but tell me how to cut it down on d7000

    • Arkady Shapoval

      Press the eject button and set it to 0.

  • R'RёS,R ° F "RёR№

    Arkady, tell me, be a caress, is there an EXPOSITION BRACKET on the D3000?

    • Arkady Shapoval

      No, the D3000 does not have such a function.

  • Artem

    Arkady, I would like to read your opinion about HDRI photography. In my D5100 there is such a function, well, very interesting! Thank you for the article.

  • Dmitriy

    Good afternoon, Arkady
    And can Nikon D90 reduce 3-7 photos taken by EXPOSURE BRACKETING into one. Yes, and thanks for the article.

  • Igor

    The D90 has a similar function, but you can only reduce a couple of frames (if I figured it out correctly with this feature).

  • Victor

    In D 90, Bracket shots cannot be combined. There is another function (HDRI), called multiple exposure, but it only reduces 3 frames to one (although it is also not bad
    ) but the flash must be turned off + 3 frames continuous shooting.
    I only reduce it under these conditions, and even turn off the stabilizer on the lens with it there will be no clarity.

  • Nicholas

    “Aperture bracketing is rarely used because the aperture changes the DOF. On my Nikon D200, aperture bracketing (flash / aperture) is only available in manual M mode. Many cameras only have aperture / flash bracketing available. "

    Possibly: “In many cameras, only SHUTTER / FLASH bracketing is available.”

    PS. Thank you so much for your work)

    • Arkady Shapoval


  • Bator

    I have a D90, which adapter for the M42 thread can be used. Soviet telephoto lens from Zenit Camera

  • Nicholas

    “Bracketing step can almost always be set”
    "Bracketing" - with two K.

  • Wit

    Bracketing can be pushed into the opa if you shoot at ISO

  • Sergei

    Arkady, I’m reading far from the first article, thank you very much for your work !!!!

  • Sergei

    Thank you for your work, it’s easier to master digital photography with you!

  • R'RёS,R ° F "RёR№

    Which is better, take HDR photos from bracketing or use the HDR function built into the camera?

    • Michael

      Hello. This is a question from a series: is it better to shoot in RAV or JPEG? If the arms are straight, it is better to brace and sew on a computer.

      • R'RёS,R ° F "RёR№

        It was enough to answer that it is better to stitch on a computer.

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