In poor lighting, with the flash turned "on" or "auto", the pictures that I take are either dark (can't see a thing) or way to bright (like a deer in headlights with highbeams). I attempted to reset the camera, but that did not fix the problem. Any ideas?
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Re: Dark or Bright images
It might be that (sometimes) the battery is not strong enough to quickly charge the flash and you take a picture when it is not yet able to flash at the power level it needs to. This may be that the battery is weak and/or you try to take a second picture too quickly after the last flash.
On other occasions (when the images are blown out, I.E., overexposed) you are probably too close to your subject and are not using a reduced power flash setting. Experiment with a well-charged battery. Without reducing the flash output you will allways get this overexposure if you are a few feet away from the subject
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There are four ways to make the image lighter a) more light (flash, sun, etc) b) slower shutter speed (allows more time for light to "expose" the sensor) c) larger aperture (bigger hole = more light) d) higher ISO (basically, amplify the available light more).
If you are using a point and shoot camera, the flash is usually only good for about 10 feet, so trying to get a good bright picture of subjects further away won't work.
Items b, c, and d are handled by the camera in automatic mode. In manual mode, set the iso has high as it can go. Set the aperture as large as it can go, and decrease the shutter speed.
Depending on the camera, you can enable the histogram to see if the images are too dark, usually by pressing the display button while taking pictures. If the histogram is off to the left edge, the picture will be too dark.
In post-processing, (e.g. photoshop), you can use Levels (control-shift-L for auto-levels) and it will move the histogram to the right, making the picture look brighter.
To autofocus the sensor needs a fair amount of contrast (light and dark eges) to operate. If you're trying to take a photo in a dim room of a dark colored subject for instance the focus won't lock and the camera won't take the picture. Try switching your lens to manual focus and shoot that way.
I just got this camera for Christmas the only way that I know of how to fix it is to change the exposure manually. If the picture is to bright you need a negative exposure, if it is to dark you need a positive exposure. I have noticed that the auto exposure does not get the correct setting that you need for the lighting.
learning to use light metering correctly can have its challenge. the manual will guide you on how to set up to read light from the subject. spot metering a dark area will cause general overexposure, or a washed out look. spot metering a bright area will cause a dark image. if you are on spot meter and shoot two people standing together against a bright lit background, your meter will see between them if they are centered, and read all that bright background, setting the camera to a less sensitive combination of aperture / shutter speed, resulting in a dark image. use field averaging meter setting and be sure you are metering the subject and not the background. try shooting a wall that is fairly clear of other colors and uniform it light hitting it, you should have a correctly exposed image. since it works in other modes (at least 1, anyway) then it is unlikely you have an exposure compensation issue. that is the only other non defect issue that would cause your problem. once you confirm that you have these settings correct and still get a dark image, its time to have it serviced. good luck mark