Why is it so dark?

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    I’ve noticed since I’ve gone to my DSLR (it’s a 400D, Rebel XTi, hey, shut it, I’m poor) that all my pictures appear to be dark. Really dark. Sillily dark.

    Now, I think part of the problem may be that my monitor at home blows, but it doesn’t change the fact that the bleeding pictures start out too dark. I’ve upped the AV to +1 or 2 or phases in between, but sometimes it just seems to blow all the contrast right out doing that.

    So short of A) buying a new camera or B) Only taking pictures in bright sunlight (it seems to work then), what are my other options?

    Any help would make me so much less frustrated with my photography.



    If an image is too dark, there are several things you can do:

    1) Open the aperture more. This may decrease your depth-of-field to an unacceptable level.

    2) Slow down the shutter speed to get more light. This may cause blurring, especially if you shorten your shutter speed to 1/focal length X crop factor (i.e., on a DSLR with a 1.5x crop, you’d want to use 1/75 as a minimum for a 50mm lens.) It may also cause blurring with moving subjects.

    3) Increase your ISO. This will probably start introducing noise into the image (commonly called “grain” by people who think it’s similar to the effects you get with film.)

    4) Add more light. Whether by strobes or hot lights, doesn’t really matter to me. They both have their pros and cons. I prefer strobes because they’re a lot more portable and location-friendly than hauling a lot of 1000W hot lights.

    Hope this helps.

    P.S.: Don’t trust the LCD preview of your images. Trust the histogram over the LCD.


    Could you post some examples of the difference between your DSLR and whatever you were using before?


    Caradoc, thanks for those suggestions, I probably should have been a little clearer though. It seems to be more that the light sensor decides in anything other than bright sunlight, that things are brighter than they are, so adjusts itself if I open up the aperture or anything.

    Stapler, you’ve just given me a genius idea. I’m going to steal my old camera back from my Mum and try taking the same thing with both, and see if it’s just me being freaky or if there really is an issue. Thank you.

    I’ll update with pictures after the weekend.


    Definitely try that. It sounds to me like there could be a problem with the camera.


    You don’t have any flash or exposure compensation turned on do you?


    RcMacStudent: I don’t believe so. I don’t fiddle in the menus that much, so unless it comes as standard, I wouldn’t have set it. The EV is either at 0 or in the positives.

    Here’s the old camera shot (it’s an old point and shoot, Canon Powershot A70, and doesn’t like being set to ISO400 it seems….)

    With same settings, partial metering on the EOS

    Ditto but Evaluative Metering

    Ditto but Center Weighted Metering

    Finally Eval with EV+1 adjustment


    That looks normal to me.


    Are you shooting RAW with the DSLR?

    The Powershots invariably “fix” images when you shoot, using preset adjustments to generate their JPGs – typically, they boost the levels and saturation beyond what I call “normal.”


    Well, not much I can say that hasn’t been said but I will say this. Keep that A70, it’s the best point and shoot you’ll ever own.

    I use mine still for shots in risky situations where I don’t want to risk the DSLR.


    As I think about it more, I remember that as I was buying my XTI (~April ’07) there were many people complaining on some of the forums that their XTI would underexpose by 2/3 of a stop. It didn’t affect me as mine didn’t suffer from it – but it may be worth your while to google it.


    caradoc, I am shooting RAW, yes.

    Killerclaw, I would, but my Mum stole it. Although I do tend to steal it back every so often.

    RcMacStudent, thanks, I’ll look into that.

    And thanks Stapler for confirming that I am indeed going a bit mad. 😉

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