The ‘Exposure Donut’ for Sony Cameras Simplifies Manual Exposure

The “Exposure Donut” is a new way to understand manual exposure controls on a mirrorless camera. Created by British engineer and photographer Tim Helweg-Larsen, the Exposure Donut, or Expodo, is a software tool designed to simplify exposure on mirrorless cameras.

As reported by CineD and spotted by Sony Alpha Rumors, Expodo provides a visual representation of essential exposure settings on a camera’s display. The four-color “donut” shows the amount of light, shutter speed, ISO, and aperture.

The Exposure Donut is currently in the prototype stage and was shown at the recent CP+ photo show in Japan. Helweg-Larsen has tested the prototype software on multiple Sony cameras, including the a7 II, a5100, and RX100V. He has also received a grant from the UK government, and his technology is patented.

For iPhone users, a beta version of the app is available via Apple TestFlight which allows users to test the Exposure Donut interface and see how it works on their smartphones.

The red section represents time, or shutter speed. It’s the duration that the shutter is open to receive light through the lens. Yellow corresponds to light. Blue represents sensitivity, or ISO. Finally, green represents the aperture, or the size of the opening of the lens’ aperture diaphragm. The larger the opening, the smaller the f-stop.

Each section, or arc, in the donut has its own cells. The image is correctly exposed if the total number of cells adds up to 24. If the numbers add up to less than 24, it’s underexposed (too dark). More than 24 and the photo is overexposed (too bright).

The arcs offer more than exposure information. The longer an arc, the more blur the final image will include, all else equal. The longer the red (time) arc, the more motion blur there will be because the shutter speed is slower. A longer green arc (aperture) means that the background will be more blurred, as a longer aperture arc area that the aperture is wider, and depth of field is shallower. The longer the blue section, the higher the camera’s ISO, which increases grain blur and makes the entire image less sharp.

Exposure Donut

Helweg-Larsen hopes that the Exposure Donut will help expand the camera market. Many photographers have only shot with smartphones, which handle exposure automatically. While there are some camera apps that offer manual control over settings on smartphones, these controls don’t quite prepare someone for their first experience using a dedicated interchangeable lens camera, which is the natural next step for users who love capturing smartphone photos.

Exposure Donut

Interchangeable lens cameras offer significantly more control to photographers, although offer little by way of visual feedback or advice for how to use manual exposure controls, like shutter speed, aperture, and ISO, to achieve the desired results. Exposure Donut hopes to make learning about the components of exposure easier and more intuitive without wrestling control away from the user.

Image credits: Exposure Donut