How to Fix Webcam Exposure

Written by anne hirsh
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How to Fix Webcam Exposure
Your webcam features software controls within its program. (Hemera Technologies/Photos.com/Getty Images)

The settings on your webcam will vary, according to the manufacturer and the model of camera you have. Whether you use a built-in webcam or an external one, it uses software to control it and to tell your computer how to interact with it. Technically, the appearance of brightness, contrast and clarity is not "Exposure," as there is no film to "expose" in a digital environment. However, adjusting your webcam's settings will produce similar results to adjusting a film camera's exposure.

Skill level:
Moderate

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Instructions

  1. 1

    Attach your webcam if you use an external camera, and wait for your computer to recognise that the hardware is plugged in. If you use an internal camera, skip to the next step.

  2. 2

    Click the "Start" button on the taskbar at the bottom of your computer screen.

  3. 3

    Type "webcam" into the search box on the Start menu. This pulls up any programs related to your webcam above the search bar. If this does not work, try "Web camera" or "Camera."

  4. 4

    Click on the search result that says "Camera application" or similar wording. It may also include your camera's brand name. This will launch the webcam software program.

  5. 5

    Look for a menu link that says "Tools," "Options" or "Settings." These links may also be in icon form, generally either a wrench or a gear-like icon. Click on the link when you find it. This should launch a window with settings for brightness, contrast and other controls. Brightness may also use a sun icon, and a circle that is half black and half white generally symbolises contrast. Keep searching through the links until you find these controls. You may need to click on a button labelled "Advanced" within the menus.

  6. 6

    Choose a preset if your camera has preset options available. Many cameras have preset combinations of contrast and other exposure-related settings, such as "Sunny day," "Outdoors," "Night" and "Living room." Preview each choice in the available preview window, if available, or apply the setting -- usually by clicking "OK" -- and check it out on the camera's main screen.

  7. 7

    Adjust the contrast and other settings if your computer does not have presets available or if you do not like the presets. Many programs have sliders for each setting. Click on a slider and drag your mouse to the right or left to increase or decrease the setting. For example, dragging the slider to increase contrast will make your shadows darker and your light spots brighter, which can help make images more distinct. Decreasing the "Brightness" slider will darken your overall image, which can reduce glare and add clarity in a bright, sunny location. Another common setting is "Gamma," which can increase overall brightness in very dark settings, but it can also cause blurred images. Keep adjusting the sliders until you are happy with the exposure.

  8. 8

    Click "OK" to close out of your settings. You can now use your webcam as normal.

Tips and warnings

  • General webcam settings may not affect your webcam's exposure in all programs. For example, if your image is well-exposed in the webcam application but muddy on a video chat program like Skype, look for that program's internal image controls and adjust them using the same method you used on your webcam application.

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