What Is Canon Auto Lighting Optimizer and How to Use it

The Canon Auto Lighting Optimizer is a feature that helps adjust the light and dark areas of a photograph. It can bring out details in a photograph. It helps because the actual camera sensor can capture a limited amount of light, and sometimes it isn’t enough.

What Is Canon Auto Lighting Optimizer?

man holding Canon camera at his side

The Canon Auto Lighting Optimizer is a setting available in Canon cameras. It works by adjusting the JPEG photos to compensate for bad lighting and bring out more detail. The camera will use this setting automatically if it is turned on. These adjustments will lighten the darkest part of the photo, and it is available on most Canon cameras that were made after 2008.

How Does it Adjust the Images?

The Auto Lighting Optimizer adjusts the images by changing some of the curves in the image. This allows the majority of the image to retain its true colors while adjusting some of the darker parts. It is ideal when you use the flash or when you have backlighting because these are the times that you end up with shadows. This will bring out some of the details in the darker parts of the photograph.

When Should You Use Auto Lighting Optimizer?

One of the ideal times to use this setting is when you are photographing a subject with backlighting. When the light is behind your subject, your subject will have shadows most of the time. This takes away some of the details of the photo. In addition, this can happen when you use a flash. When the Auto Lighting Optimizer kicks in, it lightens the shadows. This allows some of the details to return to the photograph.

When Not to Use Auto Lighting Optimizer

One of the problems with using Auto Lighting Optimizer all of the time, is that it can reduce the contrast of the image. When a photo is lit from the front, it has soft lighting that allows all of the details to show up in the image. Using ALO in this situation can reduce the quality of the photo. This feature reduces the shadows, which reduces the contrast of the image.

If the photo doesn’t have shadows or need this, it can lose some of its quality. It can also create noise in the photograph. You don’t need to turn it on when the lighting is good, and you should keep it off unless you need it so that you won’t end up with noise or lost details.

Finally, if you shoot in RAW mode, you should leave the auto lighting optimizer turned off. It’s not so much that it harms RAW images, but it could change the preview of the image. When you use RAW, you will be able to recover details in the post-processing stage, and you can actually edit the picture better than you could by using the ALO setting. Manual recovery is the best way to edit these photos, so you can leave the ALO setting off.

How to Use Auto Lighting Optimizer

Using this setting is quite easy; all you need to do is go into the camera settings and turn it on. You may find it in the quick menu or the full menu. You can choose to leave it disabled, which means that it is turned off.  Then, you can choose between Low, Standard, and High. You can choose the setting that is best for your image.

The Standard setting will work for the majority of your images. You can use low if you are worried about contrast; low has the least impact on your photo. High will have the most impact, and you can use it if your image has more significant backlighting. You can turn the ALO setting on when you want to use it, and then turn it off when you are not using difficult lighting.