New software for Sony Cameras greatly simplifies Manual exposure

sony exposure donut video screenshot

British engineer and photographer Tim Helweg-Larsen has designed an “exposure donut” he calls “Expodo”, a software tool for simplified manual exposure.

The new tool is still in its prototype stage, so don’t hold your breath on seeing it in a consumer camera quite yet. However, it is supposed to emerge for Sony mirrorless cameras, at least at first.

The in-development tool was first spotted by Sony Alpha Rumors and later also reported on by the website CineD. Essentially, it offers a clear, color-coded visual representation of core exposure settings right in the LCD display of a camera.

The tool does this via a donut-shaped circle that incorporates visual cues for the amount of light hitting a mirrorless camera’s sensor, its shutter speed, its ISO and its aperture.

Helweg-Larsen recently showed the new tool off at the CP+ show in Japan, which is running throughout this month.

In his demo, he used a compact Sony camera and has tested the software with Sony A7II, A5100 and RX100V cameras from the brand. The UK government has also partially funded his development through a grand and he holds a patent to the new technology.

iPhone users can also try out a beta test version of the software as a downloadable app through Apple TestFlight.

In terms of basic functionality, the red section of the donut is for shutter speed, showing the duration of time during which the shutter stays open so that the sensor can receive light.

The yellow part of the donut shows how much light enters the camera through the open shutter and the blue part of the donut ring displays light sensitivity or ISO.

Finally, there’s a Green section that indicates the size of the lens aperture diaphragm, showing how a smaller f-stop means a larger opening,

Basically, the software doesn’t show photographers anything that their camera can’t already tell them. It does however put it all together in a single visually concise and easily interpretable way.

Another cool thing about the donut that does go beyond what a camera will easily display is its cell system.

Each colored section of the full donut has its own cells and those should add up to 24 cells split between all four colors to different degrees depending on light conditions.

If a donut’s cells add up to more than 24 cells, then a photo is overexposed and too bright, and if there are less than 24 colored cells, the photo is underexposed and too dark.

The arc size of each color also dictates how much blur a photo will be. Thus, if a red arc (representing time) is overly long, there will be more motion blur because of a long exposure.

On the other hand, a longer green arc will mean more background blur. As for a too-long blue arc, it means high ISO and overall grainy blur for the whole photo.

For Helweg-Larsen, the point of this Exposure Donut is to make manual photography with standalone, interchangeable lens cameras easier and more enjoyable for beginners.

He claims to hope that this will encourage more people to try these much more professional photography devices instead of sticking strictly to smartphones.

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Shotkit Journalist, Writer & Reviewer

Stephan Jukic is a technology and photography journalist and experimental photographer who spends his time living in both Canada and Mexico. He loves cross-cultural street photo exploration and creating fine art photo compositions.

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