How To Use AE-L/AF-L Button Correctly?

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Darren (London, UK) asked : I have seen AE-L/AF-L button on the right side of my viewfinder on my Nikon D60. I read the manual but couldn’t understand quite well about it's feature. Can you explain me little bit when to use it and how to use it?

I have explained how to set AE-L/AF-L button on Nikon D90 and how it works a while ago. Nikon’s all DSLRs including D60 share same theory on how it works but it depends on your situation when you want to use it though. Basically AE-L/AF-L stands for Auto Exposure Lock/Auto Focus Lock but you can use AE-L/AF-L button for different many options. You can even use this button to lock Flash value which we discussed earlier. Your menu options and position may vary depending on your camera model but you will find it under CSM menu option and probably you have to go under Control option. If you want to see details on how to set AE-L/AF-L button in your camera, you may want to check my post on How to set AE-L/AF-L button on Nikon D90. But to make you better understand about Auto Exposure Lock feature, I will briefly describe it with couple of photographs I have taken.

Before applying Auto Exposure Lock (AE-L)

Before applying Auto Exposure Lock (AE-L)

My camera was in Aperture Priority mode and metering system was in Matrix metering mode. That means camera metered exposure based upon overall scene inside the frame. The white snow background gave the sense of overall bright situation to the camera metering system and it determined Shutter speed accordingly. But when I took picture, my main subject came out underexposed because camera metering system couldn’t realize that my main subject is not as bright was overall situation and I need more light on my main subject.

After applying Auto Exposure Lock (AE-L)

After applying Auto Exposure Lock (AE-L)

To overcome this issue, I used Auto Exposure Lock (AE-L) feature on my camera and used AE-L/AF-L button to activate that feature. So what I did is, I zoomed in little bit and focus on my main subject and press AE-L/AF-L button to lock exposure at that point where camera metering system determined exposure based upon subject not the entire situation and then I zoomed out and took a picture with locked exposure. This gave me nicely lit subject and well exposed background.