Nikon D80 Exposure Compensation Question

Discussion in 'Nikon' started by BRH, Sep 17, 2007.

  1. BRH

    BRH Guest

    I've been experimenting with my new D80 by exposure-bracketing each shot
    -1.5/0/+1.5. After a few days of shooting with my the 55-200mm VR Lens,
    I find that most of my -1.5 shots look better than the neutral (0)
    exposure shots.

    I would like to adjust the camera's "default" exposure by -1.0 and then
    bracket by -1/0/+1, where zero would be that "adjusted-by" -1.0
    exposure. (I hope that makes sense.) How do I make that adjustment to
    the "default" exposure on the D80?

    Thanks!
     
    BRH, Sep 17, 2007
    #1
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  2. BRH

    frederick Guest

    How about posting a sample.
    Reason that I say that is that most people using LCD
    computer screens to view their images have the screen's
    gamma/backlight levels too high, and a correctly exposed
    picture will look over-exposed.
    Send the images off to a commercial lab, and unless you
    request that no correction is made, then they'll adjust them
    to look about right.
    This is often manifested by people printing their own on an
    inkjet, and complaining that the prints are always too dark.
    Apart from using the exposure compensation setting, AFAIK,
    there's no way of changing a "default" exposure setting in
    the camera.
    Some Nikon cameras (D70/D200) seem to "deliberately"
    underexpose slightly (to "preserve highlights") - perhaps
    1/3 stop. Some lenses also seem to expose slightly
    differently, but up to 1.5 stops of exposure compensation
    sounds like way too much, unless something is wrong.
     
    frederick, Sep 17, 2007
    #2
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  3. BRH

    babalooixnay Guest

    There will be a "Exposure compensation" function in your menu
    somewhere. My D50 had a simple one, my D200 a tad more complicated,
    I'm sure it's in the D80 program as well. Find an 18% "grey card" and
    shoot that with manual exposure at '0' so that the lens is not seeing
    anything outside of the card (the card doesn't need to be focused and
    will probably be better slightly off) Then look at your histogram to
    see if you are under or over, (there should be a spike in the
    histogram at the middle mark) adjust with "exposure compensation" and
    re-shoot until the spike is at the middle mark, or as close as it will
    get as your adjustments will not be any finer than 1/3 stop. If it
    needs to be off have it to the right so that you are slightly
    overexposing.) Both my cameras were about 1/3 of a stop off and that
    is pretty typical. (The "exposure compensation" should have a way of
    setting it on permanently like the D50 or a button to turn it off/on
    like the D200.)

    A three stop span is way overdoing it. You might want to look more at
    where in the viewfinder you are metering. There are multiple
    programs; matrix, spot etc. If you are on spot for example and the
    "spot" is on the sky your area below the sky will be about two stops
    under exposed; Matrix will have compensated for that by balancing out
    the whole scene. If your meter is truly 1-1/2 stops off you need to
    have it looked at. If you shoot raw you can compensate at the raw
    processing stage although you want to be as close as you can before
    getting there so you don't waste any dynamic range.

    I don't think Nikon adjusts the meter any closer than +/- 1/2 stop on
    the assembly line. The fine tuning is for you to do.
     
    babalooixnay, Sep 17, 2007
    #3
  4. BRH

    Paul Furman Guest

    You can darken in post processing and get cleaner images with less noise
    if you like the darker look.

    The best quality images come from maximizing the exposure (as long as
    highlights don't get blown). The shadows always inherently have more
    noise. Often it's possible to set exposure compensation to plus
    something to get better images in low contrast situations, you only need
    to set exposure compensation negative when highlights are getting blown
    out.

    Check out the different display modes on the LCD with the command dial
    and usually it's most helpful to use the blinking blown highlight RGB
    display to see blow outs or the histogram to see underexposure and
    single channel blow outs. If you are really sure you don't want to ever
    get a great image and print it large or crop, then and only then would
    you set default exposure compensation to negative something, and yes
    that would save you the hassle of post processing.

    I wouldn't bother bracketing except to maximise low noise shadow detail
    while preserving highlights... if you want to darken there is never any
    damage to image quality in darkening in post processing.
     
    Paul Furman, Sep 17, 2007
    #4
  5. BRH

    BRH Guest

    Thanks to all for the replies.....

    I still have lots to learn. You were all spot on in different ways.
    Yes -- I had metering set to Spot Metering and had forgotten to return
    it to Matrix <sigh>.

    I found the overall exposure compensation setting. I probably will get
    a gray card to calibrate the camera's exposure setting.

    ....And I do prefer the darker look on my images for the most part.

    And to top it all off, I was shooting in Program Mode and adjusting the
    initial exposure by moving the master control dial, which threw the
    exposure way off. <sheesh>

    I had the bracketing set to a range of 3 just to make the difference
    REALLY obvious, I'm still a newbie at this.

    That said, I now adjusted the range down to 1 (-.5 to +.5), and find
    that now I have to hit the shutter button 3 times to bracket, whereas
    before I just had to hold it down once until 3 exposures were taken for
    it to bracket.

    I'm shooting RAW+Jpeg and it was bracketing with one long shutter button
    press before. Did I perhaps change some other setting which now
    requires me to press the shutter 3 times instead?

    Thanks!
     
    BRH, Sep 17, 2007
    #5
  6. BRH

    Paul Furman Guest

    Maybe the shooting mode, left dial: H = high speed S = slow speed, I'm
    guessing high speed will work.

    I find the exposure mode changes from matrix to spot etc pulling it in &
    out of the bag... that's annoying!
     
    Paul Furman, Sep 18, 2007
    #6
  7. Spot metering (based on an understanding of how to use it!) is actually the
    only way to reliably get correct exposures from a dSLR (other than incident
    metering with either a gray card or a separate incident meter).

    Once you've read the book I recommend below, you'll understand what I mean
    when I say that matrix metering is guraranteed to give the wrong answer at
    least some of the time, and that applying exposure compensation to a matrix
    meter reading is meaningless.
    Since you are interested in figuring this out...
    And since are thinking about what you want your images to look like

    I _strongly_ recommend taking the time to read one of Bahman Farzad's books,
    such as "The Confused Photographer's Guide to On-Camera Spotmetering". (He's
    got several versions, check them out at Amazon.)

    This book is simple, basic, and repetitive. But it'll bang the basic
    concepts of what exposure is really about into your head. Throroughly. Once
    you've got through this book, you'll be ready to read the Ansel Adams books,
    or anything else on the zone system.

    In real life, one uses matrix metering most of the time and only uses spot
    or incident metering in special cases. But understanding what's going on is
    worth a lot.

    David J. Littleboy
    Tokyo, Japan
     
    David J. Littleboy, Sep 18, 2007
    #7
  8. BRH

    BRH Guest

    Thanks. I'll check those books out. Looks interesting.
     
    BRH, Sep 18, 2007
    #8
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