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Old Dec 20, 2006, 4:21 PM   #1
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I purchased a D-200 back in May, and all in all, I have been very happy with it. For anyone who has one, you know there is a learning curve associated with using this camera effectively. Here is my predicament: Often, if I take a shot outdoors, and there is any strong contrast (sunlit in part of the picture and deep shade in the other) the pictures come out very dark. I contacted Nikon and emailed them some samples. They came back and said the pics were within spec for the camera. I even took some shots where most of the frame is filled by a persons face in the afternoon sunlight, and the pictures still look a little murky. More times than not, I have to make a correction in the software that I use to get a decent shot.

Can anyone suggest anything? I even brought the camera back to the shop where I bought it. They indicated that the settings were correct. What is funny, is that for as bad as some shots come out, there are others that are absolutely stunning???:|
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Old Dec 20, 2006, 4:33 PM   #2
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I think it'll be better if you post a picture, with complete exif data, so we know what you're talking about.

But base on your description, it could be that the camera is working as intended and that your understanding of metering and exposure needs to be clarified.

Basically, the camera exposes everything as medium gray. This means that if you take the camera's default setting while shooting a white snow, the result is a darker, mud-looking picture. This is normal. It is your job to compensate for that by adjusting the exposure compensation.

Post a picture so we can see the exif and histogram and tell you what's going on.



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Old Dec 20, 2006, 5:03 PM   #3
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I think this is one of the many things that you cannot expect your camera to do. Being a machine,your cameracannot capture the range of exposures within a frame that a human eye can. In this case, you need to make use of advanced in-camera and software techniques.

Have you triedexposure bracketing ? In this, your camera takes three snaps, one with the auto exposure setting and two more with a step above and below. You have to then process the three shots in your software to get the correct exposure throughoutthe frame.

~newbie

PS> I hope that was not too naive!
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Old Dec 20, 2006, 5:29 PM   #4
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I'm having trouble attaching the sample photo. According to the exif info, it was shot at 1/400s, at f10. I was able to make a very usable picture when I corrected it with my software, but if the picture appears, you will see what I mean. Also, I looked at the histogram. The peak was way closer to the left side, and then drops off sharply, then there is a very slight gradual drop on the graph. If I was correcting the shot using the histogram, I would have put the lines on either side of the peak Hopefully the info will attach with the picture. If not, could you explain to me how to attach the photo with the exif info intact? Thanks,

Johnny Rotten

PS: They called me Johnny Rotten long before any of the Sex Pistols ever picked up a musical instrument.
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Old Dec 21, 2006, 5:51 PM   #5
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change the mettering to center or spot, then the face (if that's your focus spot)will be exposed properly and the highlights may get blown out.

change the exposure compensation to +1 or +2 or whatever works ... but you loose highlights as well

use photoshop - Image-> adjustments-> shadow/ highlights feature to lighten the shadows. or some other software that does that.

BEST bet though is to pop up the flash that will fill in the shadows and let you see the sky and the face. You supposed to use flash outside for shots you describe.
Same goes if you shoot someone/something indoors against a window
there is no other way.



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Old Dec 21, 2006, 11:26 PM   #6
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You can use a free site, like imageshack, to post image. Upload it to their site and link it back to here.
http://www.imageshack.us/

It does seem like your images are under exposed. The advice given so far, compensating, and using fill-flash will probably help.

In general, I tend to follow the "expose-to-the-right" rule. So after shooting I check the historgram and make sure the bulk of it are closer to the right. This of course doesn't cover every scenario, but for outdoor shots on a sunny day it's what I do. When using Aperture or Shuttter priority, this usually means adding +1.0EV compensation, or more, to what the camera *thinks* is correct.

This usually blows out the sky, but like just like what others said, it's just a limitation you have to deal with. If you're shooting landscape, you can use a tripod, bracket by taking multiple exposures and then blending them in photoshop.

Here are sites that may help you:

http://www.canon.co.jp/Imaging/enjoydslr/p_4_003.html

http://www.luminous-landscape.com/tu...se-right.shtml

http://www.nikondigitutor.com/eng/d200/index.shtml



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Old Dec 23, 2006, 5:25 AM   #7
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Well, I feel a little vindicated/relieved that the top-of-the-line Nikon has the same problem as my D70. From the first day I got this camera, I have complained about the pictures being too dark. I assumed that with a camera of Nikon's reputation, you could set everything on full auto and things would turn out full perfect. Wrong.

You have to deceive the camera into thinking that it's metering on gray.

I second the comments about using the spot meter setting and metering on a person's face. This is the quickest and easiest solution but in reality, you would need something just a bit darker than caucasian flesh tones because those are pretty reflective.

I conducted tests on spot metering with a TV camera test chart, called a 'chip chart.' this has 10 shades of black to gray to white gradiations and I noticed that the histogram looks best when metering just below the 50% level.

The 3D meter worked OK in full sunlight against green grass and very little sky. Stay tuned.
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Old Dec 23, 2006, 8:09 AM   #8
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Most Nikon's tend to slightly underexpose in Matrix mode mainly to preserve highlights. It's always easier to pull detail out of shadows than to recover highlights that are blown. This trend seems to have shifted a bit with the D80, as many are now complaining about the opposite. As was mentioned, using fill flash is a good solution to balancing the exposure. Any DSLR is going to have some issues with exposure in scenes with alot of dynamic range. Exposure latitude is a bit less digitally than with film.
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Old Dec 24, 2006, 3:38 AM   #9
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rjseeney wrote:
Quote:
Most Nikon's tend to slightly underexpose in Matrix mode mainly to preserve highlights. It's always easier to pull detail out of shadows than to recover highlights that are blown. This trend seems to have shifted a bit with the D80, as many are now complaining about the opposite. As was mentioned, using fill flash is a good solution to balancing the exposure. Any DSLR is going to have some issues with exposure in scenes with alot of dynamic range. Exposure latitude is a bit less digitally than with film.
I wonder if it would be possible to convince Nikon to come up with some firmware fix for this so we wouldn't have to compensate for it? There are guitar amps called "modeling amps" that use software programs to emulate other, classic amps and I wonder if this principle can't be applied to cameras? I don't think we should have to continually fiddle the exposure or come up with work-arounds to get the results we're after.
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Old Dec 24, 2006, 8:03 AM   #10
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I would like to thank you all for your hints and suggestions. I was beginning to think that maybe there was something wrong with the camera or me for that matter. I did bring the camera back to the store where I bought it, and the guys there kept indicating (in a nice way) that I was doing something wrong. I'm not a professional photographer by any stretch of the imagination, but I have been fooling around with cameras for about 40 years. I started as a pre-teen, (I'm 53) and bought my first 35mm just over 30 years ago (it was a Canon FTB <<Great camera for a beginner.) This D-200 is my 5th digital camera, and I would dare say that I do at least have a clue as to what I'm talking about. My last point and shoot was the Olympus C-5050, and that camera took some great pictures. I do agree with you that it is better to slightly underexpose a digital photo as you can bring up the highlights in the software. If you overexpose it, you're done. I guess it's like cooking a turkey. You can under cook it and always put it back in the oven for a little while. If you over cook it, the meat becomes tough and dry and there is no going back.

I found that link to the Nikon website particularly helpful. This all kind of confirms what I already knew: the upper level cameras all have a learning curve associated with using them to their fullest extent. Thank you all again for your input, and I will implement some of the suggestions.

May you all have a very Merry Christmas or whatever holiday it is that you celebrate. (I just got done with a gig where I was playing Santa Claus, and find it hard to say Happy Holidays.)
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