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Old Sep 16, 2007, 11:41 PM   #1
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Hi all,

I just got my d80 and I admittedly haven't read all there is to read in the manual, however, I did read the section on manual photographs. It should be a no brainer. I'm taking pictures in bright light or bright indoor lighted conditions, camera set to M, body and lens set to M, shot appears in focus in viewfinder, but when I go to view the shot, all I see is a black picture. That's it. It's that way w/ the kit lens 18-135 and my 50mm1.8 prime. Am I doing something wrong or is something wrong with my camera? :?

Thanks...
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Old Sep 17, 2007, 1:32 AM   #2
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Hi suitefreak,
Have you tried shooting these same scenes in auto. And if they come out, have you tried dialing in the same settings that the camera is choosing in auto in Manual mode to see what happens? Without knowing what settings your using it's hard to know what may be wrong. But try the above and if the camera takes an ok shot in auto and you can't replicate the shot using those same settings auto mode is choosing, there's probably a problem.
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Old Sep 17, 2007, 4:40 AM   #3
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You're probably way underexposed. What are your shutter speeds, ISO, and aperature? As was mentioned, shoot the same scenes in Aperature or one of the pre-set scene modes with 0 exposure compensation. If the pics are still black, the camera is at fault. I'm not sure why many are still hung up on shooting in full manual mode. Unless you need absolute control over exposure (like in a studio setting, or extremely tough conditions) aperature mode will work most of the time, thus allowing control over depth of field.
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Old Sep 17, 2007, 7:55 AM   #4
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Warning -- long winded post. ;-)

If you try to use a shutter speed that's too fast for the lighting, ISO speed and aperture, you'll get underexposed images (too dark). As rjseeny mentioned, that's probably what you're seeing.

If you try to use a shutter speed that's too slow for the ISO speed lighting and aperture, you'll get overexposed images (too bright). ;-)

So, you can't just use anything you want to. Use the camera's meter to let you know if your settings will result in under or overexposure if you want to use manual exposure.

The camera has to keep the shutter open long enough to expose the film or sensor and the same concepts apply to film or digital.

The meter in your viewfinder is designed to let you know if your settings are going to result in a darker or brighter exposure, compared to the way the camera's metering thinks it should be exposed (and the metering mode and what you meter on will impact what the camera thinks is needed).

When you are shooting in non-manual modes, this meter is used for a feature called Exposure Compensation. If you set the camera so that the pointer is higher than zero, it will take a brighter exposure than the camera would have used by default. If it's set to a -EV value, it will expose it darker than the metering thinks is needed.

If you're shooting in Manual Exposure mode, there is no Exposure Compensation (because your aperture and shutter speed settings take the place of it since you're controlling both of these variables, although most cameras have a meter that shows you how your settings are impacting exposure).

Exposure Compensation lets you alter the way a camera's autoexposure/metering algorithms expose an image (brighten or darken it compared to the way the camera metered the scene). It's one of my most frequently used settings on most cameras.

A +EV value gives you a brighter exposure. The camera uses a slower shutter speed and/or larger aperture (smaller f/stop number) to get a brighter exposure, compared to what the camera's autoexposure/metering algorithms would have selected.

A -EV value gives you a darker exposure. The camera uses a faster shutter speed and/or smaller aperture (higher f/stop number) to get a darker exposure, compared to what the camera's autoexposure/metering algorithms would have selected.

If you're in Av Mode (Aperture Priority) and use Exposure Compensation, the camera will vary the shutter speed (since you're setting the aperture). If you're using Tv (Shutter Priority) mode and use Exposure Compensation, the camera will vary the Aperture (since you're controlling the shutter speed).

If you're in Auto (or other similar modes), the camera may vary aperture or shutter speed when you use Exposure Compensation. In low light, since your aperture is already wide open, it varies shutter speed if you use a -EV setting.

If you're shooting in Manual Exposure mode, there is no Exposure Compensation (because your aperture and shutter speed settings take the place of it since you're controlling both).

This is the concept you need to become familar with, so I'll make it bold:

Correct Exposure comes down to the amount of light, the ISO speed, the shutter speed, and the aperture. A variety of combinations will produce identical exposure.

These exposure calculators and simulators may help you understand it better, too:

http://www.robert-barrett.com/photo/...alculator.html

http://www.photonhead.com/simcam/shutteraperture.php

You use Exposure Compensation if you want a brighter or darker image compared to what the camera's metering would normally give you in the same conditions if you're not using manual exposure.

An example of when you may want to use a +EV setting is for a backlit subject, where the subject would normally be much darker than the rest of the image. Since the camera has a limited dynamic range, it doesn't know that you want the dark subject exposed properly (at the expense of the rest of the image). So, you can make the darker subject brighter for correct exposure (which might cause the rest of the scene to be overexposed some).

If your subject is much brighter than the rest of the image (for example, direct sunlight hitting your subject, even though most of the photo is in shadows), you may want to use a -EV setting for Exposure Compensation so that your subject is not overexposed (making the rest of the image darker, too).

The camera has a limited range of bright to dark that it can capture. So, it makes choices so that most of the iimage is correctly exposed, depending on your metering mode. Sometimes that may not be what you want. That's where exposure compensation comes in.

In manual mode, you're controlling the Exposure with your settings for aperture and shutter speed (and your meter will show you if the camera thinks they will result in under or overexposure, much in the same way it will show you if your Exposure Compensation settings in non-manual modes will expose brighter or darker).

Although we have a lot of automation with newer camera models (both film and digital), the concepts of exposure still work the same way as they do with old manual only cameras.

You still have only 4 main variables to take into consideration for exposure (and I use the term "main" since there are a lot of nuances to how you measure the light (for example, your metering mode), as well as different film characteristics if shooting film, and camera settings if shooting digital for the desired tone/contrast curve within an image and more). Once you have a better idea of how these 4 variables work together to give you a properly exposed image, the other fancy features will make more sense.

1. Light (typically measured as EV for Exposure Value in Photography).

2. Aperture (which works similar to the pupils in your eyes, where you can open up the aperture iris wider to let in more light, or close it down to let in less light). If you let in more light with a wider aperture, you can expose the film or sensor faster. If you let in less light with a smaller opening, it takes longer to expose the film or sensor. Note that aperture is normally expressed as f/stop, which is a ratio between the focal length of the lens and the diameter of the aperture iris. So, smaller values represent a larger iris diameter.

3. ISO speed. This is how sensitive the film or sensor is to light and is the same thing as the older ASA rating for film. The higher the ISO speed, the faster you can expose it.

4. Shutter Speed (this is how long the camera's shutter stays open to expose the film or sensor).

IOW, it all boils down to how senstive the film or sensor is to light (which you control via the ISO or ASA speed of the film you use with film, or the ISO speed settings you use with digital), and how much light you need to let it see to "expose" the iimage (which you control via the aperture opening size and shutter speed).

So, you've got lots of fancy features on newer cameras to automate what settings it uses, and let you vary it's behavior to expose an image darker or brighter than the camera's metering would normally expose it. But, it really boils down to the camera changing the same things you had to worry about with a strictly manual camera without a fancy metering system, Automatic Exposure modes, etc.

So, Exposure Compensation is just another tool you have to work with, allowing you to expose an image brighter or darker than the camera's metering would normally expose it when using non-manual modes, and it varies shutter speed and/or aperture to accomplish that.

With manual exposure, you're controlling those variables (and your viewfinder scale for the metering will let you know if your setttings are exposing brighter or darker than the camera's metering thinks is needed).

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Old Sep 17, 2007, 9:45 AM   #5
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Wow, good post!! To sum it up: Manual mode is not a "no brainer".
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Old Sep 18, 2007, 6:07 PM   #6
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FWIW, the OP also posted on Nikonians and replied later that he had inadvertantly set the shutter at 1/4000-second in a room lit by one halogen light. Once he adjusted the shutter to ~1/13-second he got a good exposure. One key point that assisted him was the guidance to use the view finder's exposure meter bar on his D80 while adjusting the shutter speed...
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Old Sep 19, 2007, 7:08 AM   #7
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Telecorder wrote:
Quote:
FWIW, the OP also posted on Nikonians and replied later that he had inadvertantly set the shutter at 1/4000-second in a room lit by one halogen light. Once he adjusted the shutter to ~1/13-second he got a good exposure. One key point that assisted him was the guidance to use the view finder's exposure meter bar on his D80 while adjusting the shutter speed...
That's right, I did post to other boards. Thank you all for your responses. I am still learning how to use the camera, and didn't even realize the shutter was set that high. I also didn't know about the manual exposure meter bar until it was pointed out to me on the other board. I mean I read about it in the manual, but it wasn't anyway connected to the information about how to use the camera in M mode, so I didn't even realise the 2 went and in hand. Duh. (I know!)

I've been trying to read the manual to learn how to better use the camera, and it's very disjointed in the way that it's written. :?(IMO) I also have theD80 Digital Field guide and Understanding Exposure. The Digital Field guide in some instances contradicts what the manual says, so that makes it even more confusing. But I'm learning --and I appreciate all the info that you more experienced d80 users can give me -- even when it's pointing out the obvious. Sometimes what may be obvious to experienced users, isn't all that obvious to us noobs. :shock::lol:

Thanks again!:-)
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Old Sep 19, 2007, 7:11 AM   #8
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JimC,

Thank you for all that very good information! I copied it all in a Word doc and will keep it to refer to. Thanks for those good links too!:-)
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Old Oct 8, 2007, 11:45 AM   #9
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I have had a similar but different problem. I have a D40 and have never used Manual mode. Occasionally I will use Aperature or Shutter Priority, but most of the time just Program. Also, I shoot in JPG Large/Fine. Once in a while I will get a black picture. I've never noticed it after taking a shot, so I see it being one of two possible scenarios:
1. One of a series of multiple shots where I don't review the image, that for some reason doesn't process.
2. For some reason a "non-picture" file is being created/inserted??

Anyone else ever have something like this happen?

I'm using a Nikon 18-200VR lens.

Also, I would say it's happened maybe three or four times out of around 2000 pictures.
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