Help me understand my D800E's metering

Started Jan 25, 2013 | Discussions thread
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wombat779
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Help me understand my D800E's metering
Jan 25, 2013

Hi All,

I have been using my D800E for about a month now (switched from a 5D2 to a D800 about 8 months ago, then returned the D800 and went back to the 5D2 while the D800 bugs got worked out).

In any event, I have been very pleased so far, and am generally getting great results.  The one area that I am having consistent trouble with is what appears as "overexposure" in Matrix metering in high-contrast situations involving people.  An example of what I am getting is in the kids snapshot below (apologies for the crappy quality of the pic and for blacking out the eyes...I am oldschool and not quite comfortable posting pics of my kids online).

Under similar circumstances, I would have expected my 5D2 to underexpose by about 0.5 - 1.0 stop. With all the emphasis Nikon has placed on face detection/skin tone metering, I would have expected the D800E to result in a more pleasing exposure on the face/skin.  Note that I always shoot raw.

This essentially means that whenever I am taking large numbers of outdoors high-contrast shots with people, I am having to do more PP that I should need to (usually by dropping exposure and contrast, or boosting shadows/dropping highlights if I want a HDR-type look).  In general the image on the LCD looks better than on the PC in these situations. I am hoping to get more insight as to what I am doing wrong so as to avoid this in the future.

With that in mind, I can think of a bunch of possible scenarios for what is happening here:

Scenario 1:  The image looks fine, and its my monitor that is screwed up (possible, as even though it is calibrated it is fairly old).

Scenario 2:  The metering is working fine and did its job properly, even though the image is not "pleasing", because highlights and shadows were not clipped. Now its my job to PP the image to make it look good.  My thinking is that this is the most likely scenario.

Scenario 3:  The metering is generally working fine but got fooled by the dark jacket, dark shadows or something else in the scene.  This seems possible but unlikely, since this is pretty consistent regardless of the scene specifics.

Scenario 4: The metering in my body is defective and needs to be fixed by Nikon.  This seems unlikely because indoor/low contrast seems ok.

Scenario 5: The metering in my body is running a bit hot, and should be fixed with the exposure fine tune.  Again, this seems unlikely for the same reason as #4.

Scenario 6: This is just the way it is with Nikon's metering in this situation, and I should be using negative exposure compensation, spot metering, Active-D lighting, etc. to work around it.

Any thoughts on what is going on here and whether others are seeing similar results would be very appreciated. Thanks!

Canon EOS 5D Mark II Nikon D800 Nikon D800E
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