V1 Slow meter response

Started Feb 11, 2012 | Discussions
Photo Pete
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V1 Slow meter response
Feb 11, 2012

I've had the V1 for a couple of weeks now. Generally thrilled with it as a walkaround alternative to my D3s.

I can handle having to dive into menus for exposure mode, white balance, ISO etc... those really aren't as big a problem as people make out (after all, how often do we really change exposure mode... normally not shot to shot, but situation to situation).

True, the Auto ISO is a bit of a pain when it sets low shutter speeds, but why not use manual or shutter priority instead when that is an issue? The flash setting the highest ISO is also odd, but then just set Auto ISO to 400 or 800 and that's also fine.

One problem, however, that is really, really bugging me is the slow meter response time... and there doesn't seem to be any real discussion about it on this forum (at least I've not found any). I first noticed it when shooting some skiiers moving from bright sunlight to shadow. The meter would take a couple of seconds to adjust to the changing lighting conditions, resulting in a high proportion of under or over exposed shots.

I tried a more controlled test. Pointed the camera at the sky out of a window and then quickly pointed it at the floor inside the house and took a photo. The result was horribly underexposed (exposure lock was disabled on the shutter release so this is purely a result of the meter response time). It takes approximately 2 seconds for the meter to adjust to the difference between bright external light and dim internal light.

Anyone else noticed this, or have I got a faulty camera? Problem happened with all versions of firmware, including the latest 1.11,

It seems a bit pointless having such excellent focus speed, shutter response and focus tracking (and I mean excellent, not far off my D3s) if the meter can't keep up.
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D200_4me
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Re: V1 Slow meter response
In reply to Photo Pete, Feb 11, 2012

Mine does that too. Sounds normal, as far as how it's operating. It would be nice if it was quicker at adjusting the exposure between scenes with very different lighting conditions like the ones you were talking about.
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Paul Pasco
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Re: V1 Slow meter response
In reply to Photo Pete, Feb 11, 2012

I don't shoot a lot of outdoor action so I haven't noticed it in photos but I have noticed how long the EVF/LCD takes to brighten or darken when quickly moving from light to dark and or vice versa. I had assumed I was just seeing the finder gain up or down but I think you may be on to something. I suspect that my FZ28 may be prone to the same thing as I have on occasion seen gross under or overexposure under some circumstances. I'll have to do some tests on my own to see what happens
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Helen
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Re: V1 Slow meter response
In reply to Paul Pasco, Feb 11, 2012

Paul Pasco wrote:

I don't shoot a lot of outdoor action so I haven't noticed it in photos but I have noticed how long the EVF/LCD takes to brighten or darken when quickly moving from light to dark and or vice versa. I had assumed I was just seeing the finder gain up or down but I think you may be on to something. I suspect that my FZ28 may be prone to the same thing as I have on occasion seen gross under or overexposure under some circumstances. I'll have to do some tests on my own to see what happens
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It is normal for these cameras and I raised this very point about 2 months ago when I first got my J1. Somebody kindly responded quickly that their V1 was also like it and I've since also seen another one in person and doubly confirmed it. I too have seen other camera models which show a similar effect on the LCD monitor, but the J1/V1 are the only modern camera I've personally seen where the metering lag actually also affects the exposure itself (it's a bit like the old CdS cell metering lag, also called "CdS memory effect" from the old days...). It's kind of ironic, given the fast sequence shooting of these cameras and is one reason why I haven't put AE lock onto the shutter button on mine, as I wouldn't want to focus too soon and freeze the exposure at an inappropriate level. I'm guessing it must be some unfortunate characteristic of this particular sensor.

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OleThorsen
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Mostly the matrix metering
In reply to Photo Pete, Feb 11, 2012

Photo Pete wrote:

I've had the V1 for a couple of weeks now. Generally thrilled with it as a walkaround alternative to my D3s.

I can handle having to dive into menus for exposure mode, white balance, ISO etc... those really aren't as big a problem as people make out (after all, how often do we really change exposure mode... normally not shot to shot, but situation to situation).

True, the Auto ISO is a bit of a pain when it sets low shutter speeds, but why not use manual or shutter priority instead when that is an issue? The flash setting the highest ISO is also odd, but then just set Auto ISO to 400 or 800 and that's also fine.

One problem, however, that is really, really bugging me is the slow meter response time... and there doesn't seem to be any real discussion about it on this forum (at least I've not found any). I first noticed it when shooting some skiiers moving from bright sunlight to shadow. The meter would take a couple of seconds to adjust to the changing lighting conditions, resulting in a high proportion of under or over exposed shots.

I tried a more controlled test. Pointed the camera at the sky out of a window and then quickly pointed it at the floor inside the house and took a photo. The result was horribly underexposed (exposure lock was disabled on the shutter release so this is purely a result of the meter response time). It takes approximately 2 seconds for the meter to adjust to the difference between bright external light and dim internal light.

Anyone else noticed this, or have I got a faulty camera? Problem happened with all versions of firmware, including the latest 1.11,

It seems a bit pointless having such excellent focus speed, shutter response and focus tracking (and I mean excellent, not far off my D3s) if the meter can't keep up.

Using Matrix metering both display/EVF and exposure takes around 2s to adjust. If either center-weighted or spot metering is used the display/EVF adjust gradually but the metering reacts much faster than with Matrix metering.

It's like the Matrix metering is adjusted gradually which is useful for video, but Nikon forgot to use another algorithm for still image use.

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Ole Thorsen
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Photo Pete
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Re: Mostly the matrix metering
In reply to OleThorsen, Feb 11, 2012

Ole

Many thanks.

I have just tried both centre weighted and spot metering and the problem doesn't exist (other than the display taking a long time to adjust). You're assumption that this was a matrix metering setup for video also seems likely. I can't wait for another thread to pop up about why including video on a camera doesn't have any detrimental effect on it's use for stills

I had thought this must have been a hardware limitation and hadn't really considered the possibility that it was just another terrible decision in the firmware programming.

Sigh!! I guess this will just have to be another work-around on a camera that has been crippled for no good reason.

Given the scope of the firmware updates released so far I very much doubt the majority of these issues will be resolved on the V1.... but what the heck.... this is still the most fun compact I've ever used and the one that gets in the way of my photography the least due to its response and focus performance.
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AlbieSky
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Re: Mostly the matrix metering
In reply to OleThorsen, Feb 11, 2012

Thanks for being part of this forum. Your civil and knowledgable responses are greatly appreciated.

We will be skiing and I will try out center weighted metering for the action shots if there is a lot of shadow and light.

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Helen
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Re: Mostly the matrix metering
In reply to OleThorsen, Feb 12, 2012

Ole,

Another thank-you for pointing that out. Whilst I have used centre weighted and spot metering on the camera occasionally, coincidentally I'd never done so in rapidly-changing light conditions, so hadn't noticed how much faster these metering modes react. These do response as fast as I'd expect or hope a modern metering system would. As you say, the sedate pace of the multi-metering pattern would make sense in movie mode, and it's odd that it isn't set up differently for stills shooting - particularly as movies aren't available in the straight still shooting mode.

Helen

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olyflyer
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Re: V1 Slow meter response
In reply to Photo Pete, Feb 12, 2012

Photo Pete wrote:

I've had the V1 for a couple of weeks now. Generally thrilled with it as a walkaround alternative to my D3s.

I can handle having to dive into menus for exposure mode, white balance, ISO etc... those really aren't as big a problem as people make out (after all, how often do we really change exposure mode... normally not shot to shot, but situation to situation).

True, the Auto ISO is a bit of a pain when it sets low shutter speeds, but why not use manual or shutter priority instead when that is an issue? The flash setting the highest ISO is also odd, but then just set Auto ISO to 400 or 800 and that's also fine.

One problem, however, that is really, really bugging me is the slow meter response time... and there doesn't seem to be any real discussion about it on this forum (at least I've not found any). I first noticed it when shooting some skiiers moving from bright sunlight to shadow. The meter would take a couple of seconds to adjust to the changing lighting conditions, resulting in a high proportion of under or over exposed shots.

I tried a more controlled test. Pointed the camera at the sky out of a window and then quickly pointed it at the floor inside the house and took a photo. The result was horribly underexposed (exposure lock was disabled on the shutter release so this is purely a result of the meter response time). It takes approximately 2 seconds for the meter to adjust to the difference between bright external light and dim internal light.

Anyone else noticed this, or have I got a faulty camera? Problem happened with all versions of firmware, including the latest 1.11,

It seems a bit pointless having such excellent focus speed, shutter response and focus tracking (and I mean excellent, not far off my D3s) if the meter can't keep up.

Interesting but bad news for me. I am about to replace my Canon G10 because of the slow AF, but if the V1 is just as slow in reality then I don't know. Yes, it seems that the metering is faster in spot and CW, but I mostly use matrix on the D300s and was not expecting such delay. The in-shop tests I made did indicate this, but I thought the problem was the display lag and the slow reaction time of the display, but it seems that even if the camera manages to take 10 fps and more, in reality it is not the case unless the light is not changed.

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AlbieSky
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Re: V1 Slow meter response
In reply to olyflyer, Feb 12, 2012

Although this exists, it has not impacted my shooting.

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Russell Proulx
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Re: V1 Slow meter response
In reply to Photo Pete, Feb 12, 2012

Photo Pete wrote:

It seems a bit pointless having such excellent focus speed, shutter response and focus tracking (and I mean excellent, not far off my D3s) if the meter can't keep up.

Seriously .. how often are you switching from a really bright scene to a dark one and having to grab that 'once in a lifetime' image? And it sounds like a firmware update will fix it. I use a D3s as well and it's brick to carry around and so noisy that some clients complain that it's disruptive and ask I stop shooting. I bought the V1 as soon as the D4 specs were announced and read that it offers no serious silent option (no RAW + EVF option). With a D3s + V1 in I can now keep more clients happy.

If I thought I was switching from the batter's mound to the dark dugout every few seconds then it's not all that difficult to remember to use SW metering mode (until the FW update arrives).

There is a point where photographers have to take responsibility for making their own images and stop relying on the camera to do everything for them automatically. The V1 so far is proving to be a very capable tool.

R

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Photo Pete
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Re: V1 Slow meter response
In reply to Russell Proulx, Feb 13, 2012

I can think of dozens of sports events where players move from sunlight to shadow.

Whilst I noticed this problem with very severe changes in lighting, the fact that it exists also means that the exposure will be affected, but to a lesser extent, with less severe changes in light.... the majority of our photos.

I've also noticed some erratic exposure behaviour using matrix metering and flash when taking multiple photos, particularly when there are lights (or TV screens) in the image. This again resolves itself when you use spot or centre weighted metering.

Yes there are workarounds that the photographer can take control of, but are you seriously suggesting that we should be happy to do so when the problem is caused by Nikon messing up on their metering algorithms? If you buy a camera with an advanced matrix metering system then you expect that system to work reliably and quickly. This doesn't.

Still a fun camera though.

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Russell Proulx
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Re: V1 Slow meter response
In reply to Photo Pete, Feb 13, 2012

Photo Pete wrote:

are you seriously suggesting that we should be happy to do so when the problem is caused by Nikon messing up on their metering algorithms? If you buy a camera with an advanced matrix metering system then you expect that system to work reliably and quickly. This doesn't.

I'm only suggesting we should be happy with the 'glass 1/2 full'

I don't think we'll see any serious sports shooters using anything but top of the line dSLRs as they are the 'right tool for the right job'. If I need performance as good as a D3s then I'd use a D3s. And for that performance there is a difference in price.

For its intended purpose the V1 works just fine for me. Of the hundreds of images I've made so far with it I don't see anything that suggests Nikon 'messing up on their exposure algorithm'. Sure, if you poke at it you'll find (minor imho) flaws which can/will be fixed and/or worked around as they're discovered.

Apparently one would have to be zipping back and forth between extreme lighting differences with less then 2 seconds pause between shots (+ be using Matrix metering) for the problem to even exist. It might indeed be a bug, but it's hardly a 'fatal flaw'.

R

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Beezodog
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Re: Mostly the matrix metering
In reply to Photo Pete, Feb 13, 2012

My guess would be that the MATRIX Metering is as "slow" as it seems to be in certain instances because of what it is doing.

Page 124 of the Reference Manual says:

"The camera meters a wide area of the frame and adjusts for contrast (tone distribution), color, composition, and subject distance, producing natural results in most situations."

This sounds to me as if this metering mode is going against that database I have read about and others have mentioned in conjunction with Active D-Lighting. If that is the case (i.e. it is evaluating the scene against others to best judge the exposure to use) that would be understandable in terms of its slowness. The spot and center-weighted modes rely on the human brain and eye combination to select a point from which to begin exposure determination and I would not be surprised that this should always be a region of the scene which is close to what would have been Zone VI. Or put another way, this would be a region which is close in reflectance value to a neutral gray card of years gone by.

I would prefer the slowness in speed to having to carry around a gray card for the most exact results in every situation.

Photo Pete wrote:

I had thought this must have been a hardware limitation and hadn't really considered the possibility that it was just another terrible decision in the firmware programming.

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olyflyer
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Re: V1 Slow meter response
In reply to Russell Proulx, Feb 13, 2012

Russell Proulx wrote:

Photo Pete wrote:

are you seriously suggesting that we should be happy to do so when the problem is caused by Nikon messing up on their metering algorithms? If you buy a camera with an advanced matrix metering system then you expect that system to work reliably and quickly. This doesn't.

I'm only suggesting we should be happy with the 'glass 1/2 full'

Not if we are paying for a full glass...

...but sure, perhaps the V1 is not really made with professional sports journalism in mind, but no matter what, if it is not as it should be then it should be fixed, especially if it is fixable by firmware.

It may however not be as easy, since matrix, CW and Spot metering work totally different and the matrix metering is giving the most work load for the camera, so maybe it is not just a firmware bug but a CPU performance problem.

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OleThorsen
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I use CW metering for rapid light changes with all cameras
In reply to Photo Pete, Feb 13, 2012

Photo Pete wrote:

I can think of dozens of sports events where players move from sunlight to shadow.

Photo Pete I always use CW metering when the lighting conditions change rapidly from shadow to sun even with my DSLRs. There is always a huge risk with matrix metering getting fooled in these conditions resulting in way underexposed or overexposed main subjects, because a part of the background scene is in shadow or sun.

For example small birds jumping fast in and out of shadows in trees, Matrix metering gets fooled all the time while CW metering almost always expose the main subject adequate.

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Ole Thorsen
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Identity
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Re: I use CW metering for rapid light changes with all cameras
In reply to OleThorsen, Feb 13, 2012

I have noticed the slow metering performance before, and I have lost a few photos to extreme over- or under-exposure because of it.

I just tested all 3 metering modes (alternately pointing the camera at my computer screen and then the corner of the room where it's quite dim), and it takes almost 3 seconds to fully adjust regardless of mode, which really is quite slow.

If it is indeed programmed to be this slow and gradual (perhaps for movie mode) and isn't simpy a performance limitation, then I hope this also gets addressed in the mythical magical firmware fix that Nikon may or may not be working on

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bernieraffe
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Re: I use CW metering - good tip
In reply to OleThorsen, Feb 13, 2012

OleThorsen wrote:

Matrix metering gets fooled all the time while CW metering almost always expose the main subject adequate.

Excellent tip, and one that I'd forgotten about, thanks!

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olyflyer
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Re: I use CW metering - good tip
In reply to bernieraffe, Feb 13, 2012

bernieraffe wrote:

Matrix metering gets fooled all the time while CW metering almost always expose the main subject adequate.

...but that must depend on if the subject is centered or not, isn't it? I mean, CW is measuring in the center part of the image only.

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Photo Pete
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Re: I use CW metering - good tip
In reply to olyflyer, Feb 13, 2012

Never had this problem with my D3s (That just gives me back and neck ache problems, not matrix metering problems)

Come to think of it, I never experienced it with my D300 or D2x either.

Centre weighted or spot metering it is then if the lighting levels are variable. Just seems a shame that the most sophisticated metering mode is crippled in this way.

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