OMD severe flash exposure problem

Started Apr 11, 2013 | Discussions
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cheeky chooky
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Re: OMD severe flash exposure problem
In reply to photofan1986, Apr 14, 2013

photofan1986 wrote:

Hi there,

I have been using my OMD for about a month now, and with the exception a couple of things driving me mad (like the rattlesnake problem, wich IS a Olympus problem), I am slowly learning to use the camera, and trying to forget my 50D (not so easy, in the end).

I never used the flash, as my 25 1.4 allows me shooting with ambient light most of the time, but yesterday I decided I will give the small clip-on flash a go.

The exposure accuracy for continuous light is excellent on the OMD. Much more consistent than some of my previous Canon cameras. The 50D was very good, too, but I'd say the OMD is better.
However, flash exposure, at least with the clip-on flash, is not very consistent, to say the least!

The camera seems to be underexposing by close to a full stop, but moreover, it is VERY sensitive to reflective surfaces, much much more than my Canons ever were.

Here are some examples:

OMD, FEC 0.0 EV

50D, FEC 0.0 EV

OMD, FEC 0.0 EV

50D, FEC 0.0 EV, slightly underexposed, but not as severely as the Olympus.

OMD, FEC 0.0, white background, extreme underexposure!

OMD, FEC 0.0 , changed framing, good exposure!

OMD, FEC 2.0 EV needed to get a similar exposure!!

50D, FEC 0.0, good exposure.

50D, FEC 0.0 ,changed framing, slightly brighter, but very good exposure.

As you can see, the Olympus is not only underexposing severely, but it is also very, very sensitive to framing (and light reflections). Moreover, Oly does not allow flash exposure lock (which Canon does) to help sorting this out. The only way to get proper exposure is to constantly play with the FEC according to the subject, but for that matter, I could also use prehistoric manual flash with more consistent results!

Anyone observed a similar behaviour? How is your OMD behaving? Does mine have a problem or is it just the (crappy) way the camera works?


Thanks for your help!

The canon shots are too bright.  The olympus has preserved the ambient to a better degree.

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photofan1986
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Re: OMD severe flash exposure problem
In reply to cheeky chooky, Apr 14, 2013

Haha, good one! I think this is the funniest answer so far Fanboy alert!

Oh and by the way, there is no ambient light, I used high shutter speed in order to minimize ambient light impact.

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photofan1986
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Re: OMD severe flash exposure problem
In reply to photofan1986, Apr 14, 2013

So, to the people's demand, here are some more controlled test shots.

All Canon 50D shots were made at FEC 0.0, Olympus OMD shots at FEC 0.0, too, unless otherwise noted. Also bear in mind that those were shot in a dimly lit room, and as high shutter speed has been used, there is barely no influence from ambient light, for the purpose of this test.

First, a simple shot, with mixed dark and bright tones.

50D, Evaluative metering, Focus point on the bird. Bird properly exposed, if slightly dark (highly reflective object).

50D, Evaluative metering, Focus point on the lion. Lion properly exposed.

Observation: As you can see, the actual focus point does have influence on the overall exposure.

Now, the same with the OMD.

General exposure, focus on the lion. Lion underexposed, and not reflective subject.

Observation: moving the focusing point to a darker and further subject changes nothing to the overall exposure.

Next test. Changing the metering mode on the OMD.

In this test, I did not change anything to the framing, just shot the same subject while changing the metering mode. First picture is focused on the bird, then the focusing point is moved to the lion.

Centre weighted average, focus on the lion.

Spot metering, focus on the bird.

Spot metering, focus on the lion.

Observation: Oh, surprise! Not only the metering mode did not change anything to the flash exposure, but moving the focusing point to the important subject did not do anything as well.

Conclusions to this:

- Changing the metering mode does not affect the flash exposure. Of course, when there is ambient light, sufficient shutter speed and iso speed, changing the metering mode does  affect the ambient light exposure and as a result the final image. But with flash light only, there is no change.

- Moving the focus point does not change anything to the final exposure. The TTL flash exposure is calculated on basis of the general scene, and not a particular area selected by the focusing point (like Canon does for example).

Solution to this particular scene? FEC +1.0 or more.

Next test: how do framing changes affect flash exposure?

To be continued...

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photofan1986
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Re: OMD severe flash exposure problem
In reply to photofan1986, Apr 14, 2013

How do framing changes affect flash exposure?

In this test, I will shoot a similar scene with both cameras, in evaluative metering, the Canon will be set to FEC 0.0 and the Olympus to FEC +1.0, as we have seen previously that the camera underexposes by about one stop (or slightly more).

Framing 1 50D

Framing 1 OMD

Framing 2 50D

Framing 2 OMD

Framing 3 50D

Framing 3 OMD

Framing 4 50D

Framing 4 OMD

Framing 5 50D

Framing 5 OMD

Conclusion of this test? The OMD is very sensitive to framing changes, and is very easily fooled by highly reflective areas. The Canon seems to operate a brain connection with the photographer as the pictures look the way the photographer wanted them to be. I think it's black magic. To some people here it seems inconceivable.

Side effect: It's not always possible to just apply a positive exposure comp to the OMD, because sometimes even slight framing changes shift the exposure entirely.

Oh, by the way, the Canon has a secret weapon the Oly doesn't: it's called flash exposure lock. Pressing the blue star button on the back of the camera fires a pre-flash to measure the exposure on the selected focusing point and locks it until the shot is actually taken. Brilliant.

For those who say that the small clip-on flash on the OMD is not powerful enough to expose this scene properly, here is a picture at full power in manual mode.

Last test: flash exposure inconsistencies.

Ok, so now we know that the camera underexposes by at least a full stop and that it is very sensitive to framing changes. But how does it behave on a static subject with almost no framing changes?

Trying every shooting mode, I saw something interesting.
In A mode, the camera behaves as we noted before.

A mode, 1/60, F 4.0, 200 ISO.

But when I switched to P mode, with very similar settings, but F 2.8 instead, here's what I got.

Aha! Perfect exposure with NO FEC! So have I actually found something?

No, unfortunately.

I shot the next picture just changing the framing ever so slightly. Bam! underexposure again.

Final Conclusion?

Well, controlled test or real life, it's clear that the Olympus flash system is suffering several issues, besides lacking some powerful features like FEL.

- It underexposes by at least a full stop.

- It is very sensitive to reflective subject in the framing, at the point of making it totally unpredictable.

- Changing the metering modes does not change the flash exposure.

- Changing the focusing point does not change the flash exposure.

All in all, a pretty disappointing performance for a supposed modern and well evolved flash system.

My first goal was to determine what was wrong with the camera or the settings. All that before investing in an expensive, external flash unit. And after many trials, I came to the conclusion that the flash is not faulty (I tried my dad's EPL-3 flash with the same results), but that the camera will behave the exact same way with any TTL flash I'll put on top of it. That is, quite unexpectedly in my opinion. Up to the point that I wonder if I'll not simply skip the TTL setting, and go back to prehistoric time where people used manual flashes or auto thyristor flashes (I have no problem with those for some specific uses, but TTL is (or should be) a pretty major evolution in the flash system).

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Alumna Gorp
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Re: OMD severe flash exposure problem
In reply to photofan1986, Apr 14, 2013

photofan1986 wrote:

How do framing changes affect flash exposure?

In this test, I will shoot a similar scene with both cameras, in evaluative metering, the Canon will be set to FEC 0.0 and the Olympus to FEC +1.0, as we have seen previously that the camera underexposes by about one stop (or slightly more).

Framing 1 50D

Framing 1 OMD

Framing 2 50D

Framing 2 OMD

Framing 3 50D

Framing 3 OMD

Framing 4 50D

Framing 4 OMD

Framing 5 50D

Framing 5 OMD

Conclusion of this test? The OMD is very sensitive to framing changes, and is very easily fooled by highly reflective areas. The Canon seems to operate a brain connection with the photographer as the pictures look the way the photographer wanted them to be. I think it's black magic. To some people here it seems inconceivable.

Side effect: It's not always possible to just apply a positive exposure comp to the OMD, because sometimes even slight framing changes shift the exposure entirely.

Oh, by the way, the Canon has a secret weapon the Oly doesn't: it's called flash exposure lock. Pressing the blue star button on the back of the camera fires a pre-flash to measure the exposure on the selected focusing point and locks it until the shot is actually taken. Brilliant.

For those who say that the small clip-on flash on the OMD is not powerful enough to expose this scene properly, here is a picture at full power in manual mode.

Last test: flash exposure inconsistencies.

Ok, so now we know that the camera underexposes by at least a full stop and that it is very sensitive to framing changes. But how does it behave on a static subject with almost no framing changes?

Trying every shooting mode, I saw something interesting.
In A mode, the camera behaves as we noted before.

A mode, 1/60, F 4.0, 200 ISO.

But when I switched to P mode, with very similar settings, but F 2.8 instead, here's what I got.

Aha! Perfect exposure with NO FEC! So have I actually found something?

No, unfortunately.

I shot the next picture just changing the framing ever so slightly. Bam! underexposure again.

Final Conclusion?

Well, controlled test or real life, it's clear that the Olympus flash system is suffering several issues, besides lacking some powerful features like FEL.

- It underexposes by at least a full stop.

- It is very sensitive to reflective subject in the framing, at the point of making it totally unpredictable.

- Changing the metering modes does not change the flash exposure.

- Changing the focusing point does not change the flash exposure.

All in all, a pretty disappointing performance for a supposed modern and well evolved flash system.

My first goal was to determine what was wrong with the camera or the settings. All that before investing in an expensive, external flash unit. And after many trials, I came to the conclusion that the flash is not faulty (I tried my dad's EPL-3 flash with the same results), but that the camera will behave the exact same way with any TTL flash I'll put on top of it. That is, quite unexpectedly in my opinion. Up to the point that I wonder if I'll not simply skip the TTL setting, and go back to prehistoric time where people used manual flashes or auto thyristor flashes (I have no problem with those for some specific uses, but TTL is (or should be) a pretty major evolution in the flash system).

All I`m seeing is a Canon fan boy trying prove a point, but its convinced me.

1 you have a faulty camera.

Or

2 you don`t know how to use it.

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assaft
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Re: OMD severe flash exposure problem
In reply to photofan1986, Apr 14, 2013

Thanks for the interesting findings.

I rarely used TTL flash with my E-PL2 but when I did I used to get pretty unexpected results. It usually required 2-3 trail-and-errors until I managed to fine-tune the FEC, due to changes in the amount of ambient light and due to highlights in the scene.

One thing that I didn't see in your summary is whether face recognition has an effect on the flash power. I would expect it to have, and I think it does, but I never ran a test on that. The metering mode might matter here, since when in Matrix mode the camera spot-meters a face when it recognizes one, while in other modes it doesn't.  So the face exposure has a priority and maybe this logic is conditioned by the metering mode.

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Alumna Gorp
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Re: OMD severe flash exposure problem
In reply to assaft, Apr 14, 2013

Lol ok something else, this time something reflective, used the OMD and the x10, both performed without problems, as expected.

OMD

x10

Both strait out of camera except for resizing.

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daddyo
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Flash reflectance is a non-issue in these samples.
In reply to Alumna Gorp, Apr 14, 2013

Your example images are shot at a substantial angle to the the camera -- I'm not sure what you feel these show. The Law of Reflection: "The angle of incidence equals the angle of reflection."

Sorry, but the angle of flash in your examples renders any conclusions about the effects of reflectance on flash metering pretty much useless.

From an avowed Olympus 'fanboy'.

God Bless,

Greg

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Alumna Gorp
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Re: Flash reflectance is a non-issue in these samples.
In reply to daddyo, Apr 14, 2013

daddyo wrote:

Your example images are shot at a substantial angle to the the camera -- I'm not sure what you feel these show. The Law of Reflection: "The angle of incidence equals the angle of reflection."

Sorry, but the angle of flash in your examples renders any conclusions about the effects of reflectance on flash metering pretty much useless.

From an avowed Olympus 'fanboy'.

God Bless,

Greg

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I`m not going to do it all again, the first time around I used reflective curtains.

We all know what the results will be.

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One pretty clear cut example... (imgs)
In reply to photofan1986, Apr 14, 2013

The following two images were taken with my E-M5 and FL-600R. For consistency, both images were shot in Manual Exposure Mode, ISO 200, 1/200 Sec @ f/4 using the Oly 45mm -- and both were taken in Spot Metering Mode. No processing has been done to these, other than resizing for the web.

I shot in Manual Exposure Mode to negate any ambient metering effects caused by the introduction of the white foam-core into the second image.

If, as a number here insist, the camera metering pattern controls the flash metering, then there should be no change in the flash exposure since Spot Metering should be metering nothing but the center 2% angle -- As you can see that is not the case.

The OP is clearly not a Canon 'fanboy' as someone has suggested, but is trying simply to understand why the Olympus flash metering functions as it does, and perhaps how to most effectively control it.

I know that the flash metering behaves exactly as these images demonstrate, because I deal with this issue constantly when shooting events, and I have tested it a number of times. Once again, it is not a deal breaker for me, but it is a reality.

God Bless,

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rrr_hhh
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Re: Always underexposure for me.
In reply to Alumna Gorp, Apr 14, 2013

Alumna Gorp wrote:

John King wrote:

Gidday Guy

What metering mode were you using?

Can you please upload the images with EXIF intact - any size will do for these purposes.

With the OP's original images (having downloaded them), I can plainly see where the exposure has been biased by the metering mode used - matrix mode in all cases. The camera merely did what it was instructed to do ... Hence the very ordinary results.
The camera was told to do the wrong thing, and did it ...

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I kept asking what metering mode was being used and got nowhere.

The plug on flash only has a guide number of 5 @ 100 ISO and using 1/200 s shutter speed this is only going to amplify his problems. The poster seems to think shutter speed will have no bearing, of cause it will.

The flash duration is so short that the shutterspeed doesn't matter for the exposure due to the flash. The shutterspeed only control the ambient light. So it is important for mixed light situation like fill flash or slow synch flash. But where there is virtually no ambient light or if you have set your flash to be way more powerful than the ambient light, what controls exposure is the flash power (which you can either set manually to between 1/1 and 1/64 or let the camera/flash combo guess it) plus the aperture, iso etc. but not the shutterspeed. This is correct.

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photofan1986
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Re: Flash reflectance is a non-issue in these samples.
In reply to Alumna Gorp, Apr 14, 2013

Sir, could you please not spoil this thread by quoting those lengthy posts?
I however, don't know if you'll understand what I say.

Also, I'm done with you. God bless the "ignore" button.

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photofan1986
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Re: One pretty clear cut example... (imgs)
In reply to daddyo, Apr 14, 2013

Thanks for this comparison. This confirms my findings. Glad to see people around who actually have a brain and use it

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assaft
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Re: One pretty clear cut example... (imgs)
In reply to daddyo, Apr 14, 2013

Thanks Greg for this nice illustration.

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Alumna Gorp
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Re: OMD severe flash exposure problem
In reply to photofan1986, Apr 14, 2013

photofan1986 wrote:

How do framing changes affect flash exposure?

In this test, I will shoot a similar scene with both cameras, in evaluative metering, the Canon will be set to FEC 0.0 and the Olympus to FEC +1.0, as we have seen previously that the camera underexposes by about one stop (or slightly more).

Framing 1 50D

Framing 1 OMD

Framing 2 50D

Framing 2 OMD

Framing 3 50D

Framing 3 OMD

Framing 4 50D

Framing 4 OMD

Framing 5 50D

Framing 5 OMD

Conclusion of this test? The OMD is very sensitive to framing changes, and is very easily fooled by highly reflective areas. The Canon seems to operate a brain connection with the photographer as the pictures look the way the photographer wanted them to be. I think it's black magic. To some people here it seems inconceivable.

Side effect: It's not always possible to just apply a positive exposure comp to the OMD, because sometimes even slight framing changes shift the exposure entirely.

Oh, by the way, the Canon has a secret weapon the Oly doesn't: it's called flash exposure lock. Pressing the blue star button on the back of the camera fires a pre-flash to measure the exposure on the selected focusing point and locks it until the shot is actually taken. Brilliant.

For those who say that the small clip-on flash on the OMD is not powerful enough to expose this scene properly, here is a picture at full power in manual mode.

Last test: flash exposure inconsistencies.

Ok, so now we know that the camera underexposes by at least a full stop and that it is very sensitive to framing changes. But how does it behave on a static subject with almost no framing changes?

Trying every shooting mode, I saw something interesting.
In A mode, the camera behaves as we noted before.

A mode, 1/60, F 4.0, 200 ISO.

But when I switched to P mode, with very similar settings, but F 2.8 instead, here's what I got.

Aha! Perfect exposure with NO FEC! So have I actually found something?

No, unfortunately.

I shot the next picture just changing the framing ever so slightly. Bam! underexposure again.

Final Conclusion?

Well, controlled test or real life, it's clear that the Olympus flash system is suffering several issues, besides lacking some powerful features like FEL.

- It underexposes by at least a full stop.

- It is very sensitive to reflective subject in the framing, at the point of making it totally unpredictable.

- Changing the metering modes does not change the flash exposure.

- Changing the focusing point does not change the flash exposure.

All in all, a pretty disappointing performance for a supposed modern and well evolved flash system.

My first goal was to determine what was wrong with the camera or the settings. All that before investing in an expensive, external flash unit. And after many trials, I came to the conclusion that the flash is not faulty (I tried my dad's EPL-3 flash with the same results), but that the camera will behave the exact same way with any TTL flash I'll put on top of it. That is, quite unexpectedly in my opinion. Up to the point that I wonder if I'll not simply skip the TTL setting, and go back to prehistoric time where people used manual flashes or auto thyristor flashes (I have no problem with those for some specific uses, but TTL is (or should be) a pretty major evolution in the flash system).

"Final Conclusion?

Well, controlled test or real life, it's clear that the Olympus flash system is suffering several issues, besides lacking some powerful features like FEL.

- It underexposes by at least a full stop.

- It is very sensitive to reflective subject in the framing, at the point of making it totally unpredictable.

- Changing the metering modes does not change the flash exposure.

- Changing the focusing point does not change the flash exposure.

All in all, a pretty disappointing performance for a supposed modern and well evolved flash system"

Its a pretty good system that has served me well for eight years, all I`m seeing is user error.

Even with the best computer in the world if you feed it the wrong information, then its hardly surprising it would supply you wrong answers.

Probably best you stick to P mode.

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rrr_hhh
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Re: OMD severe flash exposure problem
In reply to photofan1986, Apr 14, 2013

Are you aware that for spot metering the target is always in the center of the frano and that it is not linked to the focus point ? This means that if you want to take a spot meter reading of the lyon you have to meter using the center target, then lock exposure and recompose ?

Where your AF target stands in the frame won't influence where the spotmeter reading is taken. This could explain why you think that changing the metering mode doesn't change anything.

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Alumna Gorp
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Re: OMD severe flash exposure problem
In reply to rrr_hhh, Apr 14, 2013

With the OMD you can set the spot meter point to focus point, not sure how its done though.

found it

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Anders W
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Re: OMD severe flash exposure problem
In reply to Alumna Gorp, Apr 14, 2013

Alumna Gorp wrote:

With the OMD you can set the spot meter point to focus point, not sure how its done though.

found it

Setting "mode 3" as described in that link doesn't do what the link says it does. The three modes available merely change which buttons you use to AF and lock exposure (see the manual, p. 93). As far as I can tell, none of them link the spot of the spot meter to the focus point.

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rrr_hhh
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Re: OMD severe flash exposure problem
In reply to Alumna Gorp, Apr 14, 2013

Alumna Gorp wrote:

With the OMD you can set the spot meter point to focus point, not sure how its done though.

found it

No I don't think so, he is mistaken or didn't explain what he did to get it clearly : I have my camera set to separate AFL from AEL and use mode three, with AFL on the Rec button and AEL on half pressure and the magnifier on Fn2. This is my preferred way of focusing, so i know how it works quite well and this doesn't tie the spot meter to the AF target : you can move the AF target freely, but the spotmeter target remains in the center of the frame; it doesn't move around with the AF target and remains separated. I just tested it again to be sure. The only exception I know is when you are using face detection : when a face is detected the camera switch to spot metering and meter from the face. Using touch focus and shoot however won't tie both targets together either.

Note that the center weighting method may work differently than the spot metering mode; it is more tricky to test because more subtle and I didn't test it. I don't think it will make a difference for the ESP / matrix mode since the whole screen is used (395 points !).

The possibility to tie the spot meter target to the AF target is part of a request improvement often made to Olympus, along with the size of the AF target in normal non magnified mode and the possibility to have the Mysets accessible on the mode dial (those two last requests were heard and are now present on the E-Pl5).

By the way I think that when you activate AEL, it will lock the flash power too, aka in flash mode we lock AE and FE together. You can set the flash exposure compensation and the ambient light exposure compensation to work independently, so indirectly you can get FEL too if you want (aka you can lock the ambient light and flash light ratio).

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rrr_hhh

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Anders W
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Re: OMD severe flash exposure problem
In reply to rrr_hhh, Apr 14, 2013

rrr_hhh wrote:

The only exception I know is when you are using face detection : when a face is detected the camera switch to spot metering and meter from the face. Using touch focus and shoot however won't tie both targets together either.

Hi Christiane,

As you might already be aware, this option (spot metering on the face when face priority is on) works only in one metering mode and the manual (at least the English version) is inconsistent about what that mode is. On p. 46, it says:

"In metering modes other than [(Digital ESP metering)], the camera will meter exposure for the selected position" (i.e., the position selected by face priority).

On p. 48, it instead says (about Digital ESP metering):

"The camera meters exposure in 324 areas of the frame and optimizes exposure for the current scene or (if an option other than [OFF] is selected for [Face Priority]) portrait subject. This mode is recommended for general use."

No similar mention of face priority is made here for the two other metering modes.

My guess is that the text on p. 48 is the correct one but since I never use face priority, I haven't bothered to check how it actually works.

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