Does the D800 rocognize snow?

Started Feb 11, 2014 | Discussions
hzmeyer
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Does the D800 rocognize snow?
Feb 11, 2014

I just took a few outdoor snow scenes with my D800 to see how it handled the mostly white landscape. Some were exposed using the Sunny 16 rule in Manual. Some were exposed using the in-camera meter and some were exposed using the reading from my Sekonic incident light meter. All were surprisingly similar exposures. I also took one with +1.7 exposure compensation which I usually have used for snow scenes. This was the only one that appeared lighter on the camera monitor. It appears that the D800 must recognize the abundance of snow and apply an adjustment to the exposure.

How many of you have taken snow scenes and not had to crank up the exposure compensation?

Nikon D800
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coronawithlime
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Re: Does the D800 rocognize snow?
In reply to hzmeyer, Feb 11, 2014

Mine seemed to meter appropriately last month.  Surprised me

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soloryb
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Re: Does the D800 rocognize snow?
In reply to hzmeyer, Feb 12, 2014

hzmeyer wrote:

I just took a few outdoor snow scenes with my D800 to see how it handled the mostly white landscape. Some were exposed using the Sunny 16 rule in Manual. Some were exposed using the in-camera meter and some were exposed using the reading from my Sekonic incident light meter. All were surprisingly similar exposures. I also took one with +1.7 exposure compensation which I usually have used for snow scenes. This was the only one that appeared lighter on the camera monitor. It appears that the D800 must recognize the abundance of snow and apply an adjustment to the exposure.

How many of you have taken snow scenes and not had to crank up the exposure compensation?

I always add +exposure compensation, the brighter and whiter - the more. This becomes progressively more important if the ISO is raised, since you then lose dynamic range.

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Hokkaido Jan
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Re: Does the D800 rocognize snow?
In reply to soloryb, Feb 12, 2014

Yup, being in Hokkaido we have meters deep snow, and it's in almost every photo I have taken in last month. Not once have I had to do the "expose for snow". Metering has nailed it every time!

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Jules Design
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Re: Does the D800 rocognize snow?
In reply to hzmeyer, Feb 12, 2014

Forget the sunny 16 rule, that is just a rough guideline.

If you need to meter the snow outside, look for something gray as a reference point. Mason work, a tree, a Gray card, your hand (add 1 stop if you are Caucasian)

The D800 camera has an awesome dynamic range. You will just need to know and learn how to meter the light more effectively. I suggest that you read up on this matter and great detail.

I would propose the following two assignments for you; photo a black scarecrow in a coal mine, or a white bunny in a snowstorm.

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frank-in-toronto
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Re: Does the D800 rocognize snow?
In reply to Jules Design, Feb 12, 2014

i just shoot and adjust later (i have the d600).  sure, some are underexposed, but i'm more worried about protecting the highlights.  and it only takes a second to adjust exposure in pp. at the same time i make minor adjustments to the wb (especially in the shadows).

each to his own...f

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PerL
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Yes, Nikons matrix metering does
In reply to hzmeyer, Feb 12, 2014

hzmeyer wrote:

I just took a few outdoor snow scenes with my D800 to see how it handled the mostly white landscape. Some were exposed using the Sunny 16 rule in Manual. Some were exposed using the in-camera meter and some were exposed using the reading from my Sekonic incident light meter. All were surprisingly similar exposures. I also took one with +1.7 exposure compensation which I usually have used for snow scenes. This was the only one that appeared lighter on the camera monitor. It appears that the D800 must recognize the abundance of snow and apply an adjustment to the exposure.

How many of you have taken snow scenes and not had to crank up the exposure compensation?

I have shot a lot of snow scenes and the matrix meter seems to recognize snow. You might have to dial in some compensation, but surprisingly little.

For instance, compare this. First image Nikon with +0.3 compensation, second image Panasonic G2H with +1.3 compensation.

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W A Stewart
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Re: Yes - I don't know if it's snow as such, but...
In reply to PerL, Feb 15, 2014

Hello Nikon users - I've just joined after a long hiatus. I used Nikons starting with an S3 (a pro rangefinder) up through the F3, and really liked them. Just did a stretch today with my new (well, reconditioned) D800E, all on snow in bright hazy conditions. It seemed to me that I needed to ratchet up the exposure by 0.7, which isn't a lot. In any event I really look forward to using it.

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SensorGuy
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Re: Does the D800 rocognize snow?
In reply to Hokkaido Jan, Feb 16, 2014

That looks a little dark (1EV) to me.

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W A Stewart
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Re: Does the D800 rocognize snow?
In reply to SensorGuy, Feb 16, 2014

It's quite dark.  Metering just isn't all tha smart yet (if ever). Also, there is no need to fear highlight clipping in snow scenes - bright ones anyway. Even dialing in +.7, 1, or 1.3 EV you are very unlikely to use the right end of your histogram.

Written in snowy Wisconsin.

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InTheMist
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Re: Does the D800 rocognize snow?
In reply to Hokkaido Jan, Feb 16, 2014

Hokkaido Jan wrote:

Yup, being in Hokkaido we have meters deep snow, and it's in almost every photo I have taken in last month. Not once have I had to do the "expose for snow". Metering has nailed it every time!

Looks way too dark to me.

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vagtanklan
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Re: Does the D800 rocognize snow?
In reply to InTheMist, Feb 16, 2014

InTheMist wrote:

Hokkaido Jan wrote:

Yup, being in Hokkaido we have meters deep snow, and it's in almost every photo I have taken in last month. Not once have I had to do the "expose for snow". Metering has nailed it every time!

Looks way too dark to me.

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I think both the D610 and D800 tend to expose snow on the dark side ... no matter though as the leverage in post is huge.

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Lance B
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Re: Does the D800 rocognize snow?
In reply to hzmeyer, Feb 16, 2014

hzmeyer wrote:

I just took a few outdoor snow scenes with my D800 to see how it handled the mostly white landscape. Some were exposed using the Sunny 16 rule in Manual. Some were exposed using the in-camera meter and some were exposed using the reading from my Sekonic incident light meter. All were surprisingly similar exposures. I also took one with +1.7 exposure compensation which I usually have used for snow scenes. This was the only one that appeared lighter on the camera monitor. It appears that the D800 must recognize the abundance of snow and apply an adjustment to the exposure.

How many of you have taken snow scenes and not had to crank up the exposure compensation?

I really don't know how it would recognise snow. That is something you must adjust for, otherwise the camera is metering incorrectly.

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calson
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Re: Does the D800 rocognize snow?
In reply to Hokkaido Jan, Feb 16, 2014

The sample shot of the snowboarder is underexposed so not a good way to illustrate the accuracy of the camera's metering. Even with matrix metering i go to +0.7 EV on overcast days are when it is snowing. Much less of an EV adjustment than if using CW metering but I still adjust and I still shoot only RAW which provides a much greater DR than capturing to JPEG.

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soloryb
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Snow can fool the meter
In reply to hzmeyer, Feb 16, 2014

hzmeyer wrote:

I just took a few outdoor snow scenes with my D800 to see how it handled the mostly white landscape. Some were exposed using the Sunny 16 rule in Manual. Some were exposed using the in-camera meter and some were exposed using the reading from my Sekonic incident light meter. All were surprisingly similar exposures. I also took one with +1.7 exposure compensation which I usually have used for snow scenes. This was the only one that appeared lighter on the camera monitor. It appears that the D800 must recognize the abundance of snow and apply an adjustment to the exposure.

How many of you have taken snow scenes and not had to crank up the exposure compensation?

A camera light meter is designed to evaluate the reflected light from an 18% gray card (on some cameras this value may be 16% or so). When the light from bright white snow reaches the sensor, it treats it as if that 18% gray card is reflecting more light than is actually bouncing off the snow. The metering system then responds by reducing the exposure. That can lead to the snow being underexposed, which is the reason for adding ev compensation. This adjustment can vary somewhat depending on the camera so it's always a good idea to experiment a little and determine the amount of compensation to add for yourself. Add to this mix the variability of outdoor lighting conditions and the level of contrast between subject and bright white background snow, and you can see why there is no steadfast rule that will work for all scenes.

The D800 also is blessed with a rather large dynamic range. Together with the probability that a snowy outdoor scene will be shot at a low ISO (highest DR), this makes it likely that the image will not have clipped the highlights to the extent where you can't do something about it during post.

When in doubt - bracket.

soloryb

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Leonard Shepherd
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Re: Does the D800 rocognize snow?
In reply to hzmeyer, Feb 16, 2014

For sunlit snow matrix has got snow exposures right since the F100 era - provided you do not apply any exposure compensation as you would if using centre weighted or spot.

For snow in shade the latest cameras underexpose a little - easily sorted by looking at the histogram for the first shot.

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