Custom Curves for the D300

Started Dec 28, 2007 | Discussions thread
bronwyn New Member • Posts: 24
Re: D300 Overexposure / Underexposure comments

The following statement tells me you either didn’t read it or don’t understand how it works.

“I don't use any "Picture Control" Settings, shoot RAW, and post-process as necessary”

All D300 users use “Picture Control” it is a function of the camera that cannot be turned off.

But we are going astray of your real issue.

Your initial post starts our “I personally think it’s time to just admit that the D300 seems to have a tendency to over-expose images.” This is after you take just 320 photos, that is the shutter count on the jpeg you uploaded.

The you state “…I was P&S’n the g’kids opening up their presents on Christmas morning and with my SB-800 I was blowing out the images (even with the diffuser dome on and bouncing it). I was shooting Spot, so the flash was just TTL.” You are using spot metering while point and shooting indoors with a single SB800 with the dome on, did you also have the flip down lens down under the dome? This is asking for exposure problems, remember that the spot meter moves around as you move the focus point and it is such a small percent of the image that any light colored objects will blow out as the meter is only paying attention to a single “spot” not the whole scene. What color is the ceiling of the room you were shooting in and how high is it, and were you on the floor or standing up, in other words what was the distance to the ceiling for the bounce. Did you look at the distance on the SB800 before you put it in bounce position? With the dome on and the lens UP you have 19 feet from the flash to subject if you were kneeling you might be at 3 feet above the floor with an 8 foot ceiling that means just to get up to the ceiling and back to the floor you use up 13 feet of the 19, and that’s before figuring in the 14mm setting on the flash, and with the auxiliary lens down you only have a total of 15 feet to cover the 114 degrees of a 14mm lens setting. That is expecting way to much of the camera and flash. And when not using a Nikon D or G lens the body does not transmit distance information to the flash.

Try the bounce position with the bounce card up and manually set the zoom position to 70mm when using the AF-S DX 17-55mm f2.8G IF-ED.

see the following image for an example

But back to your uploaded photos and you thoughts that the D300 is incorrectly exposing your images, “yardbirds 1” seems to be well exposed, but at 800 x 639, I have to ask is this a crop and if so what was cropped out of the image. I downloaded this image, opened it in CaptureNX and note that you have set the Picture Control to Neutral, the +2 sharpness setting is the default for Neutral all other settings are at 0.

The jpeg does not note any post processing so I cannot tell what or if you made changes. But keeping in mind that the spot meter follows the focus point (this jpeg does not show the focus point in ViewNX or CaptureNX) and if your focus point was the eye, the dark eye and dark feathers around the eye would skew the meter to overexpose, and the previously dialed in -1 underexposure would have balanced most or all of this. The meter sets exposure assuming the average of the metered area equals middle grey, so when using spot metering on a subject that is something other than middle grey you need to dial in the appropriate compensation.

As both of these photos were taken just after 1pm on a sunny day my first thought is this is part of the flat look to these photos. I use CaptureNX and have taken a 2 hour course at a local camera shop where the instructor was a Nikon employee who is part of the software development group. Have you learned how to use the control points, mainly the black and white, in CaptureNX? It looks to me that just setting the black and white control points could have added some contrast to the photo and made #1 noticeably better. The white belly feathers would be white which they don’t look now. Looking at #1 I would have used center weighted metering if I had the time to make this adjustment, otherwise I would have metered off the blue sky and dialed in -1 from there using Manual Metering Mode. So if I metered at ISO 200 at 1/200s at f/16 then I would have set my camera to 1/400s at f/16 and adjusted from there to the aperture/shutter speed combo I would prefer such as 1/6400s at f/2.8.

There is no one setting that you can discern, or curve you can create that will make every, or even most exposures, “right”. It doesn’t know when it is pointed at snow, snow geese, great egrets, golden eagles, or black bears; it just averages a scene to middle grey. It is just a computer; it needs creative and educated input from a user, to provide that user with it’s highest quality output.

Personally when photos I take don’t turn out like I thought they should, I don’t assume the camera is at fault. I know it is my lack of understanding of the interplay among all the settings and my use thereof that is in need of improvement. I just cannot believe that all of the people that post on dpreview all have bad cameras; it just doesn’t make sense that a manufacturer could displease this high of a percentage of its customers and stay in business. If we cannot accept the fact that we don’t know everything, then we stop learning. I must believe that the fault is mine because I can control what I know about and how I use the camera, but I cannot change the quality of it’s output if I think it is the cameras fault and don’t change how I use it. And in the case of digital there is also the software to learn….

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