My take on D5000 vs D90 after using both

Started Aug 18, 2009 | Discussions thread
goldbean Regular Member • Posts: 199
Re: My take on D5000 vs D90 after using both

Cedarhill wrote:

I am not confusing anything. You may be getting led away from the subject created by the originator of the thread. The original poster stated that in high dynamic range situations, he would prefer to overexpose the highlights than underexpose the shadows.

There's really no need to paraphrase or overgeneralize what the OP said; it's right there. He said the D5000 "slightly" underexposed and the D90 "slightly" overexposed. We're not talking about 1EV or more differences. We're talking about--again, in the OP's own words--roughly 0.3 EV. I have not found a single D90 NEF file overexposed 0.3 EV with highlights that could not be fully recovered. This is my experience after shooting 10000+ frames, not what I have heard or read from someone else.

Then you posted that your D80 "obliterates the highlights in high contrast situations." That really has nothing to do with the OP's point re: metering of D90 v. D5000, so you tried to make it relevant by saying you were "told the D90 behaves similarly but not quite as badly."

As I mentioned, that's simply not the case. The D90 does not obliterate highlights in high contrast scenes. It exposes correctly for the subject (or what it thinks is the subject). It's your job to make sure it knows what you want to expose correctly in a high contrast scene. Put simply, the D90 does not have any unique problem blowing highlights. It does better than its competitors. I know this not from what I have been told, but from my experiences with many different models.

I merely pointed out that if the exposure is very far off optimal, it is better to have underexposed shadows because at least some information can be recovered. Once you have exposed a sky to the point it is white instead of blue, there is nothing you can do to correct the situation .

Now you are changing the subject. No one is talking about "far off optimal." The OP is talking about slight overexposure v. slight underexposure. The reality is that if you shoot D90 NEFs, 99+% of the time you would prefer slight overexposure over slight underexposure because of the flexibility in the file

But let's test your hypothesis with real facts, not rumors:

Here is a high contrast photo I just grabbed (d90, NEF, Standard pic style, Matrix metering, AF-S, center point AF):

How did the D90 meter? Pretty darn well, if the goal is to preserve as much data in the NEF as possible. Nevertheless, you do see some clipping of highlights and shadows because the contrast of the scene is so high.

The top left of the photo:

The highlights (and channels) that clipped:

As you can see, there is a portion of the sky that is "white" (where the clipped highlights appear white). According to you, there is "nothing you can do to correct the situation" and "there is absolutely nothing you can do about it with any software."


Wow--look at that. The blown highlights you said could not be remedied are no longer blown.

And new detail suddenly appears:

And that's just with NX2's limited exposure comp. option.

Put it through ACR and you can do better:

The color data is there, the luminosity data is there, and the detail is there.

So there is something you can do about overexposed skies--even those blown to white.

Either situation is not good, but the camera I use (and i have read the same of the D90) will obliterate highlights to the point of no recovery much more readily than it will block in the shadows to the point that no recovery is possible.

Can you point me to a NEF where a D90's matrix metering "obliterated highlights to the point of no recovery"? I'd love to take a look at the file.

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