D600: A gazillion EV of dynamic range isn't worth squat if your camera won't focus or meter properly Locked

Started Jan 3, 2013 | Discussions thread
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D Knisely Senior Member • Posts: 2,053
Re: D600:...

I will go out on a limb here and suggest that your biggest exposure problem is from using Auto-ISO with flash.  Results of Nikon flash exposures with Auto-ISO are somewhat unpredictable, but they do make sense (usually) when you understand how the camera is trying to do "what you told it to do."

The metering is attempting to do what you told it to do -- balance the room based on the ambient light (which requires raising the ISO to 800 in this case, and even then it is too high for a proper flash exposure of the subject), along with exposing the subject by the flash.  In this case, the subject was simply too close and was blown out by the flash at its lowest power level (at ISO 800).

The exposure was only made worse because you didn't acquire focus on the subject, which MAY have told the matrix metering that the subject is unknown or at least not on the child.  First, Liveview on DSLRs (in general) is for careful use on tripod.  It is not like a point and shoot, and it is not designed to work like a point and shoot.  I wouldn't mess with that.  Auto subject modes work well if there is any kind of decent light, but that might have have been the case here.

I would recommend that you practice around the house (to avoid frustration in the heat of the moment).  Start with Aperture priority and choose a basic single-subject aperture life f/5.6 for these relatively wide angle shots.  Focus with center of the AF area on the subject.  Don't shoot until you acquire focus.  Make sure your subject is not too close (below the minimum focus distance of the lens -- THIS CAN BE SURPRISINGLY COMMON!).  Make sure EVERYTHING is reset to defaults, but with Auto-ISO turned off.  If you find the flash exposure on your test subjects to be hot, use FLASH exposure compensation (not the +/- on the top; check the manual) and set flash exposure compensation to about -2/3rds or even -1 stop (NEGATIVE, never positive).

Now, at the end of the day, a photo like this using direct built-in flash for a nearby human subject is not ever going to look great -- certainly no better than what any point and shoot can produce.  If you want to take this photo, consider using a real flash (SB-600, 700, etc.), and point the flash head completely away from the subject (right, left, straight back, up and back; I would start with back and up at a 45 degree angle).  This will use the room as a large light source.  You will most likely need to set the flash exposure compensation to about -1 stop to make the image look natural.  Flash is HARD -- don't feel bad and try not to get frustrated while you are learning.  Just keep in mind that Nikon TTL flash is generally regarded as the best and can produce amazing results once you learn how to use it, how it "thinks," and how to understand the light in these situations.

Key points:

- Auto-ISO off; set the ISO to about 400.

- A mode, aperture around f/5.6 to start.  P mode in a pinch.

- Standard simple AF modes; make sure all else is reset to defaults in case you messed something up.  Don't exposure until you acquire focus through the viewfinder.

- No Liveview.  Learn to use Liveview on tripod for landscapes, then branch out from there.

Hope this helps you.


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