Experiments with Nikon D600 exposure - seems too aggressive

Started Sep 21, 2012 | Discussions
creaDVty
creaDVty Senior Member • Posts: 1,431
Experiments with Nikon D600 exposure - seems too aggressive

I did some experiments to test whether the Nikon D600 has a tendency to overexpose or underexpose. Based on the results it appears the D600's exposure is far too aggressive for me, even with ADL.

Here is the blogpost I did on this:

http://betterfamilyphotos.blogspot.com/2012/09/experiments-on-nikon-d600-exposure.html

If there's something wrong with the way I did the tests or what pls let me know! TIA.

Best regards,
Mic
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Nikon D600
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DaveOl
DaveOl Veteran Member • Posts: 3,313
Re: Experiments with Nikon D600 exposure - seems too aggressive
1

You almost certainly have an exposure compensation button on the D 600. If you think it is overexposing, set it to -1 or -2.

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creaDVty
OP creaDVty Senior Member • Posts: 1,431
Re: Experiments with Nikon D600 exposure - seems too aggressive
2

Yes of course. You can even go -5EV. The point of my experiment was not to show that it's impossible to get a correct exposure with the D600 (that would really be terrible) but to analyze the exposure tendencies of the D600 in its automatic and semi-auto PAS modes. And even if I'm in Manual exposure mode, if I rely on the camera's light meter, then again these tendencies come into play.

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Mako2011
Mako2011 Forum Pro • Posts: 27,266
Classic Mistake
1

creaDVty wrote:

I did some experiments to test whether the Nikon D600 has a tendency to overexpose or underexpose. Based on the results it appears the D600's exposure is far too aggressive for me, even with ADL.

Here is the blogpost I did on this:

http://betterfamilyphotos.blogspot.com/2012/09/experiments-on-nikon-d600-exposure.html

If there's something wrong with the way I did the tests or what pls let me know! TIA.

It looks like you made a classic mistake. You used matrix metering combined with AF-Area mode "auto" and that doesn't account for focus point biases of the scene. I suggest you go back and focus on the zone five area of each scene using AF-Area mode "single" and see what you get.

5tve Contributing Member • Posts: 678
Re: Experiments with Nikon D600 exposure - seems too aggressive

What metering mode are you using you could have it set to spot.

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effstawp New Member • Posts: 17
Re: Experiments with Nikon D600 exposure - seems too aggressive
1

I'm suspecting with its midrange placement and its likeness to the d7000 that this camera's abilities to recover blown highlights will show only marginal improvement. I've got into the habit for exposing properly for the brightest objects when composing and lifting the shadows slightly in post for this reason, especially when using prime lenses

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Mako2011
Mako2011 Forum Pro • Posts: 27,266
Exactly

effstawp wrote:

I've got into the habit for exposing properly for the brightest objects when composing and lifting the shadows slightly in post for this reason, especially when using prime lenses

That is exactly what I think is a good approach with digital. Meter the mid tones (zone 5) and check the highlights. Adjust to protect any highlight detail you wish to keep.

In the OP's case he let the camera meter for what ever the camera chose as a focus point or points (AF-Area mode "auto")...it would then bias exposure for the points and he then checked highlights in post. That method is very dynamic and extremely inconsistent regards determining if the metering system has any tendency towards over or under exposure.....I think

Jay A Senior Member • Posts: 2,337
Re: Experiments with Nikon D600 exposure - seems too aggressive

I've never owned a Nikon (and I have owned dozens) that didn't tend to over expose in bright light using matrix metering. It's just the way they are designed. I always keep some negative exp comp dialed in on my cameras.

creaDVty
OP creaDVty Senior Member • Posts: 1,431
Thanks I was using matrix metering not spot. (n/t)
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creaDVty
OP creaDVty Senior Member • Posts: 1,431
Re: Classic Mistake

It looks like you made a classic mistake. You used matrix metering combined with AF-Area mode "auto" and that doesn't account for focus point biases of the scene. I suggest you go back and focus on the zone five area of each scene using AF-Area mode "single" and see what you get.

Thanks for the suggestion I'll try that.

I was not aware that with AF-Area on Auto, the exposure algorithm ignores the autofocus point. I thought it always takes the autofocus point into account regardless of which AF mode was used to select the AF point. Anyway, in this case, iirc, the af points chose to focus on the yellow Ferrari logo on the side of the car.

One question about your suggestion. What if my intended subject is not zone V, like the black Ferrari in this case? Do I focus on the zone V object, use AEL, then refocus on the black Ferrari? TIA.

Best regards,
Mic

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creaDVty
OP creaDVty Senior Member • Posts: 1,431
Re: Experiments with Nikon D600 exposure - seems too aggressive

effstawp wrote:

I've got into the habit for exposing properly for the brightest objects when composing and lifting the shadows slightly in post for this reason, especially when using prime lenses

Will try that.

Mako2011 wrote:

In the OP's case he let the camera meter for what ever the camera chose as a focus point or points (AF-Area mode "auto")...

Just to clarify, when I use area mode auto I don't just blindly trust the AF system. I check to confirm that the focus points are where I want them to be. If not, I try to focus again, and usually the camera gets it right within a couple of tries, and for me it's faster than me moving the AF point manually to where I want it.

it would then bias exposure for the points and he then checked highlights in post.

Also to clarify, I didn't just check highlights in post. After I took the shot, I checked the blinkies on the LCD. That is why I took several shots. I used the screen cap from ViewNX2 just because it's a better view of the clipped highlights than is offered by the back of the LCD.

Best regards,
Mic

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ThuiQuaDayNe Forum Member • Posts: 93
Re: Thanks I was using matrix metering not spot. (n/t)

Thanks creaDVty for the experiment.
We will wait and see what others observed as more D600 owners chime in.

Mako2011
Mako2011 Forum Pro • Posts: 27,266
Re: Classic Mistake

creaDVty wrote:

It looks like you made a classic mistake. You used matrix metering combined with AF-Area mode "auto" and that doesn't account for focus point biases of the scene. I suggest you go back and focus on the zone five area of each scene using AF-Area mode "single" and see what you get.

Thanks for the suggestion I'll try that.

I was not aware that with AF-Area on Auto, the exposure algorithm ignores the autofocus point. I thought it always takes the autofocus point into account regardless of which AF mode was used to select the AF point.

It does....that's the problem. I was saying that your test can't account for the AF point bias of AF-Area mode "auto" as it may even choose multiple points to bias. It's simply to dynamic and inconsistent scene to scene to base overall exposure comparisons on.

Anyway, in this case, iirc, the af points chose to focus on the yellow Ferrari logo on the side of the car.

In that case the AF-Sensor FOV would cover an area far larger than the logo and hence bias towards Zone 3/4 of the black around it and lead to highlight being clipped. It did exactly what I would expect in that case. You really need meter a consistant target (preferably a mid-tone) to determine exposure tendencies.

One question about your suggestion. What if my intended subject is not zone V, like the black Ferrari in this case? Do I focus on the zone V object, use AEL, then refocus on the black Ferrari? TIA.

That would get you close and be more consistent. There will always be some dynamics in trying to measure what Matrix is doing. Remember it is looking at the entire scene and biasing towards the focus point. To get a "tendency" regards what matrix meter will do in different scenarios...I would simply look for different scenes with similar DR and a Large central mid-tone (zone 5) target. Shoot a good sample of those with matrix then spot (on same target) and compare. That might be a very relevant comparison. Your task is not an easy one but plenty of opportunity to learn by all. Good Luck

Mako2011
Mako2011 Forum Pro • Posts: 27,266
Understand

creaDVty wrote:

Mako2011 wrote:

In the OP's case he let the camera meter for what ever the camera chose as a focus point or points (AF-Area mode "auto")...

Just to clarify, when I use area mode auto I don't just blindly trust the AF system. I check to confirm that the focus points are where I want them to be. If not, I try to focus again, and usually the camera gets it right within a couple of tries, and for me it's faster than me moving the AF point manually to where I want it.

That helps clarify. AF-Area mode "auto" is really inconsistent and as you have found often takes a few tries to get it on the target you want. I only use it for demonstration purposes and not for actual shooting. You would be surprised at how fast one can focus on the target they really want with just a little practice with "single". Nothing wrong with using the mode that best fits your needs/style though.

it would then bias exposure for the points and he then checked highlights in post.

Also to clarify, I didn't just check highlights in post. After I took the shot, I checked the blinkies on the LCD.

I mean you checked after the shot. Nothing wrong with that. I'm only suggesting that one meter the mid tone and check the highlights with the meter before the shot. Just a different approach to metering and handy when doing comparison testing like this.

That is why I took several shots. I used the screen cap from ViewNX2 just because it's a better view of the clipped highlights than is offered by the back of the LCD.

One note....the 4800FX AF unit is based on the 4800DX unit. You can then assume that the AF arrays FOV extend well outside the focus box depiction in the viewfinder. As an example.....depending on the AF-Area mode...the central AF-Array extends almost to the adjacent focus box. In your black car pic, that might be why it seemed to expose to make the black car neutral (zone4/3) rather than the yellow logo (zone 6). The 4800FX will most likely be very fast and accurate but take a bit of getting used to.

u007 Senior Member • Posts: 1,681
Re: Experiments with Nikon D600 exposure - seems too aggressive

creaDVty wrote:

I did some experiments to test whether the Nikon D600 has a tendency to overexpose or underexpose. Based on the results it appears the D600's exposure is far too aggressive for me, even with ADL.

Here is the blogpost I did on this:

http://betterfamilyphotos.blogspot.com/2012/09/experiments-on-nikon-d600-exposure.html

If there's something wrong with the way I did the tests or what pls let me know! TIA.

Best regards,
Mic
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TTL Flash Tutorial and over 400+ other articles for taking better candid and family photos.
http://betterfamilyphotos.blogspot.com/p/better-family-photos-index.html

I agree with your findings. My d800 also prefers to overexpose a scene, which is odd consider that the crazy dynamic range is in the shadows.

However, with the samples you posted I think you pretty much got what you asked for. Shooting a black car, the camera sees black and purposefully tries to make it grey. For a black car filling most of the frame, I would know to tell the camera -1eV at least.

For the shot of the bushes, it's a similar thing. I think the green (i.e. the majority of the scene) is exposed correctly, and the only blown bits are the bits of sky coming through, which is to be expected. You'd need some sort of HDR to manage all of that dynamic range within a single shot.

Personally, I don't mind blown highlights if my subject is exposed how I want it. But if you would prefer to always be conservative and preserve highlights at all costs, you can set that as an option by reconfiguring the meter to underexpose (at least in the d800).

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Raul Veteran Member • Posts: 8,595
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creaDVty
OP creaDVty Senior Member • Posts: 1,431
Re: Experiments with Nikon D600 exposure - seems too aggressive

u007 wrote:

However, with the samples you posted I think you pretty much got what you asked for. Shooting a black car, the camera sees black and purposefully tries to make it grey. For a black car filling most of the frame, I would know to tell the camera -1eV at least.

For my older cameras, I would indeed dial the EV down for a dark-toned subject. For the D600, I was testing to see if the camera had a smarter exposure meter that could correctly guess that I was shooting a dark-toned subject. How might it do that? Given that there was a white object in the scene, it could have said, hey there's this object that's really bright, and there's this object that is much darker. Perhaps the bright object is white and the dark object is black.

You'd need some sort of HDR to manage all of that dynamic range within a single shot.

Well, I hope no one shoots me for saying this, but my approach would have been to underexpose the scene sufficiently to not blow the sky, then bring up the exposure for the midtones in post. It appeared from the histogram that there was still a lot of room left in the shadow side.

Personally, I don't mind blown highlights if my subject is exposed how I want it. But if you would prefer to always be conservative and preserve highlights at all costs, you can set that as an option by reconfiguring the meter to underexpose (at least in the d800).

I used to not care so much about blown highlights but now I care about it a lot because in my opinion blown highlights make a shot look clearly digital instead of similar to film. That is why I still love my S5. I was hoping that with the D600's tremendous shadow recovery, I could intentionally underexpose to preserve highlights then bring up the exposure without too much noise.

As for biasing the meter yes the D600 has that feature as well. I've avoided doing that until now because I feel it is like surrendering some control but maybe that is the right thing to do.

Best regards,
Mic

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creaDVty
OP creaDVty Senior Member • Posts: 1,431
why and how I use Auto AF

Mako2011 wrote:

You would be surprised at how fast one can focus on the target they really want with just a little practice with "single". Nothing wrong with using the mode that best fits your needs/style though.

I had been shooting with a single AF point when I started. Then I started using the 'group AF' of the S5/D200 where the AF points are grouped into regions, and you can select the region then the camera will guess the desired AF point within that region. That is my favorite kind of AF. I don't know why Nikon doesn't include it anymore.

I then started experimenting with Auto AF and found that I could influence the AF point through my composition. For example, if my subject is at the far upper left corner, usually the AF Auto won't guess that. However, if I temporarily move the camera so that the target is near one of the nodes of the rule of thirds, it usually focuses on the target, then I recompose. It's not as big of a movement as the focus and recompose with the single center point. And with this method, I have a pretty good chance of getting the correct AF within two half-presses, which is really just a second or less, faster than I can move the AF point from one point to another if they are far apart. In this regard, I find that the D600 is faster and more predictable at picking the AF point than some of my older cameras, which is cool.

My method has limits, for example when I'm using a fisheye lens, the camera's guess is usually wrong. In those cases I do switch to single point AF.

I mean you checked after the shot. Nothing wrong with that. I'm only suggesting that one meter the mid tone and check the highlights with the meter before the shot. Just a different approach to metering and handy when doing comparison testing like this.

So if I understand correctly, when you say check the highlights with the meter, you're saying I should spot meter a relevant highlight to see how far above zone V it is? If that is what you're saying, that is of course very accurate but wouldn't work for my style of shooting which is very fast (I usually shoot my kids). As it is, my wife complains that I take too long to adjust the camera when I shoot (and usually I'm just fiddling with ambient/flash balance) :).

One note....the 4800FX AF unit is based on the 4800DX unit. snip.

Thanks I will look into this.

Best regards,
Mic
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creaDVty
OP creaDVty Senior Member • Posts: 1,431
Thanks! that link was helpful (n/t)
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Teak Regular Member • Posts: 206
Re: Classic Mistake

A very timely discussion and thanks for the "fix" too. I was noticing overexposed shots on my D600 and when I changed the settings to AF-S, the matrix metering is giving much better results. Thank you.

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