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D2Xs meter consistently overexposing?

Discussion in 'Nikon DX DSLR Forum' started by Robert, Jul 22, 2007.

  1. Robert


    Jul 24, 2005
    My new D2Xs is overexposing and blowing highlights on almost every shot. I'm shooting manuallly and I'm needing to dial in an underexposure of .50 to 1.00 in situations that would have been handled much better with my D2H. I realize that these are two very different cameras, but the reality is that i am almost never able to rely on the meter.

    This one (28-70, which tends to underexpose by @ .50) was shot with Manual/1/125/f10, Matrix, Auto WB -2.
    The meter was set to 0 and I expected to see some blown highlights, but not this badly.


    This one was taken with different exposure settings, but I had to dial in an underexposure of a full stop. Again, I realize a blended exposure is best for these kinds of high contrast images, but the camera meter should be coming closer imho.
    1/400s, f8, exposure comp dialed in - 1.0
    I also notice in the shooting data, when using Manual, any exposure compemsation doesn't show. Is that normal?

    View attachment 107165

    This one was shot with a polarizer which didn't help.
    1/160s, f10, exposure comp -1.00

    Another tough exposure situation, but my D2H would have handled this better.
    This is unacceptable, and unless there is something I'm missing, this camera is being returned. I will have to heavily bracket almost every shot which shouldn't be necessary. Just about every shot I've taken has needed a meter/exposure adjustment.
    Any suggestions/comments are most welcome!!

    View attachment 107166
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 22, 2007
  2. jfenton


    Jan 26, 2005
    Haverhill, MA

    What metering mode are you using?

    This is a tough shot to begin with as the house appears back lit.

    If you were metering using matrix, this would need s fair bit of negative EV compensation to hold the clouds and of course, the shadow area of brick is going to get really dark.

    In this situation, I'd shoot 2 images...one exposed for the house and one for the sky / clouds.
  3. Robert


    Jul 24, 2005
    Hi Jim,

    I'm getting very overexposed shots, often where there shouldn't be any issues with highlight/shadow detail. The blinkies get set off on just about everything I shoot. I will be trying some macro today and see if there is an issue in a much more controlled exposure...but I'll be surprised if I don't have to compensate a lot.
    Thank you!!:smile:

    Yes, I'm using Matrix.
  4. Robert,

    Have you run any controlled tests using a gray card and an incident/reflective light meter or perhaps your D2H? It would quantify the extent of any error in your D2x's metering system. Menu setting b7 allows you to set a bias for each metering mode so that you can fine tune exposure to your preference. I have tested my D2X against my Sekonic L358 under controlled studio lighting and have found them both to be in close agreement.

    I guess I am not surprised that you had to dial in -.5 to -1.0 ev to get your highlights undercontrol with the lighting in the expamples you posted, I have many shots such as these where I have had to dial in -1.0 to -1.7 to keep the highlights in the clouds. I then use D-Lighting in NX to recover the shadows.
  5. Robert


    Jul 24, 2005

    I don't have a light meter, but have arranged to borrow one. Yes, I really need to run some controlled tests, and appreciate your suggestions. I am pleased with the shots in that there seems to be lots of latitude in the dynamic range etc which will allow me to pull out the shadow detail that's hidden, but to have such a large compensation is not something I'm used to seeing.
    The ones I've posted are untouched, and I always shoot RAW so I know I can get the results I'm after...just hoping that PP can be kept to a minimum.

    Thanks Conrad...appreciated!!
  6. Robert,
    Just switch to spot metering in situations like this. It will work like a champ
  7. I noticed this as well. One thing to do (if you shoot raw) is to set your contrast to LOW in the shooting menu. This helps the blinkies to be more accurate for raw exposure, since the LCD is using an embedded JPEG to determine hightlights. I picked that up out of outdoor photographer magazine recently.

    As to exposure comp in Manual you can do it. Just dial it in like you normaly would then your meter will be adjusted. Center it up like normal by changing app and shutter and you are good to go.

    With my D2x I find that I often have exposure comp dialed in a least -.3 but often -.7 or more.

    I compare it to shooting slides. Narrow dynamic range, shoot to preserve the highlights and let the shadows fall where they may.
  8. Thanks Matt, I'll will try your "contrast" trick. . .and yes, my D2X whether in Matrix or Spot shoots overexposed IMO. . . I usually change to -.3 or -.7, just like the look of the image better.
  9. Robert


    Jul 24, 2005
    I made some controlled tests as Conrad suggested above, with spot metering on a grey card, indoors and out and discovered that the D2Xs meter was very close to the Sekonic. If there was a difference it wasn't any more than 1/3 stop. Since the camera meter has a slightly broader reference than the Sekonic, that is normal. So...I'm relieved to know my beautiful Xs is trouble-free.


    Thanks very much for that suggestion. I will give it a try for sure!!:wink:


    I had my D2H contrast set to low, but the X is set to normal. I'll bump it back down and appreciate the tip! When shooting in manual, do you have an exposure compensation, say -.3 or .5 dialed in, and then alter that setting as needed on the fly? Letting the shadows fall where they may will be important for this camera I can see.
    I suppose the X has a greater 'latitude' than the X and that is why I am seeing more blown highlights than I'm used to. Now that I know it's not a meter issue, I'll do my best to learn what works best.
    Thanks very much!!:smile:


    It's good to have your comment...that goes to show that the X needs some exposure tweaks in these high contrasting shadow/highlight situations.

    Thanks guys!!!!:smile:
  10. Baywing


    Feb 22, 2005
    CT USA
    My D2x has the same response, I've even sent it in to Nikon to have the calibration checked and it just seems to want to blow out highlights. I usually dial in -0.3-0.7 for general shooting, more, up to -1.7 when I'm on the water.
  11. You have to understand how matrix metering works, it ignores any excessively light or excessively dark areas in the frame for a general exposure, on the d2x/s it is also waited towards the bottom of the frame i.e. it takes more notice from the bottom half of the frame than the top half the first image looks about right for how matrix metering works, also the algorithms stored in the d2x/s that apply to the metering seem to be based towards the shadows so the exposures is always based towards the shadows. Once you remember this it is very accurate.


    Ps I prefer centre waited metering set to 6mm myself.
  12. Robert


    Jul 24, 2005

    Thanks for your reply! I'll be experimenting to see what I can learn what works best given various situations!



    I appreciate your comments on Matrix metering and the X. Thanks too for mentioning your preference. Do you generally use Center Weighted metering for scenic shots...landscapes, architecture etc?

  13. Doug


    Jan 17, 2006
    East TN
    I can't say my experience has been much different here, typically have to use filters to control, or -EV processing. I did notice I think the new software upgrade seemed to make things hotter than before in the highlight area, I do not know why, but I felt it did. Could be my imagination though...

    I think the shadowing adds to the shot in number 2. number 1, clearly blown. Agreed, tough lighting shots here.
  14. This is a well known issue with D2X(s) and Matrix metering. It is just supposed to be like this. Most people (me too) dial -.7 or more and also prefer the center weight metering instead of Matrix (which btw is trying to do its best, but best is not the same for all of us in every situation :biggrin:) .
  15. Robert


    Jul 24, 2005

    I've been experimenting and I'm starting to understand this new camera a little better. Dialing in a - exposure in situations where highlights are present helps. I feel I have to assess a situation much more carefully than before. I guess it's a matter of learning how to deal with it's quirks.



    I need to experiment some more with Centre and Spot metering. Hopefully I will know which settings to use after awhile. I'm surprised that Nikon hasn't addressed this issue, but perhaps firmware updates won't help if the sensor/metering system runs "hotter" than it should.
    Thanks for your input!!
  16. Those images in the first post are what I'd expect them to be like given the scene to be honest. But if you are having problems you could always reset the exposure on the camera to default to slightly underexpose? (sorry if thats been mentioned, I didn't read the whole thread)
  17. Doug


    Jan 17, 2006
    East TN
    Good Robert, well teach us when you learn. :biggrin:

    I'm very interested in this topic.

    I admit to relying on the blinkies to determine a reshoot, but on landscapes I have this option, sometimes, you just don't have the option...
  18. Yes I'm off the opinion that we should metre for the subject you want correctly exposed ( of course there's no such thing as correct exposure only what you think is correct for the subject ) I use center weighted metering for everything except for the times I forget to switch it from matrix metering


  19. Robert


    Jul 24, 2005
    Well, I was out today again, first shooting macro...(70-200 and Canon 500D) and I got some really excellent shots...exposure that is, using Center and Spot metering, as well as Matrix, with and without exposure compensation. The compensation was set, when needed, for the most part at -7. The shots were rich and saturated with no blown highlights that would be any cause for concern.
    Great I said...can't wait until the golden hour to try some landscape.
    I should have stayed home!:frown: I tried everything and I did not come away with one shot that was properly exposed...not one!!! I set up with tripod, mirror up and bracketed, tried Spot/Matrix/Centre, with exposure comp set to -7 and beyond...all crap!!! The camera goes back.
    I'm the first to admit that I have a lot of learning ahead of me, but I also know that over the past 2 years I've come a long way with my ability to read light. Too bad this flagship camera can't!
    The reason the macro shots turned out so well is because there wasn't enough highlight info to mess with the sensor...at least that what I think.

    If my dealer lets me try another D2Xs I'll give it a go, but after hearing here that the camera needs serious negative compensation for many situations I have to believe that the next one will perform the same. I'm not expecting perfection out of the camera by any means...after all, I've spent the last long while shooting a D2H.:rolleyes: 
    I'm planning some very scenic trips and I know I'll be bringing home memory cards full of deletes if I shoot with the X...so, it's back to the H.

    These two shots are unedited. They are test shots and so the compositions could be better.
    There is motion blur with the flower because it was breezy.

    1/25s, f5.6, Spot Metering, 0EV


    My best landscape shot of the day. I won't be quiting my day job just yet...I still need a new camera! lol

    1/50s, f6.3. -0.7 EV, Spot Metering, tripod, mirror up, remote. This scene was shot about 6-8 times, with various settings and this is the all round best of the day.

    View attachment 107168

    I would hate to see what my X would do to this scene shot with the D2H. Although it doesn't have the degree of highlight/contrast info that the river shot above has, there are plenty of highlights which were handled well. It's balanced and that seems to be almost impossible for my X, compensation or not.
    1/125s, f13, ISO200, Matrix 0 EV Comp. View attachment 107169
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 27, 2007
  20. You may well have a metering issue with your D2Xs, but the shots you are most unhappy with look to my eyes as having a very large dynamic range which may well exceed the ability of the D2Xs (or any digital body) to capture. In short, you may be asking your D2Xs to do something it is incapable of doing. I think they are great shots BTW, so I can appreciate your frustration. Very often you have to decide between shadow detail or highlight detail because the camera is incapable of capturing both at the same time. Slide film shooters have been dealing with this problem forever. Might I suggest using the Photoshop HDR (High Dynamic Range) feature? It is specifically designed for this situation.

    With HDR you take a series of shots where you expose for the highlights, shadows, and in extreme cases the mid-tones. These images are automatically merged by the HDR function to produce a single image that has properly exposed highlights, shadows and mid-tones.
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