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D90 Metering not entirely "fixed" .

Discussion in 'Nikon DX DSLR Forum' started by Desmond, Oct 4, 2008.

  1. I have read a few statements that the D90 metering has been fixed and no longer overexposes .
    Today I held one in the shop and flipped over to manual mode , matrix metering single focus point and pointed at a door frame and zeroed the meter . Without moving the camera at all I moved the focus point to the side where there was a black camera bag in a dark room . Immediately the meter showed that I was one stop under exposed . I then moved the focus point to a shiny spot above the door frame and it showed I was one stop over exposed .
    This tells me that It still meters strongly toward the focus point , regardless of the scene , and could have made an error of two stops in its exposure choice depending on where the focus point lit up or was moved .
    Can anyone elaborate on this or suggest what I could be doing wrong ?
    I see this as a weakness still . Imagine framing a landscape shot on a tripod and moving the focus point to a point 1/3 of the way into the picture for better depth of field and it is a shady spot under a tree - the picture will over-expose . I know manual is the answer here but we pay big money for auto and it should work reliably .
  2. I've been shooting Nikon TTL metered cameras for more than 40 years and non metered stuff before that.

    I think their matrix metering system is quite good. The very idea that we would have a metering mode that could measure the overall scene and take that data into account, including the color of the scene, plus compare that information with a data base of thousands of photos in order to achieve a proper exposure, plus figure out what the subject is and make a valiant attempt to properly expose the subject is something that would be considered unbelievable not too many years ago.

    In other words, biasing the exposure to correctly expose the subject is something most of consider to be a desirable feature, not a flaw. Lots of people make their living shooting a good percentage of their shots in matrix metering mode.

    If you have a scene with a dynamic range of more than a couple of stops, what would you suggest the system do? It can only select one combination of ISO, shutter speed, and f stop; therefore only one part of the scene can be "properly" exposed.

    If you focus on a tree trunk, to use your example, which is in deep shade, the camera would most likely suppose you consider the tree trunk to be the most important part of the scene and bias the exposure accordingly.

    It that is NOT what you want and something in the scene is more important than the tree trunk, then you could easily select another metering/shooting mode to deal with the situation. Simple, no?

    It's a very sophisticated system, but it can't read the mind of the photographer. :smile:
  3. TeknoSmurf


    Sep 25, 2008
    NE PA
    I agree with Bob 100%. If one does not wish the metering to change with a change in the selected focusing point, then Center Weighted metering would be the better metering mode to use instead of Matrix.
  4. {it should always select the same combination for a scene - not be biased to focus points }
    I agree with most of what you are saying but also want something predictable to work with . My D70 is predictable as is my D50 . The D40 is also quite biased to focus points so I only use the cetral one .
    But if I get a camera with 11 focus points and matrix metering I don't want to have to switch to single focus point and centre weighted metering because it is too unpredictable .
    The D200 metering is like the D70 metering and I know how to work with it and what exposures to expect . There was nothing wrong with its metering and they didn't need to change the D80's 'brains' to be different .
    If I have the focus mode set to nearest subject and need all 11 focus points to be available then the camera will be the one selecting whatever focus point pops up as closest and I won't know where it will set the exposure .
    I can agree with learning to select differet mode and focus points for different scenes but not when it varies from one camera to the next .
    The trouble is that when I had a D200 for two weeks I could do tests and my D80 would expose up to two stops different from the D200 - depending where the focus point was on the D80 .
  5. I know , that's why I'm learning to shoot manual and use centre weighted more . It's just that with my D50 I know I can set it at -0.7 in matrix metering and just about forget about it - newer camera should be at least as reliable .
    The fact is that I'm not talking about matrix metering in general , just these two models . It would be nice to be able to pick up two different nikons and know that matrix metering is fairly consistent on either of them .
    Since this doesn't seem to be happening it's actually helping me to learn more by going manual :smile:
  6. Or you can use matrix mode, chimp the RGB histograms, adjust for +/-eV, and then get it right. That is what I use most of the time.
  7. Have you tried this with a D80 ? It works for me with my D50 but was frustrating with the D80 .
  8. I have tried to do this with my D80, and have had very limited success. I find the metering varies wildly from shot to shot (of the same scene), especially if it's the second tuesday of the month or the date is a palindrome.

    I generally just leave it in M and take several shots, watching the histogram after each shot.
  9. mattsteg


    Aug 10, 2007
    Focus-point bias should be selectable via a custom function. If you're shooting people and AFing on faces, for example, it's probably great. If you're shooting shiny objects, landscapes, etc. some of the advantages of matrix might still be quite useful if you could turn off the focus-point bias.
  10. No, I was just commenting on my experience with the D200.

    All of the negatives I have heard about the D80 metering is one of the reasons I don't have one.:wink:
  11. It's good to hear from those who have actually used the D80 . It would be good if they all worked the same and we didn't have to learn each model !
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 7, 2008
  12. Sorry I spoke out of turn.
  13. It was well meant , I wasn't referring to you in particular :smile:
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 7, 2008
  14. No offense taken; I was just joshing. :wink:
  15. Good , I'll scratch your name off the list of people I've accidentally offended !:smile:
  16. That's exactly what I thought when I had my D80 . It is possible to set spot metering to focus point but it would be good if it could be switched off for matrix metering .
    Someone recently posted some samples of the D90 , metering with the focus point being moved from light to dark areas and it was consistent . When I tried this in the shop it was consistent as long as the subjects were at the same distance , this must be the "3D" metering concept . As soon as I moved the focus point to another dark subject 6 feet behind the other points the metering went 1 stop over . This may be ok for people as you mention but when doing landscapes and moving the focus point to the hyperfocal distance it can throw out exposures .
  17. having an option would be nice but the concept is that the matrix meter is for fast paced scenarios where there is no time to really deal with metering in any depth. you just let it do its thing and if you know it well enough, you kick in some EC here and there. they set it up using all the available information as best they can to offer the best possible chance of an acceptable exposure. I haven't been in a situation where weighting to the focus point did not help me.

    in other situations you use your brain to process any available information, even test shots, to arrive at a spot on exposure. at this point, it really doesn't matter what the matrix meter does, you can leave the focus point in the middle or use AE-lock or any number of tricks to get what you need.

    I'll vote to have the option, but there are many other things way higher on my wish list for programming edits. like an option to have auto iso shut down when entering M mode.
  18. That is on my wishlist too . Maybe they could have an "MA" mode for manual with auto iso and then the "M" mode can be exactly that --- "manual" .
  19. davidwegs


    Feb 7, 2008
    Well, you can always meter the scene without the camera.

    OTOH, I now have two of the D90's in our kit and it works about as well as the D300's I have and the D700. Actually, I think it may be a slight improvement over the D300's meter though it should not be. Add to that the increased DR ability of the D90 and its files are better.
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