Wacky results with Matrix Metering on D700

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As some of you may recall, I'm a recent 5D2 convert, and I've had my D700 for a couple weeks now, and I think I'm in the first of my getting-to-know-the-camera problems. I am really, really unimpressed so far with the results I'm getting from the 3D Matrix Metering system.

Almost all of my real-world shooting so far has been with the 24-70G, and I find that 3D Matrix really does a lousy job in natural light.

I'm at work and don't have the images to post, but basically anything in natural light with an even moderately bright background is waaaay underexposing the face/subject. As an example, a simple natural light shot of my wife reading to my daughter in a dimly lit room with a desk lamp in the right of the frame will meter for the lamp and underexpose the faces.

I tried going to spot metering and find that I can then get faces OK, but a really disproportionate percentage of the shot gets blown out.

One consideration is that I've left Active D-lighting on, and I'd always shot with Highlight tone priority/Auto lighting optimizer off on my Canon, so I'm considering turning off ADL to see what happens.

I tried a D3 and a D700 before I made the switch (along with scouring sample images) and never really heard/saw much talk of a problem with the metering, but so far I've had some really disappointing results. Maybe the light was just a lot more harsh than I thought it was, but I really don't think so.

Anyone else shoot a lot of natural/low light with the D700? If so, what are your metering mode/ADL/etc. settings of choice? Glad I made the switch well in advance of my next paid gig, because right now I'm just not happy with the results from my D700. I don't think I'm pushing the D700 any harder than I did my 5D2, but honestly I almost never had to use anything other than the "Evaluative" metering (equivalent of 3D Matrix) on my 5D2 with some very rare exceptions.

And yes, I'll try to post pics with EXIF data when I get home. ;)
 
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I have had a 300 for two and a half years, and a 700 for the last two weeks. The cameras are basically the same body and similar overall function.

I generally only shoot with spot or centerweighted metering, and that's pretty reliable in low light.
 
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I shoot with the d3- same sensor. Learn to use exposure comp and check your histogram. Bright backlite situation- dial in +1.5 to 2 and shoot away.
Even with matrix metering and whatever else they call it- our cameras are still dumb, and often do not know what we are trying to shoot. They will average the scene to 18% grey- which will underexpose faces in backlite situations. Center weighting will work as well- but I like to keep things simple- so I always use matrix and just dial in EC. Gets to be second nature pretty quick.
Gary
 
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Thanks, guys. I also dug through the D700 tips thread and found some mention of keeping Active D-Lighting off for indoor/wedding/portrait shooting. I tried that and seemed to get better low-light results.

Another trick that I found extremely useful (and kinda discovered on my own) was to assign the Preview button to spot metering. So if I'm shooting Matrix and get something wacky, I can either dial EC (thanks to easy EC) or just hold the preview button and get spot metering.

Having all these options is one area where the D700 whips up on the 5D2...
 
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this may not be the culprit, but is something to consider. with matrix metering, you have to be aware of where the af point lies in your composition, as it still biases the metering system. so, if you focused and recomposed, and the af point happened to go somewhere bright in the frame, the camera will underexpose.

this, along with numerous other reasons, is why i keep the af point over my subject at all times.
 
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... with matrix metering, you have to be aware of where the af point lies in your composition, as it still biases the metering system.

I'm not sure if the info was correct but I read somewhere that D300 cameras don't do that. Perhaps Michelle can try it on her D300.
 
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I feel the D700 has the greatest DR of the ones I have shot. Granted my other cameras have been D40, D80, D90, and D7000

I can easily recover most shadow and highlights easily without losing detail or introducing noise.
 
M

MK24ever

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I have the same problem as the OP, I recently bought a D700 and I'm really disappointed with the matrix metering, I had a D200 and it was much better at metering light. But the worst is that all my under-exposed pictures end with some very ugly "brownish" look that is very hard to get rid of, even if shooting in raw, this D700 camera is being hard to tame... but I must tame this beast no matter what!
 
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I'm not sure if the info was correct but I read somewhere that D300 cameras don't do that. Perhaps Michelle can try it on her D300.

just tried it right now on my D700, and when shifting the focus points on a scene where i keep the composition the same, the metering changes. maybe i got a dud, but my D300 also did the same. i dont recall if my D40 did this. since with 3 focus points i could really veer too far away from the center.

i actually find this useful though, as i find myself in certain situations not having to switch over to spot metering. however, the bias that the focus point plays in matrix metering still in no way replaces spot metering, as the bias is nowhere near as strong.
 
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just tried it right now on my D700, and when shifting the focus points on a scene where i keep the composition the same, the metering changes.

I'm a little confused by Nikon's specs.

The D700 spec page says "Spot: meters a 4mm circle centered on the selected focus point" - but it makes no mention at all of focus points having any bearing on Matrix metering.

This seems to imply that the choice of focus point should have no effect at all on Matrix metering.

http://www.europe-nikon.com/en_GB/product/digital-cameras/slr/professional/d700
 
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I don't know how you are using the camera but there's a difference between how canon and nikon meter when you do a focus and recompose,.

I think (can be wrong) nikon will average between the 2 readings (1st when you 1/2 press and second when you full press),. canon I think it's fixed metering at the point where you 1/2 press,.

I might have this the wrong way round but there are differences in approach for sure, in any case it sounds more like it's part of the 'getting to know' stage than an actual issue,. all metering systems have their quirks
 
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Be aware EC doesn't play well with Matrix, use CenterWeighted for more consistent results.
Don't expect to dial-in your new D700 overnight in tough lighting situations, trial and error
a must process with such a sophisticated tool. Took me a month with the D3 and I had 2 D700's
before that. :eek: Might be a bit early in your relationship to be blaming the body. :wink:
 
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Commodorefirst

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Indoors, active D off all the time I find unless there is a window in the view.

Center weighted in bright background situations, and you will find your EV will work very well. I tend to use center weighted with AE exposure lock to avoid the metering changing when moving and recomposing.

spot metering will always work too.

I find it does work about like this most of the time, but there are always exceptions.

http://imaging.nikon.com/products/imaging/technology/basics/18/index.htm
 
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Indoors, active D off all the time I find unless there is a window in the view.

Center weighted in bright background situations, and you will find your EV will work very well. I tend to use center weighted with AE exposure lock to avoid the metering changing when moving and recomposing.

spot metering will always work too.

I find it does work about like this most of the time, but there are always exceptions.

http://imaging.nikon.com/products/imaging/technology/basics/18/index.htm

Yeah, with a little practice, these are the conclusions I arrived at. Having the preview buttoon assigned to spot metering is a great little trick that has worked its way into everyday shooting. And yes, I just turned D-lighting off for everything and it seems to have done well.

With a little practice I've been getting a hang of the metering in some tricky lighting situations and I'm increasingly happy with it. Still not as set-and-forget as the 5D Mark II's evaluative metering IMHO but it's an acceptable trade-off to get some functional AF in low light. :)

5550516445_ce03fdba65_b.jpg
Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)

_DSC2917.jpg by dr_pete177, on Flickr
 
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Forget all you have read from Nikon about Matrix metering looking up a large database of images, my opinion/experience is thats a load of balls, it appears matrix works on 18% (12% ?) grey just like any other metering mode, except it meters off the whole frame

So exposure compensation is definitely needed in matrix metering if in one of the auto modes P / S / A
 

Commodorefirst

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Still not as set-and-forget as the 5D Mark II's evaluative metering IMHO but it's an acceptable trade-off to get some functional AF in low light. :)

From several folks I know, they state that the 5d MK II evaluative behaves most like Nikon's Center weighted metering, but as you said nothing is perfect, and each tool has it's quirks,

glad you are starting to get it dialed in.
 

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