Why do I feel that my camera (Z50) always underexposes a shot

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I am learning to shoot in manual mode on Z50. So I look at the picture in view finder and I change aperture, shutter speed and ISO till the exposure indicator is right in the center.

but I feel the image at the "center" of exposure is always underexposed and I deliberately move 1 step over-exposed to feel that I have captured the right image.

is this only me? or do others also feel that the center is a little under exposed.
 
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Post a sample picture, so we can see the image and diagnose the problem better.

The matrix meter can be hard to predict. And it will never be able to handle ALL scenes.
I've found that depending on the scene, the meter could be badly off from a proper exposure.
  • With an aluminum bench in the scene reflecting the sunlight, the camera underexposes the shot badly. And that bright bench does not have to be anywhere near the center, to mess up the exposure.
  • With a dark backgrond, the meter overexposes the subject.
So you as the photographer have to be aware of things in the scene that could confuse the meter.
 
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BTW, the beauty of the EVF is that you can see how the image will look like, before you press the shutter, and you can make adjustments in real time.
If it looks underexposed, increase the exposure.
If it looks overexposed, decrease the exposure.
 
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First of all, what metering mode are you using (ac12 assumes matrix which is the default but you don't say). Matrix is a bit of a black box as it "reads the scene" and uses an algorithm to determine 'best' exposure. But understand that the camera doesn't know what you want; it just does what it does.

If you want to learn manual exposure, use spot metering (understanding that the spot is exposing for probably 18% middle grey) to meter the scene and watch the histogram for how the scenes values are distributed.

But as ac12 above suggested, post an image to show what you mean.
 
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How are you judging that the images are underexposed? Show us some examples, with histograms, and we can help.
I do not shoot with a z50, so others will likely step in. Learn to use your histogram. Use the histogram display to adjust your exposure. Evaluate the histogram in your processing.
Do not really trust your camera meter, cameras are dumb. They do not know what you want. Say that 100 times, cameras are dumb.
You also can not trust the playback screen to judge exposure.
Personally, I just turn on the blinkies- most cameras have them. The overexposed highlights blink. Then I adjust so I have the amount of blinkies I want. Some images have no blinkies, some have a lot. Your choice, depending on the image and what you are trying to make.
Gary
 
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I guess one other possibly important question is why are you shooting in manual, yet using your camera meter to judge exposure? If you are going to use the meter anyway, just let it do everything automatically. Your images will not get better just because you are in manual. It is not more professionally because you are in manual. Manual is great, I use it a lot. But I use it as I want a specific shutter speed and aperture for a preplanned reason. If I do not know what conditions will be, or exactly what look I am looking for, I use aperture priority and exposure comp. It is quicker.
Gary
 
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How are you judging that the images are underexposed? Show us some examples, with histograms, and we can help.
I do not shoot with a z50, so others will likely step in. Learn to use your histogram. Use the histogram display to adjust your exposure. Evaluate the histogram in your processing.
Do not really trust your camera meter, cameras are dumb. They do not know what you want. Say that 100 times, cameras are dumb.
You also can not trust the playback screen to judge exposure.
Personally, I just turn on the blinkies- most cameras have them. The overexposed highlights blink. Then I adjust so I have the amount of blinkies I want. Some images have no blinkies, some have a lot. Your choice, depending on the image and what you are trying to make.
Gary
I don't believe Nikon can show (blink or color) overexposed (or underexposed for that matter) pixels live through the EVF.
 
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Oops, I thought most mirrorless cameras had that capability. On my older dslr’s I would just guess, snap a quick pic and look at the blinkies on the playback screen. Almost the same thing. Blinkies really worked for me over the years.
Camera meters have gotten better. The nearly isoless capabilities of our newer sensors makes absolute correct exposure less vital. I used to worry about 1/4 stop. Now if I am within a stop without blowing anything out I am happy. I will fix it in post and no one will ever know. When I stopped worrying about the technical stuff, like exposure, my images got better. I worry about the picture now.
Gary
 
Oops, I thought most mirrorless cameras had that capability. On my older dslr’s I would just guess, snap a quick pic and look at the blinkies on the playback screen. Almost the same thing. Blinkies really worked for me over the years.
Camera meters have gotten better. The nearly isoless capabilities of our newer sensors makes absolute correct exposure less vital. I used to worry about 1/4 stop. Now if I am within a stop without blowing anything out I am happy. I will fix it in post and no one will ever know. When I stopped worrying about the technical stuff, like exposure, my images got better. I worry about the picture now.
Gary
Yes, Sony cameras have the "zebra" function (I think it originated in videography) that one can turn on and that will show when you're overexposing something or getting very close to doing so. Took me a while to get used to it!
 
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Connie
I originally did not like the sony implementation of the zebra function. I found it much too conservative. Then I actually read the manual and found out the overexpose and underexpose levels can be set at whatever you want, I think my highlight warning is now set at 105. It is right on the money. When this blinks you are overexposed. It is now useful and works great..


Gary
 
Exactly! I had pretty much the same experience. I, too, didn't like the feature at first and turned it off, but then later decided to give it another try and this time took a closer look at the manual plus a book that I had bought about the A7R IV and lo and behold, once I realized the possibilities in the settings, I tinkered with them and now I'm very pleased with the zebra functionality. Thankfully I don't see too many zebras, only once in a great while!!! :) To me the EVF is almost the greatest thing since sliced bread -- I really love being able to see exactly how the image will come out prior to actually pressing the shutter release. It makes a huge difference, and right away I notice if I'm a bit underexposed or heading into the territory of being overexposed.
 
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I don't believe Nikon can show (blink or color) overexposed (or underexposed for that matter) pixels live through the EVF.
Oops, I thought most mirrorless cameras had that capability. On my older dslr’s I would just guess, snap a quick pic and look at the blinkies on the playback screen. Almost the same thing. Blinkies really worked for me over the years.
My Z6 shows blinkies in the EVF. You just need to set the playback to show 'em (using the rotary button)
 
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One thing about the EVF blown highlight indicator, AKA "blinkies," is the resolution of the EVF.
The EVF has much less resolution than the sensor. So, there can be situations where pixels will blown, but the blown pixel is smaller than the EVF resolution, so you may not see them. If you zoom the EVF in, you will see the blow pixels.
I had this situation in a LARGE group shot. In standard view, everything looked fine, but the foreheads were blown. When I zoomed the EVF in, so that I could see the smaller detail, the blown forehead "blinkies" appeared.
 
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My Z6 shows blinkies in the EVF. You just need to set the playback to show 'em (using the rotary button)
That's why I said 'live'. Olympus OMD-EM1-II can show over and underexposed regions through the EVF live - that is before you take the shot. Then it actually adjusts as you stop down (or use exposure comp). It is actually very useful and one of the things I miss about the Oly. I believe the Z's can show that in movie mode, but not in photo mode.
 
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One thing about the EVF blown highlight indicator, AKA "blinkies," is the resolution of the EVF.
The EVF has much less resolution than the sensor. So, there can be situations where pixels will blown, but the blown pixel is smaller than the EVF resolution, so you may not see them. If you zoom the EVF in, you will see the blow pixels.
I had this situation in a LARGE group shot. In standard view, everything looked fine, but the foreheads were blown. When I zoomed the EVF in, so that I could see the smaller detail, the blown forehead "blinkies" appeared.
Sounds painful ;)
 
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That's why I said 'live'. Olympus OMD-EM1-II can show over and underexposed regions through the EVF live - that is before you take the shot. Then it actually adjusts as you stop down (or use exposure comp). It is actually very useful and one of the things I miss about the Oly. I believe the Z's can show that in movie mode, but not in photo mode.
Gotcha!
I rarely, if ever, use blinkies. The Z6 has really made it so easy to shoot creatively in manual exposure more.
 
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  • Thread Starter Thread Starter
  • #19
OK so sorry for my poorly worded original post. I just asked my question without giving any details. So here are some details

Picture number 1 is taken in auto mode where camera is making all decisions

DSC_1063.JPG
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Picture number 2 is taken from same lens (35mm F/1.8) and in manual mode and matrix metering

DSC_1062.JPG
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Picture number 3 is taken from same lens (35mm F/18) and in manual mode with spot metering

DSC_1061.JPG
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I feel all pictures are underexposed.
 
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To my eye, the pictures get progressively more exposure (better"?) from first to last. Look at the EXIF.
The central object, and much of the background is dark.
Where was the spot on in #3?
The dark patches on the figure are reflections of dark objects in the room facing the object—I can see you. That will be a big factor with shiny objects.

Remember, exposure meters all try to average out the scene and provide a middle grey on average. IF you want/need to change that for creatIve or personal preferences then by alll means do so—either by manually giving the scene more/less light, or by using exposure compensation to do the same. Or by adding supplemental light. Or by moving to a brighter/darker or more evenly lit spot.
 

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