D200 and dark pictures

Discussion in 'Nikon' started by mario_a__buenos_aires_, Aug 11, 2008.

  1. Hi everybody. I need your help.

    I’m an amateur and very happy with my FM2n and N90s, but I decided to explore the digital world. I can´t afford a
    D300, so I bought a D200, not a top of the line camera, but one that can help me a lot as a first approach to digital

    Unfortunately the results were not good, the camera showed a systematic underexposure, in many cases around 2
    stops and under different conditions of lighting. (I´m not talking about back light) Photographs looked dark in
    camera´s and PC monitors and prints. Most of the pictures were shot with center weighted metering, I´m familiar with
    this type of metering and have no problem using it with my older cameras. Other settings where those provided by
    factory. In this conditions, most of the shots showed histograms with no values behind 130 to the right.

    I sent the camera to Nikon service. The tests showed no evidence of failure in the meter system, aperture and
    shutter devices, but the underexposed images persisted. I’m very grateful with Nikon technicians, they compared my
    camera with another D200, took pictures with both and several lenses. After that, they decided to advise the
    commercial department to change the camera. And they did that, I got a new camera! But it also underexposes!

    I tested my FM2n, Minolta IVF lightmeter and the new D200 against an almost medium gray surface. These were the
    results (all @ ISO 400, and covering the same area and center metering with both cameras)

    FM2n: 1/60 f 5.6
    IVF 1/60 f5.6
    D200: 1/60 f 10

    In almost 20 years as user of Nikon equipment I have never had this kind of problem. I don´t think setting a “default”
    exposure compensation of +1.3 o +1.7 is a good solution for a camera of this type. Metering in digital is quite
    different than in film?

    I´ll very much appreciate comments from this forum
  2. just for grins, try the d200 in matrix metering. Are you using manual mode?
  3. Try matrix metering.

    The D200 tends to be conservative in its metering which prevents blow out highlights. If it is any consolation, when I had a D80, I generally needed to set the exposure compensation to -.7. I find a similar situation with my D300.

    You can easily 'fix' your pictures by shooting RAW and 'fixing' them during post processing. Or by adjusting the exposure compensation to your liking.
  4. Frank,

    I tried some shots in matrix metering and also manual mode, but the underexposure remains, also in A, S and P modes.
  5. when in doubt, your histogram is your friend, learning how to use this, should be the first thing one does with a digital camera...
  6. Look here, previous discussion - ... http://www.photo.net/nikon-camera-forum/00FsJJ ... also just search here for 'D200
    underexposure', there's a lot written. I use the D200 too, and it does have the tenedency to undrexpose to save the
    highlights, maybe even a tad too much. That's just Nikon conservative thinking. When lighting is pretty normal, for
    the stuff I shoot, for my taste, I just typically apply +0.7 to +1.0 stops of more exposure. I find that's what I want.
    P&S cameras do that already. I've found, in my limited experience, that all DSLRs benefit from some twiddling in
    post-process to equal film. As an old film shooter, it took me a while to adapt. Some may argue that adding the
    camera exposure increment may risk blowing out detail, but I'm judicious when I apply the EV correction. I hate
    spending all that time in Photoshop or Elements to fine tune, if they are not really grand images, but then I used to
    spend nites in darkrooms too! And if all meters agreed to within a partial stop, I'd be flabbergasted. Jim M.
  7. Confirmed. I have a D200 (still) and it does have the tendency underexposure (Trick to preserver highlights...). I think my old D70 also did the same thing (can't recall but I did notice that the pics were a bit darker).
  8. I also use a D200 and noticed its underexposing not too long ago. I dont remember it for the first year i had the camera, it seemed to just start one day out of no where. I was convinced it was a setting i might have changed. I still havent figured out if it was or maybe i just wasnt noticing it before. I also have a d50 and often have both cameras shooting the same thing with similar lenses (my 2nd photographer shooting next to me) and the d50's pictures come out just about right for print straight off the card, the d200 needs some seriously lightening. This has been my only problem with the d200 to date. im kind of glad to see other people with the same issue just to see im not alone.
  9. Mario, you can have great information here, and you can try it by yourself in your spare time.

    I also use a D200 and this is my first SLR. What I did to get familiar with the exposure system was like this: shot manual
    with matrix metering, checked histogram for the image, adjusted exposure, shot again. Repeated until I got it as what I
    liked. I also tried this way with spot metering and now most of the time I can hit it right.

    Just try to help with my limited experience. D200 is a great camera and you will like it. The exposure system is consistent
    and soon you will know it as your hands. :)
  10. Thank you everybody for the answers. I know I have to keep shooting, testing and improving my post processing skills. I hope my D200 and me will become friends soon.

  11. Mario, I wouldn't be so quick to apportion blame to your not knowing the camera's metering habits. You sound like you
    know what you're doing, and nearly two stops of exposure difference is well beyond what I would expect between
    different meters (though it's true that they're unlikely to exactly agree).

    Is it possible that there's something wrong with the lens you're using on the D200? You said the Nikon service people
    tested the camera with several lenses, but did they test it with your lens? Perhaps you could try comparing the meters
    again, using the same lens on your FM2 and D200.

    In addition, what type of lens were you using on the D200? If it's an AI or AI-S lens, have you told the D200 the focal
    length and maximum aperture? (I believe one does this by using the Non-CPU Lens Data option in the shooting menu.)
    Metering accuracy may greatly improve by doing this simple step.
  12. Mario take a shot at a slight overcast day of a common scene. Post a down-scaled but otherwise unaltered jpg image as an example. Do not remove the exif data. If this is possible without too much trouble post the raw file somewhere on the internet. That might give a better clue.
  13. I have been using a D200 for some time (about 7000 actuations), use centre-weighted almost all of the time and don't see underexposed images. As Walter said, try to post an image with EXIF data kept so we can see what's going on.
  14. I'm with Samuel here. Assuming that the Minolta meter and FM2 were not both wrong which seems unlikely, the difference of 1.7 stops is just too much. In fact it is way outside my (rather old) information on ISO standards for exposure measuring devices which allows calibration levels to vary by around 1/3 stop.

    I've checked my D40 against my Weston meter and they agree with 1/3 stop.

    To look at it another way the D40 tends to blow highlights in contrasty light and I then need to set compensation of -0.7 to correct this. Even if the D200 were calibrated to compensate we are still seeing underexposure of about 1 stop.

    Is there anyone else with a D200 and separate meter or other camera who try the same comparison experiment?
  15. The D70s also under exposes although I would put the amount as being between half and one stop in most situations. It does this for center weighted and matrix metering. I routinely use at least half a stop of exposure adjustment to compensate. Its not a big deal but it does have the tendency to make photos look a little muddy when viewed on the screen. But I always Photoshop any picture I intend keeping and number one adjustment is nearly always the "curves" tool to rebalance the contrast and boost brightness and will also then tweak saturation and of course sharpness.

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