D300 Matrix meter: why did it mess up????

Discussion in 'Nikon' started by mahmud_javid, Mar 6, 2009.

  1. I just converted this directly from RAW using View NX. I used Standard Pict Control, Matrix metering, and the exposure was 1/400, f/4, ISO 400. There is no cropping done, I was using 9 point AF, active focus point on the eye. The subject was photographed in the early morning in shade. Can the expert D300 users here explain what went wrong?

    M Javid
  2. Mahmud, I don't see anything technically incorrect with your photo even if it doesn't completely match your taste. You don't have any blown-out highlights, for example. If you would have liked to have had the child's face come out brighter, center-weighted metering might have worked better, as it would have given metering priority to the center of the photo instead of the light-toned wall in the background.

    The bottom line is that this is a good exposure (no data lost). By applying post processing, you'll be able to lighten the darker areas without losing any detail.

    For a quick fix try the Active D-Lighting controls in Capture NX. Good luck!
  3. you forgot to engage your wetware is all and didn't catch that the background and light pink sweater were goignto bias the exposure. Cameras are very smart these days but potentially yo uare smarter. I would dialed i na bit of positive exposure bias, maybe +2/3rds and let the background blow out a bit.
    As Dan points out, thegood neews is that you have a NEF and can adjust the output levels there.
    I happen to like the photo as is but I can see how you might have wanted better light on her.
  4. Just a couple of ideas to help.
    Pretty young lady!
    What I is see is the main light coming from above. Her cheeks are bright but the eyes don't have enough light (racoon eyes!) You could light in a different way or used a reflector to light up the eyes.
    Photography is about lighting and other things.
    Try looking for controlled light that lights her face. Look for it. Or use light modifiers either adding or subtracting.
    Keep working as you are on the right track.
  5. Beautiful little girl - -
    I would have used either center weighted or spot metered on her face as she's in the dark with a bright background.

    Still - you have a RAW file to fix this with. I've used one color point in NX2 to "help your shot. How does this look to you?
    If you don't like it - let me know & I'll pull it off my site...
    Lil :)
  6. Dan,
    I did also try a 0.5 exposure compensation and then a 72 shadow recovery in capture nx 2 which improved the image. However my aim is to get images that require minimal post-processing. Maybe the matrix meter is not as smart as its made out to be! If I had shot jpg only, I would have been in trouble.
    Here is another one, using the spot meter. f/2, 1/1000, ISO 200. Slight levels adjustment in NX2.
  7. You need to use flash. Lots of good info here:
  8. The matrix metering just tried to protect you from blowing out the background, that's all.
    The matrix works in mysterious ways.
  9. Thank you all.
    Lil, the last picture is actually what my daughter looks like!
  10. You might also want to engage the autobracket to +- 2/3rds f/ or whatever suits you best. Many top pros do. Anything worth stopping to make an exposure is worth making several to make 100% certain you've bagged it. Fill flash would have also worked.
  11. Matrix metering unfortunately doesn't handle all situations equally well. My D2H tends to underexpose in similar backlighting situations. I usually switch to spot or highly center weighted averaging for this type of scenario.
    I'm not familiar with the D300 but if it offers an adjustable center weighted averaging mode, try a metering pattern somewhere between full frame and a tiny spot. With my D2H I use the 8mm option, which handily matches the large circle in the focusing screen. Averaging metering usually provides results very comparable to Matrix anyway, and is far less fussy than spot metering which can be strongly influenced by the slightest differences in subject reflectivity.
    Also, when metering the human face it's essential to compensate for differences in reflectivity. With very fair skin it's a good idea to open up a full stop. With moderately darker olive or tan skin, perhaps 1/2 to 2/3 stop. With very dark skin it might even be appropriate to stop down a little from the spot reading, depending on the light. You can practice at home to test these effects by using sheets of construction paper that approximate the range of tones and hues of human skin. (I recommend cheap construction paper because the matte surface doesn't reflect shiny hot spots. And it's cheap. And kids usually have some around the house already.) It can be quite revealing. I've used this trick several times to teach new photographers the basics of how metering responds to what it sees.
    On the plus side, Matrix metering combined with Nikon's TTL flash handles this same scenario brilliantly. I can put the D2H and SB-800 into full no-brainer mode (Program mode, Matrix metering, SB-800 in TTL-BL) and get great results with snapshots despite strong outdoor backlighting.
  12. However my aim is to get images that require minimal post-processing. Maybe the matrix meter is not as smart as its made out to be!​
    Even though matrix metering works well in many situations, there are still others were the photographer needs to take corrective action - and you need to learn how to identify those situations and what actions to take. Fill-flash would have been a good choice here; or, as already mentioned, this was a situation were positive exposure compensation was asked for - even if it meant to blow out the background.
    “The single most important component of a camera is the twelve inches behind it.” - Ansel Adams​
  13. Mahmud,
    you have a very beautiful daughter. You may wish to consider a bounce card to fill in a tad of light into her face. You just want to add a little. Or just see to it that your daughter faces the light & you have it behind you. But still in filtered light. That will fill in light for you. :)
  14. Mahmud,
    I am envious you have such beautiful subjects to photograph! Find a window and have her sit next to it and try that. Window light is some of the best light there is, and the best part is, it's free. :) A white card on a stand just out of frame can provide a good ratio of light for the shadow side. You can use a reflector if you want to have more control. Have fun!
  15. What exposure mode were you shooting in and what lens were you using, and was auto ISO on or off?
    If, for example, you had auto ISO off, were shooting in S mode using a f4 lens, and there was not enough light at ISO 400, the picture would be dark just as you had it.
  16. have you tried Active D-Lighting feature ?
  17. Mahmud,
    There is absolutely nothing wrong with your D-300 matrix metering mode.
    Matrix metering; which essentially looks at the entire scene, conducts an average reading and makes a best guess
    If you look at the photo you feel is too dark, you will see about 40% of the image is occupied by the young lady's face with the remainder occupied by rather bright areas by comparison. Matrix metering did it's job well presented with what it had to work with.
    As already mentioned, there are several techniques to overcome these shooting challenges, the best technique is understanding your camera, how it interprets light. Matrix metering would have nailed this shot had you moved in close enough so your subjects face completely filled the view finder.
    One more thing you can try with the D-300...Shoot in "AUTO" mode selected via the "AUTO Area AF" switch. The D-300 has a rather amazing ability in this mode to "look" at several focus points; compare what it is seeing to a rather large data base of variables and make a exposure selection.
    all the best,
  18. "Matrix metering would have nailed this shot had you moved in close enough so your subjects face completely filled the view finder."
    I should have added, take note of the readings and lock them in using manual mode, recompose and shoot.
  19. D300 Matrix meter: why did it mess up????
    Sorry! It didn't mess up! That is human error as everyone told you above. I also think changing PICTURE COTROL from STANDARD to NEUTRAL will help a lot. You can also download from the Nikon site some other picture control setting like PORTRAIT. They work really nice. Cheers!
    PS. I love her eyes!
  20. Hey, folks, let's ease up on the "human error" stuff. It's reasonable for someone either new to photography or new to a particular camera system to assume that matrix metering can handle this sort of situation because it is, after all, touted as a superior alternative to center weighted metering and more convenient than spot metering. Every camera manufacturer that offers some variation of matrix, evaluative or other sophisticated metering hypes this feature as the solution to tricky lighting situations. So it's not just human error, it's as much the fault of the manufacturers for exaggerating the claims for what these sophisticated metering modes can accomplish in actual practice.
    Also, the backlighting in Mahmud's first photo is not that strong, and the girl's face does fill up a significant part of the frame. I'm studying the EXIF data for that photo and don't see any obvious indications of user error, such as negative exposure compensation dialed in. I'm not sure whether my old copy of Opanda would show whether, for example, AE lock had been engaged from a previous shot, possibly interfering with a follow up shot under different lighting.
    Either way, it's understandable why there was some question about whether this was due to camera error rather than human error.
  21. Dave,
    I will try that!
    The lens was a 105mm f/2 D DC, and what I was trying to do was to check the adjustment I had made to the AF fine tune. It was a series of quick shots that I took without even bothering to look at the LCD as she was getting late for school. It was only later that I was surprised to see the main subject so underexposed. I always have auto-ISO off.
    Have not tried in camera D-lighting as I exclusively shoot RAW, but I will.
  22. I agree with Robert B. A little fill flash is frequently a good idea with outdoor people pics. There is flash compensation to control how much. Lightens shadows and puts some catchlight in the eyes too. Matrix metering and other auto systems have reached a high level of sophistication, and work fine most of the time, but none are perfect.
  23. I'm sorry Lex! I am the one who said human error! Based on my own ability to take pictures, when I don't get the results I expect right away I assume it is my fault..... not my D300! That is why I didn't think that was the most appropriate title for the topic..... My apologies!
  24. Lex,
    The last photo I uploaded was also taken with matrix metering, same lens at f/4, 1/125, ISO 200. Here the matrix meter has done a much better job.
    I let the matrix meter set the exposure, took several photos and uploaded a representative example. I do happen to have a digital lightmeter, and experience with all manual film cameras, so I could have set exposure compensation or even an estimated exposure manually. Point is Nikon advertises its 'scene recognition' technology, 'color matrix metering II' 'face recognition technology' and what not, so I was really quite surprised that the metering did not weight the exposure to the face since I put the active AF point on it.
    Something to think about:
    1. My D70 also had a 1005 pixel color matrix meter. I always had a +0.3 exposure comp dialled in, and usually had to add +0.5 further compensation in Nikon Capture.
    2. My F5 also had the 1005 pixel color matrix meter. I am also quite sure that the heavy 80-20 center-weighted meter of my F3HP would have handled the shot without any + compensation.
    But then print film was a much more forgiving medium.
  25. The matrix metering in the camera is complex, much more complex than center weighted.
    Google "Factory Sales Literature: Matrix Metering" and check out the information in there. AMP metering is Nikon's first incarnation of the matrix exposure system.
    It's quite interesting and if you understand how it works you will know when you need to compensate.
  26. I am with Mahmud on this one, D300 not only has 1005-point matrix metering, it has scene recognition system as well. It should have done way better than this (i.e. without requiring manual compensation or fill flash). EXIF shows ISO-400, 1/400th, F4.0, aperture-priority. Even without auto-ISO there was room for plenty of slowing down the shutter-speed to expose more to the right without blowing out either the wall or the sweater. The "look" of the image as posted doesn't seem like the histogram is shoved all the way to the right.
    One other thing I am wondering about. If the active focus point was indeed on the eye (and the eyes do look sharp), and the majority of Mahmud's daughter's eyes are dark with smallish white areas, then I would have expected the camera to add some +ve exposure bias and lighten the image.
    I wonder if this is a View NX issue more than anything?
  27. All Nikon DSLRs allow you to use the AE-L function to lock the exposure based on the lighting in an area that is different from your main subject. This is helpful when you subject is wearing very dark or very bright cloth or has strong light from the back, for example. Essentially you are looking in the scene for an area that is as close to a grey card as you can that is under the same light as your object. You can point the meter to an area that is under the same lighting condition with a mixed color pattern, say the carpet, and then lock the exposure on that, in this way, the meter is less likely to be influenced by the color and the contrasy scene and will expose more correctly.
    I agree that it is mis-leading in reading manufacturers' claims about how accurate their meters are. These meters are indeed more accurate than using just SPOT or Center-weighted meter without compensation but they still need human intervention in difficult situations. I use the matrix meter when I am more interested in capturing the moment, and I shoot RAW so I can fix these little things later. BTW, if you select the picture mode to "Portrait," it will smooth the skin tone and remove all the blemish and return with a very flattering look.
  28. The problem is that due to the nature of the algorithm, no one can really predict what it will do in a given situation. It is best used when you don't have time to set exposure manually.
    Manufacturers have been hyping the universality of matrix metering and autofocus since day of their conception. Like with any advertising, take it with a grain of salt. The spot meter and manual mode are there so that you can take control.
  29. Matrix Metering (originally AMP in the FA) was Nikon's attempt to make 35mm photography accessible to the masses of people who are not inclined to spend the time and effort required to become proficient with metering and exposure.
    Now that digital imaging has brought a new generation of amateurs into the club we are hearing more howling about the deficiencies inherent in a metering system that attempts to compensate for the lack of photographic skill...
    I have had Matrix Metering available in many of my Nikons since I got an FA back in the early 90s. The only thing I have used it for is a little experimentation. It worked OK in undemanding lighting situations but when things got dicey I had to second-guess what the Matrix Metering was going to do, and it just wasn't worth the extra effort. Things haven't improved all that much since the N90s I used in my film days.
    I think that photographers would be better served by becoming competent with their gear and basic skills rather than trying to rely on rather imperfect technology that is still unable to read the camera operator's mind when evaluating subject lighting.
    I have found that I can obtain excellent exposures 99% of the time by using center-weighted, spot or incident metering and using my brain to evaluate the meter readings. It takes the same amount of time and effort as Matrix Metering with the added benefit that I know I have nailed the exposure even in extreme lighting conditions.
  30. Don't get me wrong, I love my Nikons, but I've never given much weight to the idea that Matrix metering with a database of four bajillion scenes is actually any better than center weighted. It still gets fooled, and you still have to know how to compensate for your subject's reflectivity.
    Mahmud, your daughter is gorgeous, and I would be very pleased with that shot. You've retained detail in all areas of the image, and a quick curves layer should bring the face up just fine. I'd personally rather have the face a little dark, which can be correct in post processing, than lose the highlights.
  31. the problem IS the matrix meter, it didnt mess up, it exposed so that the photo was averaged, not so that the face was the correct tone.
  32. The metering even it was dead on would not compensate for the flat lighting. As others have suggested get a flash and hold it in your left hand away from the camera and trigger it with the D300's commander internal flash. You will see a dramatic difference in your pictures.
    In general with the current generation of Nikon cameras you are much better off having a RAW image file that was overexposed a full stop than one that was underexposed by 1/2 stop. Try it and do the adjustments and see the difference in color gamut in your images. Underexposing reduces the available information in the file which compounds the flat lighting in your images.
    Forget the matrix metering and use the histogram to verify you have adequate exposure and if not adust the EV - that is why the control is provided by Nikon so you may as well learn to use it.
  33. You must have a bad copy. Does it focus correctly? My point and shoot does a better job than that.
    Troll. Banned from Nikon Forum.

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