do you routinely exposure compensate in the camera?

Discussion in 'Nikon' started by John Di Leo, Jul 29, 2017.

  1. On my prior dslr, a d700, I found that setting the exposure compensation to -0.3 yielded a more pleasing image to me. Now, with my new-to-me d810, I find that to get the same pleasingly exposed image, no compensation is needed. If I go to -0.3 the image is underexposed.
    did the exposure bias (probably not the right term) change with the d810 vs the d700? Would that be a function of the wider dynamic range?
  2. I rarely use exposure compensation. When in doubt, I usually spot meter or look at the histogram.
  3. Maybe the light meter on your D700 was adjusted 1/3 stop off.
    Test both cameras at the same ISO, with the SAME lens, shooting a neutral mono-color wall, and see what the camera exposure is.
    Is there a difference, or are they the same?
  4. It's likely the wider DR of the 810. Welcome to your new world!
  5. No.. I eehh.. I try to meter 'average grey' and use the AEL button.
    Mostly in A (aperture priority).
    What about talk/rumours of the dedicated AEL button being removed from the upcoming D850???
  6. "do you routinely exposure compensate in the camera?"

    - Yes! Short answer.

    It's my belief the D700 used the same metering module as its DX twin the D300, and that therefore the metering nowhere near covered the full frame. I consistently got overexposure and blown highlights from my sample of D700. So much so that it was returned to Nikon UK as faulty, only to be returned saying it was "within specification". Hah!

    My D800 metering performed slightly better, but I was still only comfortable with -0.7 EV "fine tuning" permanently set on the matrix metering.

    I don't have a D810, but I find the D7200 matrix metering more consistent and reliable, although still needing an occasional compensation tweak.

    Personally I think that Nikon's advertised protocol of comparing metering patterns with X thousand preset images is misguided and facile. It's never going to work successfully unless backed by powerful AI processing of a kind impossible to squeeze into a camera with current technology.

    A simple 'Expose To The Right' highlight protection system would have a far higher hit rate. And such a system has finally been incorporated in Nikon's latest models I believe.

    Improved DR (getting sick of people banging on about that - it's really been a non issue for years) shouldn't affect the exposure. DR only affects the amount of shadow detail recoverable from a RAW file. Whereas a blown highlight is irrecoverable regardless of how much or little shadow detail is captured.
    Last edited: Jul 30, 2017
    John Di Leo and mike_halliwell like this.
  7. I often use exposure compensation, to get shadows where I want them. The meter on my Nikon cameras are pretty accurate, but they don't know what I want. I use their reading as a place to start from, just as I do when shooting large format using an incident light meter.

    Kent in SD
  8. And I would say that my d750 underexposes as compared to my d7000.
  9. I know that this gets tossed around a bit, but I shoot digital like I do slide film. It needs to be pretty darn close anyway, but as you said once the highlights are gone they are gone. For that reason, I would rather err on the side of underexposing just a bit-with the added bonus that you can recover shadows better in digital than on slide film.
    Sandy Vongries likes this.
  10. I expect the camera to expose correctly with no exposure compensation. Correctly means if I fill the frame with a gray card the resulting image should have the value of 117,117,117 up to 127,127,127. If it's not it may need calibration or I may set a permanent compensation in the custom settings.
    For scene that needs to be expose differently than the meter indicates (i.e back light subject, spot light subject) I would simply switch to manual.
    I never use the exposure compensation control.
  11. Yes, I do use exposure compensation routinely on my Nikons. And it does appear to differ from camera model to camera model. I was a bit surprised when I realized that my Sony A7 and A7II needs less interference from me than any of my Nikons (all of which tend to shoot "hot").
    Sandy Vongries likes this.
  12. In landscape I chimp from the RGB Histogram, sometimes re-shooting with compensation. For candids and family events I use face detection AF/AE. Raw files at default EV have sufficient latitude for any minor tonal curve adjustments in post. With each newer sensor/processor combination I'm closer to everything being right in the original file at default AE settings.
  13. Exposure compensation is nice for situations where the meter is fooled.

    In the case of film, there is a well defined way to rate the film speed, and to calibrate meters.
    Yet often enough, for a variety of reasons, one uses a film at a different EI value.

    There is a different system for measuring the ISO values for digital sensors, and also a different
    variety of reasons that one might use a different value.
  14. SCL


    I've always found that with any camera which uses reflective metering that it is likely some compensation is in order, no matter what mode is chosen. It is a function of what the exposure sensor is reading from light reflected off the subject, not the light falling on the subject. I use incident readings with my rf cameras and exposure is always spot on, transparencies or negatives, same true for digital in the manual mode.
  15. Sandy Vongries

    Sandy Vongries Administrator Staff Member

    Agree with Ben & Dieter - 1/3 stop is excellent with my DF, somewhat different results with D 750 and Ricoh GXR. I shoot JPEG so slight underexposure works for me.
  16. In situations which fool the meter, like back lighting and spot lighting, I prefer to use manual mode rather than exposure compensation. There are times when a landscape seems over or under exposed, but on checking the histogram, everything is usually okay. However for video I use exposure compensation about 80% of the time. There is much less latitude in video compared to still digital photography, and corrections take a lot of time and computer resources.

    For manual exposure, I use the spot meter setting, and adjust according to the vernier reading in the viewfinder. To save time, I sometimes profile the stage and make adjustments without a formal light reading.
    Last edited: Jul 31, 2017
  17. My answer is Yes. I rarely have a subject that has the same "grey" tone across the image area so I adjust the exposure as required. A camera has a greater chance of making the right exposure without exposure compensation for a great blue heron than for a white great egret, all other things the same. I much prefer to tweak things in camera than in post processing.

    That being said, the other issue is that your two cameras may be metering things differently. To test for this possible problem, follow the advice above: same lens, focal length subject, etc. Use matrix metering and compare the results. One camera could easily be off .3 from the other.
  18. I seem to read/hear a lot lately of chest beating from photographers who consider manual the only "right" way to work their camera.

    Truth be told, I still use a lot of cameras regularly where even having a built in light meter is optional(or sometimes not an option). I have an RB67 TTL metering prism, for example, but I rarely use the thing as sticks 2lbs right on the top of a heavy camera(that's decently balanced without the prism, but not with). I'd rather use a an incident meter if at all possible when I'm working with medium and large format.

    With that said, I think those of us who use cameras with TTL meters but built for manual exposure-in my case Fs, F2s, F3s, F-1s, and the like(either match needle or center the needle) do various tricks to get the exposure correct. Truth be told, for me exposure compensation is a "set and forget" value once I've found out how a particular camera's meter reacts. On the above, I tend to point the camera such that the strong backlighting is out of the frame, set the exposure, then compose and shoot. On more automated cameras, I make heavy use of the AE lock button. It's possible to set my Canon T90 such that a half press of the shutter button also locks the exposure-there may be a custom function on cameras like the F5 and F100(and of course DSLRs) that allows this, but I haven't found it. It's certainly something that I've missed in moving to Nikons.
  19. Manual is just another tool in the box. I think it's the right choice for stage plays or backlit subjects (e.g., in front of a window) where you want good exposure the subject. It's also the best choice for a series of group photos (e.g., weddings), where flesh tones and consistency are the most important objectives. Sorry if that seems to be thumping, or something ;)
  20. Not at all. I agree that it's a tool in the box and a very valuable one if used correctly or even just out of preference.

    None the less, I've noticed a trend saying that you're not a "real photographer" if you don't use manual "all the time." Like I said, I use it as necessary or quite often out of necessity. If I really wanted thump my chest, I'd talk about how easy manual DSLR users have it with their fancy TTL meters and don't have to calculate filter factors, bellows factors, and all that other stuff that comes with non-small-format stuff. Then there's the fact that mechanically timed leaf shutters rarely run at their marked values :) . With LF and even on my RB67 lenses, I've taken to writing the actual shutter speeds on a slip of paper/sticker attached to the lens that I reference when making the exposure.

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