Is it the Lens or Camera?

Discussion in 'Nikon' started by glen_t, Aug 30, 2012.

  1. After about ten years of shooting 35mm film, I recently "went digital," buying a pair of Nikon D200s, both in nice shape. I mostly use non-AI (converted), AI, and AIS lenses with it. I notice that when I have some of my older lenses on one of the D200s, on the continuous high setting, the first shot will be noticeably darker--about 0.5 to 0.67 EV. The rest, usually three or four more shots, all fired in succession, will be perfectly exposed. I shoot in manual mode. I have noticed this behavior with these lenses: the 50/2 AI, the 50/2 NPK (converted), the 200/4 NPK (factory converted). I have not noticed it with my 105/2.5 NPK (converted). The shots, otherwise, look fine--tack sharp and very nice. Though, I think the 200/4 NPK may be showing its age, as its focus looks to be off. Again, the two 50mm lenses take nice photos.
    I do not have exposure comp. on, and even then it would compensate on the whole series of shots taken, not just one. They are outdoor shots, and the sun seemed to be constant in all cases. The pattern seems to be consistent--first shot darker, the next fine. What is going on here? I welcome your comments.
  2. Correction: I was just going through my files (to double check), and did notice one occurrence of this "first shot dark" pattern with my NPK 105/2.5.
  3. SCL


    A look at the differences in your exif data for the underexposed shots and the subsequent properly exposed ones might indicate what is going on.
  4. Thanks...
    I shoot RAW, and just checked the metadata in Capture NX2 for my most recent string of four. The data listed is the same for all four shots: ISO 320, 1/640th, F/5.6, Auto WB, as I had expected. The only difference is in the times, the first and second shots separated by .27, the second and third by .14, and the third and fourth by .26 of a second.
  5. bms


    No idea what it is but if one D200 is doing it and the other one does not, its probably the camera.
  6. bms


    On second thought, maybe the mechanism that operates the aperture lever is a bit sticky and the aperture does not open completely on the first shot....? But then it is manually operated when using those older lenses, so scratch that

    If you have access so a modern lens, like and AF-D or "G", try it - if it happens there too, I think you definitely have a camera problem.
  7. That is the first thing I thought of: a sticky aperture diaphragm. I am not sure what you mean by "manual," as they are aperture indexing lenses (i.e. they stop down at the time of exposure). The reason I doubted this being the culprit is because it is observable with four different lenses. Could four lenses be showing this problem at the same time? I considered this unlikely. I have one AF lens, a 50/1.8D. I will test with that.
  8. I found a fifth instance: I saw the problem in some shots taken with my 55/2.8 AI. Thus, it does seem that we may have a D200 issue here. I say "seem" only because I notice this only when taking train shots. I tested two of the lenses in question this evening in my backyard. Neither showed the problem. Does an approaching train somehow "scare" my manual lenses?? In my tests, I used a tripod and cable release, just as in the train shots. I had been thinking that there may be something wrong with the MC-30 10-pin connection. This is very strange...
  9. I'll take a stab: the age factor of a D200 may be part of your problem. Digital equipment, however good it looks, ages differently compared to [for example] a Nikon F2 body. The old mechanical construction just keeps working. When new, the Nikon D200 body was very good, but in 2012, the camera has a few years on the *electronics* and you are finding out the camera seems to start with a exposure difference on the first image of a series. Have you (or did the recent owner) ever had the camera serviced by Nikon?
  10. SCL


    I had a similar thing happen with my D300 on a couple of occasions, but there was no consistency of it happening, and I chalked it up to some mechanism or another ( I assumed it was a lens issue) getting a sluggish start.
  11. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    The first check I would make is to use the depth of field preview button on the D200 to stop down the lenses a number of times. Verify that the aperture disphragms are closing down properly every time you press depth of field preview.
  12. I say "seem" only because I notice this only when taking train shots.​
    Can you show an example ? ( first shot and subsequent shots..)
    Is it maybe possible ( without seeing the shots) that in the first shot the train only partly fills the frame ( head of the train) and in subsequent shots the "rest of the train" fills a larger part of the frame, hence requiring different exposure ?
  13. My initial thought was sticky aperture blades, but - since the lens is trying to push the aperture closed for the exposure (when the camera has been holding it open) - that ought to result in over-exposure, not under-exposure. That it happens on only one body and lots of lenses really suggests it's the camera, although I've no idea what the exact failure might be.

    I'd be interested to know what happens with manual exposure settings - which might say whether the meter's wrong or whether it's mechanical (though I strongly suspect the latter). That your metadata suggests that the camera thinks it's taking the same exposures also suggests mechanicals.

    And it's only on continuous high speed? Freaky. I'll be fascinated to know how this happened.
  14. I, thank you for the replies, and I, too, am fascinated by this. Just to be clear, I shoot in manual mode--i.e. I am making all of the exposure settings. I am not shooting on P, A, or S here (and usually do not anyway). That is what is making this difficult to solve. The respondent that mentioned the proximity of the train in relation to lighting makes an interesting point. However, I note that it is the entire frame that gets about 0.67 EV darker in the first shot in a series. That is, the train is darker, but so is the sky and the rest of the scene. Should not the scene remain constant, as it was set on manual (in the one case, for example, f/5.6 at 1/640th)? Also, the first and second shots are .27 of a second apart. The train does fill the frame more, as it is moving, but should the lighting of the whole scene change with things set on "M"?
    To complicate things further, I just shot a couple of series of my daughter sleeping. They were at much lower shutter speeds, but again I used manual exposure. I did not notice the "first shot darker" phenomenon at all. I will take Shun's advice and check DOF preview operation. I will continue to update on what I see. I welcome any comments or thoughts, as I am nearing the end of my return/exchange period on the camera. Thus, I need to figure this one out.
  15. I tested a couple of lenses, and I do not notice anything amiss with DOF preview. Thus, it appears to stop down correctly. I will shoot some trains later with my other D200 and compare. I will update later today.
  16. Train photography.... The locomotive has the headlights on (usually) and your first frame has *more* light (my guess here...) On the following images you take, your 'M' settings are what you want, right? You may have to factor in the *added* light from the headlights in your viewfinder to get the exposure correct for your needs. Only a guess here.
  17. On the D200, I assume the EXIF data records the shutter speed set rather than actual shutter time. I gather on modern (D7000 onwards?) there is an IR LED shutter-checker, but not sure if it's an error checker or a real-life time reporter??
    Just to summarize....
    If you shoot 5 frames of a non-moving brick wall :) on S, CL & CH, do the first 2 sets show no real difference, where-as the third set has a dark first frame? Wow!?!
    On a different note, I'd think of returning it, I don't think I'd like to predict whether this could get worse?? or how?
  18. ISO 320, 1/640th, F/5.6, Auto WB,
    Should not the scene remain constant, as it was set on manual​
    No, cause WB is on auto, so when the scene changes , the light changes, the camer adjusts WB, therfore i asked for an example, to see if that may be influencial....
  19. Good thought in terms of white balance, but that is definitely not the cause. I looked at very similar shots taken with my other D200--with auto WB--and the exposure is correct throughout the series of shots. Also, I have seen WB changes, and this looks clearly different. It is clearly a case of underexposure, not a WB shift. After further tests with the other camera, I have determined that the camera is the problem. I have returned the camera.

    What a strange problem. In about ten years of shooting, I have never observed this type of issue.

    Now the question is: what do I replace this D200 with? I have one D200 that works properly and takes, in my opinion, great photos--tack sharp, nice color, detailed. I admit, the D300s tempts me, but it is so expensive. I paid only $450 for my D200. A nice used D300s is about $1,000, and even then, I am beginning to tire of used cameras...too many problems over the years. At least with a D200, though, I risk only $450 (used).

    Amateur cameras with the latest and greatest sensors, such as the D5100, do not interest me. I do not shoot without a battery grip, and I like more a professional build and ergonomic layout. Again, I use Nikkor MF lenses almost exclusively.

    I welcome your suggestions.
  20. I'm sure the OP has thought of this, but one variable that hasn't been mentioned yet is the ISO speed. That's not set to auto is it? Does the ISO speed vary in the EXIF data?
    It seems strange that an exposure variation should show up in fully manual mode. That would seem to eliminate the metering. I suggest that the lens is fully removed and the camera pointed at a constant light source to check out the shutter consistency. If there's a variation in brightness without a lens attached, then it's got to be a problem with the shutter or sensor sensitivity. Conversely, no change in brightness would point to the lens or camera aperture actuator being to blame.
    This probably has no relevence to the OP's problem, but I noticed that there seems to be a metering lag with my D700. If the camera is set to AE lock on shutter-button half-press, then the meter tends to "remember" a previous exposure level. That is if you point the camera at something very bright and half-press the shutter to lock a meter reading (or actually take a shot), and then fully release the shutter button and quickly point at a darker subject and take a shot; the camera will underexpose. Likewise, if you point at something dark and then light in quick succession as above the camera overexposes. It's as if the previous meter reading wasn't releasing instantly when the shutter button is un-pressed, but being held for a second or two afterwards. It's done this since new, so I'm glad I don't shoot sports with it!
  21. Interesting comments, Rodeo Joe. Yes, Auto ISO had been set to "off." The quirk you mention in regard to your D700 is rather surprising, considering it is a very expensive camera. Actually, I have owned many Nikon bodies (mostly film), and they are sometimes quirky. In this last scenario, I was very tempted to go with a Canon or a Pentax. The EOS 7D and K-5 are top-notch bodies--both of which can be had for less than a D300s. It is my Nikkor MF lenses that keeps me with Nikon. I like having a real DOF scale on a lens, too. With Canon EOS, it is all plastic AF stuff. Pentax K-mount lenses would meet my needs, but I have owned many K-mount bodies, and I do not think I liked any of them.
  22. It is likely there is some slack and slop or tightness in the aperture control mechanism so exposure is erratic.
  23. Example the first shot you think is too dark might be the correct exposure according to the camera with the others being too light as the aperture is sticking open.

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