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Thread: Nikon D3s exposure error

  1. #1

    Nikon D3s exposure error

    Nikon D3S Matrix and center weighted exposures are most often one or two stops off. I'll dial in exposure compensation with the sun behind me, but when I turn to face into the sun, say at 3pm, the exposure will be way off. What is the experience of other D3 shooters?

  2. #2
    Black Pearl's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    Whitburn, Sunderland
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    Re: Nikon D3s exposure error

    Post some examples - the metering in Nikon Pro bodies is one of the very best available so I'd be interested in seeing where and how you're getting incorrect exposures.

  3. #3

    Join Date
    May 2008

    Re: Nikon D3s exposure error

    Yeah, we need a lot more information...we have to see the images and also hear your description of what you thought you were accomplishing with the settings you changed.

    Matrix metering is unpredictable. If you want to set exposure manually, then use CW or Spot. If you want to set exposure automatically, use Matrix (contrary to commonly held views, the shooting mode has absolutely nothing to do with setting exposure manually or's all about the metering mode.)

    Matrix is designed to determine and apply its own exposure compensation. The camera evaluates the scene for color and luminance differences and distributions, as well as distance to focus point, and compares the current scene to a database of over 30,000 scenes. If it finds a match, it will apply the exposure compensation associated with that scene...which was determined by some Nikon photographer.

    Because of the way Matrix works, I doubt anyone can tell you why the camera meters one way or the other when using Matrix metering. CW and spot, however, are an entirely different story. The operation of CW and spot are reliable. They're usually reliably wrong, but their strength comes from their reliability...not accuracy.

    When you meter your scene in CW, it will average your scene to a mid-gray, with an emphasis on the center (meaning that the center will be moved closer to gray at the expense of the edges.) Now...if the center of your scene is a white house, then that house will come out gray. So you must apply your own exposure compensation to make the house white. THIS is manual exposure (and it's the same process regardless of the shooting mode.)

    When the sun is behind you, the sun is directly illuminating the objects in front of you. The white house in our imaginary scene is reflecting a lot of light, making the camera reduce you need to set positive exposure compensation to bring the house out of the gray and into the white.

    Now you turn to face the sun. What is in front of you? Is it a dark blue house? Now, everything in front of you is in shadow and reflecting less light...LOTS less. And that dark blue house isn't helping. The camera will increase its exposure and it will go further than it needs to because the dark blue house will cause the camera to overexpose. So you have a scene that causes overexposure with a camera that's already set to overexpose. The solution is to once again evaluate your subject and manually set your exposure. The dark blue house needs negative exposure compensation to bring the down from a mid blue to a dark blue.

    Of course, this is all speculation. Until we see your images and hear what you were trying to accomplish, we can't tell what's going on. Just keep in mind that exposure compensation is applied per subject...if you change your scene, you change your EC. That's why you have an option on your D3S to reset exposure compensation when the meter times out. It's b4:Easy Exposure Compensation, described on page 303 of the D3S manual. You can set EC for the scene, take a few shots, and then move on. By the time you shoot again, your meter would have turned off and your EC reset to 0.

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