D40 light meter...what the heck?!

Discussion in 'Beyond the Basics' started by epp_b, Oct 1, 2008.

  1. epp_b

    epp_b No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    I was out taking photos this evening with my D40 and I ran into a problem with the light meter that I've never seen before. Generally, dialing in -0.7 or -1.0 of exposure compensation tames the light meter's constant overexposing pretty well. But, all of a sudden, I had to dial in -2.0 or more to the right for it to expose correctly!

    Unfortunately, I deleted all of the said photos out of frustration, but I'll do my best to describe the lighting. It was near the end of the sunset, which was partially obscured by a row of trees. I pointed the camera at a tree to the east and the exposure didn't seem right until dialed at least -2.0 of exposure compensation. The same thing happened when I pointed the camera to the south at a leaf, where there was plenty of light in the background sky.

    Has anyone found this to happen with their D40?

    I'll go out again tomorrow in the sunlight and the sunset (or sunrise) to see how it behaves.
     
  2. Sw1tchFX

    Sw1tchFX TPF Noob!

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    shooting in manual would have relieved the frustration.
     
  3. Garbz

    Garbz No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    The camera can only assume what you want to do. Modern day metering is a huge issue full of guessing and comparing a matrix of the scene's lighting along with what you're focusing on to an internal database of what you may be looking at to try and weigh in on what the exposure should be. With the old centre weighted meters predicting what the camera would do was easy, but nowadays you really have to learn how your camera will react depending on what you shoot, and when you find yourself in that situation either shoot in manual, or be thankful that the EV compensate button is so conveniently placed.
     
  4. epp_b

    epp_b No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    I'm aware that the light meter can only guess what I'm "going for", but it has never been that "off" before. I'm usually in programmable auto or one of the priority modes so that I can think more about composition than dink around with settings.

    So, basically, I may have come across a scene that it didn't know how to deal with because it didn't have something similar enough in the database?
     
    Last edited: Oct 2, 2008
  5. dEARlEADER

    dEARlEADER TPF Noob!

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    well... sunrise and sunsets are often contrasty scenes...

    you do have the option to meter spot, center weight, or matrix... make sure you know how your camera is metering...

    for instance, you may have it set to spot in which case the meter is only measuring a small portion of the image.... this can cause wild variations..

    I stay away from matrix on sunsets because it's looking to average all the variables of the scene.... try switching to center or spot metering and meter the area you want best exposed... such as the colourful sky...
     
  6. epp_b

    epp_b No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    ^ It was on matrix metering.
     
  7. epp_b

    epp_b No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    OK, I went out to take some more pictures today. It must have been just that particular situation that my camera got confused about, it seemed to be working just fine today.
     
  8. Applefanboy

    Applefanboy TPF Noob!

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    Yay for manual!!!!
     
  9. Alex_B

    Alex_B No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Well, you decide about exposure, not the camera. The camera cannot know what correct exposure means for you.

    so correcting what the camera suggests, is just the normal way.
     
  10. djacobox372

    djacobox372 No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    The scenario you describe has a ridiculous level of contrast that would confuse any light meter using matrix metering... the sky behind the tree is probably about 10,000 times brighter then the tree itself.

    For tricky lighting situations like that, you should switch to manual, and spot metering to carefully examine the light level in the areas that you want properly exposed.
     

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