DSLR Newbie Question - Photos underexposed

Discussion in 'Photography Beginners' Forum' started by Melicertes, Jun 29, 2008.

  1. Melicertes

    Melicertes TPF Noob!

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    I have been taking photographs as a novice hobbyist for just over ten years now and have recently switched to digital. I am using a Canon Digital Rebel XTi in the hopes that I may be able to learn more about improving my photography skills without the constant costs of film processing and development. Ever since the switch to DSLR from my usual 35mm Fujicolor and Canon EOS Rebel Ti, I have noticed that a large number of my photos appear underexposed even in decent sunlight conditions. Now I realize I have a lot to learn but I have been taking photographs for long enough to at least get pretty decent exposures on my shots, until now.

    I realize that the kit lens and cheapo zoom I have at this point in time should be upgraded to some decent optics, and I will do so in the near future, but before I do so I would like to ask for some expert opinions about my exposure issues to confirm the cause of my troubles before I shell out the $$ expecting things to improve and finding that there is something else to blame - including something I can improve upon skillwise.

    Here are two shots to illustrate my problem. The first one is a direct save to jpg without any post production adjustments. This shot was taken at 1/80sec at f/18, ISO100 in a nice bright and sunny noon day at the beach. The lens is a Canon EFS 18-55mm 1:3.5-5.6 II zoomed out to 18mm when I took this shot.
    [​IMG]
    I should mention that the camera's metering was set to Partial Metering and may very well have been where the trouble starts. What concerns me though is that I often get similar results even when using Evaluative Metering. I have never really experimented that much with the different metering modes and if it is simply that I should work more on knowing when to use what metering mode then I'll be very grateful if somebody can give me a rough intro on the differences and practical applications on using Evaluative, Partial and Center-weighted average metering on the Canon Rebel Xti.

    If I wanted to get anything useful out of my RAW downloads I would normally pull it into Camera RAW 4.3.1. and adjust the settings to give me something more acceptable. This pic below is of the exact same RAW file above saved to another jpg but with the Exposure increased to +1.20 in Camera Raw. No sharpening or brightness/contrast adjustments were made at all.
    [​IMG]

    I need to know:
    1. Is this just simply because of using the wrong metering mode and therefore the first pic above is underexposed?

    2. Is this due to low quality optics (i'm not concerned about picture sharpness at this time but rather more the exposure) of the kit lens?

    3. Are there any old-hand tricks that pertain to exposures on DSLRs where one should adjust the exposure on a DSLR for some reason either positively or negatively under certain conditions when using a digital as opposed to a film camera? (I'm pretty sure I have not had these kinds of dramatic underexposures on film even with a kit lens)

    4. I would welcome an constructive criticism about my photos with specific regards to getting my photos to look more corectly exposed in-camera rather than having to fiddle with them once I download them to PC. I do not mind tweaking small things post production, but I am sure that I am missing something in the process and keep on getting these grayish hazyness in my pics and would like to figure out what I am doing wrong so I can improve.

    Any constructive help would be greatly appreciated.
    Thanks! :D
     
  2. Overread

    Overread has a hat around here somewhere Staff Member Supporting Member

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    Well first off digital SLRs are known to underexpose in general. I would also say that the kit lens with the XTi is also a "dark" lens and is not Canons best (by kit lens standards).

    I think reading and learning about the histogram in the camera would be a good place to start with being able to get better in camera photos with minimal post procesing - I myself tend to shoot in RAW and then up brightness and exposure as and if needed. Infact for a daylight shot I prefer a little underexposure and use the exposure compensation to -1 during the day in general so that I don't have the whites in a shot overexpose - as you can brighten up a shot, but you can't dim down an overexposed white as details simply are not there to restor most of the time
     
  3. deudeu

    deudeu TPF Noob!

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    My camera generally underexposes as well (with the Kit lens). I think that generally the engineers design their cameras that way to make sure that you won't lose data on the highlights.

    If it is constantly underexposed at all aperture, you can just set the exposure compensation to +1/3EV or +1/2 EV and that should take care of the problem.

    I also agree with overread that shooting RAW can only help with exposure problems.
     
  4. Melicertes

    Melicertes TPF Noob!

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    Thanks for the input. I shoot only in RAW since it allows me greater flexibility to adjust the photos after taking them. I would like to eventually get to the point where I have to do minimal post production adjusting to get my photos to any acceptable level of satisfaction. I am also sometimes getting colors not being represented accurately - greens would look more like olive green instead of a proper grass green. Do you think this may be due to exposure problems still or perhaps I'm more used to Fujifilm's higher color saturation and now may need to increase the saturation slightly in Camera RAW to get similar results - my eyes are still learning to really look at colors (not just the image as a whole) so sometimes I find adding saturation makes my prints look oversaturated and the colors are too pronounced - I expect time and practice will balance it all out in the end. Can anybody give me a clear distinction between the Saturation and Vibrance in sliders Camera RAW?

    I find that for the most part in Camera RAW I normally have to increase the Exposure, Recovery slider, and sometimes tweak the Blacks and Contrast sliders ever so slightly to get better results. I then pull the photo into PS CS3 and if the photo was really grainy because of a high ISO I'd run a Neat Image filter (info here) through the pic to remove obvious noise and thereafter I would run an Unsharp Mask (no sharpening is done in CRaw) sharpening filter set to between 10 and 20% depending on how much is needed in my very amateurish opinion. I get relatively acceptable results but I think I am running into optical quality issues on my lenses and am waiting for my new Canon EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6 USM IS to arrive in about two days time. I will also be replacing my kit lens with a Sigma AF 24-70mm f/2.8 EX DG macro soon. Any comments on these two lenses? They seem to have gotten reasonable reviews on www.photozone.de
     

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