Unfortunately I'm at the stage in life where my eyes do not see the same every single day. I see better if I get more rest to some extent.
How is this relevant?
For the most part until now, I've been using live view to compose and frame shots instead of the viewfinder. The problem is I come home from a day trip and discover a lot of the shots are underexposed to a lesser or greater extent when at the time I actually took the picture the lighting, to my eyes, looked "fine" and what it should be which in reality was a false assumption.
That results in more post processing work than I'd like and also unsalvageable shots because they were just too dark.
So my question is this:
Does the D-90 have any features or parameters which can be utilized so it can auto detect more acceptable lighting levels and give me a better starting point?
Yes, the viewfinder offers assistance with the shutter depressed, however I was hoping there may be other options to explore.
My preference is slightly underexposed yielding pictures for post processing.
#2. "RE: D-90 able to auto-detect proper exposure level?" In response to Reply # 0
"Does the D-90 have any features or parameters which can be utilized so it can auto detect more acceptable lighting levels and give me a better starting point?"
Most all cameras have a metering system to do just that. Are you using manual metering and not utilizing the meter display and/or histogram? If exposures are not to your liking, you can use Exposure Compensation, Exposure Fine Tune, or just deliberately over or underexpose in manual mode to adjust.
Underexposing digital images is not the way to go. Getting the exposure correct in camera will lead to less noise in the image. If you're shooting RAW, even a little overexposure (without clipping) is often desirable.
#4. "RE: D-90 able to auto-detect proper exposure level?" In response to Reply # 0
Farmington Hills, US
I've had very reliable exposure in Matrix mode with my D90. Most of the images Ive taken with it are landscapes.
Gary in SE Michigan, USA. Co-organizer of the Southern Michigan Chapter Nikonians membership - My most important photographic investment, after the camera. D4, D810, D300, D90, F6, FM3a (black), FM2n (chrome) YashicaMat 124, Graflex Speed Graphic 4x5 My Nikonians Gallery & Our Chapter Gallery
#5. "RE: D-90 able to auto-detect proper exposure level?" In response to Reply # 0
>Does the D-90 have any features or parameters which can be >utilized so it can auto detect more acceptable lighting levels >and give me a better starting point?
The answer is that, yes, the D90 affords several ways to solve your present problem.
First, as others have suggested, you must decide if you will have the camera manage exposure (which it will be happy to do in the A, S & M modes - large dial top left of camera) or you wish to manage the exposure (M on the same dial). No matter which of these modes you use, you must also choose a metering program: spot, center-weight or matrix (button to left of shutter release button changed with the command dial - the thumb dial by default). Matrix is probably the most convenient for most people. In M mode, you will need to manage one or all of the three legs of the exposure triangle (shutter speed, aperture and ISO). In A & S modes you will set two of the legs and the camera will set the other. In P, the camera will do its best to manage everything but it may not guess your intentions correctly and use a speed slower than you need to stop some action or an aperture inconsistent with the depth of field you hope to capture. There is a third exposure program that the camera offers and that is Auto-ISO (Shooting Menu/ISO Sensitivity settings/ ISO sensitivity auto control). If you are shooting in M, Auto-ISO can adjust the gain to achieve a better exposure, up to the limit you set, after which there is no adjustment the camera can make automatically.
One thing the D90 cannot do for you is manage the brightness of its rear LCD for ambient light (Setup Menu/LCD brightness). Consequently, underexposed images can seem satisfactorily bright when the surroundings are dark and overexposed images seem dim when the surroundings are bright. You may have its response set to brightest which will make it doubly difficult to correctly evaluate results in dim lights.
As was suggested, learning to use the histogram (Default, up or down on the multiselector) to evaluate the exposure after it has been made is certain to help you manage exposure. One resource I would highly recommend that offers many well designed tutorials is http://www.cambridgeincolour.com . This tutorial may help with learning the histogram.
If you ever start to experience overexposure, then using the Highlights facility (Playback Menu/Display Mode/Highlights/Done/OK), AKA the blinkies, will be a great help.
Finally, if you are preferentially using the rear LCD for taking pix, then investigate using it to keep track of your exposure settings as well. You can leave Live View by pressing the LV button, then by pressing the info button (lower right corner of rear lcd) you will see on the rear lcd a conflation of the information in the top LCD and viewfinder information including the exposure bar (electronic analog exposure display).
The live view window does not show the exposure bar but there is one trick. If you have the camera set to Auto-ISO, as you adjust exposure the ISO will change until it hits either 200 going down or the limit you have set going up. If you can keep the iso between the two, you will be taking what the camera considers a 'correct' exposure.