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D40 Exposure compensation

hotmog

Worcester Park, London, UK
26 posts

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hotmog Registered since 27th May 2007
Thu 31-May-07 09:25 AM

Further to my earlier post (http://www.nikonians.org/dcforum/DCForumID201/17400.html), I have been playing around and taken more test shots just to get a feel for how the metering on my camera behaves in different situations.

The problem I had was that some shots which looked great when viewed on the D40's LCD appeared badly under-exposed with excessive colour saturation (even when the colour mode was set to 1a) when downloaded and viewed on my PC. These shots were all taken in P mode using Matrix metering without any exposure compensation.

My concern was compounded because the general consensus of opinion seems to suggest that the D40 tends if anything to over-expose using Matrix metering. In Ken Rockwell's D40 User Guide, he quotes: "I set my exposure compensation to -0.7 because my D40's metering firmware is defective, just like the D80's meter. It usually overexposes." He also states: "Seeing how poor the matrix meter has become in the D40 (it requires constantly varying levels of compensation) I intend to try center weighted metering."

He then alluded to the nub of the problem I had: "If anything, the brilliant LCD makes even underexposed images look great! Be sure to check the color histogram if you're shooting in a dark environment." That was exactly it - I couldn't tell just by looking at the image in the LCD whether it was correctly exposed or not!

I had noticed the histograms (both the simple and colour ones) before in the playback display, but didn't really understand what they were telling me. Then I found this article http://www.luminous-landscape.com/tutorials/understanding-series/understanding-histograms.shtml, which really opened my eyes to the usefulness of this tool.

Using the histogram to judge the exposure of subsequent outdoor shots I have taken seems to confirm that most of them were indeed under-exposed if no compensation was applied (the vertical lines tending to bunch at the left-hand margin). On average I found I needed to adjust the exposure by +0.7, occasionally +1.0, to achieve optimum results.

Ken Rockwell does say that the firmware installed on his D40 as of 02 January 2007, reads A 1.00 and B 1.00. But he also says, elsewhere "I've never bothered installing the new D40 firmware that came out in January 2007; I'm too busy shooting." I presume that must refer to version 1.10, which is the version on my D40, so I'm wondering if the over-exposure fault that Ken attributes to version 1.00 of the firmware has now been over-corrected in version 1.10? The firmware upgrade notes on the Nikon website don't make any mention of this. Does anyone know?

But the main thing I wanted to draw your attention to was what a useful tool the histogram display can be in achieving accurate exposures. Do take notice of it if you don't already!

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