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Subject: "D3100 Metering Problem?" Previous topic | Next topic
tristan_2468 Registered since 21st Jun 2011Tue 21-Jun-11 10:41 AM
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"D3100 Metering Problem?"


GB
          

Hi,

I am new to this forum, but I am desperate with a problem with my D3100.
It seems to *very* badly underexpose images in A mode, to the point of getting completely black images.

Using the 35mm 1.8G lens, in Aperture Priority mode, set to f/1.8, ISO100, and then point the camera at blue sky outside, the metering selects a shutter speed of between 1/3200 and 1/4000. When the shot is then taken, the image is completely black. Setting exposure compensation to about +1.5 to +2.0 results in a more reasonable 1/1000 which exposes correctly.

The effect improves at higher f-stops, and also occurs on the kit lens (18-55) in some instances.

Auto modes seem to be exposing correctly, and this seems to only affect aperture priority mode, and is worse at larger aperture values.

I have already had the camera returned to Nikon repair centre (in the UK), and they have re-calibrated and sent it back, but the issue remains.

Can anyone else test this for me and tell me what you get?

I am running out of ideas!

Thanks,
Tristan

  

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briantilley Moderator
21st Jun 2011
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tristan_2468
21st Jun 2011
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tristan_2468
21st Jun 2011
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briantilley Moderator Deep knowledge of bodies and lens; high level photography skills Nikonian since 26th Jan 2003Tue 21-Jun-11 01:36 PM
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#1. "RE: D3100 Metering Problem?"
In response to Reply # 0


Paignton, GB
          

Welcome to Nikonians, Tristan

With ISO at 100 and an aperture of f/1.8, the shutter speed that your camera has chosen sounds about right. I've just tried my wife's D3100 at those settings against a blue sky and got a shutter speed of 1/4000th.

If you are getting almost black images, it may be that the camera is closing down the lens aperture more than it should, but I would have expected Nikon UK to have checked that.

Can you show us an example shot, with the EXIF data intact?

Brian
Welsh Nikonian

  

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tristan_2468 Registered since 21st Jun 2011Tue 21-Jun-11 01:39 PM
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#3. "RE: D3100 Metering Problem?"
In response to Reply # 1


GB
          

Of course.
Thank you for helping me.
I don't seem to be able to attach images here.
Thanks,
Tristan

  

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tristan_2468 Registered since 21st Jun 2011Tue 21-Jun-11 01:54 PM
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#5. "RE: D3100 Metering Problem?"
In response to Reply # 1


GB
          


>Can you show us an example shot, with the EXIF data intact?

I beleive I have uploaded an example to my gallery...
http://images.nikonians.org/galleries/showgallery.php?cat=19406

Thanks,
Tristan

  

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tristan_2468 Registered since 21st Jun 2011Tue 21-Jun-11 01:58 PM
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#6. "RE: D3100 Metering Problem?"
In response to Reply # 5


GB
          

I had to reupload it. It's here:
http://images.nikonians.org/galleries/showphoto.php/photo/323984
Thanks,
Tristan

  

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aolander Silver Member Nikonian since 15th Sep 2006Tue 21-Jun-11 01:38 PM
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#2. "RE: D3100 Metering Problem?"
In response to Reply # 0


Nevis, US
          

It sounds like, when the exposure is made, the lens is being stopped down to its smallest aperture even though you've set the f/stop at f/1.8. This would cause the exposure to be greatly underexposed, and the smaller the f/stop used the less the effect would be. Perhaps an electrical contact problem or a problem with the aperture control lever inside the camera.

Alan

Visit my Nikonians gallery.

  

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tristan_2468 Registered since 21st Jun 2011Tue 21-Jun-11 01:48 PM
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#4. "RE: D3100 Metering Problem?"
In response to Reply # 2


GB
          

Thank you, I will do some tests and look to see if the aperture is stepping down.
Thanks,
Tristan

  

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tristan_2468 Registered since 21st Jun 2011Tue 21-Jun-11 02:02 PM
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#7. "RE: D3100 Metering Problem?"
In response to Reply # 4


GB
          

I just took a shot and looked into the camera, although I couldn't tell if it was stopping down.
Is it normal for the camera to close the aperture even if maximum aperture has been selected?
Thanks,
Tristan

  

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briantilley Moderator Deep knowledge of bodies and lens; high level photography skills Nikonian since 26th Jan 2003Tue 21-Jun-11 02:28 PM
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#8. "RE: D3100 Metering Problem?"
In response to Reply # 7


Paignton, GB
          

At maximum aperture (f/1.8 in this case) you the diaphragm blades don't move when you take the picture. At smaller apertures (higher numbers), you should see them briefly close down then open again.

Brian
Welsh Nikonian

  

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aolander Silver Member Nikonian since 15th Sep 2006Tue 21-Jun-11 03:29 PM
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#9. "RE: D3100 Metering Problem?"
In response to Reply # 0


Nevis, US
          

"Is it normal for the camera to close the aperture even if maximum aperture has been selected?"

No, it's not. If that is what you see happening, there is something wrong with some component of aperture control in the camera.

Alan

Visit my Nikonians gallery.

  

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tristan_2468 Registered since 21st Jun 2011Tue 21-Jun-11 03:33 PM
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#10. "RE: D3100 Metering Problem?"
In response to Reply # 9


GB
          

No, this is not happening.

Essentially what seems to happen is the metering system selects a shutter speed that is too fast.

I am annoyed that Nikon checked it, and returned it exactly the same.
I am not sure whether to take it back to where I bought it - I only got it a month ago, and ask for a direct replacement, but I don't know if they will do that.

Before I do this I am trying to work out if it's a "feature" of the D3100 or that it just happens with mine.

Thanks,
Tristan

  

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elec164 Silver Member Nikonian since 15th Jan 2009Tue 21-Jun-11 03:50 PM
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#11. "RE: D3100 Metering Problem?"
In response to Reply # 10


US
          

Tristan, as already explained to you something seems to be amiss.

If you apply the ‘Sunny 16 rule” to your sky image, you would get an exposure of about ISO 100, F/1.8 and 1/6400th. So your 1/3200th is about one stop over the ‘Sunny 16 rule’ which should have provided a pretty good exposure of a daylight clear blue sky.

So if the other exposure modes are working correctly, then the camera does seem to be stopping down the lens inappropriately in Aperture Priority mode.

Can you provide us with examples of maybe Shutter Priority, Program or even Green Auto mode with what you feel is the proper exposure?

Pete

Pete

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briantilley Moderator Deep knowledge of bodies and lens; high level photography skills Nikonian since 26th Jan 2003Tue 21-Jun-11 04:13 PM
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#12. "RE: D3100 Metering Problem?"
In response to Reply # 10


Paignton, GB
          


>Essentially what seems to happen is the metering system
>selects a shutter speed that is too fast.

If your description of the circumstances was correct, then the shutter speed the camera chose was about right, and should have resulted in a well-exposed shot.

I think we should try to pin down the situation(s) in which the problem occurs. Do you get the same problem with all types of subject?

Brian
Welsh Nikonian

  

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tristan_2468 Registered since 21st Jun 2011Tue 21-Jun-11 04:16 PM
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#13. "RE: D3100 Metering Problem?"
In response to Reply # 12


GB
          

No,
Only on very plain, bright backgrounds.

I am in an office at the moment, and I can get the same effect with my kit (18-55) lens at 55mm pointing at a florescent light.

To get the effect in these conditions however I need a higher ISO like 800 or 1600, but, again, the camera selects 1/3200 or so for f/5.6, and the image is black. If I select ISO 100 and keep the same aperture value, the shot comes out OK (maybe a little underexposed but not completely black).

Thanks
Tristan

  

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briantilley Moderator Deep knowledge of bodies and lens; high level photography skills Nikonian since 26th Jan 2003Tue 21-Jun-11 05:07 PM
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#14. "RE: D3100 Metering Problem?"
In response to Reply # 13


Paignton, GB
          

>To get the effect in these conditions however I need a higher
>ISO like 800 or 1600, but, again, the camera selects 1/3200 or
>so for f/5.6, and the image is black. If I select ISO 100 and
>keep the same aperture value, the shot comes out OK (maybe a
>little underexposed but not completely black).

This is useful information - thanks

But... could you be a bit more precise, please. If you were to state the exact ISO and Aperture you selected, and the Shutter Speed the camera chose, for these two shots (one "black" and one "normal") - or post them in your gallery - it would help us to diagnose further.

Brian
Welsh Nikonian

  

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tristan_2468 Registered since 21st Jun 2011Wed 22-Jun-11 09:04 AM
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#15. "RE: D3100 Metering Problem?"
In response to Reply # 14


GB
          

Sorry for the delay, I have just managed to get some shots, all of an overcast sky at ISO400.

They are at http://images.nikonians.org/galleries/showgallery.php?cat=19407

I have put comments in the images there, but in summary I have:

A mode - black frame.
M mode set to same settings as A mode selected - black frame.
P mode - good exposure, f/11.
P mode with dial set to force f/5.6 - very underexposed image.

Thank you guys for your help.
Tristan

  

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blw Moderator Awarded for his high level of expertise in various areas Nikonian since 18th Jun 2004Wed 22-Jun-11 01:36 PM
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#16. "RE: D3100 Metering Problem?"
In response to Reply # 15
Wed 22-Jun-11 03:29 PM by blw

Richmond, US
          

I have to admit that I was skeptical, but your images with EXIF confirm your implausible story! The A mode exposure is f/5.6, 1/3200, ISO 400, which is not drastically different in EV than f/11, 1/500th, ISO 400 - f/11 is two stops less light than f/5.6, while 1/3200 is almost three stops less light than 1/500th. Certainly one would expect an exposure difference, but not from close to proper exposure (f/5.6, 1/500th) to black - that's a lot more than one stop.

I think that the problem is probably not your meter. This set of images isn't comprehensive proof, but certainly the chosen exposures do not seem wildly inconsistent. The variability is under a stop, and while I certainly expect that the variability be under 1/3rd of a stop, it is also possible that there is some change in ambient light, too. The range in the metered exposures is minimal to nominal, but the difference in the results is drastic. So I am inclined to think that it's not the meter. It's also not the metering mode, either - A, S, P or M will likely produce the same results under the right conditions.

Since you say this has also happened to some degree with some other lenses, I'd say that your shutter is probably out of calibration, particularly at the fast end of the range. The reason it happens more on the 35/f1.8 is that its much faster aperture gives you a lot more chance to have a faster shutter speed. The 18-55 is f/5.6 at the long end, which is 3.3 stops than f/1.8; 3.3 stops means a 10x difference in shutter speed. If 1/500th is in calibration, or close to it, you'll have to have a pretty wide aperture to allow 1/4000th at all. When you shoot the 18-55 at 18mm, you can have f/3.5, which is about 1.7 stops or about 3.5x difference in shutter speed. It's much more possible to need a fast shutter speed at f/3.5 than f/5.6, but it's easier still at f/1.8.

To test this hypothesis, let's get some more consistent conditions. Go inside, and use a windowless closet or bathroom. This will eliminate most types of ambient light variability. Set the ISO to a fairly high value, say 3200. You don't care about the quality of the results, just the value of the exposure. Put the camera on a tripod, and set the mode to P. Now take a frame. Rotate the command dial - you'll see P* in the display - and you'll get a different aperture/shutter speed combination. Your goal is to go through all of the available combinations, including shutter speeds at the fast end of the scale. Rotating that dial will permit you to use at least most of the combinations. You may need to revert to manual mode and change both aperture and shutter speed yourself, but P* mode is easier and less error prone for beginners.

What you should get out of this is a series of pictures that all have the same density, but different depth of field (since you'll also have to change apertures). I think what you'll get is a series with mostly the same density, but as the shutter speed goes into the faster range, you'll get increasingly severe underexposure, probably ending up with black exposures at 1/4000th or perhaps earlier.

-----

Actually, I thought of a variant of this procedure. Set the ISO (at the beginning) as follows: set the meter to S mode, and shutter speed to 1/4000th. Now change the ISO until it yields a correct exposure - in a closet or bathroom it will probably be pretty high.

Once that is set, take the picture, then turn the shutter speed down a notch, take another picture, etc. Go until you get down to about 1/100th or so - six or seven of them.

By setting the ISO this way, we know for sure that the exposure is supposed to be correct. And by shooting in shutter preferred mode, we can be certain of what shutter speed is in use - since we now suspect the shutter, this is highly relevant. And the six or seven exposures covers the likely range of apertures available on your lenses.

Finally, if I were a Nikon tech, a series of supposedly equivalent exposures that yield drastically different density would be the type of data that I would take as a clear indication of a problem.

_____
Brian... a bicoastal Nikonian and Team Member

My gallery is online. Comments and critique welcomed any time!

  

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briantilley Moderator Deep knowledge of bodies and lens; high level photography skills Nikonian since 26th Jan 2003Wed 22-Jun-11 01:55 PM
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#17. "RE: D3100 Metering Problem?"
In response to Reply # 16


Paignton, GB
          

That's a great plan, Brian

From the details of the gallery images, I too suspect the camera shutter is not operating to spec at higher speeds.

Brian
Welsh Nikonian

  

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elec164 Silver Member Nikonian since 15th Jan 2009Wed 22-Jun-11 04:57 PM
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#18. "RE: D3100 Metering Problem?"
In response to Reply # 15


US
          

For me, this is certainly puzzling.

The two P mode images should have looked almost exactly alike being that from an exposure standpoint the two settings provide the same EV. But the f/5.6 one is much darker. I’m not experienced enough to look and tell exactly how many stops difference they are, but I think one or even two stops would not be out of line. I also don’t know what type of cloud cover you had, so I’m not sure which image more accurately portrays the scene accurately although you indicate the f/11 as the proper exposure. For example today my area has a cloud cover with showers predicted. But it is a very bright sky similar to the f/11 shot as opposed to a dark ominous storm that your f/5.6 image shows. And to that end if I point my camera so that it includes only the sky with matrix metering it picks out an exposure that would be predicted by the ‘Sunny 16 rule’. But if I point the camera toward the landscape, it picks out a setting akin to the overcast ‘Sunny 16 rule’ (f/8 rule).

Going back to your two P mode examples, they should have looked pretty similar in that f/5.6 is two stops wider then f/11; and 1/1600th is roughly two stops faster than 1/500th. Yet your f/5.6 example is much darker. Now the two Brain’s are more experienced than I am, and perhaps the shutter can go out of calibration for a specific speed range rather than skew across the whole range. But from my pure analytical stand point, if I assume the f/11 shot is an accurate depiction of the scene, it would appear to me that the diaphragm is stopping down inappropriately. Again, the reason I say that is that the f/5.6 should have been very similar in appearance as the f/11 being that they are similar in EV. If the camera was expecting the lens to open up from f/11 to f/5.6, then it was correct in setting a 1/1600th shutter speed. But if the diaphragm stayed at f/11, that would account for the two stop darker appearance between the two images. If it was the shutter speed being out of calibration; it would mean that although the display read 1/1600th, the actual shutter speed that would account for the difference in appearance would have been at least 1/3200th or even faster. While possible, to me the shutter speed seems more unlikely than a sticking or inappropriately stopping down of the diaphragm. And being that it is happening with more than one lens, it would seem that the body is the issue.

But what is even more puzzling is why A mode is choosing an EV setting one stop under P mode. With an f-stop of f/5.6 it should really have been the same 1/1600th I would think, and not 1/3200th (at least that is the way my camera works).
And if I understand your explanation earlier, you are only experiencing this issue only with bright backgrounds, which suggest that a scene with average tonal value never experiences this issue and are always well exposed?

This is quite a curious and puzzling issue. And these are just my thoughts on the problem, hope they help.

Pete

Pete

Visit my Nikonians gallery.

  

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blw Moderator Awarded for his high level of expertise in various areas Nikonian since 18th Jun 2004Wed 22-Jun-11 05:17 PM
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#19. "RE: D3100 Metering Problem?"
In response to Reply # 18


Richmond, US
          

Shutter in general can go out of whack. The mechanical shutters (eg F2) do this fairly often, especially for the longer speeds such as 1/2 sec. With an electronically timed shutter like all modern nikons, it's much harder but it does happen. The pro cameras have self-calibrating shutters, so you either get what was requested or you get Err. But on the lower spec models, the calibration mechanism is more expensive than warranted, so it's not present. I'm pretty confident that the d3100 is in this category.

As for how this could happen I'm not sure as I don't have a good understanding of the mechanisms. But I'd guess that a crystal oscillator could be defective or partially shorted. Or if it's timed by a capacitor, it would be easy to imagine a short or out of spec minimum charge level causing this.

_____
Brian... a bicoastal Nikonian and Team Member

My gallery is online. Comments and critique welcomed any time!

  

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tristan_2468 Registered since 21st Jun 2011Thu 23-Jun-11 10:17 AM
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#20. "RE: D3100 Metering Problem?"
In response to Reply # 19


GB
          

Hi guys,

Thanks again for your help, but today I took the camera back to the shop and got a replacement.

They were fine about it and we did some side-by-side tests with their display model, and the manager admitted to never having seen anything like it before. The new camera works perfectly.

Thanks again for your help.

Tristan

  

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