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Subject: "Is this D7000 Metering Method Flawed?" Previous topic | Next topic
bougatsa Silver Member Nikonian since 18th Jun 2012Thu 29-Nov-12 04:38 PM
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"Is this D7000 Metering Method Flawed?"


GB
          

I'm just getting used to the D7000 and haven't fully developed a consistent 'method' yet in terms of how to meter.

I like to shoot in Aperture Priority, spot meter a specific region (usually a highlight), then lock the exposure using Fn button (programmed to AE-L), focus on subject, compose the picture and shoot the frame. It seems a little convoluted but I like the results I get this way. The image on the camera LCD and in Lightroom seem to reflect what I actually saw with the naked eye. However, the histogram looks skewed to the right.

When I go for a more automatic approach using auto-matrix metering the results can look a little over-exposed (washed out). But the histogram looks great - i.e. more data has been captured.

Here's a couple of example pics with histograms to illustrate my point. I prefer the darker image because I think that's closer to what I saw with the naked eye.

I'd be really interested in hearing your opinions on this and/or how your preferred metering method?





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Attachment #1, (jpg file)
Attachment #2, (jpg file)

  

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Subject Author Message Date ID
Reply message RE: Is this D7000 Metering Method Flawed?
Chris Platt Silver Member
29th Nov 2012
1
Reply message RE: Is this D7000 Metering Method Flawed?
bougatsa Silver Member
30th Nov 2012
8
     Reply message RE: Is this D7000 Metering Method Flawed?
Chris Platt Silver Member
30th Nov 2012
13
          Reply message RE: Is this D7000 Metering Method Flawed?
bougatsa Silver Member
03rd Dec 2012
17
               Reply message RE: Is this D7000 Metering Method Flawed?
Chris Platt Silver Member
03rd Dec 2012
20
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tekneektom Gold Member
29th Nov 2012
2
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RLDubbya Silver Member
29th Nov 2012
4
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JosephK Silver Member
29th Nov 2012
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RLDubbya Silver Member
29th Nov 2012
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briantilley Moderator
29th Nov 2012
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bougatsa Silver Member
30th Nov 2012
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bougatsa Silver Member
30th Nov 2012
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tcerul
29th Nov 2012
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bougatsa Silver Member
30th Nov 2012
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tcerul
30th Nov 2012
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Al G
30th Nov 2012
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phillaf Silver Member
01st Dec 2012
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02nd Dec 2012
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Al G
03rd Dec 2012
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Chris Platt Silver Member Nikonian since 30th Sep 2012Thu 29-Nov-12 08:33 PM
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#1. "RE: Is this D7000 Metering Method Flawed?"
In response to Reply # 0
Thu 29-Nov-12 08:59 PM by Chris Platt

Newburg, US
          

No, it isn't flawed. Your camera wants to expose everything to the same level, medium gray (18%) regardless of how bright or dark the scene is. It will try to make bright scenes darker to get to medium gray and it will try to make dark scenes brighter to get to medium gray. When it does that, your histogram will look centered - but all scenes are not medium gray and we don't want to expose them that way, as you have discovered. That's where exposure compensation comes in and it is subject to personal taste. For example, it's a rule of thumb that snow scenes need to have a stop or two of positive compensation added to make them look proper, otherwise, you end up with a flat, gray (medium gray) scene instead of a natural bright, white scene.

By spot metering on a white area, you are telling the camera to expose the white area to medium gray. That may be the correct exposure or it may still make the scene a little dimmer than you'd like since the white area may have been brighter than medium gray, so the camera will under-expose it a little to get it to medium gray. Because the overall scene is exposed to be darker than medium gray, the histogram is shifted to the left - but that is ok because that is close to what you wanted anyway.

If you shoot in raw, you can further adjust exposure in post processing so the scene looks exactly like you remembered.

I took the following shot to post on my facebook page. I used my D7000 AND flash. I cranked in negative EV on both the camera and the flash to get the scene to look as dark as it really was.




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Attachment #1, (jpg file)

  

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bougatsa Silver Member Nikonian since 18th Jun 2012Fri 30-Nov-12 09:49 AM
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#8. "RE: Is this D7000 Metering Method Flawed?"
In response to Reply # 1


GB
          

That's where exposure compensation comes in
>and it is subject to personal taste. For example, it's a rule
>of thumb that snow scenes need to have a stop or two of
>positive compensation added to make them look proper,
>otherwise, you end up with a flat, gray (medium gray) scene
>instead of a natural bright, white scene.
>
>If you shoot in raw, you can further adjust exposure in post
>processing so the scene looks exactly like you remembered.

Thanks for posting pic Chris and the detailed explanations.

Regarding Exposure Compensation - I really need to explore this more. At the minute it seems like an unnecessary layer to me: that is it's an extra layer of compensation on top of the underlying exposure settings. Why not just try to get the underlying exposure right? Perhaps it is more useful in certain shooting modes? How would you typically tackle metering a scene using exposure compensation with Aperture Priority? Is it just an experience thing?

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Chris Platt Silver Member Nikonian since 30th Sep 2012Fri 30-Nov-12 07:29 PM
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#13. "RE: Is this D7000 Metering Method Flawed?"
In response to Reply # 8
Fri 30-Nov-12 07:35 PM by Chris Platt

Newburg, US
          

"Why not just try to get the underlying exposure right?" "Is it just an experience thing?"

You can certainly just try to get the underlying exposure right. Very often (most of the time?), the camera's exposure solution is the right one and you don't need to compensate.

As suggested in another post here, when in matrix metering mode, the camera can employ Nikon's very sophisticated scene recognition system to compare your scene to an internal database and deliver its own compensated solution. I.e., the camera's exposure solution when using full matrix metering may be different than the exposure solution when using center weighted or spot metering or that you might get from a hand-held exposure meter.

If you know from experience or study, that the camera's "right" solution is not going to be what you want there are several approaches to adjusting that solution. One way would be just to use manual exposure. In that case you will be able to see the camera's recommended setting through the viewfinder and you can adjust the shutter speed or aperture either way to get the exposure solution you want - but you are still "compensating" for the camera's recommended solution.

If you want to stay in automatic exposure mode and are not using matrix metering, there may be a higher probability that you will want to use the compensation dial, but knowing that you can also adjust exposure in post processing, you may decide that exposure compensation at capture isn't necessary. In post processing you can also adjust mid-tones, shadows, and highlights separately.

There are many routes to the "right" exposure both before and after the shutter is pressed. It takes study and experience to know what you want to do and even then, there may be trial and error. Fortunately, experimenting is fun.

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bougatsa Silver Member Nikonian since 18th Jun 2012Mon 03-Dec-12 01:08 PM
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#17. "RE: Is this D7000 Metering Method Flawed?"
In response to Reply # 13


GB
          

Great stuff Chris, thanks for the very detailed reply. Very helpful indeed.

>As suggested in another post here, when in matrix metering
>mode, the camera can employ Nikon's very sophisticated scene
>recognition system to compare your scene to an internal
>database and deliver its own compensated solution.

When you say the Camera CAN employ Nikon's scene recognition system, does that mean that this function can be switched on/off? Or is it just an inherent part of the matrix metering mode algorithm?

>If you want to stay in automatic exposure mode and are not
>using matrix metering, there may be a higher probability that
>you will want to use the compensation dial, but knowing that
>you can also adjust exposure in post processing, you may
>decide that exposure compensation at capture isn't necessary.
>In post processing you can also adjust mid-tones, shadows, and
>highlights separately.

Yes, I think the best thing for me to do is to do some exposure tests while I'm out shooting then see what I can (and can't) do with the files in post processing afterwards. I don't have a lot of experience with post processing at the minute so my tendency is to try and get an exposure that looks correct straight out of the camera.

>There are many routes to the "right" exposure both
>before and after the shutter is pressed. It takes study and
>experience to know what you want to do and even then, there
>may be trial and error. Fortunately, experimenting is fun.

Great summary and, you're right, the fun part is experimenting


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Chris Platt Silver Member Nikonian since 30th Sep 2012Mon 03-Dec-12 05:32 PM
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#20. "RE: Is this D7000 Metering Method Flawed?"
In response to Reply # 17


Newburg, US
          

"When you say the Camera CAN employ Nikon's scene recognition system, does that mean that this function can be switched on/off? Or is it just an inherent part of the matrix metering mode algorithm?"

As far as I know, it is an inherent part of the matrix metering mode algorithm that controls more than just exposure. I'm certainly no expert on the system, but if you are using full matrix metering the scene recognition system (SRS) is operating. It is a very complex system that affects focusing and white balance, flash, etc., as well as basic exposure. The system considers variation in color and highlight data from different regions on the RGB sensor, along with distance information from the lens (if available) comparing that information to similar data in the camera's database to try and guess what type of scene you're photographing and deliver an appropriate solution. Even if you're using manual exposure, SRS is undoubtedly still informing white balance and focus functions.

Here is an interesting interview with one of the developers of the system. It has advanced since this interview.

http://imaging.nikon.com/history/scenes/19/index.htm



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tekneektom Gold Member Nikonian since 18th Nov 2011Thu 29-Nov-12 10:02 PM
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#2. "RE: Is this D7000 Metering Method Flawed?"
In response to Reply # 0


Land O Lakes, US
          

Generally speaking the photographer is more intelligent than the camera. If you go off of histogram you'll almost always get an image that differs from that which you actually saw and/or that you're going for. Keep in mind that the spot meter is going to average the scene and head for the 18% reflective value.

To even this scene out you might try HDR.

Tom

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RLDubbya Silver Member Nikonian since 24th Dec 2011Thu 29-Nov-12 10:26 PM
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#4. "RE: Is this D7000 Metering Method Flawed?"
In response to Reply # 2


US
          

>Keep in mind that the spot meter
>is going to average the scene and head for the 18% reflective
>value.
>

Can you expand on this a bit? My understanding so far is that spot metering does not "average the scene" in any sense, but rather set exposure for roughly the spot you were focused on (within a couple MM, or whatever, and subject to the AF system obtaining a different focus point depending on its settings).

  

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JosephK Silver Member Fellow Ribbon awarded for his excellent and frequent contributions and sharing his in-depth knowledge and experience with the community in the Nikonians spirit. Nikonian since 17th Apr 2006Thu 29-Nov-12 10:38 PM
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#6. "RE: Is this D7000 Metering Method Flawed?"
In response to Reply # 4


Seattle, WA, US
          

When in spot metering, the exposure will be set so that the one spot is medium gray. Matrix and CW metering just use a larger area for averaging to medium gray.

---------+---------+---------+---------+
Joseph K
Seattle, WA, USA

D700, D200, D70S, 24-70mm f/2.8, VR 70-200mm f/2.8 II,
50mm f/1.4 D, 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 VR, 18-70mm f/3.5-4.5 DX

  

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RLDubbya Silver Member Nikonian since 24th Dec 2011Thu 29-Nov-12 10:47 PM
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#7. "RE: Is this D7000 Metering Method Flawed?"
In response to Reply # 6


US
          

>When in spot metering, the exposure will be set so that the
>one spot is medium gray. Matrix and CW metering just use a
>larger area for averaging to medium gray.
>

That's my understanding of spot metering as well.

Matrix metering: I recall reading somewhere this was actually quite nuanced in operation. I believe that the author mentioned that there was something done with face-prioritization and/or skin tones, so that matrix metering would sacrifice other elements in the scene to get a proper exposure of the skin / face.

Thom Hogan's book has a nice writeup on matrix metering, and how depending on lens type, matrix metering behaves differently - for example, there's lenses and situations where the upper portion of the frame is ignored, as the camera has decided it's just sky, and not important. That's a huge, gross, oversimplification of what Hogan wrote, just to be clear.

  

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briantilley Moderator Deep knowledge of bodies and lens; high level photography skills Nikonian since 26th Jan 2003Thu 29-Nov-12 10:37 PM
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#5. "RE: Is this D7000 Metering Method Flawed?"
In response to Reply # 2


Paignton, GB
          

>Keep in mind that the spot meter is going to average the scene
>and head for the 18% reflective value.

That's definitely not how spot metering works. On the D7000, it measures the illumination within a circle of 3.5mm diameter centred on the current focus point and exposes to make this area a mid-tone, ignoring the rest of the scene.

Brian
Welsh Nikonian

  

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bougatsa Silver Member Nikonian since 18th Jun 2012Fri 30-Nov-12 10:12 AM
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#11. "RE: Is this D7000 Metering Method Flawed?"
In response to Reply # 5


GB
          

>>Keep in mind that the spot meter is going to average the
>scene
>>and head for the 18% reflective value.
>
>That's definitely not how spot metering works. On the D7000,
>it measures the illumination within a circle of 3.5mm diameter
>centred on the current focus point and exposes to make this
>area a mid-tone, ignoring the rest of the scene.

Thanks Brian, that description is really helpful.

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bougatsa Silver Member Nikonian since 18th Jun 2012Fri 30-Nov-12 09:58 AM
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#9. "RE: Is this D7000 Metering Method Flawed?"
In response to Reply # 2


GB
          

>Generally speaking the photographer is more intelligent than
>the camera.

Brilliant quote and leaves room for the many exceptions


>If you go off of histogram you'll almost always
>get an image that differs from that which you actually saw
>and/or that you're going for. Keep in mind that the spot meter
>is going to average the scene and head for the 18% reflective
>value.
>
>To even this scene out you might try HDR.
>

I suppose at the end of the day I want to make pictures not histograms!

I know, HDR! Yet another layer to think about! I've been shooting in Standard so far but understand that there's different settings to help with scenes with a large dynamic range. I need to try them out.

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tcerul Basic MemberThu 29-Nov-12 10:08 PM
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#3. "RE: Is this D7000 Metering Method Flawed?"
In response to Reply # 0


Hardy, US
          

What ever metering method works for you is the "right" method. To my eye photo #1 is a little underexposed and photo #2 is a little to bright. That said, photo #2 contains more digital data and would allow the most leeway for further processing if desired. It is "exposed to the right" which is the desired exposure in digital photography. Because photo #1 is skewed to the left on the histogram it contains less processable digital data if you wished to make adjustments.

Of course you can't be faulted for trying to get it right in the camera and minimizing post processing.

My exposure method is to use CW metering in manual mode and evaluate the lighting and reflectivity of items in the scene. I then adjust shutter or aperture to under or over expose the meter reading to achieve my desired look for the scene.

As stated earlier, what works for each of us is "right".

Tom
From Beautiful Smith Mountain Lake in Virginia

  

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bougatsa Silver Member Nikonian since 18th Jun 2012Fri 30-Nov-12 10:06 AM
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#10. "RE: Is this D7000 Metering Method Flawed?"
In response to Reply # 3


GB
          

>What ever metering method works for you is the
>"right" method.

I like that

To my eye photo #1 is a little
>underexposed and photo #2 is a little to bright. That said,
>photo #2 contains more digital data and would allow the most
>leeway for further processing if desired. It is "exposed
>to the right" which is the desired exposure in digital
>photography. Because photo #1 is skewed to the left on the
>histogram it contains less processable digital data if you
>wished to make adjustments.

It was actually a very dark scene! To give you an idea the camera was set to ISO2000, f2.8 and the camera matrix metered for 1/10sec.

>Of course you can't be faulted for trying to get it right in
>the camera and minimizing post processing.

Yes, I don't have a lot of experience yet doing post processing. Perhaps when I have, I'll understand better the limitations in having a skewed histogram.


>My exposure method is to use CW metering in manual mode and
>evaluate the lighting and reflectivity of items in the scene.
>I then adjust shutter or aperture to under or over expose the
>meter reading to achieve my desired look for the scene.

Do you use exposure compensation? Perhaps it is redundant using your method?

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tcerul Basic MemberFri 30-Nov-12 01:21 PM
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#12. "RE: Is this D7000 Metering Method Flawed?"
In response to Reply # 10


Hardy, US
          

Do I use exposure compensation? All the time! BUT, I never use the exposure compensation button. If you use the button, you must remember to "zero" it out afterwards or you may inadvertently introduce compensation into subsequent photos by mistake.

Using the analog meter in the viewfinder, I adjust exposure over or under for each shot based on the reflectivity of the scene thus introducing the "exposure compensation" I want. When using manual exposure mode I control the exposure, not the camera.

Much like you and your spot metering of a highlight, you control the exposure not the camera.

Tom
From Beautiful Smith Mountain Lake in Virginia

  

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Al G Registered since 17th Nov 2012Fri 30-Nov-12 10:29 PM
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#14. "RE: Is this D7000 Metering Method Flawed?"
In response to Reply # 12


US
          


>Using the analog meter in the viewfinder, I adjust exposure
>over or under for each shot based on the reflectivity of the
>scene thus introducing the "exposure compensation" I
>want. When using manual exposure mode I control the exposure,
>not the camera.

I see how that works for non-flash but can you do that with a flash? In either case, you need to take test shots to decide how much to under expose or maybe I am missing something.

Al

  

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phillaf Silver Member Nikonian since 02nd Nov 2004Sat 01-Dec-12 01:55 AM
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#15. "RE: Is this D7000 Metering Method Flawed?"
In response to Reply # 14


Lafayette, US
          

Hi, just my 2 cents...remember when you spot meter, to get correct exposure, the spot should be on something midtone in the scene. If you spotmeter a highlight, the meter will adjust the camera's exposure to make that highlight appear medium grey. You could meter on an 18% grey card or just find something that approximates midtone in your scene. For what it's worth, hope it helps.
Phil

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tcerul Basic MemberSun 02-Dec-12 02:00 AM
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#16. "RE: Is this D7000 Metering Method Flawed?"
In response to Reply # 14


Hardy, US
          

Easy, use manual flash mode along with manual exposure mode. Use a flash meter to determine proper exposure. Once you have that change flash power to adjust exposure to what you want OR, leave power setting as is and change aperture to adjust exposure. The nice thing about manual flash and flash metering is it ignores the reflectivity of the scene.

Example, bride in a white dress filling the frame. If you use a reflective meter, like the one in your camera, it will turn the white gown 18% grey. To make the gown white, open the aperture 1 to 1 1/2 stops to get white. Of course, using a incident flash meter ignores the reflectivity of the scene and always gives a proper exposure.

Tom
From Beautiful Smith Mountain Lake in Virginia

  

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Al G Registered since 17th Nov 2012Mon 03-Dec-12 11:57 PM
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#21. "RE: Is this D7000 Metering Method Flawed?"
In response to Reply # 16


US
          

>Easy, use manual flash mode along with manual exposure mode.
>Use a flash meter to determine proper exposure. Once you have
>that change flash power to adjust exposure to what you want
>OR, leave power setting as is and change aperture to adjust
>exposure. The nice thing about manual flash and flash
>metering is it ignores the reflectivity of the scene.
>
I guess I misunderstood the original statement. I thought you said this could be done with the in camera meter.

Al

  

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bougatsa Silver Member Nikonian since 18th Jun 2012Mon 03-Dec-12 01:22 PM
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#18. "RE: Is this D7000 Metering Method Flawed?"
In response to Reply # 12


GB
          

Thanks Tom, that makes sense to me and seems very efficient. Regarding reflectivity...

>Using the analog meter in the viewfinder, I adjust exposure
>over or under for each shot based on the reflectivity of the
>scene thus introducing the "exposure compensation" I
>want.

Regarding "reflectivity of the scene", this sounds like a key area for me to look into. Do you know of any good reading on this?

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tcerul Basic MemberMon 03-Dec-12 04:28 PM
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#19. "RE: Is this D7000 Metering Method Flawed?"
In response to Reply # 18


Hardy, US
          

For all things relating to exposure my best recommendation is "Understanding Exposure" by Bryon Peterson. Many years ago I was struggling to get beyond my basic understanding and came across version one of Bryon's book. It was based on film but other than upgrading terms such as ISO for ASA and reference to Histograms both versions cover the same ground.

Tom
From Beautiful Smith Mountain Lake in Virginia

  

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bougatsa Silver Member Nikonian since 18th Jun 2012Mon 10-Dec-12 02:56 PM
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#22. "RE: Is this D7000 Metering Method Flawed?"
In response to Reply # 19


GB
          

>For all things relating to exposure my best recommendation is
>"Understanding Exposure" by Bryon Peterson.

Great recommendation Tom, this book is right down my street. Bought the 3rd edition from Amazon and it arrived today. Can't put it down

It's clear already that Bryon recommends a very manual approach. That appeals to me as the last Nikon I owned was an FM2!


Best,
Neil



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