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Metering versus ISO

J_Harris

US
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J_Harris Silver Member Donor Ribbon awarded for his generous support to the Fundraising Campaign 2015 Awarded for his contribution to the Nikonians Articles section Nikonian since 29th Mar 2011
Fri 21-Sep-12 08:37 PM | edited Fri 21-Sep-12 08:50 PM by J_Harris


I am hoping you more experienced photographers (most everyone ) can give me some advice. Last weekend while attending a Celtic Festival I took some pictures with my D7000 and 24-120 f/4.

What I’m not happy with is how dark the shadow detail is. Which setting should I focus (pun intended ) on to get better shadow detail – different exposure metering or higher ISO? I was using matrix metering, ISO 200 in aperture priority mode. It was about 10:00am cool, and sunny. Below I’ve included two samples that have not had the EXIF data removed and show the lack of shadow detail.

Thanks for any advice you can give.

Jerry

ADDENDUM: After looking at the posted pictures neither posted picture has shadows that look as dark as a printer picture or on my computer - strange, must be part of the conversion process during posting.

The first picture still shows some loss of detail in the shadows on her dress, and the second has a loss in the crowd on the right side in the background. I believe they still give you a sample of what the problem is.


Matrix Metering, f/5.6, 200 ISO, 0EV, FL: 82mm, Shutter: 1/320
Yes, I know - why did I cut her feet off?... it was a quick snap-shot.

Click on image to view larger version



Matrix Metering, f/8, 200 ISO, 0EV, FL: 38mm, Shutter: 1/500
A little blurry, but I was actively competing for space with a clear view in the crowd.
Click on image to view larger version


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

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RLDubbya

US
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#1. "RE: Metering versus ISO" | In response to Reply # 0

RLDubbya Silver Member Nikonian since 24th Dec 2011
Fri 21-Sep-12 06:51 PM

Well, on the first pic, you're fighting with blowing out the highlights of her skin and necklate if you raise the exposure to bring out the shadow detail.

Fill flash?

Short of that, maybe play around with ADL settings?

J_Harris

US
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#2. "RE: Metering versus ISO" | In response to Reply # 1

J_Harris Silver Member Donor Ribbon awarded for his generous support to the Fundraising Campaign 2015 Awarded for his contribution to the Nikonians Articles section Nikonian since 29th Mar 2011
Fri 21-Sep-12 07:00 PM

Hi Bob,

Thanks for the recommendations. I ruled out the use of flash. A flash in the eye while swinging a sword could lead to some nasty results.

I was not very happy with ADL results after experimenting with it when I first got the D7000. So, I'm thinking that leaves metering and ISO.

Jerry

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PerroneFord

Tallahassee, US
2807 posts

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#3. "RE: Metering versus ISO" | In response to Reply # 2

PerroneFord Silver Member Nikonian since 07th Apr 2011
Fri 21-Sep-12 07:19 PM

Meter and ISO won't change the result. You are at the limit of the cameras dynamic range. So you can either add fill light or you can buy a camera with more range.

------
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dm1dave

Lowden, US
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#4. "RE: Metering versus ISO" | In response to Reply # 0

dm1dave Administrator Awarded for high level knowledge and skills in various areas, most notably in Wildlife and Landscape Writer Ribbon awarded for his excellent article contributions to the Nikonians community Donor Ribbon awarded for his very generous support to the Fundraising Campaign 2015 Nikonian since 12th Sep 2006
Fri 21-Sep-12 07:20 PM

>> “...to get better shadow detail – different exposure metering or higher ISO?”

The only reason you should set a higher ISO is if you need a faster shutter speed to stop motion or avoid camera shake.

Exposure compensation is what you use if you need to open up shadows or bring down highlights.

------------------------------

These images seem to be exposed well considering the fairly harsh light. The bright sunlight and the dark shadows exceed the dynamic range of the camera.

If your prints do not match what you see on screen you may need to calibrate your monitor. Then use D-Lighting (or highlights & shadows in Photoshop) to open up the shadows until it prints right.

Check out the printing forum for more info on monitor calibration and color management.

Dave Summers
Nikonians Photo Contest Director
My Nikonians Gallery | Current Nikonians Contests

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J_Harris

US
780 posts

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#5. "RE: Metering versus ISO" | In response to Reply # 4

J_Harris Silver Member Donor Ribbon awarded for his generous support to the Fundraising Campaign 2015 Awarded for his contribution to the Nikonians Articles section Nikonian since 29th Mar 2011
Sat 22-Sep-12 12:11 AM


Hey guys,

I tried to reply a few hours ago but half-way through the electric power went out. After it came back on I started to reply again and guess what... power went out again. I'm very apprehensive while replying this third time.


Hi Perrone,

> Meter and ISO won't change the result. You are at the limit of the
> cameras dynamic range. So you can either add fill light or you can
> buy a camera with more range.

Maybe this is a good reason to upgrade to a D600, just kidding. It looks like what I need to do is get a better understanding of difficult lighting conditions and dynamic range limitations and adjust my shooting style and/or expectations accordingly.

Thanks

------------------------------------------------------

Hi David,

> Exposure compensation is what you use if you need to open up
> shadows or bring down highlights.

I was thinking of that but decided there was such a wide range of lighting conditions that any adjustment would either blow-out or underexpose something, so I just left it neutral (zero).


> These images seem to be exposed well considering the fairly
> harsh light. The bright sunlight and the dark shadows exceed
> the dynamic range of the camera.

Yes, probably so. See my answer to Perrone above.


> If your prints do not match what you see on screen you may
> need to calibrate your monitor. Then use D-Lighting (or
> highlights & shadows in Photoshop) to open up the shadows
> until it prints right.

Actually, I use a NEC MultiSync PA241W that is calibrated for best viewing of photographic material. Even the commercially printed photographs had a greater loss of shadow detail than the posted ones here. Something went wrong somewhere.


A big thank you to everyone for your suggestions and expertise, it is greatly appreciated.

Jerry

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halem1

US
8 posts

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#6. "RE: Metering versus ISO" | In response to Reply # 5

halem1 Registered since 01st Sep 2012
Sat 22-Sep-12 12:26 AM

Maybe try exposure bracketing if the action is slow enough?

PerroneFord

Tallahassee, US
2807 posts

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#7. "RE: Metering versus ISO" | In response to Reply # 6

PerroneFord Silver Member Nikonian since 07th Apr 2011
Sat 22-Sep-12 01:34 AM

Yep, HDR is another way...

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J_Harris

US
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#8. "RE: Metering versus ISO" | In response to Reply # 7

J_Harris Silver Member Donor Ribbon awarded for his generous support to the Fundraising Campaign 2015 Awarded for his contribution to the Nikonians Articles section Nikonian since 29th Mar 2011
Sat 22-Sep-12 09:52 AM


HDR sounds like a good solution.

However, I take photos as a hobby/for fun/to relax. HDR, Focus Stacking, et al. would seem counterintuitive for this purpose, I believe. So without a simple and fast adjustment that would increase dynamic range (not just increase or decrease at either end) I'll just have to learn it's limits and be happy with the results.

It does complicate the choice of my next camera . Although I like DX using the sweet center spot of FX lenses and the extended FOV, the greater ISO capabilities of FX is enticing.

Jerry

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PerroneFord

Tallahassee, US
2807 posts

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#9. "RE: Metering versus ISO" | In response to Reply # 8

PerroneFord Silver Member Nikonian since 07th Apr 2011
Sat 22-Sep-12 02:50 PM

There are now three cameras in Nikon's lineup that exceed the dynamic range of the D7000. They are:

D800
D4
D600

The D700 does not, the D3s does not.

Enjoy your camera. It's one of Nikon's best BY FAR. I wish it had a little faster FPS. I"d by several more.

>It does complicate the choice of my next camera . Although I
>like DX using the sweet center spot of FX lenses and the
>extended FOV, the greater ISO capabilities of FX is enticing.
>
>Jerry
>

------
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JosephK

Seattle, WA, US
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#10. "RE: Metering versus ISO" | In response to Reply # 8

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 2006
Sat 22-Sep-12 03:19 PM

Just because photography is a hobby/fun, don't discount a little post processing, which every DSLR picture needs any way.

Starting with your original I created version A with a +2.3 gamma to bring out the shadows in the dress, and version B with -0.33 gamma to bring down the highlights. Dumped all three into the Nik Software HDR plug-in. Added a layer mask to bring back the original shadowed skin. In less than 10 minutes, and my first HDR attempt, we get this:

Click on image to view larger version


---------+---------+---------+---------+
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,
17-55mm f/2.8 DX, 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 VR, 18-70mm f/3.5-4.5 DX


Attachment#1 (jpg file)

briantilley

Paignton, UK
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#11. "RE: Metering versus ISO" | In response to Reply # 9

briantilley Gold Member Deep knowledge of bodies and lens; high level photography skills Donor Ribbon awarded for his support to the Fundraising Campaign 2014 Nikonian since 26th Jan 2003
Sat 22-Sep-12 04:25 PM

According to the Dynamic Range chart at Nikonian Bill Claff's website, the D3s does exceed the D7000's DR (above 400 or so) ISO by 1-3 stops. Bill's charts are based on analysis of actual NEF images from the cameras.

Brian
Welsh Nikonian

J_Harris

US
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#12. "RE: Metering versus ISO" | In response to Reply # 10

J_Harris Silver Member Donor Ribbon awarded for his generous support to the Fundraising Campaign 2015 Awarded for his contribution to the Nikonians Articles section Nikonian since 29th Mar 2011
Sat 22-Sep-12 04:34 PM | edited Sat 22-Sep-12 04:38 PM by J_Harris


Wow, that's fantastic, just what I'd expected the camera to do! It looks like a flash was used.

It may have taken only ten minutes to fix this picture, but if I have just twelve shots with the same problem that's two-hours . Now I'm wondering how close to the fixed photograph the D600 would come to if it was used?

Jerry

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PerroneFord

Tallahassee, US
2807 posts

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#13. "RE: Metering versus ISO" | In response to Reply # 12

PerroneFord Silver Member Nikonian since 07th Apr 2011
Sat 22-Sep-12 05:52 PM

>
>Wow, that's fantastic, just what I'd expected the camera to
>do! It looks like a flash was used.
>
>It may have taken only ten minutes to fix this picture, but if
>I have just twelve shots with the same problem that's
>two-hours . Now I'm wondering how close to the fixed
>photograph the D600 would come to if it was used?
>
>Jerry
>

That would take 30 seconds in Loghtroom and then you could apply the changes to your other shots automatically. Do it all the time.

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J_Harris

US
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#14. "RE: Metering versus ISO" | In response to Reply # 13

J_Harris Silver Member Donor Ribbon awarded for his generous support to the Fundraising Campaign 2015 Awarded for his contribution to the Nikonians Articles section Nikonian since 29th Mar 2011
Sat 22-Sep-12 07:01 PM

OK, I decided to see what Photoshop Elements 9 could do. This took about three-four minutes using the Quick Selection Tool > Lighten Shadows.

It's a lot better, but I still want a camera (D7000/D600?) to do it for me without using flash and no post processing. I'm probably expecting/wanting too much.

Jerry

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Attachment#1 (jpg file)

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JonK

New York, US
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#15. "RE: Metering versus ISO" | In response to Reply # 0

JonK Moderator Awarded for his high level skills and in-depth knowledge in various areas, such as Wildlife, Landscape and Stage Photography Donor Ribbon awarded for his very generous support to the Fundraising Campaign 2015 Nikonian since 03rd Jul 2004
Sat 22-Sep-12 08:30 PM

I'm not sure my D800e would have done a much better job…

You have a scene with a wide dynamic range, harsh shadowy light, and half of your subject is in shadow. Your overall exposure is fine, your camera performed well. The possible solutions to the problem don't include a different camera, they all include altering the scene.

The solutions to the problem include:
• Add light (fill flash or reflector)
• Turn her more into the sun
• Move her into a better lighting situation (i.e., blocking the direct sun)
• Shoot earlier or later (lower dynamic range)

But this was a grab shot — you get what you can take — and the exposure is actually quite good. The solution in this case is ten seconds in Lightroom.

Jon Kandel
A New York City Nikonian and Team Member
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J_Harris

US
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#16. "RE: Metering versus ISO" | In response to Reply # 15

J_Harris Silver Member Donor Ribbon awarded for his generous support to the Fundraising Campaign 2015 Awarded for his contribution to the Nikonians Articles section Nikonian since 29th Mar 2011
Sat 22-Sep-12 09:47 PM


Hi Jon,

Thanks for the very useful tips/suggestions.

You are right; it was a handheld grab shot. I would have liked to use my SB-700 flash or grab her and say "hey, move over there in more light". But, when a woman is carrying a big sword and is in the middle of demonstrating a sword fight, it could be detrimental to my health.

Your FX (D800e) dynamic range comparison/capabilities were just what I needed. If the original results are even close to a FX camera then my quest for a substantially better dynamic range is futile. I'll just concentrate on using the tips you and others have provided.

Jerry

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PerroneFord

Tallahassee, US
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#17. "RE: Metering versus ISO" | In response to Reply # 16

PerroneFord Silver Member Nikonian since 07th Apr 2011
Sun 23-Sep-12 03:42 AM

I have taken THOUSANDS of frames in light like this with numerous FX cameras. And I can assure you, the results would have been very similar. This is why I shoot RAW. A $3000 D800 is not the answer, and neither is a $50k Leaf/Aptus, or any other common photographic system. The answer is lifting the shadows in post just like we had to do with film back in the day.

-P

>Your FX (D800e) dynamic range comparison/capabilities were
>just what I needed. If the original results are even close to
>a FX camera then my quest for a substantially better
>dynamic range is futile. I'll just concentrate on using the
>tips you and others have provided.
>
>Jerry
>

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J_Harris

US
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#18. "RE: Metering versus ISO" | In response to Reply # 17

J_Harris Silver Member Donor Ribbon awarded for his generous support to the Fundraising Campaign 2015 Awarded for his contribution to the Nikonians Articles section Nikonian since 29th Mar 2011
Sun 23-Sep-12 10:28 AM


Thanks,

My quest is complete. I will learn to maximize and work within the "Dynamic Range" capabilities of my D7000.

Hopefully, this post was interesting and helpful for other D7000 users too.

Jerry

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MotoMannequin

Livermore, CA, US
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#19. "RE: Metering versus ISO" | In response to Reply # 14

MotoMannequin Awarded for his extraordinary skills in landscape and wildlife photography Registered since 11th Jan 2006
Sun 23-Sep-12 02:56 PM

Take a look at Active D-Lighting in your camera's menu. It basically does exactly what you've done here (it may underexpose a little to protect highlights, and then it applies a tone curve to brighten shadows). It will slow your camera down a little bit, and honestly I'm not a big fan of this feature, but OTOH I post-process all my images and want ultimate control. It sounds like this feature might be right up your alley.

Larry - a Bay Area Nikonian
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J_Harris

US
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#20. "RE: Metering versus ISO" | In response to Reply # 19

J_Harris Silver Member Donor Ribbon awarded for his generous support to the Fundraising Campaign 2015 Awarded for his contribution to the Nikonians Articles section Nikonian since 29th Mar 2011
Sun 23-Sep-12 07:34 PM


Hi Larry,

Thanks for the suggestion.

I experimented with Active D-Lighting when I first got the D7000, but didn't like the results. I tried both low/normal settings and it seemed to produce unnatural light in the shadows.

Jerry

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dm1dave

Lowden, US
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#21. "RE: Metering versus ISO" | In response to Reply # 20

dm1dave Administrator Awarded for high level knowledge and skills in various areas, most notably in Wildlife and Landscape Writer Ribbon awarded for his excellent article contributions to the Nikonians community Donor Ribbon awarded for his very generous support to the Fundraising Campaign 2015 Nikonian since 12th Sep 2006
Sun 23-Sep-12 08:12 PM | edited Sun 23-Sep-12 08:14 PM by dm1dave

Hi jerry,

If active D-lighting is not working for you, there is another in-camera option.

I see that you list Capture NX and View NX in your profile. Included with these programs is the Picture Control Utility.

You can create a custom Picture Control that can be loaded into the camera. Using View NX go to File > Launch Picture Control Utility.


Load one of your high contrast images and make adjustments (I would create a custom curve) to get the look that you like. Then click on New... and give your new picture control a name. Now you will be able to load it to the camera or apply it to images in Capture or View NX.

If you run into any issues doing this you can post a question in our Nikon & Nikonians Imaging Software forum.

Dave Summers
Nikonians Photo Contest Director
My Nikonians Gallery | Current Nikonians Contests

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km6xz

St Petersburg, RU
3559 posts

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#22. "RE: Metering versus ISO" | In response to Reply # 11

km6xz Moderator Awarded for his in-depth knowledge in various areas, including Portraits and Urban Photography Nikonian since 22nd Jan 2009
Mon 24-Sep-12 12:12 AM

Brian, ultimately yes but not where these images were taken. At ISO 100 through 300 or so, the D7000 has greater DR in that important range where most daylight shooting takes place, or longer shutter speeds used with landscape/tripod shooting.

I would use ADL in these conditions if using JPG. It protects both highlights and shadows.

The suggestion of fill flash is a good one, and it is not very noticable if the flash is not too close. The flash duration is so fast that it is extinguished before the reaction time of the eye<>brain that flash is not disturbing unless overpowering in strength close up. Watch a baby's or dog's reaction from 10 feet away, there is none.
Here is a shot taken yesterday afternoon in daylight that has harsh shadows, like your top image. So I used diffused flash, off camera(quite a feat since it left one hand to hold the camera with a 70-200vr attached :>) ).

Stan
St Petersburg Russia

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roofwalker

Lima, PE
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#23. "RE: Metering versus ISO" | In response to Reply # 18

roofwalker Registered since 19th Sep 2012
Mon 24-Sep-12 09:29 PM | edited Mon 24-Sep-12 11:19 PM by roofwalker

Jerry,

Some suggestion I am sure will help you:

a) I want to underline "take your pics in raw format" as suggested in the thread. The recovery of this situation in any tool is much more easy and with a larger range of possibilities using raw format tha with JPG, you will be amazed.

b) Try CNX2 with raw format. When I bought my first Nikon DSLR (D80), by looking the JPGs I was convinced I was wasted my money until I just open a raw picture with CNX2. With CNX2 and Nikon raw pictures, the only irreversible settings in your camera are focal length, aperture, and exposure time, everything else can be easily changed in PP. Use this link "http://nikonimglib.com/cnx2/" to download a trial version and see what happen. For a case like the one in your OP just move one slider in CNX2: "Shadow Protection" in the "Quick Fix" control.

b) Regarding dynamic range, take your pics using ISO 100 while you can (as in this situation). Using ISO 200 your picture has lost almost one stop of dynamic range! You can check the correlation between ISO and dynamic range in this place: "http://www.dxomark.com/index.php/Cameras/Camera-Sensor-Database/Nikon/D7000#measuretabs-3".

c) If you are using JPEG format after all: When facing HDR lighting, use the "Neutral" Picture control mode. Looking the exif data in your picture I can see it was taken with the "Standard" mode. But beside the Neutral mode, the other controls, to give you more contrast and a punchy picture, they will eat the detail in the shadows leaving you with less dynamic range. Please check the info about Picture Controls in "http://www.dpreview.com/reviews/nikond7000/14". Your picture has lost around one stop in the shadows by using Standard instead Neutral. Considering this and (b) your picture has lost around 2 stops total. If you don't like the general result with Neutral mode consider Dave's suggestion in the post #21, and/or a later post processing at your taste when necessary -for example- using curves with a shape similar to those shown in the previous link. Please notice this: with raw pictures and CNX2 you won't care what picture control was set in your camera when you took the picture, you can change it later in CNX2.


Oscar.

J_Harris

US
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#24. "RE: Metering versus ISO" | In response to Reply # 23

J_Harris Silver Member Donor Ribbon awarded for his generous support to the Fundraising Campaign 2015 Awarded for his contribution to the Nikonians Articles section Nikonian since 29th Mar 2011
Mon 24-Sep-12 10:59 PM


Hi Oscar,

Thanks for the suggestions.

I should have stated in my first but forgot, I always shoot using 14-bit NEF RAW + JPEG. The JPEG is only a back-up and gets deleted after I transfer the NEF RAW to my hard drive.

I was using ISO 200 and not 100 to try and keep my shutter speeds as high as possible because there was a lot of erratic movement during the sword demonstration. Having to use f/5.6 (f/4+1-stop) to maintain lens sharpness plus no flash, and in the shade of the trees made it a challenge. Also, no time before the demonstration to do a test shot.

Jerry

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jameskuzman

Girard, US
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#25. "RE: Metering versus ISO" | In response to Reply # 0

jameskuzman Silver Member Nikonian since 14th May 2012
Tue 25-Sep-12 02:54 PM

Hi Jerry -

Many have already posted some great solutions to address your situation, but I too sometimes find these high-contrast scenes a challenge to get right in-camera.

I shoot RAW with a JPG backup, but as you discovered in Elements, you can bring up the shadows and back down the highlights even in a JPG image.

I'll grant that it can be time consuming and does add an extra step or two to your workflow, but I think of it this way: With film, you could turn things over to a lab to develop your work and create prints; or, you could do it yourself and spend much time (and money) in the darkroom dodging and burning in an effort to control how much light certain portions of the paper were exposed to.

To me, post-processing in the digital domain is no different. It's just a virtual darkroom. It sometimes gets a bad rap because people tend to OVER process, or worse yet, forget how important it is to get things right whenever possible in the camera. The "don't worry about the camera settings - we'll fix it in post" mentality is dangerous, but sometimes you just need to grab the shot, meter for the subject, and tweak things later on.

Jim

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