Thu 21-Mar-13 02:03 PM | edited Thu 21-Mar-13 02:04 PM by Phil Magistro
I've tried to read this entire thread but it is difficult. David, I read above where you dialed in exposure compensation. If the camera is set for Manual, exposure compensation isn't working like it does in Aperture Priority mode. Plus, as has been pointed out several times, if you use Auto ISO, the camera is again making adjustments on its own and you are not shooting in true Manual mode.
My suggestion for you is to eliminate the variables as you test the camera and lens. Pick a mid setting for the lens - say f5.6 , use the camera settings that have been suggested above, Aperture Priority, Matrix or Center-weighted metering, set ISO to 200 and try some test shots in decent light. Establish a baseline and then you can make changes and see how your results vary.