After years of shooting film with an N60 I've had a D50 for a couple of weeks and am not happy with the results so far. Many shots appear underexposed. I've noticed this with and without flash and indoors and out. I can't find anything in the shots that would fool the meter into underexposure. Is it normal for histograms of shots with the D50 to be far to the left (not have anything above 200 on a scale of 0 - 255)?
Hi, thanks for the responses. To reduce the chances of user error I have been shooting on the programmed auto quite often to start. Included is the EXIF of one shot that was underexposed. The subject in this example was only a few feet away, so lack of flash power should not have been the cause.
Quite often in Photoshop the first thing I have to do is add a Levels layer and move the white point down to about 200. I'll switch to auto ISO next time I shoot, but I doubt that will help.
Nikon D50 2005/11/24 11:54:51.1 JPEG (8-bit) Basic Image Size: Large (2000 x 3008) Lens: 28-105mm F/3.5-4.5 D Focal Length: 40mm Exposure Mode: Programmed Auto Metering Mode: Multi-Pattern 1/60 sec - F/4 Exposure Comp.: 0 EV Sensitivity: ISO 200 Optimize Image: Custom White Balance: Auto AF Mode: AF-A Flash Sync Mode: Front Curtain Auto Flash Mode: Built-in TTL Auto Flash Comp: 0 EV Color Mode: Mode II (Adobe RGB) Tone Comp.: Auto Hue Adjustment: 0° Saturation: Normal Sharpening: Normal Image Comment: Long Exposure NR: Off
There are lots of threads like this in the D70 forum and probably others. i-TTL vs i-TTL-Bl, white balance, highlight preservation, bad design, etc are all presented as reasons. I'm sure you've checked that exposure/flash compensation are not mistakenly applied. Here's my conclusions: If you're coming from a point/shoot type camera, they tend to overexpose and produce warm results. My D70 will render a dark scene darkly and runs cooler - I think generally more realistically. My point & shoot makes everything look the same brightness-wise and will sacrifice subjects for background. If your scene is dark, the histogram should be to the left. Now, if you know you've got bright white highlights, they should be way right. If they aren't, as you suggest, something is going on. I-TTL-Bl is only good with dark subjects against bright backgrounds. It's too bad the built-in flash has limited non-Bl options. White balance is important. I've been criticized for this statement but improper white balance can impersonate underexposure by applying a blue haze. Try flash WB when using flash. I keep my D70 pretty much on cloudy. I don't like the D70 auto WB. How results are viewed matters too. I find that commercial prints show much more shadow detail than my monitor. Maybe they adjust when they print. I had thought that many of these issues were handled differently with the D50 vs the D70. For example, I thought the D50 did a better job of auto WB with the flash. Anyway, I used to feel the same way about my D70 as you do about your D50. Now, I think it does fine. Watch out for highlights, get WB correct, if you want a dark scene bright: add exposure. YMMV but some things to try.
It is comforting to see that others here and in the D70 forum have noticed what I am seeing. This relieves the fear that I have a bum camera.
My assumption on what I have seen is that the D50 has a wider dynamic range than I am used to with film, and it will often render low contrast scenes with black as black and white as grey. For the shots in question the histogram is never clipped on the left, which leads me to believe the camera knows what it is doing. It is then up to me to bring the white point down to where I think it should be. This is different than what I am used to with film, not a problem but an adjustment.
So perhaps I was a bit optimistic thinking that I would always get good results out of the camera without adjustments. I guess this makes sense. So they haven't made a camera that does it all for me yet. Perhaps a Canon? Just kidding.
I noticed in the EXIF that you have ISO200 for that shot.....and you were using flash.....does that mean you shot low light? If so that may be the cause for underexposure, bump it up to 400 or so and try again....Unless I missed somewhere you said you shot in daylight etc. this is what I gather out of this...
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I wouldn't say low light, it was indoors with lights on, but the result (according to the histogram) was low contrast. ISO 400 shots where similar. My use of the term underexposure may not have been accurate since the left side of the histogram was not clipped. Low contrast and flat looking with the histogram biased towards dark may be more accurate.