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D800 flash exposure....interesting observation...


St Petersburg, RU
3573 posts

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km6xz Moderator Awarded for his in-depth knowledge in various areas, including Portraits and Urban Photography Nikonian since 22nd Jan 2009
Thu 31-Jan-13 01:09 PM

I had an event to shoot last night, a dinner monthly meeting of an ex-pat club that I belong to. 227 attended representing 36 countries for the formal dinner and reception. I used both the D800 and D7000 and took just one flash, a SB900 and three lenses.
I have been very happy with both cameras in similar situations but last night was the first time to use flash on both, the same flash.

Of the 460 shots combined, a couple of the D7000 files were deleted for missing focus, 1 from the D800. I had the 70-200 on the D7000 and 24-70 on the D800.
Settings for flash on both cameras were typical for events: manual, 320 ISO, 1/80, f/4, no EC, RAW, Standard PC

Even by casual observation before downloading, the exposure was much more consistent with the D7000. In fact, not one needed post processing for exposure level, all really nicely exposed. The D800 in the same scenes but wider field of view resulted in less consistency. A typically group shot, with the same people background and lens, repeated for 3 frames, each would have up to .5 to 1 stop difference or random variation, none wildly off but at least 1/2 needed some sort of correction in post to look the same. I noticed it mid point in the evening so I switched lenses between the cameras and the D7000 was still more consistent. I do not expect the same exposure with different conditions or in-frame elements but when all conditions, scene, subjects, ambient light etc is the same between shots, this surprised me.

The image quality was very good on both and zooming in, it was obvious which was 36mpx. Since I tweak exposure on most shots in post whether they need it or not, I never noticed inconsistency when using flash. Switching the Auto ISO on both for ambient light shots without the flash, in a better lit part of the restaurant, the D800 was much more consistent and in getting usable shots as I have come to expect. The girls naturally all lined up for portrait style or full figure photos after the main event and dinner was over and both resulting in really nice casual portraits with the 70-200 or 85 1.4. I switched to manual flash for a few of the shots, relying on the camera meter for estimates of power needed. Those were consistent between all the shots.
The SB900 has its own metering system so the only control the camera has is of the ambient exposure and any Flash composition dialed in. So not sure what is happening. Anyone else notice any D800 inconsistency with iTTL?
St Petersburg Russia

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