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Spot Meter and AF Area

Palisades Dave

Pacific Palisades, US
127 posts

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Palisades Dave Gold Member Nikonian since 08th Jul 2007
Mon 20-May-13 06:08 AM

All:

I apologize profusely if this is a stupid question, but it is driving me CRAZY and I do not see an obvious answer in either the manual or Darrell's excellent book.

Allow me to set the scene a little. Both of my kids (13 & 9) are musicians and they play in some famous rock venues in Los Angeles. The lighting is typically very dark, with spot lights, colored lighting and yes, even smoke. Before I had the D800, I had a D700 and used it with great success. After getting the D800, I continued to produce pleasing shots with the D800 and 3 lenses, the 24-70, the 70-200 and the 50 f/1.4.

I could shoot up to ISO 6400 and get good shots. I developed a fondness for using spot metering and metering on faces, guitars and other bright portions of the frame, allowing excellent portraits of the musicians. Shafts of light, beautiful colors, etc. I was getting usable shutter speeds and the shots were not over-exposed as they would be with matrix metering.

In December, my car was rear-ended with my camera in the trunk while I was stopped at a traffic light. Nikon repaired it, along with my trusty 24-70 lens and I used it to shoot several shows at one if my usual venues with the same success as before.

Here's the problem. The last two weekends in a row, I shot at the same venues and the shots came out terrible. They are all blown out, with the colors from the lights look almost like IR shots, or like ink from a comic book. Cartoonish, really.

I did have another photographer examining my camera in an effort to replicate my settings on his own camera. So I have now been scouring all the settings to see what is amiss and I found only one thing. I was still on spot metering, and my exposure correction was still at EV 0.0, but I just noticed that my AF Area was set to d51 instead of S, which is where I think I may have had it set before. Could using spot metering in AF-C d51 have thrown off my spot metering and resulted in the overexposure of the shots?

My theory is that if the focal point was dragged off of the brighter spot that I intended, the camera may have been exposing for a darker area and blowing out the lights.

If anyone can help with this, even if you think I'm a spaz, I would be so grateful. Absent finding the answer, I think I need to bring it in to Nikon and have them test the spot metering in case there is residual damage from the car accident. .

One side note, the camera seems to function normally in regular daylight settings, where the lighting conditions are not as complex.

Thanks all,

Dave

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