Good to hear from you, too. If I recall correctly, you really need to shoot raw and absolutely crank down the contrast as low as you can go for all the images you shoot. Depending on the raw processor you use, you'll do this in different ways (profiles, contrast values, clipping points, etc.). That'll get you an expanded dynamic range on the meter, and it will better reflect what you can pull out of raw images. If you want the meter to reflect what you can achieve with a specific flavor of jpeg, you can use that instead, but it will be a much narrower range.
Try dragging the contrast slider down to -100 as a simple starting point, coupled with the use of the Adobe Standard color profile. That's probably enough unless you want to get really fancy. That next step would include altering the white and black sliders.
Quite honestly, I calibrated my 758DR years back, but never really used it much in that manner. I found it awkward to use compared with other choices like the camera's histogram. You may want to do some experimentation before you get there and see what you think.
Thanks for your patience as I try to get my mind around what you are saying. If I reduce contrast on the underexposed target should I also increase contrast on the overexposed target? Would shadow and highlight recovery be helpful as well?
I've been using the histogram over the years but I wanted to start using the light meter to bring a little discipline to my shooting.
With auto-exposure I've never forced myself to learn how to handle different lighting situations and it's made me lazy. I let the camera take a stab at it and if it's wrong I change the exposure and try again. I want to remove the trail and error. Hopefully I learn from the experience and get better at knowing what to do.
Let us know where this resolves. Some specs I've read say the D800 has a 14.5 stop DR. In any event, don't the targets only cover a 10 stop range, so I'm not sure how the meter can be calibrated to a greater DR? I've not tried to calibrate my L-475DR yet, so I don't know the process.
Scott Chapin Powder Springs, GA, USA Nikonians Team Member
I've got a target (the Sekonic Target II). You get an incident reading on the target with the light meter, set the camera to that and then take three pictures. One for the light meter, then one overexposed by 3 stops and a third underexposed by three stops.
The target has 1/6 stop patches covering 4 stops. So you are probably right, that's 10 stops of range in the 3 exposures (if my math is right).
There is an advanced mode that expands the range. You take 5 shots at +0, +4, -4, +8 and -8. I don't even want to figure the math on that one.
Just an observation that has absolutely nothing to do with this discussion -- sort of. I recently got my first D800, and I am simply astounded by its ability to retain shadow detail without additional noise and to simultaneously allow me to hang onto detail in highlights and on bright surfaces. It is superior to my two D700s. My observations are subjective -- only from viewing the results of taking photographs, without any scientific investigation or analysis. But that's what I spent my money for and between the superior DR and resolution, I am getting another D800 and the D700s will soon be on the market.
In reality, DR of D800/E is much wider than DR delivered by D3/S/X, or D700. Even on ISO 1600, it is still amazing, contrary to some testes, no math, sorry. So the image and crop, D800, ISO 1600, 28-300 at 300mm wide open. Could be sharpened, but I think it is just OK. Dimitri.
If I recall correctly, with the d800/e has a dynamic range is possible of more than 14 (!) stops. Anyway, it is the highest on all DSLRs, and it is for me at least as, if not more important than sharpness issues.
Let me clarify myself - there is no sharpness issue with the camera. The D800/E is sharpest camera on the market today. My concern was about the wide open LENS, which became sharp closed 1 step only! But my image above do not need any sharpening, I like it be a hair soft. Your, Dimitri.
I have the same experience. With the D800 I have often found it a good practice to set some underexposure, perhaps -0.7 or -1 when the are strong contrasts. Then I avoid losing details in the highlights while the dynamic range still allows me to get all the shadow detail in post processing of the 14 bit raw images.