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How-to's Camera Reviews

Creating Multiple Exposures in camera

Darrell Young (DigitalDarrell)

Keywords: nikon, d2x, camera, bodies

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Multiple exposure is the process whereby you take more than one exposure on a single “frame,” or picture. Most of us will only do “double exposures,” which is two exposures on one frame. It requires one to figure the exposure values carefully for each exposure, so that in the end picture, all the combined exposures equal one normal exposure. In other words, if you are going to do a non-masked double exposure, your background will need two exposures at ½ the normal exposure value to equal one normal exposure.

Nikon D2X



Here are the three steps to prepare your D2x camera for a multiple exposure session: (see details below)

  1. Set the white balance to a preset that matches your light source during the session. Or, get a white balance reading in advance. (manual page 54)
  2. Set the motor drive to CH-H, CH-L, or S. (manual page 43)
  3. Set the Meter Shut-off time to “No Limit.” (manual page 193)

(1) White Balance Settings: Read over the D2x manual on pages 119-121 for details about multiple exposure. There are a few decisions you must make BEFORE you start making multiple exposures. You need to think about what you want to accomplish, and set the camera up accordingly.

An important thing to know is that it's NOT good to use Auto White Balance when doing double exposures. Nikon has designed the D2x so that it defaults to “Direct Sunlight” if you leave the camera on Auto White Balance during multiple exposures. So, unless you're shooting the session in direct sunlight, you should be concerned with your white balance settings. If you are unsure about White Balance settings, you may want to read the article “Nikon D2x – Using the White Balance Controls” before you start doing multiple exposures. (See page 54 of manual for WB info)



You'll need to notice in what type of light you're taking the multiple exposures, and adjust the white balance accordingly. If you take one picture outside under the sun, and another inside under tungsten lighting, then obviously you will have mismatched lighting and the resulting color differences in your image. So, you'll need to measure the white balance values in advance or be prepared to use the preset white balance settings to make your adjustments. You can't take white balance readings once you have engaged the multiple exposure controls.

If you're shooting the multiple exposures under the same light source, then simply set the white balance to the preset closely matching that light source, or make a white balance reading before you take the images.

(2) Motor Drive Settings: Since the multiple exposure controls require you to decide in advance how many exposures you'll make on the one frame, you'll need to be concerned about the motor drive settings.

If your camera is set to Continuous High or Low motor drive, the multiple exposures will all be taken in one rapid burst. Often, that is not how you want to take the pictures, since you'll be moving things around between exposures. Most of the time it's best to shoot in Single-Frame motor drive mode. (See page 43 of your manual for details on motor drive settings)

Read page 121 of the manual carefully before you do your first multiple exposures. You cannot do certain things during a multiple exposure session. Some of the things disabled, or changed by the D2x during multiple exposures are the following:

  • No exchanging of memory cards between exposures.
  • Only first exposure Photo EXIF information is stored.
  • Only the first voice memo is kept.
  • You only have 30+ seconds to complete the multiple exposure sequence unless you set exposure meter shut-off time to “No Limit” (Page 193 of the manual, the default is 6 seconds). If you are taking multiple exposures that will take more than 30 seconds to complete, then set the meter shut-off to “No Limit.” We'll see how shortly in the Meter Shutoff Settings section below.
  • Auto White Balance defaults to Direct Sunlight.
  • Multiple Exposure mode overrides Interval Timer mode (see manual page 122).
  • Exposure Bracketing is canceled.

(3) Meter Shut-off Settings: Since many multiple exposures will require a period of time longer than a few seconds to complete, it is important to set your meter shut-off time to “No Limit.” If the meter shuts off during a multiple exposure session, the D2x cancels the multiple exposure session. You don't want the meter to shut off during multiple exposures!

When you select multiple exposure the D2x automatically adds 30 seconds to your current meter shut-off time. The factory default is 6 seconds for normal meter shutoff, so you would have only 36 seconds to complete all the shots. As we have mentioned, that is not enough time for many multiple exposure sessions.

Let's look at the sequence of D2x menu screens used to set the meter shut-off time to No Limit. See figure 4, and set your D2x accordingly.

If you decide to leave your camera meter shut-off time set to No Limit, just keep in mind that the meter will stay on while the camera is turned on. This is not particularly bad for the camera, just more draining on the battery. I plan to set my meter-off time to No Limit when I'm taking multiple exposures, then set it back to 8 seconds when I'm done. If I forget to do so, I'll notice it later, I'm sure.

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Originally written on January 12, 2006

Last updated on October 28, 2016

1 comment

Zita Kemeny (zkemeny) on April 5, 2013

Good article, very good explained. Thanks.