D40 and lack of understanding?

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by heesey1010, Aug 15, 2009.

  1. heesey1010 macrumors member

    Joined:
    Jan 6, 2006
    #1
    So I just bought a D40 and got around to taking some pictures with it. Initial pictures on AUTO mode were a bit dark, especially for a bright day in central Florida. So I just thought OK, great time to fiddle with the exposure settings and such in the different modes.

    Then I realized, however, the following: isn't the D40 known for being a good gateway camera for first-time dSLR people? I remember hearing people say that you can get started right away on AUTO mode and that it would already take good pictures.

    If that's the case, then is THIS considered "a good picture"? Again, it was very bright outside.

    [​IMG]

    File name: DSC_0025.JPG
    File size: 1972433 bytes (3008x2000, 2.6bpp, 9x)
    EXIF Summary: 1/400s f/10.0 ISO200 18mm (35mm eq:27mm)

    Camera-Specific Properties:

    Equipment Make: NIKON CORPORATION
    Camera Model: NIKON D40
    Camera Software: Ver.1.11
    Maximum Lens Aperture: f/3.5
    Sensing Method: One-Chip Color Area
    Color Filter Array Pattern: 836
    Focal Length (35mm Equiv): 27 mm

    Image-Specific Properties:

    Image Orientation: Top, Left-Hand
    Horizontal Resolution: 300 dpi
    Vertical Resolution: 300 dpi
    Image Created: 2009:08:15 13:32:59
    Exposure Time: 1/400 sec
    F-Number: f/10.0
    Exposure Program: Not Defined
    ISO Speed Rating: 200
    Exposure Bias: 0 EV
    Metering Mode: Pattern
    Light Source: Unknown
    Flash: No Flash
    Focal Length: 18.00 mm
    Color Space Information: sRGB
    Image Width: 3008
    Image Height: 2000
    Rendering: Normal
    Exposure Mode: Auto
    Scene Capture Type: Standard
    Gain Control: None
    Contrast: Normal
    Sharpness: Normal
    Subject Distance Range: Unknown
    ISO Speed Used: 200
    Color Mode: COLOR
    Image Quality: FINE
    White Balance: AUTO
    Image Sharpening: AUTO
    Focus Mode: AF-A
    Flash Setting: NORMAL
    Flash Compensation: 0.0 EV
    ISO Speed Requested: 200
    Tone Compensation: AUTO
    Lens Type: Nikon D Series
    Lens Range: 18.0 - 55.0 mm; f/3.5 - f/5.6
    Auto Focus: Closest Subject, Right Selected, Unknown Focused
    Shooting/Bracketing Mode: Single Frame/Off
    Color Mode: Landscape sRGB
    Lighting Type: NATURAL
    Noise Reduction: OFF
    Camera Actuations: 2696
    Saturation 2: AUTO
    Digital Vari-Program: AUTO

    Other Properties:

    Resolution Unit: i
    Chrominance Comp Positioning: Co-Sited
    Exif IFD Pointer: 216
    Compression Scheme: JPEG Compression (Thumbnail)
    Horizontal Resolution: 300 dpi
    Vertical Resolution: 300 dpi
    Resolution Unit: i
    Offset to JPEG SOI: 29508
    Bytes of JPEG Data: 9285
    Chrominance Comp Positioning: Co-Sited
    Exif Version: 2.21
    Image Generated: 2009:08:15 13:32:59
    Image Digitized: 2009:08:15 13:32:59
    Meaning of Each Comp: Unknown
    Image Compression Mode: 4
    Comment:
    DateTime Second Fraction: 60
    DateTimeOriginal Second Fraction: 60
    DateTimeDigitized Second Fraction: 60
    File Source: Other
    Scene Type: Unknown
    White Balance: Auto
    Digital Zoom Ratio: 1
    Saturation: Normal
    Nikon Note Version: 2.10
    Auto Flash Mode:
    Flash Used: No
    Image Optimization:

    i should stress that I could totally be having high expectations for myself/for the camera, and that maybe I really do have to fiddle with the settings to get the right picture. But I thought it'd capture at least half of the light from the sun; this just looks too dark.

    Thanks again.
     
  2. object88 macrumors member

    Joined:
    Sep 10, 2008
    #2
    First off, I am new to the D40 and photography in general, so don't take any of this as gospel.

    Are you generating the jpg in camera, or are you shooting RAW?

    I think that photo is underexposed. The D40 is clever, but it can make mistakes. I would bet that the photo you wanted to take was a little difficult, especially if it was a bright day. The camera probably wanted to expose the sky, which is bright, and that led to underexposed the trees. On top of that, I have found that my D40 underexposes a little in general.

    At any rate, I didn't use Auto mode very long. I'm a pretty big fan of Aperture mode, and it seems to work well for my limited skills. Or if you're keen on sticking with Auto, perhaps you could try one of the pre-programmed scene modes.
     
  3. Acsom macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Jul 10, 2009
    #3
    It's underexposed. You know that, though.

    In digital, underexposed can be fixed reasonably easy, as long as it's not gone completely black. Lightroom, added about 1.75 stops, some brghtness and contrast (OK, OK, I hit "auto tone"; probably could have sorted it out better but this works as a demonstration).

    Your camera is taking it's exposure off the average weight of the scene, center weighted for those clouds in the middle. So they, and the sky in general, are correct; but the trees then are too dark. This is actually a really hard scene for the camera to sort out by itself! In the past photogs used graduated filters to match sky and landscape. Now it's either a filter, or photoshop.
     

    Attached Files:

  4. toxic macrumors 68000

    Joined:
    Nov 9, 2008
    #4
    read up on metering. there are several tutorials online, think cambridge-in-colour has one.

    the bulk of that image is the bright sky (and really bright clouds), so the camera exposes that as neutral gray, and then the shadows (the trees) are grossly underexposed. this is why cameras have exposure compensation. in this case, you'd probably need +2. without clouds, +1 would be about right.
     
  5. heesey1010 thread starter macrumors member

    Joined:
    Jan 6, 2006
    #5
    Hmmm, I appreciate all the responses. The fact that the camera seems "confused" by both sky and the trees actually makes sense. I'll look up metering and such, but here's another picture to demonstrate my point. Again, it probably does have to deal with metering and such, it's just boggling because I took test shots at Best Buy with their cameras and found the quality to be perfectly acceptable in similar conditions.

    [​IMG]

    ^^That image, to me, is properly if not a little overexposed. Canon SD600. I'll post EXIF if need be. Gist: fill flash used.

    [​IMG]

    ^^That image is woefully underexposed, in my opinion. Again, trust me in the fact that the room is well lit for the most part. Still requires flash, but I didn't think I'd have to do THAT much work with a picture in auto mode. Flash was automatically set up in auto mode, TTL flash used.

    Thanks for putting up with me on this...I just want to make sure my investment is worth every penny! And if I do have to be dependent on the P/S/A/M modes, then I guess that's fine. I just always thought that a D40 in auto mode was, for the most part, already sufficient enough for good photos and then the modes were meant for more creative options.
     
  6. djbahdow01 macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Jan 19, 2004
    Location:
    Northeast, CT
    #6
    Your asking this question now after taking almost 2700 images? Were they all like this or is it just starting to occur? For the indoor photo it would be nice to see EXIF on that as I would like to see you ISO value as well as your metering selection, Matrix, Center Weighted, Spot.

    Either way looks like there might be an issue if this just started happening or you bought a used camera if its relatively new to you.
     
  7. heesey1010 thread starter macrumors member

    Joined:
    Jan 6, 2006
    #7
    Bought as a demo unit from Cameta; actuation count was 2600 when I received it yesterday.

    For the two photos:

    Canon EXIF data: File name: IMG_3149.JPG
    File size: 2936722 bytes (2816x2112, 4.0bpp, 6x)
    EXIF Summary: 1/60s f/2.8 5.8mm

    Camera-Specific Properties:

    Equipment Make: Canon
    Camera Model: Canon PowerShot SD600
    Maximum Lens Aperture: f/2.8
    Sensing Method: One-Chip Color Area
    Lens Size: 5.80 - 17.40 mm
    Firmware Version: Firmware Version 1.00

    Image-Specific Properties:

    Image Orientation: Top, Left-Hand
    Horizontal Resolution: 180 dpi
    Vertical Resolution: 180 dpi
    Image Created: 2009:08:15 21:05:50
    Exposure Time: 1/60 sec
    F-Number: f/2.8
    Lens Aperture: f/2.8
    Exposure Bias: 0 EV
    Flash: Flash, Compulsory
    Focal Length: 5.80 mm
    Color Space Information: sRGB
    Image Width: 2816
    Image Height: 2112
    Rendering: Normal
    Exposure Mode: Auto
    Scene Capture Type: Standard
    Focus Type: Auto
    Metering Mode: Evaluative
    ISO Speed Rating: Auto
    Sharpness: Normal
    Saturation: Normal
    Contrast: Normal
    Shooting Mode: Manual
    Image Size: Large
    Focus Mode: Single
    Drive Mode: Single
    Flash Mode: On
    Compression Setting: Superfine
    Macro Mode: Normal
    Subject Distance: 3.820 m
    White Balance: Auto
    Exposure Compensation: 3
    Sensor ISO Speed: 160
    Image Number: 100-3149

    Other Properties:

    Resolution Unit: i
    Chrominance Comp Positioning: Centered
    Exif IFD Pointer: 196
    Compression Scheme: JPEG Compression (Thumbnail)
    Horizontal Resolution: 180 dpi
    Vertical Resolution: 180 dpi
    Resolution Unit: i
    Offset to JPEG SOI: 5108
    Bytes of JPEG Data: 3321
    Exif Version: 2.20
    Image Generated: 2009:08:15 21:05:50
    Image Digitized: 2009:08:15 21:05:50
    Meaning of Each Comp: Unknown
    Image Compression Mode: 5
    Shutter Speed: 1/60 sec
    Metering Mode: Pattern
    Focal Plane Horiz Resolution: 12515 dpi
    Focal Plane Vert Resolution: 12497 dpi
    Focal Plane Res Unit: i
    File Source: Digital Still Camera
    White Balance: Auto
    Digital Zoom Ratio: 1
    Base Zoom Resolution: 2816
    Zoomed Resolution: 2816
    Exposure Mode: Easy Shooting
    Digital Zoom: None
    Self-Timer Length: 0 sec
    Canon Tag1 Length: 92
    Flash Bias: 0.00 EV
    Sequence Number: 0
    Canon Tag4 Length: 68
    Image Type: IMG:powerShot SD600 JPEG
    Owner Name:


    File name: DSC_0062.JPG
    File size: 2018993 bytes (3008x2000, 2.7bpp, 9x)
    EXIF Summary: 1/80s f/3.5 ISO400 18mm (35mm eq:27mm)

    Nikon EXIF Data (What kind of metering should be on there...)
    Camera-Specific Properties:

    Equipment Make: NIKON CORPORATION
    Camera Model: NIKON D40
    Camera Software: Ver.1.11
    Maximum Lens Aperture: f/3.5
    Sensing Method: One-Chip Color Area
    Color Filter Array Pattern: 836
    Focal Length (35mm Equiv): 27 mm

    Image-Specific Properties:

    Image Orientation: Top, Left-Hand
    Horizontal Resolution: 300 dpi
    Vertical Resolution: 300 dpi
    Image Created: 2009:08:15 21:01:37
    Exposure Time: 1/80 sec
    F-Number: f/3.5
    Exposure Program: Not Defined
    ISO Speed Rating: 400
    Exposure Bias: 0 EV
    Metering Mode: Pattern
    Light Source: Unknown
    Flash: Flash, Auto, Return Not Detected
    Focal Length: 18.00 mm
    Color Space Information: sRGB
    Image Width: 3008
    Image Height: 2000
    Rendering: Normal
    Exposure Mode: Auto
    Scene Capture Type: Standard
    Gain Control: Low Gain Up
    Contrast: Soft
    Sharpness: Normal
    Subject Distance Range: Unknown
    ISO Speed Used: 400
    Color Mode: COLOR
    Image Quality: FINE
    White Balance: AUTO
    Image Sharpening: AUTO
    Focus Mode: AF-A
    Flash Setting: NORMAL
    Auto Flash Mode: Built-in,TTL
    Flash Compensation: 0.0 EV
    ISO Speed Requested: 400
    Tone Compensation: AUTO
    Lens Type: Nikon D Series
    Lens Range: 18.0 - 55.0 mm; f/3.5 - f/5.6
    Auto Focus: Closest Subject, Center Selected, Top Focused
    Shooting/Bracketing Mode: Single Frame/Off
    Color Mode: Landscape sRGB
    Lighting Type: SPEEDLIGHT
    Noise Reduction: OFF
    Camera Actuations: 2774
    Saturation 2: AUTO
    Digital Vari-Program: AUTO

    Other Properties:

    Resolution Unit: i
    Chrominance Comp Positioning: Co-Sited
    Exif IFD Pointer: 216
    Compression Scheme: JPEG Compression (Thumbnail)
    Horizontal Resolution: 300 dpi
    Vertical Resolution: 300 dpi
    Resolution Unit: i
    Offset to JPEG SOI: 26460
    Bytes of JPEG Data: 8925
    Chrominance Comp Positioning: Co-Sited
    Exif Version: 2.21
    Image Generated: 2009:08:15 21:01:37
    Image Digitized: 2009:08:15 21:01:37
    Meaning of Each Comp: Unknown
    Image Compression Mode: 4
    Comment:
    DateTime Second Fraction: 50
    DateTimeOriginal Second Fraction: 50
    DateTimeDigitized Second Fraction: 50
    File Source: Other
    Scene Type: Unknown
    White Balance: Auto
    Digital Zoom Ratio: 1
    Saturation: Normal
    Nikon Note Version: 2.10
    Flash Used: No
    Image Optimization:
     
  8. Heb1228 macrumors 68020

    Heb1228

    Joined:
    Feb 3, 2004
    Location:
    Virginia Beach, VA
    #8
    The D40 is actually a little prone to overexposure because it exposes based on the darker areas of the photo. If it's consistently underexposing THAT much, either a setting is wrong or there's something wrong with your camera.

    EDIT: Here's from a D40 User's guide:
     
  9. gkarris macrumors 604

    gkarris

    Joined:
    Dec 31, 2004
    Location:
    "No escape from Reality..."
    #9
    OP - That's really interesting.

    I bought a used D70 to maybe use some of the newer Nikon lenses and last weekend took it out shooting, and all the pics were really underexposed (like yours). The exposure comp was at 0.

    I was really surprised as I have never had this with my Olympus or Canon bodies in ANY mode.

    I just didn't know how to use the Nikon? I returned it in frustration.

    I can post pics if interested.
     
  10. heesey1010 thread starter macrumors member

    Joined:
    Jan 6, 2006
    #10
    gkarris: please post pics if you have the time to :). I really don't want to get another camera as the D40 just feels great in my hands. I've always liked both canons and nikons in the P&S world (although Canons I believe are far superior to Nikons).

    I've already e-mailed Cameta and will wait til Monday for a response. The only Nikon service center that I know of in Orlando (colonial photo and hobby) is closed on Sundays, so I'll just wait til Monday regardless to take any action.
     
  11. John.B macrumors 601

    John.B

    Joined:
    Jan 15, 2008
    Location:
    Holocene Epoch
    #11
    I have never taken a single shot with my dSLR on Auto. Not one.

    I'm at a loss as to why you would buy such a camera and then use it as a point and shoot. Not meaning to belittle you in any way; it just doesn't make sense. If you want P&S functionality, you can get it far less expensively than the D40 (and up).
     
  12. heesey1010 thread starter macrumors member

    Joined:
    Jan 6, 2006
    #12
    I really didn't intend to use it on Auto mode ALL the time; it was just meant to be a transition periods of sorts to actually using the settings and having more control over them. But the D40 has been lauded over and over again for taking good photos on Auto mode as well as when one chooses to mess around with aperture, focal length, etc.

    I don't take personal offense to your comment, I just want to clarify that it's not like I'll use the auto mode all the time, haha. I would've just bought an SX10 or w/e Canon's prosumer camera is right now.
     
  13. FRiC macrumors member

    Joined:
    Jun 26, 2009
    #13
    Hi, the D40 is very good in auto mode compared to other DSLR's of the same era. However, for overly bright or overly dark environments or objects, you have to use exposure compensation, or it will never look as good as compact cameras.

    gkarris: For the D70, you have to load in some custom curves or it would constantly seem to underexpose.
     
  14. gkarris macrumors 604

    gkarris

    Joined:
    Dec 31, 2004
    Location:
    "No escape from Reality..."
    #14
    What??? :confused:

    See below.

    Both were shot in Aperture Priority at f8 (D70 left, E-420 right). The shots are a week apart, but taken under the same conditions during the exact same time of the day.

    The Nikon Lens is an old one from my N70, but I've used that lens on the E-420 and it looks warmer, but not that underexposed :(...

    I guess these Nikons take some figuring out...
     

    Attached Files:

  15. leighonigar macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    May 5, 2007
    #15
    Learn how to use the camera. I have used a great number of film and digital cameras and no metering system is perfect. Very bright shots such as you show here often exceed the dynamic range of the sensor. How you want these shots to come out you decide using the exposure compensation. Nikon's metering is widely held to be the best in the business - I have never had any problem with it.

    If you're shooting a scene with sky and you want the ground to be exposed right, add light (+ compensation).

    Yes, some camera/lens combinations have a certain bias to under or over exposure but not this much. This is just a problem of scene. If you have trouble predicting what the camera is doing with matrix metering try switching to centre weighted.

    If it underexposes like this in normal conditions then perhaps the camera has a problem but the fact that you have posted pictures of a light and the sky makes me think it is user error.
     
  16. TenPoundMonkey macrumors member

    Joined:
    Aug 23, 2007
    Location:
    VA
    #16
    First, don't take any offense.

    It's considered a "good gateway DSLR" because it's a decent and cheap unit for people to learn about using DSLRs. Using a DSLR in AUTO is like driving your car in first gear all the time. The amount of sunlight overwhelmed the camera , making it underexpose the frame.

    Again, DSLRs aren't good for what they do in auto- you should have just bought a point and shoot if that's what you want. So yes, i diagnose your problem just like your thread title "D40 and lack of understanding".
     
  17. leighonigar macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    May 5, 2007
    #17
    Just to be clear - it is exposing contrasty scenes that meters struggle with, not just bright ones. You'll also find that cameras tend to overexpose (away from realism) at night etc, if you leave them to their own devices. Experiment and play with the exposure comp. Maybe shoot in full manual for a bit to get the hang of things.
     
  18. ManhattanPrjct macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Oct 6, 2008
    #18
    Compared to a point-and-shoot, a DSLR takes much longer to figure out because it simply gives you more control than you are used to. There are many more decisions you need to make and, no offense, it just doesn't sound like you've worked enough with your camera to get a grasp of what they are and what to do. This is normal - unless you're going to shell out a lot of money for a course, you'll need to learn along the way.

    There are great books you can buy as a reference (like "Understanding Exposure") that really helped me when I started. I took many many pictures on different settings and ultimately I figured out how to really get my camera to do what I wanted - but it takes time!

    I don't think your camera is broken. Re: the sky picture - you have a bright sky and dark trees. If you're in AUTO mode, any camera is going to have to decide what exposure settings to use. It doesn't have the dynamic range to get both at their best, so you get an average shot. Re: the indoors picture - tough to comment because I'm not sure what lens you're using and the layout/lighting of the room.
     
  19. heesey1010 thread starter macrumors member

    Joined:
    Jan 6, 2006
    #19
    I should reiterate something: i have been playing around with the P/S/A/M modes and am relatively good at getting a picture that way. Sometimes the picture seems slightly out of focus because I'm using a tad too slow shutter speed and my elbow moves just enough to give it a very slight blur, but that can be compensated. I also tried auto mode again this morning and it seems to be working better...also tried programmed auto mode which works to my expectations for the most part as well.

    However, I still firmly believe that there is something wrong metering-wise/sensor-wise/SOMETHING; indoor photos are just simply not up to snuff at all. I'm forced to use a full power flash instead of letting the TTL system doing it because 99% of the time the TTL flash will barely illuminate a subject. I've also looked at some photos on some sites such as dpreview and compared EXIF data and such. Similar photos have similar settings (aperture, shutter speed, mode used, etc.), but their pictures look ten times better than what I can produce. So I figure that I'll just take it in anyway (I already found dust on the sensor...bad me, ugh.), and if there's nothing wrong then I'll just laugh about it and move on :p. Thanks again everyone.
     
  20. msh macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Jun 13, 2009
    Location:
    SoCal
    #20
    You have posted a very difficult example for the Auto mode of the D40. I have had my D40 for about 2 weeks and here is one of my first shots in auto mode (although with a different lens - the 35mm/1.8). It is still a little underexposed but not bad. However, I have quickly learned to use Programmed Auto mode and exposure compensation settings and get much better results as you can see in the second shot (on the right).
     

    Attached Files:

  21. object88 macrumors member

    Joined:
    Sep 10, 2008
    #21
    To me, it does seem like there's something wrong with that indoors w/ flash photo. Have you tried doing a factory settings reset? Since yours was a demo unit, I wonder if some obscure setting is messing things up.
     
  22. toxic macrumors 68000

    Joined:
    Nov 9, 2008
    #22
    I don't see the point of ragging on about using Auto vs some other setting. metering is metering.

    OP: the indoor shots don't look good because the flash didn't fire. all that means is the point-&-shoot is more eager to use the flash. switch to P mode (program mode, basically auto with flexibility), pop up the flash, and play around some more.
     
  23. Heb1228 macrumors 68020

    Heb1228

    Joined:
    Feb 3, 2004
    Location:
    Virginia Beach, VA
    #23
    All you telling him he needs to learn more about his camera are crazy. He's using the thing in Auto mode and its not working correctly. There's something wrong with his camera. I've got a D40 and the photos look fine in Auto mode with no fiddling with exposure compensation or other settings at all.

    Auto is meant to point and shoot and take great pictures. The D40 does exactly that when its working properly.
     
  24. leighonigar macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    May 5, 2007
    #24

    The photographs he has posted are of odd subjects. If he wanted to convince us posting some problem shots other than of a light bulb and a sky-contrast scene would be a lot more effective.
     
  25. heesey1010 thread starter macrumors member

    Joined:
    Jan 6, 2006
    #25
    to toxic: the flash DID fire. that's what's odd about it.

    And I don't mind being ragged on; I was very open to the fact that it might just be user error. That being said, everything should be (hopefully) definitively answered by tomorrow when I head downtown to the camera shop there.
     

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