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I feel that this is the last straw for me and my, until recently, ever faithful Nikon setup.
I was a keen film user until the opportunity to own a digital SLR came my way. So with a spring in my step and full of optimism, off to Jessops I went to part with my money and become the proud owner of a new Nikon D70.
And it's been all down hill from then on.
Has anyone got any ideas of how to improve the picture quality? I mostly use large, fine JPEGs. And for quick response times, I have been using some of the pre-programmed modes to control exposure, as well as more detailed control with the manual mode. I have a full knowledge and understanding of photography.
Upon inspection of my photographs on my computer, The histogram is bunched up to the far left and mostly to the left of the middle. There never seems to be any pixels towards the right, (Highlights) This of course being underexposure.
They also seen muddy and flat, sometimes even with a slight grayness about them (Lack of contrast).
I have queried the flat and lifeless images I have been getting with Nikon them selves, and have had nothing but suggestions that don't work, and even are fundamental beginner's mistakes.
I'm beginning to think that after my camera was returned to Nikon and supposedly repaired, but was returned untouched, That the underexposure and flattening of my images is a design flaw or a manufacturing error that no other Nikon owner has noticed or decided to speak up about.
I am approaching the end of my tether here, because after all the fantastic results I've has from Nikon products in the past, this is something that may well put me off photography as no-one seems to be able to help.
Please, please, can anyone help with any little tricks or tips...?
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The D70 has a bias towards preserving highlight detail.
Have you tried dialing in a little overexposure?
The D70 has a bias towards underexposure. Not preserving Highlights. Because if it did, there would be an option to use accurate metering.
So why should i have to use expoisure compensation when that is only availible to be used in 4 of the 11 programes?
Also, if this was just 'Preserving Highlight', why does it dull the contrast? If the solution is to use overexpose, then this preservation would simple underexpose.
And why is this also so, with no highlights that need to be preserved prensent in the picture?
Shoot RAW (.NEF)
Under-expose by 1/3rd stop
Convert in 3rd party software. (I use RSE)
Convert to .tiff
any further editing in PS (or whatever you have)
Realise smile is back on face!
Ok, thank you for that last post.
But did you not read, that the exposure compensation is not available in 7 of the 11 shooting modes?
So, I will be restricted to using under half of camera to follow your suggestion?
I'll give it a try, but i have no hopes your idea will work.
Quote: But did you not read, that the exposure compensation is not available in 7 of the 11 shooting modes?
It works in all the 'proper' photography modes and as you list yourself as a working photographer those should be the ones you use.
You're shooting in jpeg and you're using the dreaded P mode. You really need to ask why your photos lack lustre?
Now, not that i am trying to justify the way i work, but i would have thought that having the functionality of semi automatic modes on a camera would be quite useful for situations where human error could be avoided.
Now, if i have the time to be altering the settings and bracketing my exposures and so on. How am i supposed to be able to use the continuous shooting for sporting events... Just the deal for the pre programed mode...
Is it just me or does the dreaded P mode, not just add convienience to the selection of shutter speed and aperture?
There is no difference between 1/60 @ F8 in any mode.
I'd disagree, even in high speed events like sports photography there is no reason to abdicate responsibility for setting aperture and shutter speed.
Hmm, interesting, that we seem to have gotten off the point a little.
Any suggestions as to how to improve the image quality, so far Ian's technique for altering the raw images is showing some promise.
Let's say for the moment that the D70 underexposes by, what.., half a stop maybe two thirds.
What about the lack of contrast?
Haven't got a D70, but I do have a Fuji S2 based on the Nikon F80, so some experience of Nikon metering.
First of all, have you set the basic parameters in the camera, ie sharpness, colour, etc? There is usually a choice depending on how much work you want to do in post-processing. Second thing that springs to mind is what colourspace you are using? Don't know if the D70 can choose between Adobe RGB and sRGB, but again something to play with.
Is the underexposure worse when you turn the camera on its side for portrait type shots? I find mine sometimes underexposes this way, but the same scene is OK in landscape orientation. Is the situation affected by using a polariser?
I'm taking it that you have tried different lenses and it is not just a fault on the kit lens? Lastly, I would take your camera back to Jessops and ask to try another D70 and take identical photos for comparison, preferably of the street outside, but even in the shop is better than nothing.
Personally I would not dial in any extra underexposure on a Nikon unless conditions absolutely dictate, doing so when not necessary is a prime way to lose detail, contrast and introduce noise.
Not having shot on program mode for a very long time I can't comment on the availability or otherwise of exposure compensation, but would always recommend to people Aperture or Shutter priority depending on their prefered subject. That way you get to make half the decision and the camera compensates with the other setting. I prefer aperture priority (when not working in manual mode) as generally I like to know my DOF and then adjust the ISO to get a suitable shutter speed if necessary.
Most of the Nikons need some boost on the saturation especially when used in RAW and if loading onto the web in sRGB.
I have a couple of settings that I use in Capture one and apply by default to all images (turning them off if required) which boost saturation and contrast slightly.
I suggest that you find a well exposed general subject image and apply some layers in PS that adjust hue/sat and levels (or apply an 'S' curve). Play with these until you get the result that you want. Then save these as an action or something that you can easily reapply to all images. Applying them as layers gives you the flexibility to turn them on/off as required.
Once you have found the basics settings required and applied them in such a way the post-processing will be much less onerous and your pleasure from photography should hoefully reappear.
I think all magazines have noted with the D200 that images need more post-processing than say the 20D. I suppose it's a bit like choosing film, only there's only one choice here, so you learn how to get the best results from it in the most efficient way possible.
Hope some of that helps
Thank you Cheryl.
So far your reply has been the most help. I have been out for the last hour or so taking some shots in my garden, working only with the shutter-priority mode.
Even though finding them still flat and dull, i dialed in almost a stop overexposure.
My pictures look much better, with a healthy full histogram.
I think i shall have to reside to that fact that i can only use a fraction of my camera's functionality, but you seem to be getting along without much fuss.
Just could you suggest what colour spacce and settings you use? At the moment i'm using Dirct Print and the adobe RBG pace.
Also, Would anyone suggest overexposing the flash when used? as this still hasw the same problem as with natural light.
I think the D2X is set to Adobe, but the D200 is set to sRGB at the moment. To be honest as long as you change it for the appropriate target you notice little difference. Mind you I'm not the best person in the world when it comes to spotting colour casts, etc. So I probably don't notice the lack of colours.
If you shoot in sRGB the colours seem to me to be more saturated. If you shoot in Adobe and then convert to sRGB then you need to boost them a touch more. I think colour confidence have a good article on getting the best from your camera/scanner/monitor/printer set up, but not sure of the web address.
It's all down to individual taste at the end of the day. It probably helps if your monitor is calibrated so you can tell what the colours are really like and what hopefully they will look like to anyone else.
I tend to ignore the highlights screen on the back of the camera and rely on the histograms (as I think you were trying to do). I found that the D70, D100, D2X and D200 all show flashing highlights long before there is a problem and thus encourage underexposure. In capture 1 I have set the highlights warning to 245 (out of 255) and tend to find that even using the camera metering that I have 1/3 to 1/2 a stop that I can recover in levels. So if I had dialled in exposure compensation as well then I would be adjusting by almost a stop. It's easy to understand why Nikon erred on the side of underexposure, but once you realise you can get much better images without so much adjustment.
Ian (digicammad) did post a link to an article about exposing to the right some time ago. I think it may have been on luminous landscape, for Nikon users the article made a lot of sense.
Perservere, there are lots of people getting good shots with the D70, check out Suleesia's portfolio (though I think he is now using a D70s).
Also if you have an old hand-held meter (which you may do coming from a film background) then compare the exposure readings. I did this to confirm the 1/3rd stop underexposure.
The key with digital imaging really is to establish your post-processing workflow so that you know what you need to do to every image in general. You can then pre-set these and you will spend a lot less time in front of the computer being frustrated that the colour/sat is not the same as your velvia slides of old.
When talking about the flash do you mean the in-built one? Find a fairly neutral scene and do some bracketing on the flash settings and find what you are happy with.
Nick (hobbs) was working through some exposure exercises from the Moose Peterson book which involved having a black and a white subject and putting them in front of white, black and grey backgrounds. Then making notes of exposure compensation (and you could do flash as well) required by your camera in similar conditions. Can't remember what the book is called, but do remember doing similar experiments many years ago with a film camera. It's very useful to give you the confidence to know when your camera needs help and when it doesn't.
Check out the exposing to the right article if you can find it, interesting reading.
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