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When using my D7000 I often have the feeling that it overexposes by 1/3 or even more, on the P programme - it also depends on the lens. Is it just me? Or am I doing something wrong?

EDIT: Exposure seems to be taken from the whole frame (which is what I expect).

Example (from Bruges) Example overexposed photo

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What lens or lenses are you using? I have an issue with my D200 where AI-s lenses with a max aperture of f/3.5 consistently underexpose by 2/3 of a stop. There may be an issue with the little tab that reads the aperture ridge on the lens. –  gerikson Sep 21 '11 at 12:38
    
Can you post an example or 2? That would help a lot in diagnosing the problem. –  AJ Finch Sep 22 '11 at 11:31
    
Hi @AJ, please find the example pasted in –  Grzenio Sep 22 '11 at 19:21
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I've had a quick look. Try this question: photo.stackexchange.com/questions/14530/… He is asking about the same problem you are seeing. HTH –  AJ Finch Sep 23 '11 at 9:33
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Auto-Exposure Lock - There is a button labelled AE-L/AF-L to the left of the rear control dial. You should configure it in the custom setting menu to be AE-L only. Then you point the camera so that more of the sky is in the frame and press it. This will lock exposure to give more importance to the sky. Lower the camera without release AE-L, half-press to focus and then full-press to take the shot. –  Itai Sep 24 '11 at 16:34
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4 Answers

up vote 4 down vote accepted

Your photo does not look overexposed to me. Sure, the sky is blown. But the water at the bottom is already black. And the church looks just right, which is probably what you focused on. The D7000 takes the point of focus into account when metering. Try using AF-S with a single focus point on a scene with brighter and darker elements. The photo will be exposed differently depending on what you focused on.

If the camera had reduced the exposure to make the sky come out just right, the buildings would have been way too dark. If that's what you wanted (perhaps to add some fill light in Lightroom later), either point the camera to the sky, hold down AEL, recompose, and shoot. Or, dial in negative exposure compensation.

The D7000 can adjust aperture and shutter speed in 1/3 EV steps. In auto ISO mode, it can adjust ISO in 1/6 EV steps. If auto-exposure gets it within 1/3 EV of what I wanted, I'd consider that an excellent result.

That said, I do find that in bright sunny conditions, my D7000 often exposes my photos more than I'd like. My solution is to set the drive dial to H and to set bracketing to take one photo as metered and one with -2/3 EV (hold down the BKT button and use the two dials to dial in -2 and 0.7). The D7000 then rapidly takes two shots for each (sufficiently long) press of the shutter button. When importing my photos, I'll choose one from each pair.

There is actually a benefit to brightly exposing photos. The brighter parts of the photo have less noise. In bright conditions where you can increase exposure without increasing ISO or using too slow a shutter speed (subject movement), you're better off with a picture that's too bright (as long as you're not blowing too many highlights) than one that is too dark. Making a picture brighter in post increases noise, but making it darker does not.

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1/3 of a stop over or under exposure isn't really very much. It corresponds to a shutter speed of 1/125 instead of 1/100. When I process raw files I routinely have to correct by more than a stop. Auto metering just isn't that accurate as it doesn't know the colour of objects in your scene, or the intended 'look' of the image.

My suggestion would be to shoot in Av mode, chose your aperture based on DOF requirements and level of light and dial in a little exposure compensation if it's consistently overexposing. Disclaimer I'm not a Nikon shooter but I assume the d7000 supports EC.

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Nikon meters do know about colors of objects. They call it “3D Color Matrix Metering”. Not sure it makes a great difference though... –  Edgar Bonet Sep 21 '11 at 13:58
    
@Edgar Nikon meters only know the colour of the object plus the colour/intensity of the lightsource. They have no ability to tell the difference between a white cat and a black cat and meter appropriately. That's why incident meters are still used in certain circumstances. –  Matt Grum Sep 21 '11 at 14:21
    
You are right! I though you were thinking about chromaticity and the way it can affect individual channel clipping. Now I see your point is more about luminance v.s. reflectance. Matrix meters, however, can somehow “guess” the reflectance by looking at the surroundings. For example, if the cat is a lot darker than the surroundings, it may be a black cat. Obviously they can get a wrong guess. –  Edgar Bonet Sep 21 '11 at 15:49
    
The thing is that I never had underexposed shot with this camera yet, and more than half seem overexposed. –  Grzenio Sep 23 '11 at 19:33
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Have you checked that you haven't bumped the exposure compensation button? That can force under and overexposure without you realizing.

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Hi, yes, I am sure. I actually use it most of the time if I believe the shot will be overexposed. –  Grzenio Sep 23 '11 at 13:55
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One thing to look at is the metering mode you are using and make sure the one selected fits with your composition. There are three modes on the D7000 which alter the way the light in the scene is evaluated when calculating shutter speed and aperture. Also for some unusual compositions there will be natural miscalculation where you will need to manually apply exposure compensation. If you are sure that the settings look good for the scene and the exposure is consistently incorrect it may be that the camera body needs recalibration, my advice would be to set up some simple test shots that the camera should have no problem with, check your settings and then see what results you get in P but also in S and A modes, this will at least tell you if the hardware is ok. If its only in P mode that you get the issue S and A being ok this would tend to suggest that the camera is ok and its user error.

Looking at your example the scene has a very large dynamic range with a bright sky and dark water. In order to capture all of this you would need to use HDR or some other similar technique or use exposure compensation to lighten up the dark lower third at the expense of completely over exposing the sky. The only way to get the shot 100% in a single image would be to use a graduated ND filter to darken down the sky.

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In theory, exposure should not depend on exposure mode (except for M). It can strongly depend on metering mode though. For testing purposes, use center weighted, aim at a uniform gray surface (white wall) and you should get something close to middle gray (R, G and B close to 118 for sRGB). Matrix is untestable because it's purpose is only to give an image that “looks right”, and Japanese engineers like light tones. ;-) –  Edgar Bonet Sep 21 '11 at 14:09
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