I recently returned from a trip to New Mexico taking pictures in the mountains, etc. I was taking pictures both with my Nikon D3300 18-300 1.35-6.3g with a UV filter and my iPhone X. My D3300 consistently appears to overexpose these type of pictures.

I've attached two pictures. Any suggestions will be much appreciated!

D3300+18-300 @18mm, iso 110, f/20, 1/30s [landscape scene mode]:

D3300 shot

iPhone X: iso 25, f/1.8, 1/600s:

iPhone X shot

  • 1
    While this is an interesting situation you present, you don't actually ask a question here. I think you'll get better help if you ask a specific question. What is your aim here? What do you want to achieve or solve?
    – osullic
    Mar 31 at 22:22
  • Do you have exposure compensation turned up? Looks like the 3300 is maybe +0.5EV to +1EV. On some cameras it's a really easy dial to bump by accident.
    – Scott
    Mar 31 at 23:23
  • f1/8 (f/0.125)? or f/1.8?
    – Michael C
    Apr 6 at 23:59
  • Is this a JPEG produced in camera? Or a conversion of a raw image file (.NEF)? If the latter, what application did you use to open the file and to do the conversion? What default settings were used by the application? This looks like a rather flat interpretation of a raw file. (All displays and conversions of raw files are interpretations.)
    – Michael C
    Apr 7 at 0:06

2 Answers 2


I think what you're really seeing is the difference between 'photography' and 'computational photography'.

Nothing I can see in the first photo hits 0,0,0 or 255,255,255, it all fits quite neatly between the extremes without ever hitting them. I'd call that a pretty good exposure guess by the camera. The camera doesn't know what you're taking a photo of, or which parts you might like to emphasise. It captures light, the rest is up to you.

The second photo, on the other hand, has been post-processed by the phone to be far more pleasing to the eye. It does actually hit 0,0,0 in places & there's the occasional 255 in the blues, in the sky. It could only do that in post; nothing could be that accurate on the fly.
The phone, algorithmically kind of does know what you're taking a photograph of. It's been programmed to recognise many aspects of many scenes & what to do to make them look 'nice'.

In short, the 'photograph' has left enough room to do your own post-processing. The 'computational photograph' has done it all for you… whether you like the results or not. The developers have worked on these algorithms a long time, to try to ensure that most of the time people do actually like it. tbh, I still think it's a bit 'thin' & unenthusiastic.

By extreme contrast, here's a quick go at brutally shoving the first image in the direction of "Hey, isn't this what we expect a sunny day to look like?!" in a sort of over-enthusiastic picture postcard kind of way, without actually trying at all to copy what the phone did. Consider it merely a third way of looking at it.

enter image description here

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    If the camera also recorded a jpeg then the camera certainly could have processed the image for greater contrast and saturation; giving a result more like the iphone image. But one thing the iphone (and many other cell phone cameras) does is auto HDR by default. I suspect that is the main difference here... and that is something the D3300 will not do, it also happens to align with your answer. (The D3300 does have active D-lighting which is similar, and an over-the-top "HDR painting" mode) Apr 2 at 14:02
  • Assuming the first example in the OP is a straight out of camera JPEG, I would argue that this is not even "photography" vs. "computational" photography. Rather, it is "flat Nikon auto development computational photography" vs. "high contrast, high saturation, high sharpening iPhone auto development computational photography".
    – Michael C
    Apr 7 at 0:10

I will only focus on some practical tips.

If you constantly feel your images are overexposed, then make constant adjustments so they are as you like.

Use exposure compensation (Page 73 on the user manual)and lower your exposure. Try a decrease of 1/3 steps and compare results.

Or shoot in raw and prepare some predefined settings for developing the images.

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