I have had a Nikon D90 for two and a half years now, and I have been very pleased with my purchase. Due to many many jobs and chores lately, I hadn't used it, until today. It's a sunny day today and when I actually got out of my house and took a few show in Auto settings (yes, I know auto is not the answer to everything and manual shooting could be a quick-fix to my problem, but that would NOT resolve an issue). Every single shot was way over exposed. Without the sun being in the frame, no blue could be found in the sky, just white! Too much white in the picture; all over the picture. Even walls of my home would be too bright.

Tried resetting to factory settings using the two-button combination, but did nothing. Tried lowering my ISO, still nothing! I took a look at the histograms and the peak is pushed all the way to the right of the range.

The last time I used my camera, was a few weeks ago, when I photographed the sun, WITH solar filters, so the actual light reaching my sensor was minimal. It was a sequence of shots ranging exposures from 1/4000 to 1/2000. No long exposures or anything. Just that! Could that have harmed my brightness sensor or whatever may be causing this 'burning' in the photos now?

Here is one of the photos I took earlier and since I have taken many photos of this place under the same lighting conditions before, I can clearly say no other time was such bright, but now!! I'm terrified!

Any ideas? What can be done now?

image image

  • What metering mode are you using? If you do try manual mode, can you take a correctly-exposed photo? What does the camera meter say at those settings?
    – mattdm
    Jun 17, 2012 at 15:10
  • I am using Matrix. If at manual mode and with shutter speed set very high (i.e. 1/4000), photos are correctly exposed. I took two photos of the fact same place, with the exact same focus, white balance, iso etc. One using auto and one using manual. This photo is just perfect when in manual shutter speed was set to 1/4000 and f stop at 4.5. When in auto values changed drastically to 1/640 and f13 resulting to another over-exposed photo. Same metering in both cases.
    – Chris
    Jun 17, 2012 at 16:23
  • The photo you linked looks like overexposure with the sun just out of frame, can you put up a link to a photo that is not lit by the sun at all? Jun 17, 2012 at 16:30
  • Was the ISO set very high in those exmples? Also, if you choose a small aperture and click while watching into the front of the lens, do you see the aperture close down as the shot is taken?
    – mattdm
    Jun 17, 2012 at 16:39
  • Steven, I do not experience any problem when indoors; just under sunlight. In any case, here is a photo where the sun is exactly behind me, not even close to the frame (dismiss the black box; family member rather not shown) i49.tinypic.com/33mtr92.jpg
    – Chris
    Jun 17, 2012 at 17:32

3 Answers 3


Before you get too panicky, there are a couple of things to keep in mind. The first is, as suggested already, you may have missed a setting (exposure compensation). That may not be the problem, though, since you're only experiencing the problem in very bright conditions.

That brings us to the second: to an extent, the camera is supposed to do this in Auto. You said that 1/4000 and f/4.5 at an ISO of 200 gave a good exposure in manual mode. That's really, really bright—about a full stop brighter than "sunny 16" would predict. It may (just may) be bright enough to push the camera's exposure program into its beach/snow territory, where the camera assumes that the only way there can be this much light coming in is if the scene is far lighter than average. That's the sort of thing that happens if the foreground is largely either white beach sand or snow, and the camera is actually designed to overexpose under very bright conditions to compensate (otherwise a picture taken in a snowy or white-sand setting would tend to be significantly underexposed).

As long as the camera is exposing properly under other conditions, it's probably doing what Nikon intended. If you can keep the "sunny 16" rule in mind (the shutter speed should be about 1/ISO at f/16 in clear midday conditions), you'll have a sanity check on the values the camera reports, and will know either to use exposure compensation or alternate metering to get the shot.

  • Another related possibility is the dynamic range of your camera. The example images might have e.g. an actual dynamic range of say 14 stops between the darkest shadows and the brightest highlights. If your camera is only capable of capturing 10 stops, then the camera has to make a decision to shift the histogram one way or the other (or even just center it), which is going to result in either blown highlights, clipped shadows, or both.
    – twalberg
    Aug 26, 2019 at 14:45

I don't know how D90s GUI (Graphical User Interface) looks like. But In by D5100 you can change the Exposure compensation from -5 to +5. Maybe you have changed it.

If it isn't that What lens do you have? Try change with other lenses.

It is probably something wrong between the lens and the camera. But I believe it is the settings.

  • 1
    I had the same promblem!! I tried to figure it out all day, and the problem has solved. I was my Exposure compensation. Thank you - thank you
    – user22689
    Oct 14, 2013 at 3:03

What lens are you using? If you're using an AF-D lens, you need to lock the aperture at the highest setting e.g. f22, otherwise, every exposure will be high key. If the aperture ISN'T at the highest setting, the camera will not be able to 'actuate' the aperture correctly, and you'll have symptoms like you've been experiencing.

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