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enter image description hereI have a Nikon DX D5100. I've used it multiple times for the last 3 years and feel very confortable with it. We used it last night for a Halloween photo booth and only the first 10 pictures turned up on the SD card. We took over 250 pictures and all the others are just a black block. It shows as if we took the picture with the cap on. We took the pictures in the sports, automatic, no flash setting to get a better lighting because it was indoors and at night. After we noticed all the pictures were a black block, we took some more to see what had happened and they were fine. I did let my friend take the pictures though, and she is very familiar with these type of cameras, so I just added a screen shot of my laptop after I downloaded the pictures. Only the first few appear fine. We took them with the same setting. All the others are just black blocks! I must add that when we checked the pictures on the camera after we were done, they were black too. I was hoping it had to do with the battery or something. But when I downloaded the pics, nothing changed! :( I have no idea what happened! Any clues anyone?

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    You didn't mention what the exposure values of those black pictures are? If you weren't shooting manual and you were letting the camera decided maybe it underexposed the pictures. Were you using a flash? – rob j crowe Oct 30 '16 at 3:33
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    Access to a few of the original images with EXIF data intact would probably help greatly wit post mortem. Note in your examples that images at row 4, columns 5 & 6 have a faint "white" bar at the top of the image. Increasing the brightness and or gamma on these images may give you some visual clues as to what happened. Also, other 'black' images may have some image data present - trying adjusting a few. Knowing how the camera was set and used may help. – Russell McMahon Oct 30 '16 at 11:24
  • Actually row 4, cols 5 6 7 and row 7 cols 7 8 9 10. LOOKS like a light or heater. If an IR source it may be affecting metering, but seems unlikely to feature in so many photos – Russell McMahon Oct 30 '16 at 11:29
  • If a photo appears bad on "post view" in the camera it almost certainly is - the chances of the camera displaying wrongly but of the actual image being OK are small. Therefore, checking results occasionally and adjusting the camera to get at least some sort of image is essentially essential. – Russell McMahon Oct 30 '16 at 22:56
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    Why not tell us some settings and post a few complete images - including 1 or more of the ones with some content - we MAY be able to tell you what actuallu happened. Maybe not. – Russell McMahon Oct 31 '16 at 4:36
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Note in your examples that images at
row 4, columns 5, 6 & 7 and
row 7, columns 7, 8, 9 &10
have a faint "white" bar at the top of the image.
Increasing the brightness and or gamma on the sample supplied shows what appears to be a reddish line source.
Doing the same on individual images may give you some visual clues as to what happened.

The source LOOKS like a light or heater.
If it's an IR source it may be affecting metering, but seems unlikely to feature in so many photos.

Did the samera show a black image immediately post exposure - even if not post viewing every shot it is offten enough useful to do an occasional check to pevent situations like this occuring.

Also, other 'black' images may have some image data present - trying adjusting a few.

Knowing how the camera was set and used may help.

enter image description here

Access to a few of the original images with EXIF data intact would probably help greatly with post mortem. If you have a Dropbox or similar account, making a few originals available may help. In this case IP loss is not liable to be a problem with full res images :-).

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If a photo appears bad on "post view" in the camera it almost certainly is - cameras "break" only occasionally, but a bad image is ever only a change of settings away. So the chances of the camera displaying wrongly but of the actual image being OK are small. Therefore, checking results occasionally and adjusting the camera to get at least some sort of image is essentially essential.

  • Good analysis. It would be nice if the OP could give us some exposure info details to confirm, though. – Michael C Oct 30 '16 at 20:37
  • Thanks for this analysis, Russell. The camera was set up in the sports setting which is automatic. I didn't pay attention to the speed or the aperture :( I'm wondering if the camera is beginning to act up due to sometime of failure. This is the first time this has ever happened to me, so I was hoping there would be an explanation out there in the camera experts world. And to answer your question about the "post view", I don't know either. My friend that took the rest of the pictures doesn't remember whether or not the camera was showing a normal post view or a black image. – R. Lizarraga Oct 31 '16 at 3:33
  • I appreciate the time you and McGiver have taken to analyze my question and try and answer it. Hopefully I'll be able to solve the mystery. I'll be sure and let you know when it happens. In the meantime, I will get in the habit of re-checking what the camera did every few shots. Thanks again! – R. Lizarraga Oct 31 '16 at 3:33
  • @R.Lizarraga The thing with automatic modes is that when conditions change the camera automatically changes the settings. If there is a source of infrared light in the frame your eyes won't see it, but your camera's light meter might. While most digital cameras have IR filters over their imaging sensors, they don't usually have one over the light meter, which is located in the light path that bounces off the mirror in front of the viewfinder and goes through the pentaprism/pentamirror. Even if the IR source is behind an opaque (to visible light) screen, the heat may be getting through. – Michael C Oct 31 '16 at 6:57
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    It would be VERY easy to test Russell's theory just by checking the EXIF info attached to each photo. What were the ISO, Tv, and Av used for the good shots? What were the ISO, Tv, and Av used for the dark shots? If the dark shots consistently used a faster shutter time, lower ISO and narrower aperture than the shots that turned out then Russell has likely hit the nail on the head as to what happened. – Michael C Oct 31 '16 at 7:02
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If you use flash, the flash has a speed number. Most are good up to 200th of a second. If you try to go faster with your exposure, you will get pictures that at least have part of the frame black. At most you could get nothing but black. The reason is the shutter has opened and closed before the flash even fires. When using your flash make sure to not dial up exposure speed faster than what your flash can fire. Usually no more than 200 in some you may be able to go up to 250. If you need faster exposure you have to make sure your subject is lit well.

  • The sports setting does not allow for more light. It make the exposure faster in order to stop the motion. There must be plenty of light to do this. By slowing down your exposure, you allow light to hit the sensor longer producing lighter image. But everything is different when you use flash. See above. – McGiver Oct 30 '16 at 3:37
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    Welcome to Photo.SE! Unlike discussion forums, you can edit your own posts (and with a little bit more reputation, you can edit other people's posts as well). Would you mind editing the information in your comment into you answer? – scottbb Oct 30 '16 at 4:23

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