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12-22-2017, 09:49 AM   #1
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Default Exposure Compensation for K3

Lately I've been taking pictures with a default exposure compensation of -1 to -1.6EV. Doing so, it feels like my pictures aren't overly saturated with highlights, and the noise is a lot less (goes to ISO 200 from ISO 800). I actually like the look and if I need to brighten it in post I can do so on the raw files without losing any information in the highlights, and keeping noise to a minimum.

Is this normal? Just yesterday I took a picture of my indoor christmas tree with no exposure compensation and with a -1 compensation. The -1 looked better because it wasn't so blown out, and the colors seemed more real. Do I need to reset the camera or get it serviced? I was shooting with the Pentax 50 1.8 and also the 35 2.4, and also have the Sigma 30 1.4. I just keep the default to -1 now as I feel that everything is just more representative of the scene.

12-22-2017, 09:55 AM   #2
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It depends on the lens, metering mode and content of the scene. No one setting will work in all situations. Remember, the camera is basically trying to average the metered area to mid-grey...

http://www.cambridgeincolour.com/tutorials/camera-metering.htm
12-22-2017, 10:06 AM   #3
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QuoteOriginally posted by julianbenjamin Quote
Lately I've been taking pictures with a default exposure compensation of -1 to -1.6EV. Doing so, it feels like my pictures aren't overly saturated with highlights, and the noise is a lot less (goes to ISO 200 from ISO 800). I actually like the look and if I need to brighten it in post I can do so on the raw files without losing any information in the highlights, and keeping noise to a minimum.

Is this normal? Just yesterday I took a picture of my indoor christmas tree with no exposure compensation and with a -1 compensation. The -1 looked better because it wasn't so blown out, and the colors seemed more real. Do I need to reset the camera or get it serviced? I was shooting with the Pentax 50 1.8 and also the 35 2.4, and also have the Sigma 30 1.4. I just keep the default to -1 now as I feel that everything is just more representative of the scene.
I concur... thanks to the advancement of sensor technology (much greater dynamic range than those yester-years). If you look at the specs in sensor of the k-3 today vs say k-5, it can go as far as -3EV without much penalty in retaining the vital information. In general, I often keep it between -1 to -0.3EV on my k-3 and k-1.
12-22-2017, 10:09 AM   #4
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It will also depend how your computer monitor is set up. If your monitor is too bright you pictures will be too.

Post some example on here.

12-22-2017, 11:31 AM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by pschlute Quote
It will also depend how your computer monitor is set up. If your monitor is too bright you pictures will be too.

Post some example on here.
I'll take a couple of pictures tomorrow and post them. And I'm not looking on the computer, just on the camera LCD.

---------- Post added 12-22-17 at 01:31 PM ----------

QuoteOriginally posted by BigMackCam Quote
It depends on the lens, metering mode and content of the scene. No one setting will work in all situations. Remember, the camera is basically trying to average the metered area to mid-grey...

Understanding Camera Metering and Exposure
Hmm.. Maybe I need to meter around the focus point instead of metering the whole scene like it's set to now?
12-22-2017, 01:57 PM - 1 Like   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by julianbenjamin Quote
Hmm.. Maybe I need to meter around the focus point instead of metering the whole scene like it's set to now?
It's a case of quickly judging the scene visually to decide on the appropriate metering mode. If there's a good, reasonably average mix of bright, dark and mid-tone areas in the scene, matrix metering can be very accurate. However, if most of the scene is very bright - e.g. shooting into a day-time sky, or a snowy field - it'll tend to under-expose, so you should dial in some +ve exposure compensation. If most of the scene is dark, it will tend to over-expose, so you need to add -ve exposure comp.

Remember, the camera's metering aims to average out the metered area to mid-tone grey.

In circumstances that you know will confuse the metering - e.g. shooting a portrait with the sun behind the subject - it might be easier to switch to spot metering and meter off the subject to ensure it's properly exposed. Of course, the highlights will probably over-expose then, but it's always a trade-off with difficult lighting scenarios. You can use spot for mixed bright / dark / mid-tone scenes too, by metering off a mid-tone area and using auto-exposure lock to hold the settings for the shot.

Camera exposure metering is quite clever, but not that clever... There's still some reliance on the photographer to assess the scene and take appropriate action

Last edited by BigMackCam; 12-22-2017 at 02:17 PM.
12-22-2017, 02:22 PM - 1 Like   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by BigMackCam Quote

In circumstances that you know will confuse the metering - e.g. shooting a portrait with the sun behind the subject - it might be easier to switch to spot metering and meter off the subject to ensure it's properly exposed. Of course, the highlights will probably over-expose then, but it's always a trade-off with difficult lighting scenarios. You can use spot for mixed bright / dark / mid-tone scenes too, by metering off a mid-tone area and using auto-exposure lock to hold the settings for the shot.
This is exactly how I used to meter the exposure in film camera days - find a tone in the frame that I felt was in the middle of the range I wanted out of the photo, and then re-compose.

I still do the same today in difficult lighting conditions or where my first take doesn't result in the expected outcome. I do, generally, find I set the exposure adjustment between -.3 and -.7, and often much more. Having used slide film in film days I still dislike over-exposure far more than under-exposure, and back then, over-exposure could quickly ruin a photo.

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12-22-2017, 05:57 PM - 1 Like   #8
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Personally, my default exposure setting is to 'overexpose' by 1/2 stop. But that doesn't mean I stay there. It is just my starting point. BigMackCam is correct that this depends on the scene and the photographer's personal style.

12-24-2017, 03:24 AM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by julianbenjamin Quote
I'll take a couple of pictures tomorrow and post them. And I'm not looking on the computer, just on the camera LCD.
The LCD screen can be too bright, too. You can adjust the brightness in the menus. The histogram is far better for checking for blown highlights (although not perfect as it is based on the jpeg - the raw files have more latitude and as such the histogram errs on the conservative side).

QuoteQuote:
Hmm.. Maybe I need to meter around the focus point instead of metering the whole scene like it's set to now?
I prefer metering the whole scene and then use exposure compensation to, uh, compensate. Going by gut feeling/experience mostly. I find the matrix metering good at preserving the highlights (both on the K-5, K-3, and the K-1) and shoot mostly without exp comp.

Some like spot metering the brightest and darkest parts of the scene and expose from that.

Find a way that works for you. There's no right or wrong.
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