Tibetan woman works her loom in Jarkot. Nikon D300, 18-200mm at 90mm, 1/250 f/8, ISO 200. Matrix metered at 0 compensation.
I continue to have problems with my camera’s matrix metering system. My old D200 matrix meter was infallible. I got to a point where I trusted it so much that I eventually shot exclusively with it. The problem with the matrix meter on the D300 is not that it overexposes, but that it is unpredictable and I’m never sure how it is going to expose for the scene. In even or low contrast light, the matrix meter is spot on. In backlit situations, it is more than a stop off. In mixed or high contrast light, it’s anywhere from being spot on to 1 stop overexposed, so it is not a simple matter of setting a fixed amount of exposure compensation.
My old D200’s matrix meter was predictable. I knew the camera would protect the highlights. The new D300’s matrix meter now also looks at what’s under the focus point, and presumably using Nikon’s scene recognition system, assumes that you want what’s under the focus point to be ‘properly exposed’, even at the expense of blown highlights.
By designing the D300’s matrix meter this way, the Nikon engineers is have taken exposure control out of the hands of the photographer. A camera’s meter should do nothing other than meter the scene predictably. The photographer can then decide what within the scene to correctly expose for, and compensate accordingly.
Nikon’s matrix meter originally behaved like a center-weighted meter on steroids, a boon for photographers who needed to work fast. Unfortunately, the D300’s matrix meter is so unpredictable that I’m better off using center-weighted or spot metering and dialing in exposure compensation as required – a step backwards for Nikon IMHO.
Around Annapurna 2008: Day 12
April 27: Muktinath – Jomsom
Warm air, rising over the land mass of central Asia from the heat of the day needs to be replaced. Cool air, from the Indian Ocean, rushes to replace the warm rising air via the path of least resistance. This happens to be the Kali Gandaki: the deepest gorge in the world. From soon after sun-up to just before sundown, trekkers walking southwards down the Kali Gandaki can expect to be blasted in the face by the fierce winds created by the air rushing in from the Indian Ocean. Just another highlight of trekking the Annapurna Circuit…
Majesty Lodge: Rooms *** Food ****
Update May 11 2009:
I’ve had my new D300 for more than 3 months now, and put more than 4000 frames through it. I can confidently say my new D300 Matrix Meter is different from the first D300 that I owned and wrote about (above). In general, there is about a 1/2 stop difference in terms of exposure, but the quality of the metering is also different. It’s hard to put into words, but my new D300’s Matrix Meter behaves more the way I expect it to, and there are fewer ‘surprises’.