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View Full Version : Nikon D3000 and dark pictures....HELP!!!


paysensmom
04-28-2011, 10:28 PM
My husband gave me this camera for Christmas. I am still trying to get a good picture with it :sick:

My son's panasonic lumix DMC-FH20 takes MUCH better pictures :sad2:

I can have the living room light on and the flash pops up and yet there still seems to be a shadow in the middle of the picture. So, usually on the face of whom I am shooting. I am ready to throw it in the closet and buy a Lumix. Please help me... Thanks so much

KAT4DISNEY
04-28-2011, 10:35 PM
Are you using a telephoto lens of some sort? It sounds like the light from the pop up flash is being blocked by the lens which is not an uncommon problem if the lens is a larger one. Most pop up flashes don't get the height necessary to flash over a long lens and get some light blocked. Using a smaller (shorter) lens or an attached flash is the usual solution if that is the problem.

paysensmom
04-28-2011, 10:37 PM
I am using the lense that came with the camera.

Gianna'sPapa
04-28-2011, 10:43 PM
Can you post an example and tell us what lens you are using? How are your daytime outside pics? Is this problem only with lowlight indoor pictures? I'm making a big assumption that this is your first SLR, digital or film. Is that correct?

paysensmom
04-28-2011, 10:48 PM
I actually had a canon rebel a few years ago, but it was dropped and broken by one of my kiddos....

I didn't have any problems with that one. But, I mostly used auto, which is also what I am using on this one. I am not sure how to post a picture on here. If you tell me how I will post one! I have to run to go feed the baby right now though. She is two weeks old :)

KAT4DISNEY
04-28-2011, 10:49 PM
I am using the lense that came with the camera.

Assuming that's the 18-55mm are you zooming in with that lens? That would extend the front lens and might be blocking the flash. Something to try and see if that is the problem is to shoot a picture using the flash with the lens at it's widest (18mm). Then shoot a picture using the flash with the lens zoomed as much as it will go and see if there's a difference in the dark spot.

Gianna'sPapa
04-28-2011, 11:06 PM
Also if you are using a lens hood, remove that because it also could be blocking the light. For posting you will need a third party host sight like Flickr, Photobucket, Smugmug, etc. I pay for the Flickr Pro version, but they have a limited free version. I'm on the wrong computer right now, but I will post a picture where the lens/hood blocks the flash and you can compare.

Gianna'sPapa
04-28-2011, 11:19 PM
This is not an extreme case, but at the bottom you will see a shadow that is the lens hood.

http://farm6.static.flickr.com/5225/5668455246_6fe56b99a6_b.jpg (http://www.flickr.com/photos/45097427@N02/5668455246/)
IMGP4735 (http://www.flickr.com/photos/45097427@N02/5668455246/) by Gianna'sPapa (http://www.flickr.com/people/45097427@N02/), on Flickr

If it does not look like that, then it could be your camera metering in the conditions you are shooting. The camera is metering for the light in the room and leaves the subject dark. I'm not sure of the metering options on your camera, but on mine I have three options, multi, center-weighted and spot metering maybe the Nikon shooters can jump in and advise. How are your outside, daytime shots?

Wadecool
04-29-2011, 12:54 AM
This is an interesting thread, especially since i have a D3100 with the same lens as the OP. Are there any other techniques to avoid the infamous shadow?

paysensmom
04-29-2011, 02:04 AM
Outside day time pictures are fine. I will get my manual out to look into the metering. Maybe that is the problem. :confused3

VVFF
04-29-2011, 06:30 AM
impossible to help you much if you don't post pictures

Gianna'sPapa
04-29-2011, 09:00 AM
If you can't post an image then maybe the EXIF info from a bad one.

zackiedawg
04-29-2011, 09:07 AM
It sounds extremely likely that either a lens hood is attached, or the lens is extended, and a pop up flash being used just doesn't clear it all the way. Solutions are not zooming the lens, not using a lens hood, and the biggest of all, using an external hot shoe flash which extends much farther above the lens. I don't expect metering to be an issue.

klmall
04-29-2011, 09:11 AM
Try these directions for posting:

1. Register on a site like Photobucket or Flickr.

2. Click on the upload photos button and follow the instructions to upload (transfer your photos) to the site.

3. Once you have uploaded your photos to your chosen host site they will be stored there with codes below them.

4. Now go to the DIS board where you want to post your message with a photo in it. Create the message.

5. Notice all those little symbols above the space where you write the message. Drag your mouse across those symbols. One of them is the “Insert Image” tool. It looks like a square with a mountain in it. Click on this symbol.

6.. A new small screen will come up that asks for a URL.

7. Paste the location (URL) of your image from Photobucket or Flickr right over the space indicated and click on the Ok button.

8. Click on Preview for your message and you should see your picture in the message.

The hardest part is choosing which form (code) of picture in the choices to copy into the URL.

Once you figure it out, it becomes super easy! Believe me!

paysensmom
04-29-2011, 11:29 AM
I do not have a photo hood or anything added to the camera. I am not zooming in, as I am pretty close to my subject. Still dark. I am going to add several photos for you all to analyze for me!!

http://i409.photobucket.com/albums/pp174/paysensmom/DSC_0581.jpg

http://i409.photobucket.com/albums/pp174/paysensmom/DSC_0538.jpg

http://i409.photobucket.com/albums/pp174/paysensmom/DSC_0522.jpg

http://i409.photobucket.com/albums/pp174/paysensmom/DSC_0513.jpg

This one shows that it does indeed happen outside as well...

http://i409.photobucket.com/albums/pp174/paysensmom/DSC_0472.jpg

paysensmom
04-29-2011, 11:30 AM
oops

mom2rtk
04-29-2011, 11:39 AM
The indoor shots with the flash are going to have a different explanation from the outdoor photo. It almost looks to me like the flash is pointed down a little or something. Is it opening fully when it pops up?

The EXIF data shows the flash firing on the indoor ones, but it almost looks like it didn't.

On the outdoor photo, the flash did not fire. Any time you photography someone in the shade against a bright background you will need a flash, or you will need to expose for the subject and take a chance on blowing out the background. There was a thread on this just recently:

http://www.disboards.com/showthread.php?t=2709200

paysensmom
04-29-2011, 11:41 AM
Yes, the flash is definitely popping up inside. :confused3

mom2rtk
04-29-2011, 11:43 AM
Actually I just checked the EXIF on the rest of them. The flash fired on the first 2, but not the second 2.

Do you have any recollection of whether the flash popped up on these but just didn't work?

Still, even on the shots where it fired, it did a poor job illuminating your subject. I'll be curious to see what others think.

paysensmom
04-29-2011, 11:47 AM
I am just clueless to all of this. How can you tell that the flash didn't fire? I really can't tell you if the flash popped on the two you said didn't work. But, I am thinking that MOST of the time inside, the flash pops up but I get a horrible photo, like the ones I posted. I am ready to put the camera on craigslist and buy a cheapo lumix. I just want quality pictures. I am hoping you all can help me. This camera seems like it gets good reviews on Amazon. Did I get a dud or am I just a horrible picture taker?? :sad2:

mom2rtk
04-29-2011, 11:58 AM
I am just clueless to all of this. How can you tell that the flash didn't fire? I really can't tell you if the flash popped on the two you said didn't work. But, I am thinking that MOST of the time inside, the flash pops up but I get a horrible photo, like the ones I posted. I am ready to put the camera on craigslist and buy a cheapo lumix. I just want quality pictures. I am hoping you all can help me. This camera seems like it gets good reviews on Amazon. Did I get a dud or am I just a horrible picture taker?? :sad2:

There is EXIF data embedded in each digital photo. You should be able to access this info through the image editing program you use. Or maybe you can right click on the photo and click on "properties". It will tell you what the ISO was, the shutter speed, aperture and whether the flash fired.

When I checked the 4 indoor photos, under "flash", the first 2 said it fired, the next 2 said it did not.

It should have produced a better result on those where the flash fired. I'd be curious to see what others here think. The good news is that there are a lot of helpful knowledgeable people here, so you're in the right place.

I understand your frustration, but wouldn't dump it until you know what the issue is. And if you think there's a problem, I wouldn't sell it to someone without disclosing that possibility, so one way or another you need to know what's up.

KAT4DISNEY
04-29-2011, 12:21 PM
I'd say this is a metering problem and not shadowing. And - the flash did not fire on the last two indoor pictures which can be found out be looking at the EXIF information. You need an EXIF view (such as Opanda) or you should be able to see all the information in your camera's viewing software on your computer.

When you use auto on your camera then the camera is making the decisions on the exposure. It's not that your camera is doing it "wrong" but it's not selecting what you have been wanting as the most important part of the photo. In addition to the exposure there are focus selection problems. Same problem with auto mode - the camera isn't certain what the main subject is so it's taking its best guess and is choosing some shallow depths of field.

I have not used your particular camera but I'm sure there are some scene modes - such as portrait etc. that might work better for a few of these situations if you want to have it in an automatic mode. It looks like there is both a portrait mode and a "vari program: child" mode which should identify the closest subject and make that the main focus and exposure point. I would try those out when taking pictures of your kids. Or there's taking it off of auto and learning how to select exposure. There are many fine books on the subject if you'd like to work on getting what you want out of your DLSR. And there's nothing wrong with going back to a point and shoot if that works better for you. DSLR's can be well used in auto mode but the more you know about it's operation the better it can do. Which is also true for all cameras including point and shoots. But I'd suggest trying those other two shooting modes and see if they provide what you are looking for.

mom2rtk
04-29-2011, 03:10 PM
Have you been using the camera in fully automatic mode?

2 pretty simple things to do might help.

First, figure out how to choose the focal point your camera uses. When you it focuses, it picks the best spot in fully auto mode. You can change how this works so that it always chooses the spot YOU want to focus with. Many use the center focal point, but you can do whatever you like.

Second, there are several different exposure modes. I'm not sure what Nikon calls them, but one just uses the exposure from a small area in the middle of the frame, another uses a larger area around the center, and another will use the entire frame. It's not hard to change, and it would be worth experimenting with that setting.

Maybe a Nikon shooter can tell you exactly which buttons to use.

sam_gordon
04-29-2011, 04:33 PM
I have a D5000 and I echo the "get off full auto" sentiment. There should be a dial at the top of the camera where you select which 'mode'. I'm going off memory:

'Green' camera: Full Auto
A: Aperature priority. You set what aperature (fstop or how open the iris is... a lower number (approaching 0) means more light into the camera), the camera determines shutter speed.
S: Shutter priority. You set what shutter speed (how long the image is exposed expressed in a fraction of a second). The longer the shutter is open, the more light you get.
P & M: I'd ignore for right now.

You can also select 'scenes'. Based on what you're trying to do, I'd either use 'A' or the 'portrait' scene.

Something that has burned me in the past is my ball cap. With the camera up to my eye, the bill of my cap blocks the light from the flash.

handicap18
04-29-2011, 05:19 PM
I have a D5000 and I echo the "get off full auto" sentiment. There should be a dial at the top of the camera where you select which 'mode'. I'm going off memory:

'Green' camera: Full Auto
A: Aperature priority. You set what aperature (fstop or how open the iris is... a lower number (approaching 0) means more light into the camera), the camera determines shutter speed.
S: Shutter priority. You set what shutter speed (how long the image is exposed expressed in a fraction of a second). The longer the shutter is open, the more light you get.
P & M: I'd ignore for right now.

You can also select 'scenes'. Based on what you're trying to do, I'd either use 'A' or the 'portrait' scene.

Something that has burned me in the past is my ball cap. With the camera up to my eye, the bill of my cap blocks the light from the flash.

I would not ignore 'P'. That might actually help a lot. 'P' (aka: Program) acts a lot like AUTO with the exception that YOU choose the ISO (aka: film speed,,,, 200, 400, 800, 1600, etc). It will also allow you to pop the flash yourself or leave it down.

I didn't see the EXIF for the pictures you posted, but it looks as though the flash is firing at a low power which might mean that the AUTO part of the camera is selecting a higher ISO than is needed.

For a subject like you have in the indoor shots I would select setting such as ISO 400, shutter speed (S) of 1/100th and an f/stop (A or aperture) of f/5.6)

AUTO mode can be very tricky at times. I don't like using it. Never have (going back to all my film SLR's as well, didn't like it).

Try to do what you can to get yourself off AUTO.

In that last photo that is outside, the metering is the "issue". There is a lot of background light and the camera's meter is picking up on that and therefor exposing for all that light, thus making "YOUR" subject underexposed. This is where you would want the flash to pop up to give you fill light to properly expose the child.

Your camera has 3 Metering modes that you can change....

Matrix: the meter will take the whole image into account and selected the settings accordingly. Generally speaking this is a very good system and works well for most situations.

Center-Weighted: The meter will take small round section in the middle of the viewfinder and adjust for just that section. In your picture of the child in the tree, Center-Weight would have taken just the child and part of the tree and only a small bit of the background light. This is a good meter to use when using a flash.

Spot: the meter will take an even smaller in the center of the view finder and expose for just that. In your outdoor photo of the child it would have metered pretty much just on the child. This is a good meter to use where light on your subject is surround by lots of other light and you want a small specific part of the picture exposed properly.

Gianna'sPapa
04-29-2011, 05:28 PM
The first thing I noticed, especially in number 4, was your focus point appears to be off. The camera is focused on your gown and not the baby. It appears in a couple others to be off also. The first thing I would try is spot focus. I don't know what it is called in the Nikon system, but check your manual and adjust it center or spot focus. Also check your meter settings. In the last one it appears it is metering or focusing on the background causing the foreground to be darker. Let us know and hang in there. We'll figure it out.

Gianna'sPapa
04-29-2011, 09:35 PM
When I looked at the EXIF info, I noticed the files look very small. I don't know if that is a product of Photobucket or not. What quality of JPEG are you using in your camera. You should be using the best quality that your camera can produce. If you have some Post Processing software try shooting a few in RAW and see what you get.

disneyboy2003
04-29-2011, 09:51 PM
I do not have a photo hood or anything added to the camera. I am not zooming in, as I am pretty close to my subject. Still dark. I am going to add several photos for you all to analyze for me!!

This may actually be part of the problem!

When you use flash, you have to worry about a concept called "inverse square law". If I fire my camera's flash, objects that are 1 foot away will be lit with a certain amount of light.

Objects that are 2 feet away (ie. double the distance), however, won't be 1/2 as bright. Instead, those objects are 1/4 as bright. In other words, when you double the distance from the flash, there's 1/4 the amount of light that hits the subject. There's 75% loss of light just from doubling the distance!

How about objects that are 3 feet away (ie. triple the distance)? These objects are lit with 1/9 the light. See the pattern? So there is an 89% loss of light just from tripling the distance!

So let's take a look at this photo, for example:

http://i409.photobucket.com/albums/pp174/paysensmom/DSC_0538.jpg

Let's say the blanket in the foreground is 1 foot from your camera. It's pretty well lit, isn't it?

However, let's say the baby's face is 2 feet from your camera. The reason why the baby's face is dark is because it's only receiving 1/4 of the light from the flash, compared to the blanket in the foreground.

Because of this "inverse square law", if you're taking flash photos close up, the intensity of the light drops dramatically in a short distance.

What's the solution? Ironically, the solution is to take a few steps back and re-take your flash photo. You may have to use your lens to zoom in a bit.

Why does this work? Let's say you step back so that the foreground blanket is, say, 5 feet from the camera. That means that the baby's head would be 6 feet from the camera. The camera will fire a more-powerful flash to reach the baby & blanket.

This time, though, the baby's head is not twice as far from the camera as the foreground blanket. Instead, it's only 1.2x as far (here's the math: 6 feet / 5 feet). Using the inverse square law, the baby's head would receive 69% of the light that the blanket receives (math: ( 1/1.2 )^2 ).

So in this case, there is only 31% less light at the baby's head than at the blanket! Compare this to the first example, where there was a 75% difference in brightness! All this just from taking a few steps back!



http://i409.photobucket.com/albums/pp174/paysensmom/DSC_0522.jpg

This one shows that it does indeed happen outside as well...

http://i409.photobucket.com/albums/pp174/paysensmom/DSC_0472.jpg

In all these other photos, the flash did not fire, as others have mentioned. Just because the flash head "pops up", doesn't mean that the flash actually fires.

When you set your camera to "auto flash", the camera can only guess at when to use flash. In the last picture where the child is outdoors, the camera "thinks" that there's enough light outside. It doesn't know that you the photographer want the shadow to be lit by flash.

When you set your camera to "P" or "Program" mode, if you make the flash head "pop up", then the flash should always fire (at least it does on my Canon camera). "Program" mode is like an advanced "Auto" mode. It lets YOU control a few more settings on your camera.


http://i409.photobucket.com/albums/pp174/paysensmom/DSC_0513.jpg

The other thing you can do to improve your pictures is to learn how to autofocus. When your camera looks at a scene, how does it know what to focus on? Or, more importantly, how does the camera know what YOU want it to focus on?

When you leave your camera on full "Auto" mode, the camera will (randomly?) select an object to focus on. Somehow, my camera knows that whatever object I want to take a picture of, it will always NOT focus on that object. :sad2:

So what can you do? First, switch your camera to "P" mode again. This will allow YOU as the photographer to select the autofocus point. Your camera has 11 "focus points". For simplicity, you should probably just select the center focus point for now (refer to the manual on how to do this).

http://a.img-dpreview.com/reviews/NikonD3000/images/focusallarea.jpg
11 autofocus points in the Nikon D3000

Once you've selected the center autofocus point, whenever that autofocus point is on your subject, that subject will always be in-focus. The camera will NOT try to focus on anything else in the scene except what's on that center autofocus point.

From that picture above, it looks like the camera "guessed" that you wanted the sleeve to be in focus. The camera didn't know that there was a baby in the distance that you actually wanted to focus on. :confused:

Hope that helps. Sorry for the long-winded post.

Gianna'sPapa
04-29-2011, 10:21 PM
Great flash explanation disneyboy!:thumbsup2

paysensmom
04-29-2011, 11:00 PM
disneyboy, that was very informative. Thank you. I am going to play with my camera tomorrow :thumbsup2