Thursday, November 17, 2016

TECHNIQUE: Nikon Keymission 360 photos and videos looking too dark? Here's what to do.



Photos or videos from the Nikon Keymission 360 (reviewed here) can look too dark.  Here's how to fix this issue.
By default, the Nikon Keymission 360 will expose for the highlights -- in other words, it will try to capture the highlights of a scene.  This tends to result in an underexposure in the rest of the scene with midtones and shadows.  The advantage of this approach is that it will preserve highlight detail.  However, the disadvantage is that straight-out-of-the-camera images will look underexposed.






There are two solutions to this.  The first solution is to turn on Active D-Lighting (under Camera Settings ... Shooting options).  In Nikon-speak, Active D-Lighting means that the camera will intentionally underexpose to preserve highlights then digitally increase exposure to offset the underexposure.  The net result is to capture a wider dynamic range than would otherwise be captured with a normal exposure.  The disadvantage is that it increases the noise in the shadow areas and midtones.  Here is a sample with Active D-Lighting




The second solution is to turn off Active D-Lighting and increase exposure compensation by around two-thirds stop (+0.7 EV).  Normally doing that would result in overexposure but because the Keymission exposure is quite conservative, the result looks normally exposed.  Compared to using Active D-Lighting, a +0.7EV exposure compensation will capture less highlight detail.  But the midtones and shadows will be brighter, cleaner, and have better color.  Here is a sample with +0.7EV.


Here are some more comparison shots, this time with photos:


Active D-Lighting off; no exposure compensation

As you can see, in this shot with Active D-Lighting off and zero exposure compensation, the Keymission's conservative exposure preserved the highlight detail in the clouds but left the shaded area too dark. 




Active D-Lighting on; no exposure compensation

In the second shot, with Active D-Lighting on, the highlight details in the clouds were also preserved, and the midtones and shadows were lifted to compensate for the underexposure.  However, the result looks a little flat. 


Active D-Lighting off; exposure compensation +0.7EV
In the third shot, with Active D-Lighting off and +0.7 exposure compensation, the shaded area looks richer and has a more acceptable exposure.  However, there is less highlight detail in the clouds.


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