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My Nikon D700s are overexposing
Old 4 Weeks Ago   #1
ozmoose
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My Nikon D700s are overexposing

I may be risking at the very least a public flogging if not hanging from the first available lamp post for daring to write about DSLRs in RFF - but I have a problem and I would greatly appreciate any good advice from other Nikon users.

Recently my two D700s began overexposing from +0.3 to +0.7 stops and (in bright sun situations) up to +1.0. Both are usually set on 0.0. The first (bought new in 2012 with 120,000+ clicks) does it intermittently. The second (bought used in 2018 with 45,000 clicks) is continuously overexposing.

I use both mostly on A (aperture) but I'm now using M (manual) without improvement. Also a polarizer which has helped a little, but again not consistently. I've varied all the settings and last week I did extensive image tests in my garden with the newer D700 on a tripod and 28mm, 50mm and a 28-85mm zoom lenses. Low and high contrast scenes. amazingly, my images were exposed spot on for all the settings.

Yesterday I took this same D700 on a city walk - and the darn thing again overexposed everything. To get usable images, I did three exposures (at 0.3, 0.7, 1.0) as I did back in my film days. Nothing exposed consistently - the results were all over the place. Finally I set the camera on M, 1/200 at f/8 with the polarizer. The latter helped, but again the results were wholly inconsistent.

Online research on this has been frustrating. Many posters suggested possible causes but nobody came up with a useful fix. One said it was a firmware problem, another that the shutter may be faulty. Maybe - but in two D700s at the same time?

Yes, D700s are dinosaurs now. Other than to trash the two cameras and buy a new DSLR, is there anything I can try?

Your helpful comments and advice on this problem will be greatly appreciated.
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Old 4 Weeks Ago   #2
Corran
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Go outside, set it on manual, and shoot at f/8, 1/4000. Then change it to 1/2000, 1/1000, 1/500, 1/250, and 1/125, and see what the results are. That should tell you if the shutter is borked.

I still have a D700 that I use as a second camera, along with a D800. I've found both of them tend to shoot better at -0.3 or sometimes -0.7 outside, since day one. My D700 has something like 150k clicks and still runs great.
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Old 4 Weeks Ago   #3
Huss
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Turn off the auto iso. Set WB manually.
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Old 4 Weeks Ago   #4
Larry H-L
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I'd check your lenses to see if they are truly and fully stopping down during exposure, and check the aperture actuation levers on both cameras and lenses. On the lenses, flip the levers and see if they are moving freely and snappy.

If one of your lens aperture levers is worn or damaged, it may have started to wear inside the camera bodies also, resulting in aperture settings that are slightly off.

That this problem progressed from one body to the other, to me, indicates a lens problem.
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Old 4 Weeks Ago   #5
Corran
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Huss View Post
Turn off the auto iso. Set WB manually.
Good suggestion, I forgot the D700 had Auto ISO. I never use it, and it's a pain to get to - which they fixed in the newer cameras.
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Old 4 Weeks Ago   #6
Ronald M
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Use spot metering-center spot and meter from a grey card or BLEACHED blacktop road.

ISO 200 should be 1/200 at f16 in full sun in nice blue sky.

Older Nikons routinely are set to + 1/3 so you need to compensate. New ones not so.

Check out lens as described or use wide open.
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Old 4 Weeks Ago   #7
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I'd recommend getting them (or one) fixed. The top LCD screen on mine started acting buggy and I used it as an excuse to buy a D750. Now I like the D750 but I'm sure I like it that much better than the D700 when it comes to the final picture. I wish I would have just had it fixed and saved a lot of money. Just my 2 cents.
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Old 4 Weeks Ago   #8
ozmoose
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Double quote - my MacBook Pro has its own mind and operates by its own whims.

I have deleted this post. See the next one.

Apologies to all.
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Old 4 Weeks Ago   #9
ozmoose
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Many thanks to everyone who has offered good advice. So much food for thought. A few comments follow.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Corran View Post
Go outside, set it on manual, and shoot at f/8, 1/4000. Then change it to 1/2000, 1/1000, 1/500, 1/250, and 1/125, and see what the results are. That should tell you if the shutter is borked.

I still have a D700 that I use as a second camera, along with a D800. I've found both of them tend to shoot better at -0.3 or sometimes -0.7 outside, since day one. My D700 has something like 150k clicks and still runs great.
I did this test today. Speeds exposed uniformly - at least one full stop overexposed, the entire sequence. So speeds are not the issue. Metering appears to be the problem.

My pair of D700s have both always performed best at -0.3 for most situations and 0.7 for bright scenes. I've made very little use of -1.0. Now, both tend to overexpose equally by at least +1.0. Very strange.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Huss View Post
Turn off the auto iso. Set WB manually.
I have never used Auto ISO. Always shoot at 200 or on occasion 400. Am not a low light shooter. So this isn't the problem. (I double checked the setting to make sure.)

Quote:
Originally Posted by Larry H-L View Post
I'd check your lenses to see if they are truly and fully stopping down during exposure, and check the aperture actuation levers on both cameras and lenses. On the lenses, flip the levers and see if they are moving freely and snappy.

If one of your lens aperture levers is worn or damaged, it may have started to wear inside the camera bodies also, resulting in aperture settings that are slightly off. .
My lenses were recently used on a new Nikon Z6 and a Df. All perform well. So the problem is the cameras, not the lenses.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Beemermark View Post
I'd recommend getting them (or one) fixed. The top LCD screen on mine started acting buggy and I used it as an excuse to buy a D750. (...) I would have just had it fixed and saved a lot of money.
This is what I plan to do. The newer D700 (2012 model) will go out for a quote. However, this being Melbourne, I fully expect the cost will be at least half the purchase price, so whether I go ahead with it or not is yet to be decided - the quote will cost A$50 but it may reveal what the true problem is. If I find out, I will post again.

One last test to do. I want to test my two cameras on manual with my (still spot-on) Gossen Luna Pro meter. If the exposures are accurate but the +1.0 is still there, then the problem lies with (I guess) the meter system.

If this hands-on test fails, then it may be time for me to 'retire' my D700s to shelf queen status. They are 10 and 8 years old and (rather like their owner) may well have reached their use-by date. As digital cameras go, to (mis-)quote Gertrude Stein, a camera is a camera is a camera.

Again, thank you all for your good advice.
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Old 4 Weeks Ago   #10
Rob-F
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Are you by any chance setting the aperture by the lens ring, instead of the front wheel? That can, in some cases, such as when shooting wide open, cause gross overexposure.
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Old 4 Weeks Ago   #11
Range-rover
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Have you ever cleaned the contacts on the camera and lenses sometimes it helps.
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Old 4 Weeks Ago   #12
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why are you using a polariser all the time; that could be messing with the metering. also as someone else has said using the aperture ring on nikon lenses rather than the dial on the body can make exposure a bit inconsistent as the aperture control on the lens is quite crude and gets worse with age. How are you viewing the images on the lcd screen or computer as maybe you need to adjust the screen brightness on the camera. I can't remember as I know longer have a D700 only D810; does it have the active D lighting?
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Old 4 Weeks Ago   #13
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Have you got menu b6 (fine tune optimal exposure) set to anything other than 0? You could use this if you are getting consistent over/under exposure results.
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Old 4 Weeks Ago   #14
Ronald M
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Only a circular pola will give proper exposure based on rotation.

It will match a linear pola if linear is rotated to max exposure .
Set exposure this way, then rotate for effect.
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Old 4 Weeks Ago   #15
Corran
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ozmoose View Post
I did this test today. Speeds exposed uniformly - at least one full stop overexposed, the entire sequence. So speeds are not the issue. Metering appears to be the problem.
I am exceedingly confused. If your aperture and ISO were locked, you should've gotten some variability in your resultant exposures with each stop change in shutter speed. This statement implies your camera is only shooting at one shutter speed, regardless of what it is set to. I have never heard of such a thing. Usually when these DSLR shutters go, they have a fatal error and won't shoot anymore.
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Old 4 Weeks Ago   #16
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Oh, I think he must mean each shot is overexposed one stop compared to the correct exposure for each shutter speed/f/stop pairing; with the f/stop adjusted when the shutter speed is changed.
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Old 4 Weeks Ago   #17
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Well, I specifically mentioning leaving the f/stop at f/8 to check for shutter issues.

Also make sure your bracket mode is turned off.
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Old 4 Weeks Ago   #18
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Have you tried different metering modes (matrix, spot, center weighted)?
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Old 4 Weeks Ago   #19
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I gather you have reset the camera back to default settings at some point!?

My D700 lunched it's shutter a year ago and I still miss the thing ... the repair quote from Andersons here in Brisvegas was a joke. I hope you get it/these sorted because in my opinion the D700 is no dinosaur ... aside from being 12 megapixels it has everything you could possibly need in a DSLR.
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Old 4 Weeks Ago   #20
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I wonder if my D700 is too?

I habitually shoot 1 stop under when in contrasty situations to avoid too many blown highlights (and have done so for a while) and have noticed when I do not, that the images generally look a little washed out. I had never considered the thought that it might be mis metering or have some other problem. I just figured this is how it is - and coped. I suppose I could check exposure readings against one of my other cameras. But then again I tend to find that I want to under expose (against metered readings) for most cameras as most of them seem to my eye too included to "expose to the right" to the detriment of highlights when shooting in outdoor situations as I usually do.

PS though I will often shoot in matrix mode more or less out of habit, when I am thinking seriously about my photography and not just shooting mindlessly I will often instead shoot in centre weighted metering mode. I suspect it helps at least with centre placed main subjects (obviously).

One more PS. In your case are you using the same lens(es) with both bodies. Is there any chance that the len's aperture is a bit sluggish - the most usual cause of over exposure and exposure inconsistency.
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Old 4 Weeks Ago   #21
ColSebastianMoran
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When this happened to me, it was the lens not closing down.

Test: If exposure is right wide open but bad at f/8.
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Old 4 Weeks Ago   #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ColSebastianMoran View Post
When this happened to me, it was the lens not closing down.

Test: If exposure is right wide open but bad at f/8.
I agree. This is not unusual.
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Old 3 Weeks Ago   #23
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The D700 will overexpose if you try to shoot a fast lens wide open, and you are setting the aperture with the lens diaphragm control ring. The problem clears up when you switch to the front adjuster wheel, under your index finger. You have to go into the menu to make the switch.
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Old 3 Weeks Ago   #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by peterm1 View Post
I habitually shoot 1 stop under when in contrasty situations to avoid too many blown highlights (and have done so for a while) and have noticed when I do not, that the images generally look a little washed out. I had never considered the thought that it might be mis metering or have some other problem. I just figured this is how it is - and coped. I suppose I could check exposure readings against one of my other cameras. But then again I tend to find that I want to under expose (against metered readings) for most cameras as most of them seem to my eye too included to "expose to the right" to the detriment of highlights when shooting in outdoor situations as I usually do.
Thank you. This is good advice. After reading it, I took my newer D700 for a walk and shot my usual old buildings in bright sun at one stop under. Results were far better than usual, still some overexposure in a few images but most were close to what I lconsider to be correct exposure with my D700s.

I also found that one stop under seems to control the blown highlights in my images taken in full sun. This has long been a problem with the D700 and has caused me a lot of work in post processing. So a double plus here.

After this trial-and-error test, I worked out that I'm best off setting the D700 exposure at one stop under in bright sun, and 0.7 stops under for shade. These two will see me through about 90% of my photography.

I want to do a test with the camera set on M (manual) and exposures worked out with my Gossen Luna Pro. Probably next weekend.

However, I see all this as stopgap solutions. I need reliable cameras to use in my travels in Southeast Asia and sadly, I now see my D700s as potentially unreliable. Due to weight restrictions I travel with only one D700 and at most three lenses. If my camera's exposure system goes bad on me in the field, I would be left without a system to use. (In my past travels I've taken a Rolleicord Vb TLR as well, but this cannot really be compared to a D700.)

I'm still confused about what could be causing my two D700s to overexpose by a full stop but not a Nikon Df with the same lenses and in the same shooting situations.

To resolve all this, in the very near future I'll send one D700 to be checked and maybe serviced if a specific problem is diagnosed. Which may or may not resolve matters, but it's worth trying.

Again, thank you everyone for your suggestions. I know two other D700 owners who have this problem with overexposure and I will draw their attention to this thread.

An update will follow if new information or a solution to the problem are found. Let's all cross our fingers and hope.
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