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D90 User's Guide:
Custom Setting Menu: Metering/exposure
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b1 - b4 Metering/exposure
How to Get Here
Press MENU, go to the left and select up and down to the pencil icon. You'll then see CUSTOM SETTING MENU on the color LCD. Click down to b METERING/EXPOSURE and click to the right.
What it Does
Here we set important metering and ISO options.
What I Change
Nothing. I leave these alone.
b1 EV steps for exposure control top
This defaults to 1/3 stops. You may set half stops if you prefer.
The D90 sets exposure steplessly, regardless of this setting.
Missing: I use the full-stop setting of the D300, D700 and D3, missing in the D90.
Design Flaw: Ideally Nikon would provide separate settings for manual and auto exposure. I'd set 1/3 stops for manual exposure and full stops in auto exposure (P, S and A modes). You need the precision in manual mode, but not in the auto modes, because the values chosen by the D90 are set steplessly regardless of how they are displayed.
b2 Easy exposure compensation top
This lets you alter your exposure by turning the front dial without having to press the Exposure Compensation (lighten/darken) button.
I love "Easy," which is the name of this feature, but it's too easy. I hit the dial too often by accident, so I don't use it. I leave it at its default of OFF.
There is no RESET option as on other cameras. RESET automatically resets the exposure compensation to zero every time you turn the camera back on. This is a very good idea, but no in the D90. Otherwise you may lose a lot of shots from having a wrong value set from yesterday's last shot.
b3 Center-weighted area top
This sets the diameter of the sensitive part of the center weighted meter. These settings only take effect when you've selected center weighted metering.
I never use center weighted metering, so I certainly never play with this.
You also have the option of metering from the entire image, called "Average."
These modes went out in 1983 when the Matrix Meter was invented, but old-timers cling to these so Nikon leaves them in. I always use Matrix.
b4 Fine tune optimal exposure top
Don't do this!
This is a service adjustment that allows you to make permanent tweaks to the exposure meter calibrations. These settings do not show up on the control panels!
You'd use this if your camera were defective, or if you did something weird like convert it to infra-red.
If you dare do this, you can tweak the meters in sixth-stop increments, with different adjustments for each of the Matrix, Center-Weighted and Spot meters.
Don't do this. This should be hidden as a service facility tweak. If your shots are too dark or light you should have your camera repaired, or use the regular Exposure Compensation button.
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