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Nikon D300 and shooting in a studio setting

Connie Fore , Sep 17, 2008; 08:28 a.m.

Hello everyone! I'm new to the forum and I really need some help! I'm about to throw my Nikon D300 out the window. I went from a Nikon D40 to the Nikon D300. I have been using the Nikon D300 now for about a week and I'm not liking any of the results that I'm seeing.

I shoot with a three strobe studio lighting set. I take photos of pets. I am having trouble with sharpness, color, contrast, and over exposure. I use a flash meter before every photo shoot. I have tried several different settings on the Nikon D300 and all the results are terrible. I shoot in manual mode and I set the shutter to 1/125 and the F-stop to 11. I took 256 photos last night and all of them were of poor color and over exposed. I have the camera set on 3D point 51 focus tracking. The focus looked pretty good but that was all that turned out ok. I was using Vivid for my color but changed to neutral last night. I know that I must be doing something wrong because this camera should give me much better results then the Nikon D40 did.

Can anyone offer me some advice!!!!


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Gokce Yildirim , Sep 17, 2008; 08:36 a.m.


If you can show some samples from the photos you mention, Im sure people can have more clear idea of what is wrong with the pictures and be more helpful to you.

Matt Laur , Sep 17, 2008; 08:37 a.m.

What ISO setting are you using? That strikes me as the most likely reason that your exposure isn't agreeing with what your flash meter is telling you to do.

Connie Fore , Sep 17, 2008; 08:45 a.m.

I'm sorry but I deleted all the photos from last nights session. I was so mad! I checked my ISO settings but maybe the camera had other ideas. I always keep my ISO at 200. Since I deleted the photos I can't even check what settings I was using. I'll change the camera back to the default settings tonight and try again. This time I'll post a photo to the forum so every one can see what I'm talking about. Thanks.

Howard M , Sep 17, 2008; 09:08 a.m.

you definitely do NOT want vivid for your situation. go w/ Neutral and manually set your white balance.

Matt Laur , Sep 17, 2008; 09:14 a.m.

I wouldn't even bother with manually setting the WB... I'd shoot in RAW so that you buy yourself all of that nice extra post-processing latitude, and can completely alter the white balance after the fact without wrecking the image the way you would when making such changes to a JPG file.

As for resetting to defaults... make sure that once you DO set to default, that you're not in auto ISO mode (where the camera adjusts ISO for you).

A sample or two, Connie, will definitely help us help you. Out of curiosity, what lens(es) were you using?

Connie Fore , Sep 17, 2008; 09:29 a.m.

I was using the 18mm 200mm lens. This is my favorite portrait lens. Gives me the room that I need and I can get some nice close ups.

One that I took earlier this week. Still didn't like the color, contrast, focus, and sharpness.

Connie Fore , Sep 17, 2008; 09:36 a.m.

One more thing to add. I do photo shoots for my local Humane Society. I might end up with 300 photos in one night. I do not have time to work with these photos. I need the camera to do the work for me when it comes to color, sharpness, and contrast. When I used my Nikon D40 I didn't have a problem with color, contrast, or sharpness. It was there for me. I know that I must be doing something wrong with my settings.

This photo was set on vivd color.

This one is from two nights ago. I hate the color and it's over exposed in areas.

Matt Laur , Sep 17, 2008; 10:13 a.m.

Well, the over-exposed area is a result of... over exposing. You indicated that you're using a flash meter. I'd examine the metering technique, since you seem a stop hot or so on the (camera) left side of the dog's face. Of course, you want to bring down the power of that camera-left strobe/softbox... you DON'T want to stop the lens down. You're dealing with a higher-resolution sensor (smaller photosites, since there are more of them), and you have to watch out for diffraction. You might very well be seeing some of that at f/11, and you certainly will if you stop down more. That will soften things a bit.

Do you have an 18% gray target you can shoot, in order to calibrate your WB, if you don't want to batch-process that after the fact?

And... where are these being shot? Are you in a public place with fluorescent lighting that's slipping into the exposure as ambient light? Just trying to get the big picture, here.

Oh, and about that 18-200... are you on a tripod? VR on, or off? Your EXIF data didn't survive in the examples you've provided, so some of those details aren't obvious.

Connie Fore , Sep 17, 2008; 11:53 a.m.

Matt, these photos are being taken in my bedroom which I turned into a studio. Yes, there are fluorescent lighting present. Of course, I can turn those lights off and just use the studio lights. I started using a tripod but that got impossible to use as time went on. Shooting dogs they tend to move around a lot. I use the VR on the lens. I don't have gray but I do have a black seamless paper that I could use. Would that work?

The photo below is one that I took with my Nikon D40. Shutter 1/125 F-11 ISO 200. This is the results that I want to achieve with my D300. I did very little post processing with this photo.

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