Exposure Bracketing with Your Nikon D2x
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© Darrell Young
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With digital photography you can see the results of your exposures right away. But, since the image viewing LCD is backlit, your images may appear a bit brighter than they really are. You can use the histogram to make sure your exposures are accurate, or you can be even safer with exposure bracketing.

The Nikon D2x is especially flexible in this area, providing controls for bracketing the exposure, flash, and white balance. Since virtually the same method is used for all three, with only the variance of Custom Setting e5, one can use the same controls and method to set any of the bracketing systems.

In review, "bracketing" is the method whereby one takes an exposure at the suggested meter reading, and then one or more images under or over exposed. By using bracketing, one almost guarantees that at least one exposure will be exactly right. With digital you can afford to take the extra exposures, so why not?

In Figure 1 below, please notice that the default setting for Custom Setting e5 is “AE & Flash” which means that if you don't change it, both AE (auto exposure) and flash exposure bracketing will be set when you adjust the camera's bracketing controls. So, if a picture is taken with or without flash, the bracketing still works. That is what we will discuss in this D2x Tip.

The controls we use to set the bracket range are as follows in Figure 2 . Note the BKT (bracket) button, the front and rear command dials, and the LCD on top of the D2x.

With your camera in hand, try out the following steps, and in no time, you will have mastered bracketing with your D2x.

Four Steps to Set Exposure Bracketing

1. Press and hold the BKT button.

2. Rotate the REAR thumbwheel Main Command Dial one notch to the right. (See Figure 3 below) You will note on the top LCD that you now have a horizontal exposure line showing between +/- signs. Notice just below the exposure line that there are three small vertical lines. One of the vertical lines is below the 0 position of the exposure line. Another is to the left of it on the “+” side, and the other is to the right of it on the “-“ side.

This means that we will have three exposures in our bracketing series. (Each vertical line represents a separate image) That is also noted by the “3F” notation above the exposure line (see Figure 3 above).

3. With the BKT button still held down, rotate the Sub-Command Dial on the FRONT of the D2x. You will see the top LCD change the bracketing exposure value between 0.3 stop and 1.0 stop. Select the value you want to over and underexpose the extra images. (See Figure 3 above)

4. Release the BKT button.

Taking Bracketed Images

At this point, you're ready to take your pictures. This is where it gets really cool! If you have your motor drive set to CH or CL (Continuous High or Low) you can simply compose the image and hold down the shutter. The D2x will take the three images in rapid succession and then stop. If you then recompose and press the shutter down again, it will take three more pictures and stop. The motor drive only works long enough to expose those three bracketed exposures then ceases.

Each time it is making one of the three exposures, the D2x is changing the exposure value by the amount you selected in # 3 above. The first exposure is at the suggested meter setting. The second is underexposed, and the third is overexposed, in that order. (normal, under, over)

If your motor drive is set to S (single) then you will have to take three separate exposures yourself, by pressing the shutter three times.

The camera will stay in bracketing mode until you change it by holding down the BKT button and rotating the rear main command dial until the small vertical lines go away.

One can vary the number of exposures, and whether the extra images are under or over exposed, by rotating the rear main command dial in varying degrees with the BKT button held down. (i.e. you'll change the rotation direction in step # 2 above). There is a chart on pages 100 to 101 of your D2x manual that shows the amazing variety of ways one can vary the bracketing.

Remember that the default for the camera is to bracket both the AE exposure and Flash exposure at the same time. If you only want to bracket the AE exposure only, the Flash only, or the White Balance only, you will need to set Custom Setting e5. (See Figure 1 above)

On pages 98 - 105 of your D2x manual there are instructions on setting the Custom Function e5, and very detailed information on AE, Flash, and White Balance bracketing.

Nikon is making our favorite cameras more flexible all the time. Learn to use features like exposure bracketing to give yourself more power in your photography.

Keep on capturing time…


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