Camera Meter Checker


If your digital pictures are too light or too dark, then your camera may have a metering problem. This Camera Meter Checker App will help you determine if your digital camera's light meter is malfunctioning. No special equipment is required (you do not need a gray card). You DO need a clear view of the Northern or Southern sky and your owner’s manual. This App will NOT troubleshoot camera phones or smart-phone cameras because they lack a shutter and aperture. It will also not work for cameras which do not display extended information for pictures taken; cameras over 5 years old often do not offer this information. Click Continue to begin.

Please note the Terms of Use for this site and the Camera Meter Checker App. Click below to view the Technical Standards and Assumptions for this App.

DO NOT use your brower's BACK button.

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Technical Standards and Assumptions

This App assumes that the baseline reading for a camera light meter from a standard Kodak 18% gray card in broad daylight is f/16 and 1/125 at ISO 100; this assumes there are no clouds and no shadows on the card. Although this is a standard which as been used for many years, manufacturers may set the camera’s metering system anywhere between 1/125 and 1/60 at f/16 with ISO 100 under the same conditions. Because of this, it will be necessary to adjust the calculations provided by this App accordingly to determine whether or not a particular camera is exposing correctly. Below are F/ stops given in full, half, and third stop increments to help you make the calculation (this article assumes basic knowledge of camera mechanics).

Full Stop Increments
f/2 , f/2.8, f/4, f/5.6, f/8, f/11, f/16 , f/22

Half stop increments
f/2, f/2.4, f/2.8, f/3.3, f/4, f/4.8, f/5.6, f/6.7, f/8, f/9.5, f/11, f/13, f/16, f/19, f/22

Third stop increments
f/2, f/2.2, f/2.5, f/2.8, f/3.2, f/3.5, f/4, f/4.5, f/5, f/5.6, f/6.3, f/7.1, f/8, f/9, f/10, f/11, f/13, f/14, f/16, f/18, f/20, f/22

This App offers readings in all the increments given above.

Is it necessary to use an 18% gray card to check the accuracy of a camera meter? Although it is preferred, this level of accuracy is often not necessary for most day-to-day shooting environments even at the professional level. When you need a gray card most is when you believe your metering system is malfunctioning and in those moments your gray card is likely in your studio keeping all your other forgotten equipment company. Enter the Northern blue sky which is approximately 18% middle gray in value (obviously not in color). The density of the Northern blue sky in the middle of the day is not likely to change within our lifetime, hence using it as a de-facto gray card will suffice for most purposes. If you do have a gray card please use it rather than the sky.

How accurate does your camera meter need to be? This depends on your particular needs. Fundamentally, the meter reading does not have to be as accurate as most photographers would have you believe. With the advent of digital photography the requirements for accuracy have become more forgiving. With color transparency film the latitude was approximately plus or minus 1/4 stop. With color negative film, approximately plus or minus one stop. With digital photography that latitude is now about plus or minus 2 stops.

So why bother calibrating your camera? Because the more accurate the exposure the less post processing needed to produce a great looking print.

 

IMPORTANT!

Remove all filters from the lens. If there are no filters click Continue.

 

Turn off the flash.

If you can not turn off the flash because you are using an Auto mode, try No Flash mode or a mode which will suppress the flash such as Landscape. Don't just cover it with your hand.

 

Check the Exposure Compensation [EV value] setting.
If you do not know how to check Exposure Compensation (EV value) click one of the choices below for instructions. MAKE SURE the value is set to zero or the middle. 99% of modern cameras have Exposure Compensation.

How to check Exposure Compensation

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If you CAN NOT ACTIVATE your exposure compensation setting, then you are in Auto Mode and it is already set to zero. Click Continue!

Point and shoot cameras press the +/- button is often on the back of the camera and move the setting to zero(left and right). No +/- button? Press Function and look for EV. If you can not locate this please check your manual for instructions. If you can not activate it then it is set to zero already. Click Continue.

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Nikon DSLRs: press and hold the +/- button near the shutter release. Move the needle/pointer to zero by toggling the command dial while holding down the +/- button.

Canon DSLRs: press and hold the +/- button near your thumb next to the LCD. Move the needle/pointer to zero by toggling the command dial while holding down the +/- button. If you do not have a +/- button move the ON/OFF switch to the lock position [L] and rotate the command dial until it is set to zero.

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Choose the mode you would like to troubleshoot:

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Continue in Program Mode:

1.Set camera to Program Mode (P).

2. Set the ISO to 100 (check the manual if you do not know how).

Continue in Shutter Priority:

1.Set camera to Shutter Priority (S or Tv).

2. Set the ISO to 100 (check the manual if you do not know how).

3. Set your Shutter Speed to 1/125.

Continue in Aperture Priority:

1. Set camera to Aperture Priority (A or Av).

2. Set your ISO to 100 (check the manual if you do not know how).

3. Set your Aperture to f/16.

Continue Auto Mode:

1. Set camera to Auto Mode.

2. Click Continue.

Continue Manual Mode (only for DSLR):
1.Set camera to Manual Mode (M).
2. Set the ISO to 100.
3. Set the Aperture to f/16.
4. Set the Shutter Speed to 1/125.

 

Take a picture of the NORTHERN blue sky.

Take a picture of the Northern (Southern if you are below the equator) blue sky in the middle of the day. Please note it should ONLY be the blue sky - NO telephone poles, wires, airplanes, clouds, etc. If your camera will not fire, you must also switch your lens to manual focus; if there are no details for the camera to focus on the camera will not fire in auto focus.

While pointing the camera at the Northern blue sky, press the shutter button halfway.

Note: it must be the Northern (Southern if you are below the equator) blue sky in the middle of the day with NO telephone poles, wires, airplanes, clouds, etc.



Make a note of where is the needle/pointer on the bottom of your view finder is pointing

 
1. On your camera press photo tour nyc, PLAY or PLAY BACK to review the blue sky picture.
2. Retrieve the ISO and Shutter Speed for this picture. If the information is not displayed press "INFO" or "DISP" until the information is displayed or review your manual for instructions.
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3. ENTER the information below.


4. Using this list:

f/2.0

f/2.2

f/2.5

f/2.8

f/3.2

f/3.5

f/4.0

f/4.5

f/5.0

f/5.6

f/5.9

f/6.3

f/7.1

f/8.0

f/9.0

f/10

f/11

f/13

f/14

f/16

f/18

f/20

f/22

count the number of steps it takes to get from the recommended reading (above) to the your picture's actual aperture (f/stop) reading. Then choose an option below, and click Continue.

What was the result above?

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Where is the needle pointing?

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Congratulations! Your camera's metering system is exposing your image properly.


If your images are still too dark or too bright but your camera's metering system is working click Continue.

If your aperture [f/stop] is 1 or 2 steps from the recommended setting, by most standards your camera is operating within tolerance. However you may still choose to have it re-calibrated by the manufacturer.



If your settings are within tolerance but your images look too bright or too dark click continue.

If your needle/pointer is within 2/3 of a stop of zero we believe that your camera is operating within tolerance. However you may still have it calibrated to bring it back to manufacturer's standards.



If your settings are within tolerance but your images look too bright or too dark click continue.

If your reading is more than 3 steps away from the recommended aperture [f/stop] your camera's metering system is probably operating beyond the acceptable range* and may require repair. We suggest you contact the manufacturer. Click here for links to manufacturers.

*Although digital photographs have a very wide range for what is acceptable, it is preferable that your camera is within one stop of a perfect meter reading. You will have to decide whether or not your camera is functioning within the acceptable range. Although there is a technical standard, photography is always subjective!




If your reading is more than 1 stop (+/- 1) from zero, your camera's metering system is probably operating beyond the acceptable range* and may require repair. We suggest you contact the manufacturer. Click here for links to manufacturers.

*Although digital photographs have a very wide range for what is acceptable, it is preferable that your camera is within one stop of a perfect meter reading. You will have to decide whether or not your camera is functioning within the acceptable range. Although there is a technical standard, photography is always subjective!




 

Your metering system is working properly or within tolerance but:

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If the pictures on your LCD are too dark but your metering system is working well, it is likely that your LCD brightness level is set at "low". Go to your LCD menu and return it to the middle (please check your manual for instructions). If your LCD is already set to the middle your LCD may be failing, we suggest you contact the manufacturer. Or you may choose to raise the LCD brightness level as a temporary fix; although this is an inexpensive solution, it is not an optimal solution. Eventually, this solution may stop working for you, at which point you will need to contact your manufacturer.

The solution above suggests that the problem lies with a malfunctioning LCD display. However, you may have malfunctioning lens or shutter. To address these issues click PREV and then choose "LCD & Monitor all working properly but..." on the previous page.

Also note that LCD screens are not calibrated and can not be used reliably to determine proper exposure.


If the pictures on your LCD are too bright but your metering system is working well, it is likely that your LCD brightness level is set at "high". Go to your LCD menu and return it to the middle (please check your manual for instructions). If your LCD is already set to the middle you may have a problem, we suggest you contact the manufacturer. Or you may choose to lower the LCD brightness level as a temporary fix; although this is an inexpensive solution, it is not an optimal solution. Eventually, this solution may stop working for you, at which point you will need to contact your manufacturer.

The solution above suggests that the problem lies with a malfunctioning LCD display. However, you may have malfunctioning lens or shutter. To address these issues click PREV and then choose "LCD & Monitor all working properly but..." on the previous page.

Also note that LCD screens are not calibrated and can not be used reliably to determine proper exposure.


If your metering system is working well but the images on your computer monitor are too dark, too bright, or the colors look strange, your monitor needs to be calibrated. To calibrate your monitor you may try using the Adobe Photoshop calibration tool or purchase a calibration system like one below to produce the most accurate display.



In order for your prints to look like what you see on your computer monitor you must calibrate your printer, paper and ink against your monitor. This is not an easy process. Good luck!


In order to have prints from a commercial printer look like the images on your computer monitor, you must calibrate your monitor against the lab's system. To do this you will need to contact the lab and request an ICC color profile from them. They should be profiling their system on a regular basis so you will have to update this file on a regular basis as well.

For more information on how to use icc profiles visit: Dry Creek. Good luck, this is an up hill battle even if you have a calibrated monitor.


The reading on the blue sky is correct, your computer monitor is calibrated and you are confident the LCD is working properly but your images are still too dark or too bright? You may have one of the following problems:
1. Your metering system is set on center weighted or spot metering. It is best to use Matrix or Evaluative Metering. (Please check your manual for instructions on changing this)
2. The lens may have a malfunctioning aperture (eg. it's not closing down or may be stuck wide open). Try using a different lens to see if the same thing occurs. If both lenses render the same problem it is likely the shutter (it is rare to have two lenses fail at the same time - but still a possibility). You will need to contact the manufacturer to fix a bad lens.
3. The shutter may be mis-timed. There is no easy way to determine this problem other than to eliminate the other problems. If everything else is working it may be the shutter. In any case you will need to contact the Manufacturer.


End of the line! Sorry this these are all the suggestions we have. This widget was designed to trouble shoot exposure problems and to give possible solutions before sending your camera off to the manufacturer for repair. Please contact your manufacturer for other solutions. We tried our best.

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Thank you for visiting New York City Photo Safari we hope this information was helpful to you. If none of these solutions helped you fix the problem, we're sorry we couldn't help, but this is all we got! We suggest you contact your camera's manufacturer.

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