Rogue Frames and the f0.0 lens

I don’t know whether I’m unlucky but I do seem to get some fairly inexplicable problems with cameras. Back in April I suddenly found that while taking pictures my Nikon D300 had suddenly decided to switch from using program mode to manual, and then to set the rather unlikely speed of 1/8000. Since I’d been shooting on around 1/250, this gave considerable underexposure and it was a few shots before I noticed. I do suffer from wandering fingers and it’s just possible that I had twiddled the dials while intending to do something quite different, but I rather doubt it.  Apart from anything else, I make a point of always leaving the manual setting on 1/250 f8 as a handy starting point under normal conditions, and there had been no reason to change it that day.

But even more curious were 5 or 6 rather dark frames that appeared on Sunday. I was using the D700 with my new f2.8 HSM Sigma 24-70mm zoom, and the first 960 exposures were more or less spot on.

I didn’t notice it at the time, but scattered through the next 250 or so exposures are 5 or 6 rather dark frames. I was taking pictures at Kew Eco-Village, and for frame 972 I have a perfect histogram and the settings show I’m in mode P, 1/500, f11 and 24mm.

© 2009 Peter Marshall.

Frame 973, for reasons best known to the camera, was apparently taken using mode A, 1/5000, f4*  and 8mm*, while 974 is back to the identical settings as 972.

© 2009 Peter Marshall.

By giving +4.0 stops of exposure in Lightroom, and pushing up the brightness, I can actually see and image, but it’s as if I had shot at perhaps ISO 12,800 rather than the indicated ISO 400. You can clearly see the difference even when reduced to web size.

© 2009 Peter Marshall.

I didn’t change the settings for 973, just pressed the shutter again. I hadn’t changed lenses and the widest that lens goes is 24mm. I’ve no idea what those asterisks mean – and despite its 444 pages I don’t think the D700 manual tells me. I’ve tried asking Nikon support, but they don’t have a clue either.

In Lightroom I can actually reclaim a rather noisy but possibly usable image from 973, and I also learn that I took it with my 0.0mm f0.0 lens…

Of course as photographers, you will be surprised that the frame was actually under-exposed. 1/500 at f11 isn’t that different in terms of exposure value from 1/5000 at f4 – perhaps 1/3 stop less, or the equivalent of perhaps ISO 650, while the actual result looks more like ISO 6400 or faster. So the camera is lying about the exposure it actually gave.

Yesterday I actually took around 1150 frames on the D700 working on several different things in various locations. A few used the internal flash, and all were shot using RAW. The battery was still up for more when I finished, but perhaps in future I’ll try and remember to change it whenever it gets below around 50% and see if that gets less rogue frames. But battery life when I used my first digital camera was less than a hundred frames – sometimes considerably less. It’s an area where we’ve really seen a dramatic improvement.

I’ll also perhaps try to look at the back of the camera rather more often. I actually don’t like to do so, finding ‘chimping’ disturbs my concentration.

Do other photographers suffer from this and similar problems?  Odd frames that the camera has obviously thrown a wobbly on – if not identical to mine. If so I’d like to know – please either comment or e-mail me (petermarshall(at) – replace the (at) with the @ character.)

Cameras are now computers. So we shouldn’t be surprised if occasionally they crash or give obviously nonsense results, or even hang.  All of the digital cameras I’ve used have occasionally stopped working. The D100 had a little hole you could poke a pen down to reset it, but that seems to have been left out on recent models.  If your camera starts playing up or simply stops working, usually simply removing the battery then replacing it will reboot it and sort things out.

And if anyone actually finds that f0.0 lens, I’d like to borrow it for some available light work at dead of night!

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.