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Extremely dark photos and black screen

edited December 2013 Posted in » Nikon D3200 Forum
Hi Moose,

For the life of me, I can't figure out why the M, S and P modes are shooting really dark photos or just coming up as a black screen. I've played with the ISO and flash as well, but they still come up really dark or just shows a black screen. In A mode, I was shooting with enough light (at night in a brightly lit room) without any flash required and the picture came out great, but the M, S and P modes are driving me nuts! Your help and, of course, my fellow photographers input who use a Nikon D3100/3200 would be greatly appreciated.

Thank you in advance! :o)


  • Hey @jojoscraftylove - My guess is that your exposure compensation is skewed towards the (-) negative, which will produce underexposed (dark) photos. The exposure compensation can be found on the LCD, represented by a series of hash marks from (-) to (0) to (+).

    You can adjust the exposure compensation by pressing the (i) button and navigating to the Exposure Compensation tab on the LCD screen. You can also adjust it, by pressing the +/- button and rotating the command dial at the same time. What you want to do is set it to 0 (zero).

    Let me know if that fixes the issue. All the best!
  • edited January 2014
    Hello @Moose from France.
    I have a problem with my Nikon D3200 + AF-S NIKKOR 18-55mm f/5.6G. When I take a photo, I have a black screen (the picture is black). I tried to take a photo in all the modes (auto, no flash, landscape, nature, night mode, M, A, S, P), but nothing worked.
    I restored the Nikon firmware in 1.03, formatted my memory card (SuperTalent 64Go Class10) and restored default settings. It's the same when I watch my photo on my PC, just a black picture.

    When I say "black screen", it's only when I want to see a picture on the APN and the PC. It's a black picture, but I can see the setting options. I can change the setting on the LCD and see what I took (what my APN sees), but when I take a picture I have a black screen.

    Sorry for my english, I hope you understand me.
    I don't think it's my Nikon that has a problem, certainly my settings are the issue because yesterday my Nikon worked fine. It's only today I had this problem. Thank you for your help.
  • edited January 2014
    Hello Moose, I am unaware of how to set the exposure compensation on my Nikon D3200. I set my camera on M mode, and I tried to switch my exposure as you mentioned by pressing +/- and rotate, but it doesn't do anything. It just says all the way to the left, under exposed, I believe.
    Any advice? Thanks in advance!
  • edited January 2014
    I have the same problem with the Nikon D3100. I tried the exposure compensation, but no result. Now, I'm only taking pictures in Auto mode. Please, if somebody knows the solution, let me know too.
  • edited December 2014
    Try changing your aperture by pressing the +- button on top and the wheel near your screen. Look on live view at the diagram of your lens in the left hand corner. Your aperture is inside the circle on the diagram. The larger the aperture the more light it allows in. I hope this helps!
  • edited January 2015
    To begin with, regarding the difference between the live view and the resulting picture, you should know that the live view display uses its own exposure compensation which is not transferred to the picture you take. Thus what you see in live view is always exposed well even if your picture is not.

    With regard to exposure compensation on M mode it does not operate at all. The procedure used normally for exposure compensation is used for aperture instead. You cannot exposure compensate in M mode. If you have Auto ISO set, the meter will shift ISO to try to override bad exposure choices but its ability to do so is limited to errors that can be corrected by raising ISO.

    If your exposure compensation is in need of adjustment, you must go to one of the other modes, then push the "+/-" button and rotate the wheel. It will light up a little yellow window in your display, and show the setting in this. You will also see a bar graph, which shows the amount of compensation. The whole graph disappears when compensation is set to 0.

    It's hard to analyze some of the issues here, but I suggest one place to start is to remember the "sunny 16" rule for manual exposure. This is the rule that for a normal scene in bright sunlight, your aperture should be approximately f/16 at a shutter speed approximately 1 over the ISO speed. So, if you go out on a bright day, set the camera to ISO 100, the lens to f/16 and the shutter speed to 1/100. You should get an image that's pretty close to exposed right; even if it's off by a stop or two, you'll see it. Once you have a general idea of what exposure gives you good results, you can, of course, move things around. If you add a stop of aperture, subtract a stop of speed for the same exposure value, etc.

    I usually use A mode, manual ISO, and set the aperture to about f/8, and let the camera set the shutter speed. If your camera gives you a good exposure then, you can be pretty sure it's working right. Look at the histogram in the review display (you have to set this option in "playback display options". Once done, you can toggle through different displays with the up and down arrows). The histogram should show most of the information between the top and bottom ends, with a very slight gap under the top end to insure that the highlights are not blown out.

    For the person getting a black screen no matter what, I'd consider the possibility that the camera is not working right or the memory card is defective, especially if no picture appears even on "auto" setting, which should give you a decent exposure under any condition. I think the first thing to try would be a second memory card. They do sometimes go bad.

    Edit to add: One other thing one might try is the menu setting to reset the shooting options. This will restore the camera to factory defaults. You can do this in both setting and shooting menus, and it can be a last ditch effort if you can't remember what has been changed or how.

  • Hello @Nikon_D3200
    I just purchased a refurbished Nikon D3200 and I am having the same exact problem as you. Were you ever able to get it to work through your settings or did you determine that your camera was defective?
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