Modern Classic SLRs Series :
AMP (Automatic Multi-Pattern Metering) used in the Nikon FA


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Nikon aimed with the AMP (Automatic Multi-Pattern Metering), it can be the ultimate solution to users' metering requirement. In fact, as far as camera's metering was concerned, the FA's AMP, along with the Oympus's pioneered multi-spots metering - first seen in OM-4 in 1984 was generally regarded as two most innovative and talked about innovation during the early and mid-eighties before the Minolta's Maxxum 7000 which stormed the photographic world with its body integrated AF system. The AMP was in a way , a triumph for Nikon's foresight because it has slowly developed as the mainstream metering method most used (Or copied) in today's modern AF cameras.

I always thought
Olympus was a very inventive and innovative camera manufacturer. Some of its camera design were still cast a strong influence over the modern camera. However, after the OM-4Ti's FP (High speed Focal plane) Sync mode, they have slow down and future commitment into AF bodies was very un-certain. But this is the company that have revolutionized the compact system SLR design, brought to us the convenience of TTL Off the Film Plane Automatic Flash Exposure Control Mode and Multi-Spot metering. The AMP developed by Nikon has an equaling grade in term of original design, and to a certain degree - you may even called it as 'revolutionary'. But in operation, these two metering system used can be distinctively different.

OM-4 1984.jpg (11k)
There is no doubt that the AMP can help a photographer to be more responsive than Olympus's multi spots approach.

If we looked backward, the 'AMP' metering system was indeed the first generation Matrix Metering as offically it is called nowadays. During those days in the '80, it was rather difficult to convince a seasoned users to totally depend his metering with the AMP. It took Nkon quite a while to establish the users' confidence. Okay, let us go back to the eighties and see how Nikon distribute these 'research papers with various test and comparison between the AMP and the tradtional center-weighted metering to tackle combination of photographic metering possibilities. These are part of the initial effort by Nikon to explain and laid a seed for user confidence. These are part of the 30,000 selected exposure data that has been analized and converted into comparative figures that stored in the memory.

Various possible photographic scenarios:

1) Ordinary front-lit subjects. Without strong light source nor high-reflectivity objects. In these scenes, no conspicuous difference is observed between the AMP and Center-Weighted metering systems.

2) Outdoor back-lit subjects. In this case, center-weighted system receiving strong influence of the sun, subject could be completely silhouetted without showing any details. However, AMP could cor/rect the drawback and compensation is done to show overall good exposure by measuring the light value of the dark area and reducing the influence of the sun.

In situation where the sky occupies much area in the area. In the centerweighted metering, if the sky is metered, the sky can be correctly exposed while the subjects are under-exposed. In the mutli-pattern metering, whole area is measured and the partially scene occupied back-lit subjects (Even if the sky appears in the different area) will be automatically compensated, thus providing correct overall exposure.

3) Scenes with high reflectivity. In the center-weighted metering, scenes with high reflectivity may fool the meter, thus making the main subjects underexposed. In the multi-pattern metering, overall correct exposure is obtained eliminating the influence of high-reflecivity. Another noteworthy thing is, the multi-pattern metering may have a high chances of reproduce the original color cause by under or overexposures. Such as white building is truly shown as white after compensation, while those under-exposed metering provides grayish white.

4) Scenes with bright area in the center. In the centerweighted metering, only the central area is measured and correct exposure is limitedly given to the central area. In the multi-pattern metering, undesirable elements like dark outside area is also measured and light values of whole area are integrated, thus also showing the details of dark outside or background.

5) Scenes with dark background including bright foreground. Depending on the amount of dark background, the result will be different. Element like dark area occupies more than half of the whole area. In this case, centerweighted metering could measure mainly the dark background, therefore, giving correct exposure to the dark background and showing its details,while the bright -lit subject appear rather overexposed. In this case, if the AMP is used, multi-pattern metering also measures the bright foreground, therefore, giving less exposure to the dark background than centerweighted metering, and providing overall correct exposure.

6) Scenes with dark area in the center. In the center-weighted metering, dark central area is mainly measured. As a result, correct exposure is given to the central area while bright outside appears rather overexposed. On the other hand, in the multi-pattern metering, whole area is measured and the central dark area is left rather underexposed, while bright background can be well exposed.

7) Indoor Backlit Scenes. Since the difference of brightness value is too big between the dark indoor subject and the bright outside such as heavily backlit picture taken infront of a window of strong light source, automatic exposure compensation is difficult with the multi-pattern metering, thus resulting in almost same results as those by the centerweighted metering.

Centerweighted metering is very effective to emphasize the feeling of the situation such as sunset and high-reflectivity object. On the other hand, multi-pattern metering shows the environment more clearly, while somewhat reducing special effects. Which metering system is better depends on photographer's choice as to what he wants to depict effectively or clearly.

8) Night Scenes. Multi-pattern metering measures both the dark background and the light source in the off-center posit;ion, therefore, representing the details of background more clearly than the centerweighted metering and still keeping the feeling of night scene.

| Next | The two relativelly new expsure control mode - Programmed AE and Shutter priority AE, how well it interact with various types of Nikkor Lenses.

The Flow Chart of how AMP Matrix Metering works.

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A contributing effort to
Michael Liu's Classic Nikon SLR camera site.

Credit
: Lars Holst Hansen who is co-maintaning the site; MClau, who patched a lot of mistakes for me on earlier stage of the site; Miss Rissa Chan - Marketing Manager and the members of technical service team of Shriro Malaysia (now Nkon Corporation Malaysia); Mr Terence HM Tan for his FA/MD15 images; Mr Victor for his Nikon FA body, EEwyn, my nephew for some of the scanning work; Mis Wati/Mis Mirza for their help on the OCR work on the instruction manual section - We all had some real good times on the construction of this site. Dave Hoyt who prepared the introductory page. Note:certain content and images appeared in this site were either scanned from official marketing leaflets, brochures published by Nikon and/or contribution from surfers who claimed originality of their own work to publish in this site based on educational merits. The creator of this site will not be responsible for any discrepancies that may arise from such possible dispute except rectifying them after verification."Nikon", "Nikkormat", "Nippon Kokagu KK" & "Nikkor" are registered tradename of Nikon Corporation Inc., Japan. Made with an Apple IMac.Dedicated to a friend: 'JB' whom I have never met but remains a constant motivated force.