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D200 “Black Frame Syndrome” Solved

I reported a couple of months ago about a Black Frame Syndrome affecting my D200, whereby the raw image data was fine, but the embedded jpg previews were all black. (A NEF file has two embedded JPGs.)

Because I shoot raw, the only practical effect for me is that I get a black frame when I try to review the images on the camera LCD, but someone shooting in JPG mode would find all their images completely blank. Yikes!

This happened to me for the second time yesterday, but this time I believe I've figured it out.

It turns out that the D200's white balance setting can be set to a white-balance preset that has not yet been defined, and when this happens, you get the Black Frame Syndrome. The raw file is saved with the white-balance notation as if automatic white balance had been selected, but the non-existent preset is used for the JPG engine, yielding a blank frame.

Thus, if you find yourself suffering from “Black Frame Syndrome”, check that your white-balance setting is not “Pre” (or, not one of the five “Pre” settings that's not yet defined).

The white-balance setting is adjusted with the thumb-wheel while holding down the “WB” button, and it turns out that I sometimes hit that by accident when I intend to hit the ISO button next to it. It's my fault for using the wrong control, of course, but it's certainly a camera firmware bug that it allows you to use a white-balance preset that hasn't been set.


Comments so far....

Cool – This little bug will allow you to take pictures that will not display on the screen in playback mode. I was once in a location where security confiscated my card because i had taken an unauthorized image…

— comment by bob on February 26th, 2008 at 4:46am JST (6 years, 7 months ago) comment permalink

Wholly Cow! Thanks for “debugging” that for me. I, too, have had that problem a couple of times and never bothered to dig too deep. Spent a good chunk of my afternoon reading your posts. Thanks for the contributions!

— comment by Andy on March 24th, 2008 at 4:09am JST (6 years, 6 months ago) comment permalink
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