spot/matrix metering: B&W Exposure-grey card/zone system
I love this site so much I wanted to ask a newbie question about proper exposure techniques. I just bought an N80 (gave up my N60 - nice camera, great pictures) to get deeper into SLR photography. The N60 lacked some basic features, like a shutter cable connector). My second roll of film (B&W taken with the N80) finally shows some promise for me as a photograher. I wasn't too confident in my camera or me after viewing the first roll (B&W)from my N80. Some of the pictures looked like crap, although some looked pretty good.
I have been reading about the Zone System and grey cards to improve my exposure settings. A couple of questions come to mind?
- sounds like I have a chance to use the spot metering. Books always show a reflective meter and spot meter together.
Is the N80 spot metering as good as those hand held specialized spot meters you see in photography books? I assume so, why wouldn't it be. Are those hand held meters necessary anymore?
- I'm a bit confused about the grey card thing. I understand that a snow filled scene will cause an underexposed picture because the camera doesn't know it's snow and thinks the scene is brighter. I'm supposed to increase the exposure. I'm having difficulty applying this to ordinary scenes. Does matrix metering help here? I realize practice, experience and knowledge will help me understand... but for now, I'm looking for some short-term guidance and/or examples to help me understand.
#1. "RE: spot/matrix metering: B&W Exposure-grey card/zone system" | In response to Reply # 0NikF2AS Basic MemberThu 02-Nov-00 10:53 AM
Welcome and i will take a stab at your question.Your curiuosity behind the success and failure of your photos from N80 metering will lead you to better things.
Zone system in its original form entails certain method in exposure,processing neg and printing to get the desired result in B & W but you can nick and pick to apply to modern colour photography,at least to get a better exposed negative.
With newer automated 35mm equipped with spot metering(especially 1% spot),there is little reason for getting a handheld spot meter alone on its own.I bought a Sekonic L508 not because of its 1% spot meter alone but for the incident meter too.
The handheld spotmeter may have better sensitivity (down to EV0) in low light scene when compared to amauteur cameras(Ev2-3) and you will find medium and large format landscape photographers needing it as the cameras are usually meterless.Some spotmeter allow multiple highlight and shadow readings to be computed without taking your eye off the scene.
Gray card is redundant if you have an incident meter and it is clumsy to work with in the field on a regular basis but handy in home/studio.I use it for checking meter and calibration purpose.
If you intend to rely on martix matering to get good shots,you will need to shoot a BIT, especially with a new camera to work out the nuance of the camera's meter and find out what sort of scene may trip up the meter.And no,don't try to find that out with print film,please use slide film ( cheap type like Kodak elitechrome 100/fuji Sensia 1000 will do).Don't be disappointed if the new camera doesn't knock your socks off out of the box like some others on Nikonians after upgrading.It takes a bit of time and films to work out which scene will need compensating for the meter.
Feel free to ask more if i don't make sense.
Just my humble biased opinion,
#4. "RE: spot/matrix metering: B&W Exposure-grey card/zone system" | In response to Reply # 1
#2. "RE: spot/matrix metering: B&W Exposure-grey card/zone system" | In response to Reply # 0
A quick primer on the zone system (the easy version). If you're using b&w film this should help a little.
Zone 0 (pure black) to zone X (pure white)
Realistically useful range:
Zone I (Black) to zone IX (white)
Range of texture:
Zone II to zone VIII
If you are metering (spot) sunlit snow, the meter of course reads it as Zone V (middle Grey), set your camera according to what the meter says is the correct exposure...
Then open up 3 stops. This will place the snow on zone VIII, making it appear as bright as possible while still retaining texture.
The zone system allows for the extended dynamic range of a sunlit snow scene usually by compensating in developement to compress the range down to what b&w paper can reproduce. This is difficult with roll film (35mm), but it can be done.
Try the Ansel Adams book, "The Negative". It explains the zone system in clear language. A worthwhile read.
William A. Rieselbach
Visit my Nikonians gallery.
#3. "RE: spot/matrix metering: B&W Exposure-grey card/zone system" | In response to Reply # 0
From one newbie to another, you need the Zone system if you want to get good black and whites but it is also great for color too. You don't really have to understand the printing and developing parts if you shoot roll film, but the concepts help. I agree, the Ansel Adams book is the place to start. The Negative and The Camera are excellent basic books every newbie should own. Another great book is The Zone System for 35mm Photographers by Carson Graves. Makes everything very easy, has ample examples. I recommend it highly. Good luck.
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