Does 18% cut it for skin tone?

Discussion in 'Film Discussion and Q & A' started by Phil Gerke, Jul 18, 2007.

  1. Phil Gerke

    Phil Gerke TPF Noob!

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    Hey all,

    This is something that I have been kind of bothering me for a while. The meters in cameras are referencing 18% grey right? So do spot meters for that matter I think. So is 18% a good place for skin tones to be? And what about skin color? Would I expose for 18% for somebody with dark skin? What if I have two people of completetly different skin tones?

    I'm sure these questions have been asked before, I just had no luck with the search.

    Thanks a lot for any guidance.

    Phil
     
  2. ann

    ann No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    general rule of thumb . meter on skin and open up 1/2 to 1 stop, it will depend on the skin tone.

    dark skin stop down 1/3 to 1/4, again what is the orginal shade.

    two completely different skin tones, meter on each one and split the differences.

    it really is best to run some test and see what works best on your equipment and taste.
     
  3. ksmattfish

    ksmattfish Now 100% DC - not as cool as I once was, but still

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    Put an 18% gray card next to the skin, and meter each. Caucasian skin is usually about 1 stop brighter than middle gray. In my experience the meter shows darker skin not to be as dark as I perceive. Often it matches middle gray tone, or is just slightly less. Get a gray card, have the subject hold it, and meter off that. Or get an incident meter.

    There is also a dirty little secret called the "K factor". The manufacturers don't want to talk about it, there is very little info on the web about it (I learned about when I sold cameras years ago), and I'm not sure it's in use these days. The "K factor" is an adjustment in camera meters that make them meter for slightly brighter than middle gray, and was implemented because consumer studies showed the most common photo subject over all is the light toned faces of whites and asians. Many cameras, particularly ones oriented towards the general public and new photogs, used to have the K factor, and they really metered for about a stop brighter than middle gray.

    Actually, there are all sorts of articles that claim camera meters don't even meter for 18% gray, but are actually metering for 12% or 13% gray which would be brighter (or maybe that's the K factor implemented?).
     

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