Would this work? (Zone system on a DLSR & in the field)

Discussion in 'Photography Beginners' Forum' started by cathexis, Nov 5, 2017.

  1. Ysarex

    Ysarex Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    Nope. She used her N- or N-- film back to make the exposure. Later in the darkroom that film got modified processing that would allow her to retain the shadow detail placement while reposition the highlight placement on the film within a manageable printing range. Altering the development time brought into play the unique characteristic of film such that the shadow detail placement is basically unaffected while the highlight placement is pulled down -- highlight and shadow detail are disproportionately effected by changes in development time. But you're right about digital, it can't do that.

    Joe


     
  2. 480sparky

    480sparky Chief Free Electron Relocator Supporting Member

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    You certainly CAN do it with digital. You use a sensor that is capable of capturing the dynamic range of the scene.

    Just like you change film (yes, different films have different dynamic ranges) and development, one can learn about the dynamic range of sensors. If a D40 is up to the task, you can use a D40. If you need a D850, then you use a D850.

    N+1 and N-1, etc, are the same as using Exposure Compensation.
     
  3. Ysarex

    Ysarex Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    Using a digital camera with DR capable of capturing the scene is not the Zone System. If you have that then you don't need the Zone System. The whole point of the Zone System was to be able to manipulate film via processing to adapt to the lighting contrast variances that occur in uncontrollable ambient light conditions.

    Dividing up the tonal range into 1 stop "zones" taking spot measurements and doing a little counting is not the Zone System -- that's just a piece of the process that's necessary to calculate the required film processing adjustments. You can't cut off the critical piece that makes it go and say you still have it.

    N+ and N- are not at all the same as exposure compensation. They are applied to film during development after exposure and do not alter exposure. Exposure compensation alters exposure. The effect that N+ or N- has on film is disproportional shadows/highlights. The effect of exposure compensation is proportional shadows/highlights.

    Measure the shadow in which you wish to retain detail and set that exposure. Measure the highlight. If your highlight measurement indicates that the highlight will exceed the sensor DR and clip, let's say by 1 stop, then as you noted you are screwed -- as you said; decide which one you won't get. Digital sensor DR is fixed and can not be expanded via any kind of manipulation.

    In that same scenario using film, N- development (not changing film) (and not an EC change in exposure) will allow you to retain the exposure and shadow detail while pulling the highlight through development down into a successfully printable range. With the digital camera you remain screwed.

    Joe
     
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  4. 480sparky

    480sparky Chief Free Electron Relocator Supporting Member

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    So how does the Zone System magically work when your film, exposure and development.... at best........ can record, say 9 stops of dynamic range and the scene contains 11 stops?

    There are limits to both digital and film in terms of recording dynamic range. Pre-flashing, using N+a billion or N-a trillion plus stand developing isn't going to be a magic bullet. Eventually, the limit of the technology will be reached.

    DR in film is fixed, just like digital.
     
  5. cathexis

    cathexis TPF Noob!

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    Yes Darrel,

    I'm aware of those pages in the manual, they're also explained in the David Bush book as well.
    Before posting I spent part of yesterday in my living room with intermittent bright sunlight
    horsing around with spot metering settings. My much lighter sofa would get crazy meter swings
    as the sun came and went. It obviously confirmed your spot meter pitfalls comments repeatedly
    since only a slight movements across the bright sofa towards sofa-in-shadows could make huge changes.
    And yes, I shoot 14bit .NEF always. I don't shoot lots of images anyway and would never fill the 16GB
    card in a day but have the 2nd set to overflow just in case.

    You're also right about the center-weight min. size of 8mm. But note it always falls back to 12mm
    for a non-cpu lens. Since my 135mm f/2.8 D AI-S is a great piece of glass - IMHO - and is non-cpu,
    I just leave it set on 12mm so there's one less thing to have to twiddle with when swapping lenses.
    Sometimes my AF lens focus sharper than I do but the 135mm at times makes really nice images that
    just seem somehow better - dunno why, but nice.

    Andrew
     
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  6. Ysarex

    Ysarex Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    Everything has ultimate limits of course and the Zone System isn't magic. Using a modern digital sensor I can record more data and do more with tonal range manipulation than any Zone System photographer was/is capable of doing. I don't shoot film any more and I don't do that Zone System stuff any more for that reason. Digital is more capable.

    The original point was and remains that the heart of what makes the Zone System work does not have an analogous digital process that does the same thing. Digital is better and duuh -- doesn't need to have an analogous process. I sure wouldn't want to give up the ability I have now using digital and hobble it into only be able to mimic what the Zone System was capable of doing. That would really suck.

    The foundation science that Adams exploited going back to the work of Hurter & Driffield that makes the Zone System manipulations possible is that the density increase in film over time during development occurs disproportionately in the highlights versus shadows. That's the key that makes it all work: N+ and N- are development process manipulations and they are unique to film. We could create software emulators of those processes if we wanted to but the exposure process would have to be altered to accommodate a digital sensor. I'm not aware that anyone has done that yet. Why not? The failed product LightZone maybe? I wouldn't buy it. I remember looking at LightZone when it was first introduced: My reaction was, well that's dumb. Then when it went belly up a couple years later my reaction was, yep figures. Too bad (it was a decent raw converter).

    It's become very common to take the camera measurement component of the Zone System and just call that the Zone System leaving off the part that makes it meaningful. The one stop zones, spot measurements and counting are not the Zone System. Those zones and measurements don't get you anything without the engine that makes them go; now that you've taken those measurements will you N++, N+, N, N-, or N-- your film. With a digital sensor I don't have to worry about that. It's much more cut and dry; I have the sensor DR or I don't. If I don't I'm screwed (not buying a new camera). If I do then I capture the data. You can take measurements of the scene tonal range while working with a digital camera and determine in advance if your sensor DR is adequate. That's not the Zone System, that's measuring the scene lighting contrast -- you have the sensor DR or you don't, you don't have to worry about N+ or N--, and frankly you're better off.

    Joe

     
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  7. 480sparky

    480sparky Chief Free Electron Relocator Supporting Member

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    It absolutely does. TZS is designed to make sure as much information is recorded. The medium is not relevant.

    At this point, we're just going to have to agree to disagree. If you want to toss out TZS, by all means, you're free to do so. But don't demand the rest of use do the same.
     
  8. Ysarex

    Ysarex Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    No, that's not what it was designed to do. The Zone System was designed to allow film photographers to better control the overall tonal response of film to compensate for uncontrollable variance in the lighting contrast of ambient lit subjects.

    I don't want to toss out the Zone System. I'm very fond of it, it helped me pay the bills and put food on the table for many years.

    Joe
     
  9. chuasam

    chuasam Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    Get a tripod, bracket and simply do an HDR
     
  10. cathexis

    cathexis TPF Noob!

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    Got a good tripod, know how to bracket. What would an HDR do for a final B&W product?
     
  11. Derrel

    Derrel Mr. Rain Cloud

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    You could have a simply __massive__ range of tonal value information, which could then be tone-mapped to a fare-thee-well...

    But still, I just have to say this: get a modern and highly-capable digital camera, like one of the several Nikons that have 14-stop-plus dynamic range. With such a camera, a SINGLE exposuret can capture so much information that in normal use, all you need to do is to make sure you do not blow the highlight information due to over-exposure, and then bring the .NEF file into your raw developer software, and you can have plenty of data to make splendid B&W images.

    You are way,way over-thinking this. And the Zone System, is NOT needed with digital capture. We have no film! We have no film development! We are shooting in a color positive system, not a B&W negative system!
     
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  12. cathexis

    cathexis TPF Noob!

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    I did look up HDR after I posted that reply and answered my own question.
    You're probably right about over-thinking things: definitely a character trait<wink>.
    Hope I haven't frustrated you! Do you know how I can find out what my camera's
    actual dynamic range is? It's a Nikon D600.

    As for the Zone System, until something teaches me otherwise I've come to see that as a tool one
    can elect to try out but one that's not a "must-have" just to produce better B&W final product. It
    seems to me the must-haves are knowledge & experience of your camera, your PP software, and
    the choices you make in the field. Doh!

    TIA,

    Andrew
     

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