Selecting a metering method

Discussion in 'Film Discussion and Q & A' started by FLCKeats, Apr 11, 2017.

  1. FLCKeats

    FLCKeats TPF Noob!

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    Good afternoon everyone,

    I'm posting this in the film thread, because I shoot film (B&W). I know it's applicable to digital photography, but I've found film photographers tend to have slightly different ideas of methodology. I would welcome insight from anyone, though.

    I've been feeling overwhelmed with all the different metering concepts. Not so much the matrix/center/spot concept, but the following:

    1. Reflective metering.
    2. Incident metering.
    3. Using a grey-card.
    4. Using the zone system via spot metering.

    How the heck do you choose with "method" to use?

    In my experience, they all come out slightly different. Close, but usually different within a stop or two.

    If someone could compartmentalize this a bit for a novice sake, that'd be awesome.

    Thank you!


     
  2. smoke665

    smoke665 TPF Supporters Supporting Member

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    You left off #5 - Take your best guess!! LOL

    Here's a good read to explain the difference in Reflected, incident and how that applies to a neutral gray card.

    Metering Techniques - Incident Metering - Reflective Metering

    Pay special attention to the part about how different things can fool your camera reflected light meter.
     
  3. 480sparky

    480sparky Chief Free Electron Relocator Supporting Member

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    There is,no one-size-fits-all merhod. You need to match your subject, your lighting, your gear, your developing and printing methods along with your desired results to choose the one that best fits the circumstances and your chosen outcome.
     
  4. Vtec44

    Vtec44 Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    For film, I tend to pay attention to shadows more and lean toward the over exposure side as a precaution (which is opposite than digital). I shoot mostly Portra 160, 400, and Fuji Pro 400H. How much to over expose depends on the film stock. We have to deal with color shifts in color film so about 2-3 stops is where my ideal over exposure is. I mainly meter for the shadow, reflective metering at on the darkest spot of the scene. For portraits, it's typically under the person's chin. Then, I over expose it about 1.5 stops on the camera.

    I use the Zone system when I can't get close to the subject to use my handheld meter. For digital, I lean toward the under exposure side. For film, I lean toward the overexposure side.

    I find that incident metering works better for digital, as it accounts for all bounced light. One bright light source can ruin the average which would cause you to under expose. For digital, this is not a problem. For film, you don't want to under expose unless you want to go for that muddy moody looks.
     
    Last edited: Apr 11, 2017
  5. KmH

    KmH In memoriam Supporting Member

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    Yep.
    Shooting film we concern ourselves with the shadows regards exposure.
    Shooting digital we concern ourselves with the highlights regards exposure.

    Incident light needs to be measured with a hand-held light meter, because in-the-camera light meters measure reflected light.

    A gray card is used to aid setting digital white balance as an initial step in digital image post production.
     
  6. FLCKeats

    FLCKeats TPF Noob!

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    Thanks for your responses.

    I think I should have maybe been more specific. I understand, for the most part, how the different metering options work.

    However, I'm trying to differentiate situations in which one would use a specific method. For example: I have "X" scene. Do I choose to meter a gray card, or do I choose to use the zone system? What kind of factors am I looking at to make these decisions? Indoor? Outdoor? Contrast? How do I evaluate a scene to select a metering option and what am I looking for?

    Thanks!
     
  7. FLCKeats

    FLCKeats TPF Noob!

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    Hey, thank you.

    Don't you have to get close enough to an object to spot meter in order to use the zone system? (With a film camera.)

     
  8. FLCKeats

    FLCKeats TPF Noob!

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    Bookmarked. Thank you!
     
  9. FLCKeats

    FLCKeats TPF Noob!

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    That's what I was afraid of. Lol.
     
  10. FLCKeats

    FLCKeats TPF Noob!

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    Thank you!
     
  11. Derrel

    Derrel Mr. Rain Cloud

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    The in camera meter might do a pretty good job for you. What camera and lens do you have?
     
  12. FLCKeats

    FLCKeats TPF Noob!

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    Canon AE-1 Program Standard 50 mm 1.8.
     

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