A basic compensating-for-metering question!

Discussion in '35mm Cameras and Accessories' started by genkaimade, Jun 20, 2013.

  1. genkaimade

    genkaimade Member

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    Hi everyone,

    This is my first post, please inform me/forgive me if I do anything contrary to common practice or break any rules.

    Effectively, I'm shooting with an old Zenit at the moment, and I am really quite enjoying it. I've decided to try out some higher iso films given the current lack of sun in the UK however (and the fact that I've been wanting to shoot in darker conditions for a while), but having just bought a few roles of ISO 800, I have realised that my camera's light meter only works up to around ISO 400! I understand the relative relationship between aperture and shutter speed and the alike, but I can't think how to compensate when using the light meter! If anyone could offer any advice (that isn't buy a proper light meter), I would be very appreciative!

    Thank you,
     
  2. Kevin Kehler

    Kevin Kehler Member

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    Set the light meter for 400 and add one stop. So, if the meter reads 1/60 at f8, you could use 1/125 at f8 or 1/60 at f/11.

    Alternatively, assuming you are not using slide film, you could just set the light meter for 400 and use the reading. You would have more defined shadow detail and the highlights would still likely be acceptable. A lot of people down-rate the box speed of film by 1/2, in order to get better shadow details.
     
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  3. genkaimade

    genkaimade Member

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    That makes a lot of sense, thank you! I will have to do it according to approximation (the meter is a needle which flicks between a plus and minus), but that is very applicable advice, thank you!
     
  4. Bill Burk

    Bill Burk Subscriber

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    Hi genkaimade,

    Assuming you use a negative film, many people (myself included) feel that one stop overexposure - as a rule - is good for it. (Slide film is a different story, with slides the opposite is true, 1/3 stop underexposure is safer)

    If you use a negative film, you might just use 400 and make the settings as recommended by the camera. This will always overexpose a little, which is not bad. Most of the time you will have comfortable combinations of f/stop and shutter speed.

    Then whenever you need "just one higher shutter speed", you can be confident that it will be OK to take it.
     
  5. E. von Hoegh

    E. von Hoegh Member

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    Just so you know, 800 ISO film is twice as sensitive as 400 ISO film. 1/60th sec. gives twice the exposure as 1/125th sec., and f11 gives twice the exposure as f16. All of these steps are twice or half of those on either side of them.
     
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  6. jmccl@yahoo.com

    jmccl@yahoo.com Member

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  7. jeffreyg

    jeffreyg Subscriber

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    You could also consider running a test by bracketing by half stops from -1 1/2 through +1 1/2 stops to see what works best for your equipment and taste. Then follow the information presented by the other posts.

    http://www.jeffreyglasser.com/
     
  8. Sirius Glass

    Sirius Glass Subscriber

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    Do that and you will shoot at box speed which will allow the latitude to get good shadow depth. There are better reasons for shooting box speed than screwing around playing exposure games.
     
  9. Kevin Kehler

    Kevin Kehler Member

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    I agree that most people should shoot box speed, especially people who don't really know what they are doing. If you don't know why you are not shooting at box speed, beside referencing a posting on the internet or saying that your friend "who knows a lot about cameras" told you to, you shouldn't be shooting at anything but box speed. The first part of my post was how to compensate for a limited meter (which is what you reference) and my second point was that if he didn't make the adjustment, either because his camera won't allow him or because he forgot, his film will not be ruined. I would be curious as to if he was developing or printing the film himself, which would affect my recommendation more. I know lots of people like the Sunny 16 rule but it has never given me the control I enjoy and I was trying to give him more than that.
     
  10. polyglot

    polyglot Member

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    I know nothing of the Zenit, but if your camera has an exposure-compensation control, then setting that to -1 will have the same effect as metering a stop faster. So 400 on the ISO setting, -1 on the compensation and you have 800. Or rather, subtract 1 from the compensation that you would have normally put in for your scene, e.g. for metering off white skin you would normally put in +1 compensation, subtract 1 and you get 0 compensation. Or if you were spot-metering some shadow detail at -2 then you would put in -3.
     
  11. MattKing

    MattKing Subscriber

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    The early Zenits that I am familiar with had uncoupled, selenium cell meters - no compensation available.

    And a lot of the cameras that do offer compensation settings do so by changing the ASA (as it then was) setting, which doesn't work if the compensation would push the speed setting out of the range available.
     
  12. Poisson Du Jour

    Poisson Du Jour Member

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    Unlikely to be of any consequence because of latitude of negative film. Shoot.
    But don't try it if you're using slide film — got to have your smarts about you with that. :smile:
     
  13. David Allen

    David Allen Member

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    The basis of Parker's argument is that you have to interpret your meter's reading and that is too difficult so his solution is to bracket everything.

    What a waste of film and what a way to miss the shot that you want (i.e you get the perfect shot but is is one of the bracketed exposures that had too little exposure).

    Generally, when I teach people, it takes them all of a couple of minutes to understand that the meter believes it is seeing something that represents 18% grey and that they have to interpret the results: for negative film meter the shadow that you want detail in and stop down two stops from what the meter says and for slide film meter the brightest highlight that you want detail in and open up two stops.

    Referring to the OP's original question, apply the same as above and then adjust by closing down the aperture by one stop or increase the shutter speed by one stop (assuming that, for you, the ISO rating of 800 gives you sufficient shadow detail).

    Bests,

    David
    www.dsallen.de
     
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  15. E. von Hoegh

    E. von Hoegh Member

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    Fred Parker doesn't know how to use a meter properly. That's all there is to it.:wink:
     
  16. Sirius Glass

    Sirius Glass Subscriber

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    Parker simply does not know what he is doing so he has evoved [devolved] to endless testing. That is all that he can successfully do, endless testing.
     
  17. E. von Hoegh

    E. von Hoegh Member

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    But he is using film... :wink: :laugh::laugh:
     
  18. Poisson Du Jour

    Poisson Du Jour Member

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    What!!? :confused:
    I'm sure that cannot be correct.
     
  19. Chan Tran

    Chan Tran Member

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    That's about right although I only stop down 1.5 stop for the shadow.
     
  20. Bill Burk

    Bill Burk Subscriber

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    When you skim it too fast it sounds wrong.

    For slides, it would be a bad idea to figure out the correct exposure based on the highlights and THEN open two stops.

    David Allen's advice was only explaining the steps which EFFECTIVELY give you the correct exposure based on the highlights.

    It's sort of like Zone System placement, say spotmeter the highlight and place it on Zone VII
     
  21. Poisson Du Jour

    Poisson Du Jour Member

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    I cannot believe what I am reading.
    Yes it is a bad idea to open up 1.5~2 on a reading of highlights, we can put that in the cement. By dint of the reverse, it is also absurd to stop down 1.5~2 for shadows. Where are these theories coming from? If you have shadow and highlights in your scene, tell me how both are to be enumerated and preserved. It's not impossible. But it does require craftiness.

    Slide film does not allow for for a sloppy approach to metering. In my images, there is very often conflicting "information" in the scene which must all be individually balanced: shadow and highlight. I would like to know what the basis is for additional exposure over a balanced reading. In competent hands it is submitted that there is no need for any additional compensation unless there is polarisation applied (variable compensation) or a B&W filter.

    I will also point out that bracketing is valuable in marginal scenes. I don't squander film, but I don't squander the opportunity to err on the safe side in difficult conditions. Of course, quite unnecessary for a lot of the time with B&W, but it is standard, common and professional practice with transparency.
     
  22. Bill Burk

    Bill Burk Subscriber

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    Poisson Du Jour,

    I am sure there is miscommunication here because you are a regular contributor and often we agree, even if I don't write back.

    I won't say the magic compensation is 1.5 or 2 stops, I just agree that it sounds like reasonable advice.

    Suppose you spotmeter an important highlight in a scene in bright daylight, say a scene that fits Sunny-16 exactly... The spotmeter reading of an important highlight will suggest f/32.

    But you know and I know the shot is to be taken at f/16.

    Now suppose there are deep shadows in that same scene.

    With slide film you will still stay with f/16... Because otherwise your important highlight will be destroyed.
     
  23. Bill Burk

    Bill Burk Subscriber

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    In your images where you are forced to lose shadows or highlights, then you are right. The oversimplification of "meter highlight and open up two stops" is over simple. A studied approach is better.
     
  24. Bill Burk

    Bill Burk Subscriber

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    Aha, this is our issue. A spotmeter reading of the highlight is not a balanced reading!
     
  25. Bill Burk

    Bill Burk Subscriber

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    genkaimade,

    I think you can ignore the sidebar conversation if you are not using slides or a spotmeter.

    I would follow this advice I gave earlier. Set the camera at 400 and just use it that way. Once in a while, when you really need it, pick one faster shutter speed than the camera suggests. For example when it gets dark and suggests 1/30th second, you can pick 1/60th second.

    The reason I would follow that advice is because most of the time you won't have to think about it.

    I was out in the desert last weekend and brought a meter that requires a specific adjustment to work properly. I forgot to write down that adjustment and it messed with my mind. Lucky for me, I brought a second meter that I could trust at the standard settings so I used it until I could recompose my mind and think through the setting I should have written down in the first place. A little scrap of duct tape and Sharpie solved the problem.

    My point is that even one adjustment is hard to do in your mind.
     
  26. Poisson Du Jour

    Poisson Du Jour Member

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    My technique does not favour one nor the other (highlight or shadow), but all (including mid-tones) as a whole, balanced.