Best metering in a manual-focus camera?

Discussion in '35mm Cameras and Accessories' started by darinwc, Apr 26, 2009.

  1. darinwc

    darinwc Subscriber

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    What manual-focus cameras have the best metering?

    Some have spot or partial, most have averaging. Some are shutter-priority, some aperture priority, some full auto, some 'program'..
     
  2. Vanishing Point Ent.

    Vanishing Point Ent. Member

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    Canon T90's Advanced Metering.

    In my opinion, the Canon T90 has the most advanced metering, that I've ever encountered.

    It has 3 different metering patterns; average, central 12 % area & spot 3 % area.

    It has metered manual, shutter priority, aperture priority, 7 different programs,
    ( although 2 are the same ) & 2 different stop-down metering programs.

    It has TTL & E-TTL flash metering, plus a 1/250th sec. flash synch speed.

    It only uses 4 AA batteries & it can use Lithium's.

    It's very light weight & has a very bright viewfinder.
     
  3. Pinholemaster

    Pinholemaster Member

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    A meter is only as good as the person interpreting the information. As I tell my students, the meter measure everything as 18% gray, so if what you point your camera towards isn't 18%, then on your film it will be 18%, unless you make the proper adjustments to the camera's settings.

    Everything you've mentioned are simply tools. None of them are better or worse.

    Train yourself to see as a meter sees is the best method for using any system. Or get a handheld incident meter.
     
  4. Paul Goutiere

    Paul Goutiere Subscriber

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    In my opinion this is excellent advice.
    When tested against a standard, all my cameras and light meters give pretty much the same reading, but when pointed at a subject the readings can vary by as much as a stop.

    When I use transparency films I will usually refer to a incident light reading.

    I did note, however, that when I borrowed a friends Nikon F4 the meter readings pretty much coincided with the readings from my incident meter. This was a limited experience with this camera and I wonder if anyone else came to the same conclusion.
     
  5. 2F/2F

    2F/2F Member

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    Nikon F Photomic with the Incidence Attachment in place cannot be beat, IMO, if you must use an in-camera meter.

    I see no big advantage in cameras that have various metering patterns. It doesn't matter what your metering pattern is because it is still a reflected light meter, therefore is very sensitive to changes in composition. An incident meter only responds to changes in the over all lighting condition. This makes more sense to me. Reflected meters are fine, but you always have to be on your toes when using them, and constantly making adjustments based on what they say. You can follow an incident meter directly and have a higher rate of ideal exposures.

    If I were to pick an in-camera reflected meter that I like best, it would be the Canon F series, like the F-1 and FTb. Only the center patch meters, making it much easier to arrive at the right exposure, IMO. Averaging, evaluative, center-weighted, etc. meters are not as easy to use to meter only a section of the scene, and spot meters are small and error prone if you are not taking your time. I find the Canon 12% patch to be a good compromise.
     
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  6. Rol_Lei Nut

    Rol_Lei Nut Member

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    Photomic Incidence Attachment?!!? Please expand!

    I have used various tricks (translucent white plexiglass) in front of an SLR lens in order to get incident metering, but never heard of a specific accessory.
     
  7. 2F/2F

    2F/2F Member

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    Early versions of the Photomic head had them. The first Photomic meter did not read through the lens. It was basically an external meter that was built into the prism housing, but talked to the camera re: shutter and aperture, so you could read it in the viewfinder. The Incidence Attachment went on over the external sensor.

    The Gossen Digisix on a hot shoe mount will get you about the same sort of effect, but will not be coupled to the camera like the Nikon.
     
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  8. Rol_Lei Nut

    Rol_Lei Nut Member

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    I also fully agree: For that reason I usually prefer a spot meter (more control over exactly what's being measured), when not actually using an incident meter.

    On the other hand, the 50,000 eye-controlled sensors, individually programmed to give a perfect postcard-type exposure (as determined by company engineers) and directly linked by radon-doped Niobium-core AF motors - coupled with a scene recognition & composition algorithm - to the framing and focus servo mechanisms isn't really my cup of tea.
    I wonder why one should even bother using film if one prefers letting the camera do all the thinking...
     
  9. benjiboy

    benjiboy Subscriber

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    I vote for the Canon T 90 too, with the Olympus OM4 a close second.
     
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  10. Mark Fisher

    Mark Fisher Subscriber

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    One of the cameras on my wish list is an OM4. It has a 2% spot meter. When using larger formats I use a spot meter and really like the control it gives (and consistent negatives). Any metering error are my own.
     
  11. Nicholas Lindan

    Nicholas Lindan Advertiser Advertiser

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    Nikon FA - matrix metering that was the model for the F4's metering system.
     
  12. benjiboy

    benjiboy Subscriber

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    Because the human brain is a much better device, and it can be made by unskilled labour.
     
  13. Pumal

    Pumal Member

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    I could mention a few, but my advise is: go 'Manual, use a good Hand Held Meter and use your Head.
     
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  15. Tim Gray

    Tim Gray Member

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    The OM cameras with the spot meter always sounded cool to me. I don't know if its all of them or just the fancier ones like the OM-4. But I thought they had settings so you could select shadow, spot meter a shadow, and it automatically added 2 stops to the exposure, etc. Sounded like a very usable and flexible system.
     
  16. Java

    Java Member

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    Nikon FA and F4 are bang on for me and the F4 is probable the best handleing camera

    However I think the OM4 multi spot is the best of them and IMO is better than the T90 version (I do have both :D)
     
  17. naeroscatu

    naeroscatu Subscriber

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    To me it really doesn't matter if a manual camera has a built in meter and what kind of measurement it takes. I don't use them. I have too many cameras and I would have to adjust all the time to too many different systems; nauseating scenario. I use a hand held spotmeter period.
     
  18. xtolsniffer

    xtolsniffer Member

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    The OM-3 and OM-4 have multispot metering where you can average up to 8(?) spot readings, plus shadow and highlight metering options, plus center-weighted average. This is pretty good, but you have to know what you are doing and what you want, especially with spot metering. I once took a whole set of transparencies of elephants using spot metering. You would think that an elephant looks pretty close to an 18% grey card, and every exposure was over by about a stop. For transparency work, I never trust a straight reading, and even with 35mm like to take an incident reading as well (generally not possible with elephants, especially grumpy ones). If I line up all my 35mm SLR's and point them at a grey card I'll get a range of about a stop either side of an incident reading, and that includes an F3HP, F100, F4, OM-1 and OM-4, and a pentax spot meter.
     
  19. EdColorado

    EdColorado Member

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    If your looking for the convenience of an in camera meter then my vote goes to the T90. Its the only in camera meter I've used that makes me feel a hand held is redundant. Spot, center weighted, averaging, shadow/highlight control,spot averaging, whatever you need its got ya covered. Doesn't mean you don't still have to think and can just let the camera do it all for you, but what you need is in there. And really, in most "average" situations you can put the thing in program mode, pick a metering pattern, and fire away.
     
  20. BradS

    BradS Member

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    Nikon FA has the best I've ever used...that's not saying much though...as I haven't used too many cameras with advanced through the lens metering. Most are pretty simple reflective averaging meters.
     
  21. JRJacobs

    JRJacobs Member

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    I sure love the metering on the Pentax LX I used to own. It had OTF (off the film) metering which was very precise for shooting chrome. A very nice system camera with manual focus.
     
  22. Tom Duffy

    Tom Duffy Member

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    Incident metering is always best (almost, they are real bad metering stained glass windows for example). Spot meters are most accurate if you have the time to take a highlight and shadow reading and expose according to the latitude of your film, i.e., highlight bias for transparencies and shadow for negative film.

    If your definition of a good meter is one that gets you a good exposure most of the time without taking to long to think about it a "matrix" type meter is best. I'm sure that includes Nikon and Canon and others. I've gotten amazingly good results with a Leica R8 and transparency film, which I kind of didn't expect.
     
  23. Eric Rose

    Eric Rose Subscriber

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    Nikkormat FTn or the Leica M5. Just my 2 cents based on experience.
     
  24. Poisson Du Jour

    Poisson Du Jour Member

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    We all have our favourites.
    For me in the 80s, the Olympus OM4 with multi-spot metering was a trailblazer for its time and second hand specimens of this camera are still highly sought after by pros educated in highlight and shadow control. It was the camera I stepped up to after a few years hauling a Nikon F3HP about!

    Next up I would say the Canon T90. Nikon's F90x and FA also rate respected mention. Overall, however, your skill as a photographer determines how well you are able to use any onboard metering, which after all is only a recommendation, no gospel. Nowadays I am less interested in onboard metering and more focused on incident or multi-spot handheld readings. Remember large format doesn't have the luxury of evaluative, matrix or whatnot metering, so foundation skills are essential.
     
  25. glockman99

    glockman99 Member

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    I wish I could say it's the F3HP (since that's my all-time favorite camera), but I'll have to toss in my "vote" for the FA.
     
  26. flatulent1

    flatulent1 Subscriber

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    For me the T90, EOS 3 and EOS 1V are right on the money, every time. As others have said, understanding what the meter is telling you and how to adjust to get what you want is the key. Even a camera with a primitive meter can give you the results you want if you know how to interpret it. That said, I have a pair of handheld meters I don't know how to use; my objective this year is to figure that out so I can better use my meterless cameras.