DSLR Metering?

Discussion in 'Exposure Discussion' started by E.Jensen, May 31, 2012.

  1. E.Jensen

    E.Jensen Member

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    Hi all,
    I'm new to the whole world of large format, ive been doing digital and 35mm for about 4 years now and I've decided to challenge myself some more. As of right now I do not own a light meter, I probably haven't looked into how to determine exposure with 4x5 enough yet, but i was just wondering, can i use my DSLR (nikon d60) and set it up with the same f/stop and focal length and iso/asa right next to my 4x5 camera and get an exposure like that? or would it make more sense to actually try and mount my D60 onto the back of my 4x5? I think that way I could get an instant result of if I develop everything right what the print could eventually look like. Right? if not please let me know, any suggestion on quick ways to determine exposure, or if i should just go and buy a light meter would be a great help.

    Thanks much!
    -E.Jensen
     
  2. brucemuir

    brucemuir Member

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    You could use it for a rough guesstimate but considering the time and expense that goes into LF shooting you might as well bite the bullet and get a good spot meter now.

    When I was green I once did a studio shoot with chromes alongside digi and used the digital camera meters setting for the film camera.
    When the film came back I was screwed because the dslr ISO settings (Canon) did not equal the true ISO standard.
    The Provia was all over exposed by about ⅔ to a full stop.
     
  3. Poisson Du Jour

    Poisson Du Jour Member

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    Apart from being a silly set up, it is also cumbersome and potentially prone to misleading information: a DSLR uses any manner of matrix/evaluative/partial of combination meter and does not know what it is looking at and furthermore, doesn't care. In LF, you need a good working understanding of the Zone System and this in turn implies an understanding of spot metering. LF is far, fare removed form the nonsenses that is hyper-everything digital: it is photography at its most basic and cerebral where YOU (not the camera) do the thinking and assessment. Invest in a versatile spot/incident/reflected meter, read up on skills, practice and refine those skills to bring out the very best that LF is capable of.
     
  4. Ian Grant

    Ian Grant Subscriber

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    If you know what you're doing it works very successfully. It's not my method of choice but if a meter fails or you've forgotten one it's a good fall-back.

    Ian
     
  5. benjiboy

    benjiboy Subscriber

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    The sensors in digital cameras don't " see" the light in the same way as film, ie I.S.O. on a digital sensor isn't necessarily the same speed as I.S.O. 100 on film even using a separate hand held meter , and before you shoot me down I base this assertion on an article I read in the British version of Professional Photography Magazine a couple of years ago in which they extensively tested this matter, and came to this conclusion, which I still have.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 1, 2012
  6. 36cm2

    36cm2 Member

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    +1

    If you can afford a good meter (spotmeter for landscapes), then get one because that's the tool you really need. But if you can't, then I think it's better to shoot with what you have than not shoot at all. Stranded on an island with a can of beans and a rock, I surely wouldn't starve looking for a canopener. Enjoy large format, it's excellent.

    Leo
     
  7. Ian Grant

    Ian Grant Subscriber

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    I've not seen the article but in practice my DSLRs have been fine when I use the readings from my Minolta Spotmeter F, no ISO correction needed (mainly used for metering with studio flash). In addition when using my DSLR alongside va film camera the reading are comparable. That doesn't mean all makes etc will be similar, in the end it's about knowing your equipment.

    In the past I've had occasions where I've needed to use the readings from my Leicameter or Pentax MX while out shooting LF and it's no different using the DSLR metering.

    Ian
     
  8. daleeman

    daleeman Subscriber

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    I'm very fond of my hand held meter. One should have one. I also have a Leica M8.2 and use that when out with my M2 and IIIF rangefinders. I have also used it with my 4x5 and had good success. It does not give me perfect success and direct Zone System capability but I've always gotten very acceptable results. With the hand held I can get even better results but my printing skills are adequet to handle most anything I shoot and pay attention to details.

    I second the advice about get out and shoot. It always puts me in a good place.

    Lee
     
  9. sandermarijn

    sandermarijn Member

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    Sure use that DSLR, why not?

    I use an older Powershot as a light meter for 120. Not always (otherwise incident light meter), but sometimes. Works great. Just make sure to calibrate the ISO values of the P&S once. Earlier Canons are a bit conservative in their rating (64/80 ASA on the Canon equals 100 ASA for the film, something like that).

    In any case, the histogram and the picture on the screen are great for getting a feel for a scene, especially difficult ones.

    If I had an iPhone I would surely use the exposure meter app all the time. From what I've read it works wonderfully well.
     
  10. L Gebhardt

    L Gebhardt Subscriber

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    I have several meter apps on the iPhone and they really do work well. Not as nice as my spot meter, but is now my choice when I go out with a folder and black and white film. I like this one: http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/pocket-light-meter/id381698089?mt=8. I'm sure that are good versions for Android and maybe other smart phones.
     
  11. Diapositivo

    Diapositivo Subscriber

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    It will help as a rough guide to exposure. It will not help in fine-tuning the exposure because the shadows and highlights response of film is different from that of digital.

    For difficult situations - a high contrast scene where you have to correctly place the highlights or the shadows - a spot light meter, or an incident light meter, correctly used, will give you error-proof results while a DSLR will give you a guidance which will not guarantee the final result or will not optimize the exposure: for instance, you might close exposure until your DSLR tells you that no highlight clip occurs, if you use that exposure, you are going to block some shadows "more" than you would have by following another exposure method. Your film, slide film included, has a wider highlights range before falling into pure white so you can "open" your exposure more than what is suggested by your DSLR.

    In general the best way to expose with a digital camera is ETTR ("expose to the right", open as much as you can before highlight clipping) which is the roughly equivalent method to "highlight placing" with a spot meter when using slides, but the two media having different clipping points the exposure between the two is not replicable.

    To sum it up: for generic exposure (you let the camera let the averaging) it should work, no more no less than measuring with a film SLR (FSRL). For "fine tuning" I would not use a DSLR as a light meter. I wouldn't use it as a "polaroid" as well because in high-contrast situations I would end up always wasting some useful stretch of the characteristic curve on the highlights.
     
  12. Hatchetman

    Hatchetman Subscriber

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    I believe the D60 has spot metering capability. Not sure why that wouldn't work reasonably well.
     
  13. Chan Tran

    Chan Tran Member

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    It should work fine as a spotmeter. Use a relatively long lens on the DSLR to make the spot smaller. You would need some mental calibration.
     
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  15. Mainecoonmaniac

    Mainecoonmaniac Subscriber

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    A DSLR can work, but if you do closeup where there's bellows extension, your DSLR won't calculate the compensation.
     
  16. wiltw

    wiltw Subscriber

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    1. Light is light, the meter which I have used for studio shooting on 4x5 film is the same meter which I also use for digital SLR. Digital SLR makers have set up their cameras to faithfully perform so that ISO 100 in digital is ISO 100 in classical film characteristics.
    My Minolta Autometer VI incident light metering matches the result of metering an 18% gray card with my Minolta Spotmeter F matches the metering of the same gray card with my Canon dSLR.
    2. If you mount your dSLR on your 4x5 camera, you will NOT record anything like your 4x5 film will (90x120mm of image), you will end up with 23.6 x 15.8 mm section of the 90x120mm 4x5 frame; if you can see enough to judge overall exposure you will have gotten lucky.

    You might as well simply shoot a photo with the D60 (not rigged to mount on the 4x5 rear standard) and use those settings to shoot the equivalent photo with your 4x5. Better yet, go buy yourself an incident light meter which is not fooled by subject/scene brightness which is not 18% tonality.
     
  17. Chan Tran

    Chan Tran Member

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    A hand held spot meter won't calculate bellow extension either.
     
  18. daleeman

    daleeman Subscriber

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    Nice thing is, no matter how you meter it, YOU are the final authority of how you desire to compose and expose to fit your vision of the subject.
     
  19. TheFlyingCamera

    TheFlyingCamera Membership Council Council

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    I have tried this before with multiple hand-held meters compared to multiple makes and models of DSLR - specifically a Sekonic 308 and 408, Minolta AutoMeter IV, and Minolta SpotMeter M and Spotmeter F against an Olympus E1, a Canon 30D, Nikon D60, and Canon 5D mk 1. Lighting was studio strobes. The cameras were set to the flash meter reading in Manual exposure mode, with the ISO of the camera set to the same ISO as used by the flash meter. In every case, there was a deviation from proper exposure (either over or under, to varying degrees, as viewed on the camera LCD and on downloaded files viewed at 100% on a calibrated monitor) on the DSLRs when using the meter reading from the hand-held meter. All cameras were set to the lowest ISO available (in most cases ISO 100, in some cases ISO 200). All hand-held meters were calibrated to give the same result under identical controlled lighting conditions. I don't remember which camera was further off the meter reading, or by how much. In some cases it was as little as 1/3 stop, which is close enough for negative film work, and in some cases it was over 1 stop (IIRC the Olympus E1 was the one that was off by more than 1 stop, and since it is largely a dead system, probably irrelevant to everyone today). My point still stands though - a DSLR is not a good match for metering film exposures. The best match is a properly used hand-held meter. If you KNOW the bias of your DSLR and can remember to compensate for it, then it will work. The thing that bugs me about DSLRs is that ISO no longer means ISO - an International Standard... ISO 100 on a Nikon D800 will deviate from ISO 100 on a Canon 5D which will deviate from a Pentax, a Sony, and a Leica. If it isn't consistent, it isn't a standard anymore. They ought to just call it Slowest, Slower, Slow, Medium, Medium Fast, etc, all the way up to Ludicrous Speed.
     
  20. Chan Tran

    Chan Tran Member

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    I would simply use the DSLR as a spot meter and not using its sensor to test exposure. It can be done but because digital is different from film especially negative film, it would be much more difficult.
     
  21. E.Jensen

    E.Jensen Member

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    Thanks for all of the responses! as of right now i cant buy a light meter, my grandfather might have an old one laying around but im not sure. lets forget that the ISOs are not proportional/do not match up. if i meter the scene with my D60, can i pull the exact exposure that i like(shutter speed, f/stop, and what not) and use that same thing on my 4x5? the speeds and aperture will not change even though it is a larger format? i just have trouble wrapping my mind around the fact that even though a 2.4 190mm SLR lens is so much bigger, it lets in just as much light as a 2.4 190mm large format lens
     
  22. Chan Tran

    Chan Tran Member

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    When you said the exact exposure that you like, that worries me a bit. Because if you say you use the exact exposure settings on the DSLR that delivers the image that you like on the DSLR then you run into the problem that flying camera is talking about. What I would suggest that to use your DSLR as a spot meter (and not a center weighted or matrix meter). Set the ISO the same as you would if you have a spot meter. Use the aperture and shutter speed indicated as the meter reading. Use that reading as if you got the reading from a spot meter. Since most people don't set the camera exactly the same as the reading on a spot meter you generally shouldn't do that either with the DSLR.
     
  23. Steve Smith

    Steve Smith Subscriber

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    A light meter won't either.


    Steve.
     
  24. Chan Tran

    Chan Tran Member

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    Just a check! I don't have a DSLR (I am an APUGER what do you expect?) so I take out my Nikon F5 which I hope would have a metering system similar to that of a Nikon DSLR. I set it to spot and use an 85mm lens on it. I compare the reading with my Konica Minolta Flashmeter VI in spot mode and the readings are within 1/3 stop from bright sun to indoor light levels. So sure I know that the F5 although much bigger and heavier would certainly works as a reasonable substitute for a hand held spot meter.
     
  25. wiltw

    wiltw Subscriber

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    Our equipment varies:
    • Shutters in cameras have frequently deviated from the stated speed.
    • Apertures in lenses have frequently deviated from the stated aperture.
    • And then there are light transmission differences due to number of optical groups and the quality of the coatings.

    People have frequently applied a different Exposure Index to films, differing from the manufacturer speed. Velvia at EI40 rather than ISO50 is a very commonly known example.

    And, meters have always used different values of the Constants within the ISO standard equation for incident meters (constant C) and the equation for reflected light meters (constant K).

    • With a hemispherical receptor, ISO 2720(1974) recommends a range for C of 320 to 540 with illuminance in lux. Values typically are between 320 (Minolta) and 340 (Sekonic).

      N^2/t = ES/C

    • ISO 2720(1974) recommends a range for K of 10.6 to 13.4 with luminance in cd/m². Two values for are in common use: 12.5 (Canon, Nikon, and Sekonic[1]) and 14 (Minolta, Kenko, and Pentax); the difference between the two values is approximately 1/6 EV.

      N^2/t = LS/K

    And the above totally does not factor in long standing discussions of reflected meters calibrated for 18% tonality or 13% tonality!
     
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  26. Mainecoonmaniac

    Mainecoonmaniac Subscriber

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    Very true

    But an DSLR has a suface area of exposure. So 100% magnification on a small DSLR chip will not be 100% magnification on a 4x5 is an example. Exposure compensation for macro work can be based on magnification.

    Also, I wouldn't assume that chimping on an LCD screen will give accurate exposure either. A chip on a digital camera has a different exposure curve than a piece of film.

    As other APUGers posted, nothing beats a spot meter and knowing how to use it.