Is good metering more important in large fomat?

Discussion in 'Large Format Cameras and Accessories' started by darkosaric, May 28, 2014.

  1. darkosaric

    darkosaric Subscriber

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    Hi,

    recently I saw somebody wrote that 1/3 of stop is important because it is on large format. It makes me wonder - is it, if yes then why more important to have accurate metering in large format comparing to 120 or 135? I understand that good metering is more important for slides than for B&W ... but somehow I would say it is format independent.

    Regards,
     
  2. Ian Grant

    Ian Grant Subscriber

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    Good metering will give you greater control with any format. If you want the highest quality from B&W films then you need to expose correctly to within at least half a stop. Shadow details are most important as any under-exposure will mean loss of the details and over-exposure can lead to blocking up of the highlights It's less important on dull overcast days which are typical of Northern Europe.

    The major reason for taking more care with LF is the much higher cost of the film, and each exposure.

    Ian
     
  3. markbarendt

    markbarendt Subscriber

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    No. IMO, shot for shot, it is not more important.

    The importance of accuracy has to do with the importance of the shot itself and the rest of the process the photographer uses.

    Many LF shooters run very tight ships, that's ok, it's a personal choice.

    Other LF shooters use a lens cap, a hat, or a couple dark slides as their shutter, that's ok too, it just means that they may have a little more work in the darkroom than their "tight ship" brothers and sisters.
     
  4. fotch

    fotch Member

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    No, equal importance.
     
  5. Ian Grant

    Ian Grant Subscriber

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    Some of the techniques are actually well withing the needed accuracy particularly where exposures run into a few seconds.

    Ian
     
  6. snapguy

    snapguy Member

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    Urban myth.
     
  7. ic-racer

    ic-racer Member

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    There is more over-exposure latitude with larger formats. The less one has to enlarge a negative, the better the quality of over-exposed negatives. In fact the literature indicates that when contact printing, the 'correct' exposure is represented as a plateau, or range of exposures. (See diagram below).

    In addition to the that information is that fact that a hand-held exposure meter won't be able to account for bellows factor or inaccurate leaf shutters, reciprocity failure or a film's specific response to a colored filter.

    Furthermore, popular believe is that as development changes (N+1, etc.) there is a change in exposure index. The scientific literature does not support this, indicating the minimum useful density is a point with a tangent about one-third the gamma.

    Furthermore, typical spot-meter technique that many large format users entertain is frequently not more than a guess..."lets see I'll set the ISO to 100, I'll base my exposure on that shadow of Zone III...no, under that log is Zone I...No, that shale is Zone II...wait, inside that hollow tree is Zone I...No, I'll use N development so I'll change the ISO to 50...now my digital meter indicates f9.21 thats somewhere here on the paper aperture scale I made for this old Ilex...etc."

    In terms of large format, as far as I'm concerned, a 1/3 stop change in exposure reading is insignificant due to multiple other factors of potentially larger magnitude.

    Simonds.jpg
     
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  8. markbarendt

    markbarendt Subscriber

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    Absolutely
     
  9. jnanian

    jnanian Advertiser Advertiser

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    hi darko

    i think it depends on the film, the format and the photographer.

    some films need dead on exposures because, well, to be honest ...
    some large format films are expensive ( $6-10+ / SHEET <not including processing> )
    and folks using the expensive stuff would rather know they got a good image on the film
    above all else because unless you have jack's magical beans or you are very wealthy you can run out of $$ shooting LF ...
    that said, i only meter for paying jobs, but it is mainly to back up my internal/sunny11 meter.
    if it isn't a paying job i don't care if i have a perfectly metered exposure because my materials ( old expired film, hand coated emulsions paper negatives )
    processing ( coffee based developers ) + printing methods are kind of ... "different" than most peoples' ....
    while i don't mind a 20 second exposure with a 300watt flood lamp on RC paper to make a print ... a lot of people would ...

    exposures are relatively inexpensive with smaller formats, but the emulsions are the same so in the end it matters just as much depending on who you are ( or aren't ).

    john
     
  10. jp498

    jp498 Member

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    People aren't going to bracket on LF to get a good exposure, they'll get it right with one shot. The film is essentially the same as smaller formats, perhaps different thickness plastic or something, but mostly the same.

    The "tight ship" people develop each image custom based on the scene contrast, something you don't do with roll film.
     
  11. E. von Hoegh

    E. von Hoegh Member

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    Accurate metering is of equal importance with all formats, although as noted above due to the smaller enlargement factor it is easier to deal with overexposed big negatives.
    Also, a sheet of 8x10 film is about the same price as a 36 exposure roll of 35mm film - so the "spray and pray" folks (many of whom don't know how to meter properly anyway) bracket because it relatively cheap in 35, and avoid LF because they waste too much film. Whereas, a meticulous worker will meter with equal care regardless of format - one nice thing about LF is that if you let it, it will make you a better craftsman. Sure, it's greater effort both physically and intellectually (and financially) - but so are the potential rewards greater. :smile:
    Lastly, be skeptical about what you "read somewhere" - a lot is simply repeated without any effort expended on questioning the validity.
     
  12. Regular Rod

    Regular Rod Member

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    No. It's just as important. No more and no less...

    RR
     
  13. Mark_S

    Mark_S Member

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    My opinion:

    I shoot mostly 4x5, some MF, and mostly B&W, and some colour transparency film. In my opinion, the format of the film is far less important in determining exposure than is the actual scene being photographed and the film being used. If I am shooting something like Velvia, there is not a lot of room between the darkest part of the scene and the brightest part of the scene where I can capture detail in the image. If I shoot with HP5+ (my B/W film of choice) I have a much broader target to shoot for while still capturing the portions of the scene that I feel are important. If the scene that I am shooting is lit with soft light, and doesn't have a lot of contrast, then it is going to be easier to fit that scene within the dynamic range of either film, as the dynamic range of the scene gets broader, getting the exposure just right to fit the scene into the film becomes harder.

    Because it takes so much longer to set up the large format camera, each exposure is considered far more than it is when I am shooting a smaller format - with 4x5 I generally take my spot meter and meter the shadows, meter the highlights, select the film that I am gong to use and how I am going to process it before calculating my exposure and tripping the shutter.

    Also - in responding to a previous post, I often time my long exposures with my pulse and use a hat to shade the lens - this is not imprecise. 1/8 stop is approx 10% and it is not difficult to achieve that level of accuracy in timing with your pulse and using a hat as a shutter on a long exposure.
     
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  15. Kawaiithulhu

    Kawaiithulhu Subscriber

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    It's neither more nor less important.

    It may appear to be because many LF shooters are technicians out of necessity; to small format shooters seeing the care in which shots are set up it may appear that the exposure is more important.

    i.e. it's an illusion
     
  16. Hatchetman

    Hatchetman Subscriber

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    I have no idea the actual speeds on my shutter. I don't use it enough to know what they likely are. Sunny 16 works OK with B&W film though I error on the side of more exposure.

    So no. good metering is not more important in large format.:laugh:
     
  17. yurisrey

    yurisrey Member

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    sunglasses in the darkroom :smile:

    Is good metering more important in large format?

    In my opinion good metering is important now matter what format you're using.
     
  18. Simon Howers

    Simon Howers Subscriber

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    Read Roger Hicks on the subject.
     
  19. ROL

    ROL Member

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    …and be sure to read others as well. I find Hicks' proclamations on metering and overuse of heavy compensating filters to be not very useful in general, worthless in terms of LF, and insulting to more targeted methods of metering focussed on producing fine art photographs, and those who employ them.
     
  20. Pioneer

    Pioneer Member

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    When I first started shooting 4x5 I did a lot of research on this. This is what I found.

    - Everyone has their own methods that seem to have worked for them.
    - Spotmeters are more frequently used for large format than with other formats.
    - The Zone System is very, very popular with most large format photographers.
    - If you let it, it can become very, very confusing.
    - Then I looked at some of Weegee's photos.


    I thought to myself, during Arthur Fellig's (Weegee) time, the 4x5 Speed Graphic WAS the 35mm. It can't be that tough.

    So this is what I did for myself.

    - I shoot Arista EDU Ultra 400 film, rated at ISO 200, in my Crown Graphic. (It is very inexpensive.)
    - During the day I set my aperture to f/16 and leave it there. (I would use f8 but 4x5 has far less DOF.)
    - I adjust my exposure using my shutter speed.
    - When I first walk outside I take one reading with my L-208 in the sunny areas and one in the shady areas.
    - I write those shutter speeds for those readings on the back of my hand.
    - After that I don't worry about it; just set my shutter speed to reflect the lighting on the subject.
    - If things change a lot (rarely) I take more readings.
    - I adjust for very bright or very dark backgrounds, exactly as I would with my 35mm.
    - If the lighting is very tricky I meter every shot, again, exactly as would with my 35mm.
    - Indoors I use a flash, just like Weegee would have.


    You know what? Somehow it all works out.

    Finally, I DEFINITELY bracket if I am taking a photograph that is very important to me where the chance of repeating later is low. Not doing so is just plain silly. Even with large format, film is still cheap. Besides, because I am a perfect human being I have made some pretty dumb mistakes in my time. Like forgetting to remove...or replace, the dark slide, and other mess ups we won't discuss for lack of time and space.

    YMMV. Not everyone likes this method as it will be to lazy for them. Part of their enjoyment comes from spending a great deal of time trying to study out the correct exposure to fit their visualization of their scene. To each his own but large format really is not that tough.

    And I don't do anything different with my Deardorff V8. It is just a lot more to pack around so I don't use it quite as much as I shoot my Crown Graphic or Graflex Auto RB.

    EDIT - If you want some attention try taking street photos at a motorcycle rally with a Speed. :smile:
     
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  21. ROL

    ROL Member

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    I don't know where posters here, self identified as shooting only 35mm or MF, get off saying it is no more important for LF. What sloppy rubbish. I have to assume that many of these 'advisors' don't use analog darkroom procedures to print their work.

    If you're shooting film at anywhere between $1 to $10 a sheet, you'd likely want to get the exposure as useful as possible for your developing and printing goals. That is best accomplished by targeted exposure methods, likely using some variety of zone system. In this regard, spot metering will best allow you to tailor the range of the composition from deep shadow to brilliant highlight to your specific vision of the final print. In other words, where you place your exposure would naturally be of great concern with the amount of printable negative real estate available in LF.

    Now, will a third of a stop make much of a difference in your overall exposure? Probably not. I mostly feel OK with a full stop or less with B/W negatives, if the important parts of the composition are resolved – but that is because I have judged that any 'inaccuracies' can be dealt with in the DR, per my vision. However, and this where your question is too simply stated on the face of it, where that exposure is made is of critical importance, as close as you can possibly get it. Photographing in high or low contrast situations (i.e., anything other than 'perfect' contrast) demands it.
     
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  22. greenbank

    greenbank Member

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    I think the idea that "exposure metering is more important in LF" came about because in general people have been drawn (or drawn back) to LF largely because of its more considered, "craftsman" approach to shooting, and the fact that LF in general offers the photographer more explicit control of every exposure (and every factor of the exposure). As others have said here, there is no technical reason for it - and in fact, because enlarging on the print is often proportionally smaller than in other formats, there is more visual latitude anyway. It becomes simply a question of your own preferred way of working.
     
  23. MattKing

    MattKing Subscriber

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    I wonder if the person who said this equates LF with Zone System techniques, including N, N-1 and N+1 development.

    To get the full benefit of the entire Zone System approach, you need good metering.
     
  24. Poisson Du Jour

    Poisson Du Jour Member

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    I would apply the same advanced metering techniques I use in MF to LF because I know the methods I use will deliver the image required, as experience has shown. And never once have I relied on the Zone System for any metering determination.

    Sent from my GT-I9210T using Tapatalk
     
  25. tessar

    tessar Subscriber

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    If, like Ansel Adams, you're after the perfect b&w negative, you should use his zone system and, ideally with a good spot meter, carefully measure areas of your subject ranging from darkest to lightest.
    Most of us don't have that kind of patience. I usually just find an area that approaches 18% gray, like grass, and use the reading from it. I do this for all formats. When I get really picky, especially with large format, I measure a few light and dark areas with the simple spot-meter attachment on my Luna Six. Works for me.
     
  26. cliveh

    cliveh Subscriber

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    Metering for LF is part of the sequence of recognition, setting up and preparation for taking the shot. That is why most of the subjects for LF are static and executed in a calm and relaxed way.