Matching meter reading to camera speed

Discussion in 'Lighting' started by stradibarrius, Jan 24, 2011.

  1. stradibarrius

    stradibarrius Member

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    When your meter reading is off about 1/3 stop compared to shutter speed available should I go to the over or under speed?
    Ex. if at f/5.6 my meter tells me the shutter speed should be 1/40. My camera has 1/60 or 1/30.
    Which would you select and why?
     
  2. holmburgers

    holmburgers Member

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    What kind of film are you shooting with, what kind of subject are you dealing with? All important questions.

    If you're shooting negative film, opt for overexposure if it's convenient. If shooting slides, slight underexposure is often preferred (Kodachrome 64 at ISO 75 is a widely recognized example) as it can make colors more saturated and rich.

    Then again, depending on the range of brightness in your scene, maybe your meter isn't giving you the whole story to begin with.
     
  3. tkamiya

    tkamiya Member

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    It really depends. If I want to favor shadow I'll go to 1/30. If I want to favor highlight, I'd go to 1/60. Also, "a meter reading" assumes 18% reflectivity even if you are reading incident. It's just that the reading isn't affected by it.
     
  4. stradibarrius

    stradibarrius Member

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    I generally like my photos a bit under-exposed opposed to over-exposed.
     
  5. bobwysiwyg

    bobwysiwyg Subscriber

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    I'm not sure I would recognize a 1/3 stop difference. Maybe I should take up another hobby. :confused::smile:
     
  6. Paul Sorensen

    Paul Sorensen Member

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    I still think, however, that if you are shooting negative film you would be better off overexposing the negative and then compensating in printing if you want a darker look. Negative film tends to have much more latitude toward overexposure. If you under expose the negative, there may be dark parts of the scene that do not get enough light to print well.
     
  7. MattKing

    MattKing Subscriber

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    I adjust the aperture by 1/3 stop.
     
  8. Diapositivo

    Diapositivo Subscriber

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    I am with Matt. Supposing you really want to use 1/40 @ f/5,6, you consider it 1/3 EV closer than 1/30 @ f/5,6, e.g. you just turn the aperture ring "a little bit" past the 5,6 value. With most lenses you are not bound to the "click positions" of the aperture ring. The aperture ring moves continuously, and the clicks are only there for convenience: in the old times, when shooting manual and having no indication in the viewfinder, you could modify exposure by just knowing how your camera is set and "counting" the clicks, without moving the eyes from the viewfinder. For street shooting, having click positions means you can modify speed and aperture without looking at your camera, while keeping it in your hands, before bringing it to your eyes.

    Older lenses do not have clicks and diaphragm moves continuosly. Still older cameras don't have clicks even on the shutter selector. While I would advice against using "half positions" for shutter speeds, I think that using half positions for apertures is safe with MOST lenses.

    Fabrizio
     
  9. Jeff Kubach

    Jeff Kubach Member

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    Do both and see what happens.

    Jeff
     
  10. holmburgers

    holmburgers Member

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    I agree with Diapositivo actually. Canon FD lenses have 1/2-step clicks, but I think one could put it in between those w/o fault.

    Do NOT however use intermediate steps on shutter speeds, unless you have a Nikon F or one of the rare cameras that can handle that.
     
  11. Steve Roberts

    Steve Roberts Member

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    The OP's question presumes considerable accuracy on the part of a) the light meter, b) the camera's shutter speeds, c) the lens aperture settings, then also d) the closeness of the film's actual speed to its box rating, e) that processing is 100% and probably a whole lot of other things besides. In reality IMHO, these factors could all work in one direction, all work in the other direction or some of each to cancel each other out. I guess the thing to do is suck it and see for your particular application, but like bobwysiwyg above, I can't imagine myself losing too much sleep over a 'possible' third of a stop!
    Interesting question - let us know what you find/decide!

    Steve
     
  12. Ian C

    Ian C Member

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    Exposure for Oddball Shutter Time

    I don’t know what sort of meter you’re using. Mine reads in f-stops at a selected shutter time available on the camera or lens shutter. All modern meters read in stops or can be instructed to do so. F-stops are the common language of exposure.

    A 1/3-stop error on negative film is trivial, but I’d prefer it to be correct or somewhat over. It’s not so trivial with transparency film.

    If you’re shooting transparency film I’d want to know the f-stop error and vary the aperture to suit. You can just as well do the same with negative film if you want the exposure “on the money.”

    It’s not generally practical to think in terms of non-standard shutter speeds. So far as I know those are only reported by cameras with digital speed readouts in aperture-priority or program mode. A hand-held meter that reports 1/40 second is useless in my opinion, as we have no way to achieve it via manual settings, at least not with the ancient equipment I use.

    The error in going from a metered 1/40 second to 1/30 second time is + 0.42 f. I could live with that.

    The time change from 1/40 second to 1/60 second is - 0.58 f.

    Which do you think is worse? Do you like thin negatives?

    I think you’re splitting hairs. If you’re using negative film and you’re unwilling to make the adjustment by rotating the aperture ring to the approximate correct position, then use the next slower speed, because underexposure is a less than complete recording of the scene. I’m assuming that you plan on normal development.

    Just remember the old photographer’s adage, “with negative film, expose for the shadows and the rest will fall in place.” I’ve found that it usually does.
     
  13. holmburgers

    holmburgers Member

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    In the end, you will get an image, and it will likely be acceptable. Something I have learned is that the picture is far more important than perfect exposure. If it's a crappy picture with perfect exposure, who cares. But a fantastic picture that is perhaps 1/3 of a stop underexposed... well it just doesn't matter that much in reality and the subject will carry it through.
     
  14. Steve Roberts

    Steve Roberts Member

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    A very well made point IMHO and of course, taking it to extremes, Capa's D-Day shots and Zapruder's Kennedy footage were far from technically perfect but the subject matter over-rode a bit of exposure error and fuzziness!

    Steve
     
  15. holmburgers

    holmburgers Member

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    Those are some great examples Steve.

    We're pretty used to seeing "reality" with our eyes, so lately my philosophy has been a bit on the 'pictorialist' side (and no I'm not talking about fuzzy lenses and women in lace...), in that the camera can transform the look of reality into something different; this can be taken to extremes of course, or quite subtle.
     
  16. stradibarrius

    stradibarrius Member

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    Just keep in mind, this question was asked in an attempt to learn better how to use my light meter. If you fully understand the "rules" it is easier to know when you can take artistic licence.
     
  17. holmburgers

    holmburgers Member

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    Certainly.. and sorry if we've gotten off topic. I was just adding my 2¢, but it seems it has become more like $2.
     
  18. stradibarrius

    stradibarrius Member

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    But I did learn that there is no real reason to "fret" over swinging one way or the other if the light reading is in between two settings on an older camera.
     
  19. holmburgers

    holmburgers Member

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    I thought you were a violinist... they don't have frets.

    :D
     
  20. stradibarrius

    stradibarrius Member

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    Aahhh, very good. I wondered if anyone would catch that "pun".