The Zone System

Discussion in 'Exposure Discussion' started by Ektagraphic, Sep 14, 2009.

  1. Ektagraphic

    Ektagraphic Member

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    I was reading about the Zone system...Is there anyone using the Zone system with a reflective light meter. I don't have a handheld spot meter but I would really like to get one.
     
  2. RalphLambrecht

    RalphLambrecht Subscriber

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    I'm confused! A spotmeter is a reflected lightmeter! There is a way to use an incident lightmeter for the Zone System, which was advocated by the late Phil Davis.
     
  3. Ektagraphic

    Ektagraphic Member

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    I believe that a refelective meter averages out the scene where a spot meter gives a reading of that spot specifically.
     
  4. Sirius Glass

    Sirius Glass Subscriber

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    A spot meter is a reflective meter. Not all reflective meters are spot meters. They cover a large area than a spot meter. Reflective meters in cameras may not cover an area, but instead cover the FOV with a matrix.

    Steve
     
  5. Ektagraphic

    Ektagraphic Member

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    But will it still work using the Zone System?
     
  6. Sirius Glass

    Sirius Glass Subscriber

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    Yes if you meter a uniform area or more convenient area of the same brightness that the meter covers. Example: if it is the same as your hand use your hand to read the light from.

    Steve
     
  7. Ektagraphic

    Ektagraphic Member

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    Great
     
  8. bdial

    bdial Subscriber

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    A spot meter helps, but is not an absolute requirement to make use of the zone system.
    The spot meter allows you to get readings of very specific places in your scene and is especially valuable when those places aren't in a walkable location.
     
  9. MattKing

    MattKing Subscriber

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    Averaging reflected light meter plus walking up to subject = spot meter :smile:.

    You need to understand the zone system first. Then, you can learn how to use a spot meter.

    Don't try to learn how to use both at the same time.

    Matt
     
  10. RalphLambrecht

    RalphLambrecht Subscriber

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    OK, now I've got a question. Some call it a 'reflected' meter and some a 'reflective' meter. Which is correct?
     
  11. MattKing

    MattKing Subscriber

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    I think both are awkward, so I am uncomfortable with both.

    On the other hand, an "instrument that measures the intensity of light that has reflected off the surface of the subject which is to be photographed" is a bit unwieldy, don't you think?

    Matt
     
  12. RalphLambrecht

    RalphLambrecht Subscriber

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    Yes. Both are adjectives, so is the word 'incident'. Kodak and Wikipedia are using 'reflected' light meter.
     
  13. Sirius Glass

    Sirius Glass Subscriber

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    That has a nice ring to it.

    Steve
     
  14. Sirius Glass

    Sirius Glass Subscriber

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    Either is good for me because I like to reflect on the subject before taking the photograph. Taking time can improve on the photograph.

    Steve
     
  15. Mike1234

    Mike1234 Inactive

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    Ektagraphic... just stay with it. A few answers here are leaning more toward indirect facetiousness than helpfulness. Pay no attention to those posts. The authors intend no harm. :smile:
     
  16. Galah

    Galah Member

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    OK. The Purists will tell you that you can't use The Zone System unless you engage in the corresponding development and printing processes/adjustments as well.

    However, I have found the ideas behind the Zone System very helpful in working out a good exposure even though all my developing and printing are done by a commercial film processor.

    depending on which book you read, the "System" requires the photographer to visualize the scene to be photographed as an array of nine (in some books more) "tones" (light intensities or "Zones"): a deep, pure black shadow would be a Zone "one" and a pure white would be a Zone "nine". The middle of the range would be a "five".

    In practice, green grass, bare dirt, faded cement, old red bricks, faded bitumen, blue sky (opposite the sun) and the palm of your hand approximate to the middle step (i.e. Zone 5). (My palm is closer to Zone 5.5)

    Each zone is separated by a doubling of light intensity: i.e. one "stop" or one "Exposure Value".

    The simplest application (known as the keytone method) is simply to pick out
    a known tone, measure the required exposure with your lightmeter, assign it to a zone and expose accordingly.

    I can assure you it works like a charm! :smile:

    The tone need not be a "middle gray": it can be any of the nine, but (because, whatever you meter will be interpreted by your meter as being Zone five) you will need to open up or to stop down accordingly, in order to place your metered tonality correctly with regard to your exposure and pre-visualized intent.

    An "easy" way is to go for the most important highlight (or shadow) and act accordingly: the remaining tonalities will fall into place automatically.

    Effectively, you only need to make one measurement per exposure.

    This can be done with an ordinary "reflective" meter (I have several), providing you get close enough to the object (or its proxy) being measured.

    A spot meter (I have several more) is very handy insofar as you can do your metering from a distance.

    Neither meter will come up with an "automatic" answer: you will need to use your head every time...but it's not rocket-science either.:smile:
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 15, 2009
  17. Q.G.

    Q.G. Inactive

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    Not "can't", but "don't".
    :wink:
     
  18. Q.G.

    Q.G. Inactive

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    So why use a meter to do that for you?


    And wouldn't that then be a "reflecting" meter?

    :wink:
     
  19. Mike1234

    Mike1234 Inactive

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    Oh, the pun... the agonizing pun!! :smile:
     
  20. Sirius Glass

    Sirius Glass Subscriber

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    You broke the code!
     
  21. jaimeb82

    jaimeb82 Member

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    I am selling mine in the Classifieds section, it uses mercury batteries if you know how to replace them with modern ones like this article shows:

    http://bermudezderwin.org/blog/
     
  22. Galah

    Galah Member

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  23. benjiboy

    benjiboy Subscriber

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    Please don't confuse me Ralph, I'm confused enough already.