Originally Posted by wiltw
Certainly, if people can benefit from education derived from 25 years of professional experience, a great deal of that taming anything from Kodachrome 25 to Velvia 50 (and a few other trophies).
1. If you hold out an incident meter in an open landscape you are blithely assuming the scene is average, when it is not. Transparency film never sees, or records the scene, as average.
2. A scene as an example, contains four to six areas of widely varying contrast. How does an incident meter determine the individual luminosity of these variations, their position in importance and balance them? No, we're not talking the Zone System.
3. The scene contains areas of shadow, highlights and — oh goody — spectrals. Incident meter it. What did you miss?
4. An incident meter has no means of knowing what it is looking at or what it is metering, and furthermore doesn't care. It's still going to interpret the scene as "average" because it does not have the ability to individually select and analyse critical parts of the scene. This is the fundamental mistake repeated by legions of photographers using transparency film. It's essential to understand NO scene can be considered average: neither with highlights, shadows, flat light, emergent light or spectrals. Certainly not with the limited span of latitude with transparency. Do what you want with B&W, you can correct it in the darkroom, but you won't be afforded that luxury otherwise.
And now, the other side please for the benefit of those reading.
Back to work.
When we look at pictures our eyes read the lighter areas more readily than the darker areas. We have all made those prints in the darkroom, that despite many test strips, we didn’t notice that white blob when making a final print. For this reason loss of shadow detail is more acceptable to the human eye than loss of highlight detail. On a print we can burn in and/or reduce contrast. With a transparency/slide it is not so easy to correct. Therefore a slightly dense transparency is more acceptable than one where light parts of the image are literally missing. Incident readings are less likely to give over exposed highlights. However, all pictures are subjective and I do respect your point of view.
Originally Posted by Poisson Du Jour
You are making assumptions about the user and the use of an incident meter without basis.
All ANY meter does is provide a reference point with each reading. It is up to the user how to position the meter and interpret the results.
ANY meter can be used well or poorly with results to match.
I'd suggest that incident meters require less interpretation so for the grand majority of people, regardless of film type, they will typically provide better results.
Spot meters are very handy but they are specialty tools that require special skill and experience. Reflective meters of all types require more interpretation, even an F6 Nikon with all the fancy algorithms gets fooled.
Thank you both, Gary and Clive, for providing some reasons for your previous one word opinions of meter suitability.
I tend to side more with Gary in the assessment that "An incident meter has no means of knowing what it is looking at or what it is metering, and furthermore doesn't care." For that reason, if we have bright highlights which would overexpose and wash out detail in the color transparency, we end up with clear base and no details. (The same exposure with color neg would be well tolerated due to it tolerance to overexposure.) Meter the same scene with a spotmeter, and I know precisely how to expose so that the highlights will be captured best on film, and avoid the clear detailess filmbase.
If I shoot for publication, I use the one-degree spotmeter to measure highlights and deepest shadow, to decide placement of my exposure to best capture the full dynamic range of the scene and the midpoint of the range...and that might not match what the incident meter says. Futhurmore, the spotmeter allows me to determine if the lighting needs to reduce the dynamic range to fit within which is achievable on the printed page by the offset press; you can't do that with an incident meter.
If you take your incident reading in the light that is creating those highlights, the transparency film will most likely record detail, because that is what it its speed rating is designed to ensure. The only exception would be specular highlights, where there aren't any details anyways, or other extremely reflective surfaces.
Originally Posted by wiltw
While it is true that the range of the transparency film is limited, an incident reading will generally ensure that your exposure is well centred on the range available in the subject. If necessary, when the range is too wide for the film's capabilities, you can decide to adjust the exposure to favor highlight detail at the expense of the shadows.
Spot meters are excellent when used by those with experience and excellent specialized judgment. If you don't have a spot meter, or you don't have that experience or the specialized judgment, an incident meter will give you a much higher percentage of good exposures than other reflected light meters.
The ignorance of meters is universal. Spot meters have no idea about what they are being pointed at either.
Originally Posted by wiltw
As with all things photographic, we each decide where to point our tools and we provide the context needed to make decisions about what to do with the reading. It's the nut behind the camera that makes it work, not the tool in his or her hand.
Way back in time before incident meters got their domes a technique was developed to address the blown highlights problem on transparency film when shooting in high contrast situations, its called duplexing.
Classic duplexing takes two readings: one with the meter pointed "back at the lens", essentially the same as is taught in incident meter manuals today, this reading is to find the "best" exposure for the main subject matter; the other reading is taken with meter pointed directly at the main light source, sun or whatever, this is to find the "best" setting for the highlights. These readings are then averaged, just as is normally done with shadow and highlight readings from a spot meter. (This model makes certain assumptions, like "the mid-tones and the highlights are what we want to protect". If shadows are more important than say mid tones just replace that reading with a different orientation of the meter head.)
In both cases, averaged duplexed and averaged spot readings, a compromise is made. In high contrast lighting when using say Velvia, there is simply not enough film range to get all the highlights and all the shadow detail we might want. Something is going to be lost, both methods simply do their best to find the best balance.
Side note. After incident meters got their domes duplexing for front lit and cross lit scenes became almost unnecessary, the final camera setting is normally the same. Duplexing does still have real value though when the subject is backlit.
Originally Posted by STEVEP51
What Sekonic are you using, Steve?