No. It's just as important. No more and no less...
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.
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
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.
sunglasses in the darkroom
Originally Posted by jnanian
Is good metering more important in large format?
In my opinion good metering is important now matter what format you're using.
"The real work was thinking, just thinking." - Charles Chaplin
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Read Roger Hicks on the subject.
…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.
Originally Posted by Simon Howers
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.
Last edited by Pioneer; 05-28-2014 at 12:53 PM. Click to view previous post history.
The simplest tools can be the hardest to master.
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.
Originally Posted by darkosaric
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.
Last edited by ROL; 05-28-2014 at 12:55 PM. Click to view previous post history.
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.