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  1. #1
    Ara Ghajanian's Avatar
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    Zone system without a spotmeter... is it possible?

    Well, is it? I'm new to the Zone system (I used to just bracket and choose the best exposure), but I want to delve into it and master it properly. I can't afford a spotmeter at the moment, but I do have a Sekonic L328 digital meter (I'm looking into getting the 5 degree spot attachment for it. By the way, is 5 degrees enough?). Also, I've got a Hasselblad 500CM with only one film back. Should I have 3 backs in order to fully take advantage of development control or can I get away with just one?

    Thanks in advance. I can always count on you guys and gals for the best advice.

  2. #2

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    I've got an old (analogue) Lunasix F with 7.5 and 15 degrees attachment and find it quite sufficient. If I can I go as close to the subject as possible to measure a smaller area more accurately.

  3. #3
    arigram's Avatar
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    Ara, I asked this question some time ago (as I have a simular set up) and this is what we discussed:
    http://www.apug.org/forums/forum48/9461-zone-system-all.html
    aristotelis grammatikakis
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  4. #4
    Flotsam's Avatar
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    Didn't AA use an old Weston Master something with the zones on the dial? Seems that I vaguely remember being able to get stickers that affixed to the Master's dial.

    That's about as far from a spot meter as you can get.
    That is called grain. It is supposed to be there.
    =Neal W.=

  5. #5
    mikewhi's Avatar
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    Yes, get the spot attachment - is better than none. Yes, get 2 more backs at least, esp. if you shoot a lot under different lighting situatuion. If it's all studio work, forget the spot and extra backs. With an incident meter or a non-spot reclective meter, you'll need to get close in to the subject to meter the range of luminances.

    It all works so long as you can meter the different areas of the scene. An overall average reading won't work with the ZS. Of course, if the 'dark' are of the scene is on the other side of a valley with no bridge, just meter something on your side of the valley that is approximately the same reflectance - or jump.

    The Luna-Six with teh variable spot attachment is ok. I have one and have used it but went with the Pentax 1Deg. Digital when I could. Your 5Deg attachment should serve you well for a while, I'd think.

    Don't forget to calibrate it with the ZS tests.

    Good luck!

    -Mike

  6. #6

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    Could you not meter off a black white or greycard using a reflected value? Remember all Meters only give values for medium gray.

    You would visually have to asses the light and highlights to determine if the highlights would blow out. Shadows will fall in place. I know this is opposite standard zone practice but not using a spot meter here so the inverse is required.

    Another thought. If you use an ev mode you would be measuring average light reflected or incident. Therefore you would know how far to deviate from a standard such as "sunny 16". Again with practice one should be able to see the range of light within the scene.

    When in doubt, use Polaroid. But it may not have same lattitude as your film.
    Eric
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  7. #7

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ara Ghajanian
    Well, is it? I'm new to the Zone system (I used to just bracket and choose the best exposure), but I want to delve into it and master it properly. I can't afford a spotmeter at the moment, but I do have a Sekonic L328 digital meter (I'm looking into getting the 5 degree spot attachment for it. By the way, is 5 degrees enough?). Also, I've got a Hasselblad 500CM with only one film back. Should I have 3 backs in order to fully take advantage of development control or can I get away with just one?

    Thanks in advance. I can always count on you guys and gals for the best advice.
    If your Sekonic can measure incident lighting then you can probably get by without buying the spot metering attachment. I recommend reading the BTZS by Phil Davis.

    You can get by with only one back as well. The way to do this is to target your normal development for a grade three contrast. Use paper grade four and occasional selenium intensification of the negative for N plus (low inherent contrast) subjects. This method will give you up to an N plus one and one half density range increase without the typical increase in grain. You can then use proportional exposure for your N minus (high inherent contrast) subjects. This will give you a N minus two to three contraction of density range while maintaining good print high value separation.

    All of the above amount to adjustments in exposure and maintaining a definite and consistant development procedure. The Zone system as proposed by AA and others requires altering development times. It is possible to accomplish the same or better results without going down that road.

    Aren't you happy that you now have to spend no additional money to produce prints of incredible luminoscity and brilliance.

  8. #8
    Eric Rose's Avatar
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    What Don said. I did quite well for many years with only an incident meter. It's only within the last 3 years that I have been playing with a spot meter and I must say for 85% of what I do I don't need a spot meter.
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  9. #9

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    There is a lot of ways to handle the zone systum. that 5 degree spot you spoke about will work fine. I think Baunbaum uses a 7degree for his work. I guess you could get other backs for your hassablad but you could still use the zone systum without them, by shooting similar lighting conditions on the same roll or you can cut the roll in half and develop six frames at a time.

  10. #10
    ThomHarrop's Avatar
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    The Zone System is based on using relected light readings to adjust exposure and development to the actual scene brightness range of your subject. If you don't use a spot meter you have to be close to everything you photograph because otherwise your will get bias in your readings. The short answer for me is, 'no.' If you can't get accurate readings, you can't get good Zone values and the whole system is no more precise than just using an incident meter and trying to guess what the Zones are.
    Pity the dyslexic agnostic insomniac who lies awake night after night wondering if there is a dog.

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