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  1. #1

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    Exposure for monochrome films.

    There have been countless theads and dicussions about film exposure and the zone-system and BTZS threads over the years, while others use incident meters, sunny 16 or one of the exposure guides available such as these. http://www.blackcatphotoproducts.com/guide.html along with calibrations etc.
    I thought it would be interesting and fun to ask the folks here on APUG which method you use and why?

  2. #2

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    I usually tend to reduce the rated ISO index by 1/3rd so say FP4 which is rated at 125ISO I rate at 100 then pull the development by about 45 seconds. (Using Rodinal at 1-50 dilution). This reduces the contrast but lets me have a bit more shadow detail.

    I have always thought that film was always speed over rated anyway. When the original Ilford FP3 came out it was 64ISO (ASA in those days) and almost overnight the rating went up 100% to 125 but the development times didn't. I always get better negs when I slightly over expose.

    I only use the inbuilt meter on the camera with the exception of my Bronica ETRSi which doesn't have on then I use a Weston Euromaster with incident light invercone attached.

    Although it wasn't asked, these changes with speed ratings only apply to monochrome, with colour - any type I always use the stated rating

  3. #3
    markbarendt's Avatar
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    The more important the photos, the more I lean toward an incident meter.

    An incident meter provides reliable and objective reference points for me. From there the question is only; do I want my subject to fall dark, light, or normal in relation to this reading?

    When using a reflective meter there is an extra step, I need to figure out what is the meter seeing and decide how that relates to the subject (what offset?) then ask; do I want my subject to fall dark, light, or normal in relation to that offset?
    Mark Barendt, Beaverton, OR

    "We do not see things the way they are. We see things the way we are." Anaïs Nin

  4. #4

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    I use my own variant of the Zone System.

    I use a spot meter to place shadows and measure important mid and high tones so I can decide on a development scheme. I would rather build up contrast in the darkroom than by using expansions, however, and rarely use anything more than N+1.

    I determine my working E.I. by printing test negatives which I evaluate visually. I end up purposely overexposing much of the time in order to place the subject luminances on the straight(er) portion of the film curve, so my negs are often dense. They print as I wish, however, and that's the point of the Zone System. 320Tri-X is a film that has a very long toe and the shadows often benefit from overexposure. Other films can be exposed closer to box speed, but also benefit from the "lift" that overexposing a bit gives the shadow values. Minimum exposure is not always optimum exposure, especially if you are using LF film and have your camera on a tripod all the time anyway. Handheld smaller formats are another story.

    It helps to know your equipment, film and what results you desire...

    Best,

    Doremus

  5. #5
    RalphLambrecht's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Keith Tapscott. View Post
    There have been countless theads and dicussions about film exposure and the zone-system and BTZS threads over the years, while others use incident meters, sunny 16 or one of the exposure guides available such as these. http://www.blackcatphotoproducts.com/guide.html along with calibrations etc.
    I thought it would be interesting and fun to ask the folks here on APUG which method you use and why?
    BTZS all the way ,because it is the most accurate I've ever tried.however.I must mention that I'm extremrly impressed with Nikon's matrix metering system, and I still want to try to take a reading with a Nikon DSLR and transfer the measurement to an analog camera.I never triedbut have great hopes for this mehod to work. short of all of that an incident meter rarely disappoints.
    Regards

    Ralph W. Lambrecht
    www.darkroomagic.comrorrlambrec@ymail.com[/URL]
    www.waybeyondmonochrome.com

  6. #6
    Rafal Lukawiecki's Avatar
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    I am using the principles of the zone system, using expansion and occasionally contraction, from N-1 to N+2, with about 60% exposures at N. My use of contraction and expansion is focused not so much on the tonal extremes, which are relatively easy to manipulate in the darkroom, but rather on the local contrast, which I find easier to establish at exposure time. The films I use handle wide ranges quite well, however, I feel my photographs look better when printed around grades 2-3.5, nowadays, than when I used to print harder, in the past.

    I scan a scene with a Pentax Spotmeter, building a mental image of the values, as I make a decision as to the placement and the development.
    Rafal Lukawiecki
    See rafal.net | Read rafal.net/articles

  7. #7

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    Quote Originally Posted by RalphLambrecht View Post
    BTZS all the way ,because it is the most accurate I've ever tried.
    however.I must mention that I'm extremrly impressed with Nikon's matrix metering system, and I still want to try to take a reading with a Nikon DSLR and transfer the measurement to an analog camera.I never triedbut have great hopes for this mehod to work. short of all of that an incident meter rarely disappoints.
    I also find the metering systems in modern 35mm Cameras and the TTL metering of DSLR Cameras to be very good.

    How do you use your hand meter with BTZS? I assume it is an incident meter rather than a spotmeter?

    Thanks to all the replies so far.

  8. #8

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    I shoot mostly outdoors, in available light. I shoot almost exclusively HP5+ I mostly shoot LF, and use a spotmeter. I determine exposure by metering in the shadow areas where I want to retain detail. I place these shadow areas in Zone IV, accepting the box speed of the film, which seems to be a bit optimistic - the net result is that I tend to have acceptable density in the shadows. I then meter my highlights to determine my development. Almost always I develop for normal contrast - I will make a note if the scene is either really flat or exceptionally contrasty to start with something other than N development. I expose both sides of the film holder identically and then develop one side - and examine the highlights on the negative to see if I have decent detail there - if the highlights look too thin, I develop the other sheet for longer, if too dense, I develop the other sheet shorter, and if the negative looks pretty good, I develop the other sheet the same as I did the first one, and I get two copies of the same neg.

  9. #9
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    Keith, as a general rule, the smaller the format the more sensitive the metering will be (see Roger Hicks on this subject). I shoot exclusively LF - mostly WP. I always take an incident reading as a baseline value. Then I look for the area in the shot which I want to be mid grey and take a reflected reading. Then factor in any filter value. Finally I take a look at the scene and evaluate what I want the final print to look like i.e. what values do I wish to emphasise and which printing process I intend for the output. This works for me because I stick to a single film FP4+ and a single development process; thus I can easily predict the outcomes. Aim for the consistency which will allow you to control the process - unless, of course, you prefer surprises!

  10. #10

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    Quote Originally Posted by Rafal Lukawiecki View Post
    I am using the principles of the zone system, using expansion and occasionally contraction, from N-1 to N+2, with about 60% exposures at N. My use of contraction and expansion is focused not so much on the tonal extremes, which are relatively easy to manipulate in the darkroom, but rather on the local contrast, which I find easier to establish at exposure time. The films I use handle wide ranges quite well, however, I feel my photographs look better when printed around grades 2-3.5, nowadays, than when I used to print harder, in the past.

    I scan a scene with a Pentax Spotmeter, building a mental image of the values, as I make a decision as to the placement and the development.
    +1
    Exactly! The mid-tones and the local contrast have top priority for me as well. I am aware when I expose that I may have to do some tricky dodging and burning (I even notate this along with my projected paper grade in my exposure record). I, however, find that printing a bit harder (grades 3 and 4) is especially gratifying for lower-contrast subjects or subjects that need more local contrast and have tailored my development regimes for these situations to print on grade 3 as a starting point.

    BTW, I love the expression, "building a mental image of the values as I make a decision..." That is real essence of applying the Zone System; visualizing the scene and your desired results and knowing how to use the variables in the system to achieve this.

    Best,

    Doremus

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