Originally Posted by rhys
The zone system take a good bit of reading and a lot of practice to become proficiant in real life with the system, so hate it some love it and some use parts of it!
Smooth move on getting the digital stuff back in there beings your exact same message on it and how it regulates to digital cameras was either moved or deleted earlier today, this is not the place to discuss the digital side of imaging.
ANSI PH2.7-1986 - Photographic Exposure Guide
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> 1986 EDITION , Issued on Sep 13, 1985. 83 pages. Current
The Zone VI Workshop by Fred Picker is probably the most direct, simplist book on the zone system. Check local library. Though published in 1974, the information is still relevant for all black and white films, and can also be adapted for color.
Time & tides wait for no one, especially photographers.
The zone system is a subset of the H&D curve. The seven zones are only 7 of the 21 steps usually found in an H&D curve. Curves for most films and papers are found on the maufacturers web sites. Just look for the film and there is the curve.
The reason seven were chosen is that this leaves spacing between 'steps' or 'zones' to allow for compression and expansion of the tone scale by proper use of developer. If you used 21 steps you would not percieve this as expansion or compression, but rather merely moving to the next step on the step tablet. With only 7 steps it is percieved as expansion and contraction.
It is a useful and simple tool for judging negatives and prints.
Originally Posted by Photo Engineer
I also have a theory that Adams or Archer talked to either Mees (whom he credits in his early editions) or to Jones when they were working out the details of the Zone System. I don't think it is a coincidence that the seven stop range of the Zone System is practically the same as the average luminance range of 7 1/3 stops as defined by Jones.
Same can be said about how a fixed density speed point of 0.10 was chosen. I see the hand of Jones in many of the Zone System elements.
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Also, understand that Adams was a musician first. Music is analyzed by reference to the root of a chord based on where the root falls in the scale of the key of the piece. For instance, in the key of C, a D chord would be refered to as a II chord - D is the second note in the C scale. There are seven notes in a diatonic scale, thus seven intervals. To a musician such as me, the Zone System series of tones felt right at home - it's just like the series of chords in music. I have always suspected it was the same with Adams.
I'll second Fred Picker's "The Zone VI Workshop" as the best introduction available. You can find them on ebay, too.
I'm not really here to discuss digital imaging. I'm interested in two things - the Zone system and exposure estimation based on the scene in front of the camera. As I understand it, the old system of estimation is pretty ancient and mostly replaced by meters in cameras these days. I'd like to return to estimation but I'm looking for an accurate way of doing it as I'm not a fan of built-in meters. They tend (even with 3D colour matrix metering) to make each photo look pretty much the same as the next - it makes images bland. It does this, whichever system is used, film or electronic.
Originally Posted by Satinsnow
The Zone system, combined with estimation, can produce some really wonderful images. Who can forget Ansel Adams' "Moonrise over Hernandez"? I'm trying to get to the root of both systems in order to improve my photography. The fact I use both film and digital is largely irrelevant.
There has been many good suggestions on learning the zone system given here, my suggestion would be to start doing some reading, I found the picker reading to be the easiest, but the Adams book "The negative" is not a hard read either, myself personally feel that each photographer has to read the information, take the basic understand and develop a method that relates to their particular style of shooting and printing, as long as you understand the basics of the system you should have no difficulty at all, but trying to explain the system here would take far to long...and the different writing styles of people could be confusing for some. Most of us use some kind of meter, I know a lot of shooters who use zone modified spot meters for evaluation.
As far as relevance to digital it does become an issue around here.
for 35mm is kinda hard to apply a rigurous zone system, there is a book called practical zone system for 35mm or something similar.
Get a copy of that one.
IMHO expose for the shadows (meter the shadows then close 1 or 2 stops) and the rest will fall into place
Mama took my APX away.....
Not to be contrary, but Adams' account of the "Moonrise" negative is interesting. He severely underexposed the negative because he couldn't find his meter before the light was gone, so made the exposure based on f:16 sunny and holding highlight detail in the moon. As a result, the negative was not what he really wanted, the shadows were too thin, and it was very hard to print, requiring serious manipulation at the printing stage. It's not a shining example of the Zone System or previsualization.
Originally Posted by rhys