Exposure Meter recomendations..
I have been looking at buying a meter for landscape slide work, and i discovered the Minolta Autometer VF which has the ability to average out two readings... i like this feature, but im not sure which other brands have this, and i think the minolta is discontinued...
Im a little confused which path to go down also, im not sure which method/modes would be most usefull in a handheld for landscape work, eg incident, reflected etc....
Any help on this would be much appreciated,
Slide exposures are necessarily keyed to the highlights; that is to say, the exposure is determined by the brightest area in the shot. If this is overexposed it will 'blow' to a featureless white.
Incident light metering used to be known as the 'artificial highlight' method, which gives the game away: the incident light dome/Invercone is indeed an artificial highlight.
For landscapes, you can read the light falling on the subject (or its equivalent -- the light a hundred yards away is likely to be much the same as at the metering position, allowing for moving clouds) and this is far and away the easiest and best approach. Just about ANY meter will do: with incident light readings (again allowing for moving clouds) there aren't going to be two readings to average.
All adjustments are intuitive: you give a little more exposure for a lighter tranny, a little less for a darker one.
You can also do it the hard way and take spot readings of highlights, and there are times when this is better (for example if you are in the shade and cannot take an equivalent light reading, or in movies where you want to key your exposure to the star's face), but in the vast majority of landscape photography there is no need for this.
Negative exposures are normally keyed to the shadows which is why spot readings of the shadows are best, but you were not asking about that. Nor is there much to be gained (when exposing transparency) by reading both highlights and shadows, except to find out how much shadow detail you are going to lose: your exposure is constrained solely by your assessment of how light you dare let the shadows go.
You might also care to look at the free 'Bracketing' module in the Photo School at www.rogerandfrances.com.
A spotmeter is preferable if you are going to be using tranny film with ND grad filters to control the contrast. Given subject matter with no vertical intrusions, this enables full choice about balancing or bridging the exposure in order to retain shadow and highlight detail and choose where you place the mid tone. You might find ND grad usage fiddly with 35mm pan, but Lee are making it easier with a new product. One of their top bods is an X-pan user!
If allowing the meter to average more than one reading, you are not sure which type of average the meter uses, mean, median or mode. I had this on the Sekonic 508. Subsequently switched to Pentax digital spot which is fantastic, quick and simple.
Highlight 1 2/3 stops above mid-tone will just retain a tone (1 1/2 stops is safer), shadow detail is present 2 stops below mid-tone for Velvia 50. Some claim wider latitude than this, but these figures from Joe Cornish/David Ward and borne out in my practise.
This Metering malarky is a huge subject, indeed Roger has written a very good book on it.
Ergonomics of the meter are important to match what is intuitive for you in terms of where buttons are placed etc. Would strongly recommend trying out a few, but recognise that this might not be easy to arrange. The range of lightmeters on the market is dwindling courtesy of our 'friend' digital imaging.
Hey guys thanks for your replies...
baxter, i also use the xpan so nd grad is a lil hard being rangefinder. Plus i use the blad centre filter and sometimes a polariser also.
Im just a lil frustrated by the meter, which is basic by all standards (centre weighted). At times im finding it very inconsistent which is why i thought i would try a hand held..
by the way, love your site
Thanks Ben for kind words about my website pictures.
Grads are tricky, but not impossible with a rangefinder. I use them with my Mamiya 7. Lee have produced a set of plates with marks on them to determine where the transition goes. I just do this by eye and seem to manage fine.
The spotmeter will give you more control, but you will still need to manage the scene contrast to fall within the latitude of the film stock. Polarisers only work in some situations. I suppose I use ND grads for >90% of my colour pictures. The polariser comes out to play <20%
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So the only way to do this is with grad filters?....
but you will still need to manage the scene contrast to fall within the latitude of the film stock.
Realistically -Yes if you want to use transparency film and shoot most of the time. There are occasions where you don't need to use them, but as the above figures indicate they are not frequent when I am out shooting!
Switching to colour neg film gives you about twice the latitude, so you can bring detail back in at the printing stage, but has different rendering of colours etc. It depends on what you want to do with your pictures.
If you subscribe to APUG, then you can see many examples in the Galleries where the photographers state what filtration was used and sometimes give rationale why. Other than that strongly recommend Joe Cornish's book "First Light" (it has a different title in USA I think)
For Panoramic imaging have a look at 'Stretch' by Nick Meers extracts seen on his website
http://www.nickmeers.com/ he has some great shots from Xpan to his custom leopard skin print bellowed LF pan camera..... plays a mean piano too!
Like Baxter, I favor the usage of a spot meter for my metering of my transparencies. I tend to meter the brightest part of the scene and generally open up the aperture the 1 1/2 stops to adjust the exposure to hold detail in the highlights (as suggested by Baxter). Though I do not use the ND grads as frequently as Baxter, they are my most used filters for my landscapes. The other filters that I have used in the past of course are polarizing filters and warming filters. I have just also gotten a battery of Singh Ray and Lee filters including several Grad ND (including a reverse ND Grad), warm polarizer, Sunset filter, strip (stripe), and intensifier. I have decided to shrink the size of my filter set from the Lee to the Cokin P size as standardization for most of my work for my 4 X 5 Linnhof Technikardan 45S, Mamiya 7II, and Leica R series cameras. For most of my work I use lenses with as large as a 77mm thread size so I have opted for the Cokin P size so that I can take advantage of the Singh Ray Warm Polarizer in the Cokin P size that fits the rear slot of the Cokin P holder. Additionally, and I do have to run my tests, I will be using Grad filters with my Mamiya 7II as does Baxter.
So what brand/model meter is good ???
are the sekonic 308 type any good?.
I use a Zone VI modified Soligor Digispot II. The Zone VI modified models have been discontinued, but both forms can be found on eBay. Additionally, doing a search on the net you can still find the unmodified version. I believe that the Adorama sells the analog and the digital form (digital may not always be listed) with the Adorama nameplate.
The Soligors (Adorama badged as well) tend to be rather inexpensive, reliable, and long lived (mine is about 18 years old). Others prefer the Pentax analog and the Pentax digital (considerably smaller than the Soligor). Part of what I like about the Soligor Digispot II is that it reads in .1 EV increments, though others will argue that these values are not accurate and most meters like the Pentax read in 1/3 stop increments. Part of what I like about reading in the .1 EV increments is that I can better decide if I wish to bracket in either 1/3 or 1/2 stop increments.