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  1. #1
    Steve Smith's Avatar
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    Nikon Matrix Metering and Exposure Compensation Query

    Before I get to my question, a bit of background as to the reasoning behind it:

    My wife is going on a Himalayan base camp trek in April and wants to take a camera. Initially it was going to be my Nikon FG. She mastered the art of manual focussing but the possible difficulties with the manual loading of the film in the cold, probably with gloves on, made us think that my Nikon F601 might be a better option so long as she takes a few spare batteries.

    I was planning to give her a chart of amount of white (snow) in the scene to amount of exposure compensation. Something along the lines of 'for every 25% of snow in the scene, add a third of a stop'. I know this is a simplification but that's what it needs to be as I don't think she has the time or inclination to learn how to take a spot meter reading from something mid toned or use a hand held ambient meter and set the camera manually.

    A feature of the F601 is that it can be reset to default mode by pressing two of the function keys for a couple of seconds. This is ideal for someone who may not be sure what the camera is doing. i.e. accidental pressing of switches etc. so it can be quickly reset to 'normal'.

    This reset function defaults to matrix metering. The user manual and information I have been able to find suggests that matrix metering takes into account the contrast of a scene and can compensate for bright subjects e.g. sand and snow better than normal centre weighted metering.

    Whilst this may be true, I'm sure that it will not completely compensate and some user input will still be needed.

    I would appreciate any input anyone has on this. She will probably be using ISO200 transparency film and all shots will be hand held, sometimes using a polariser.

    Thanks,

    Steve.
    "People who say things won't work are a dime a dozen. People who figure out how to make things work are worth a fortune" - Dave Rat.

  2. #2
    keithwms's Avatar
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    I've had almost uniformly excellent results with matrix metering on an F100 but... shooting snow slides is a challenge, I'd definitely be inclined to try it out in advance and decide whether to bracket if necessary. As a more rigorous alternative, you could get a scene contrast reading in spot mode and then decide how to expose it. But that would provide for more creative opportunities e.g. silhouettes.

    If it were me I believe I would take some superia reala!
    "Only dead fish follow the stream"

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  3. #3
    Steve Smith's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by keithwms View Post
    If it were me I believe I would take some superia reala!
    That's certainly an option we may end up taking but I was thinking it would be nice to have some decent projectable slides.

    Steve.
    "People who say things won't work are a dime a dozen. People who figure out how to make things work are worth a fortune" - Dave Rat.

  4. #4
    keithwms's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Steve Smith View Post
    That's certainly an option we may end up taking but I was thinking it would be nice to have some decent projectable slides.

    Steve.
    Why not let her take both bodies, and routinely have slide film in one and superia in the other. Having two bodies on a trek like this can prevent heartbreak!

    I've always thought that if I go into the mountains I'll definitely take something like an FM3a as a backup.
    "Only dead fish follow the stream"

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  5. #5

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    I think the old rule of thumb was meter your hand and open up a stop. Second, there's really no reason that a small incident meter can't be taken and their dumb simple to use. Third, a clear north sky is considered zone 5 or a mid tone. Fourth, use the centerweighted metering and split the ground glass between the darkest tone and the lightest; Hopefully their adjacent. Fifth meter the snow and place the exposure a stop or two up.

    I would probably be more worried about the camera not being reset as you mention and the camera going thru batteries (I think they were known for that?) or the batteries just eating it in the cold. A manual camera would be best with perhaps a gray card; They don't have to be large and really don't take up any room. An hour of instruction should do it and you have plenty of time till Aprial to go out shooting with her and checking her metering judgement.

  6. #6

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    Quote Originally Posted by waynecrider View Post
    Fifth meter the snow and place the exposure a stop or two up.
    A good two stops, I'd say. Very roughly, clean fresh snow is 90% reflective. Halve that (first stop): 45%. Halve that (second stop) 22.5%. Grey card: 18%. 'Average' scene reflectance: 12-14%.

    Everything else you say, I would praise as a model of concise and useful advice.

    Cheers,

    R.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by waynecrider View Post
    I think the old rule of thumb was meter your hand and open up a stop. Second, there's really no reason that a small incident meter can't be taken and their dumb simple to use. \
    For me, these first two suggestions are all anyone should need, and far simpler than trying to remember "percentages of the scene" concepts that the OP mentions. Really, an incident meter is a wonderful device.
    Oh; and if she's going to shoot tranparency film, don't forget to bracket!
    Eddy McDonald
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    Eschew defenestration!

  8. #8
    Steve Smith's Avatar
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    Thanks for your responses. Most of what has been suggested is what I would personally do. I would probably get an all manual body such as an FM or FM2 and take a light meter and use a grey card or ambient measurement or meter from the snow and add a couple of stops.

    The problem is that it's my wife going, not me!

    Having talked her out of taking her digital compact, mainly due to the problems of battery life in the cold, I need to give her an alternative which is almost as convenient. This is a trek for which she will be taking a camera along rather than a photographic trip with a lot of walking involved (which is how I would regard it!).

    What I am really asking is if anyone has any experience of how well the Nikon matrix system compensates for bright snow scenes and if any manual compensation is needed as well. Nikon's data claims that it can compensate without manual intervention but I'm not sure if I believe it fully.

    I suppose I could set up a large sheet of white card outside on a bright day and see what the differences are between metering in matrix and centre weighted for a variety of simulated scenes such as full white then adding various areas of midtone to it.

    Thanks again,

    Steve.
    "People who say things won't work are a dime a dozen. People who figure out how to make things work are worth a fortune" - Dave Rat.

  9. #9
    Lee L's Avatar
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    Perhaps not quite as quick, but lighter and smaller than an incident meter would be an Expodisc or Expocap. It can take the place of a lens cap and provide incident metering using the camera's TTL metering. It can also provide a gray card frame on the film for setting color balance and density when printing. The only difficulties I can see are the concept of metering in the direction of the camera and perhaps finding a place in the mountains to stand in the same light as that falling on the subject.

    http://www.expodisc.com/products/pro...ctname=ExpoCap

    Sorry I can't help from experience. I wondered when Nikon first introduced this kind of system (I recall ads saying the first generation chose from among 250,000 lighting samples from pro shooters, and later generations from greater numbers) how a photographer would know what kind of adjustments to make when setting the exposure manually. The point seemed to be that you don't do that anymore.

    Which base camp? Glad things have settled down in Nepal before her trip.

    Lee
    Last edited by Lee L; 01-12-2007 at 06:51 AM. Click to view previous post history.

  10. #10

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    I don't have much luck with matrix metering and I am using an F5.

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