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  1. #11

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    Paul,

    the consequent use of the Zone Systems requires the use of sheet film. This imposes a natural limit to the audience. The number of even serious photographers, who still use sheetfilm, is not "very significant". However, it is a matter of fact, that the more you are concerned about your exposure and the more you know about your materials, the less harder your darkroom work will be. And if you limit yourself to contact prints, you will not have much alternatives to the Zone System (contrast control filters might be one, although a limited one).
    However, the use of Multicontrast Paper and the Splitgrade Techniques e.g. are powerful tools to compensate a lack of the Zone System. And if a Splitgrade can't help, a mask will most probably do. But the work has to be done. In case of the Zone System, you'll have to spend it at exposure and film processing time. In the other case, you'll have to spend it in the darkroom. And this is all, beacause film does not see the way your eyes and your brain does. Not to mention that your mind might want to express something completely different.

    Regards,
    Thilo Schmid

  2. #12

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    </span><table border='0' align='center' width='95%' cellpadding='3' cellspacing='1'><tr><td>QUOTE (tschmid @ Sep 10 2002, 09:29 AM)</td></tr><tr><td id='QUOTE'>the consequent use of the Zone Systems requires the use of sheet film. This imposes a natural limit to the audience. The number of even serious photographers, who still use sheetfilm, is not "very significant".

    Regards,
    Thilo Schmid</td></tr></table><span id='postcolor'>
    Huh? Sorry Thilo, I don&#39;t want to get too far off track, but I just wonder how you came up with that remark. Certainly not based on the number of </span><table border='0' align='center' width='95%' cellpadding='3' cellspacing='1'><tr><td>QUOTE </td></tr><tr><td id='QUOTE'>serious photographers</td></tr></table><span id='postcolor'> that you know personally.

    - William Levitt

  3. #13

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    > Zone Systems requires the use of sheet film

    Certainly not. The "classic" zone system does, however, require the ability to develop films to suit various SBR and the effects desired; whether this is accomplished by using sheetfilm, several rollfilm backs or even several cameras is immaterial.

    One could of course use "half a zone system," using only the placement procedures bearing in mind that the film would receive N development. Simply learning and using this part would eliminate lots of "it&#39;s underexposed" problems.


  4. #14

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    </span><table border='0' align='center' width='95%' cellpadding='3' cellspacing='1'><tr><td>QUOTE (William Levitt @ Sep 13 2002, 10:18 AM)</td></tr><tr><td id='QUOTE'>Huh? Sorry Thilo, I don&#39;t want to get too far off track, but I just wonder how you came up with that remark. Certainly not based on the number of serious photographers that you know personally.</td></tr></table><span id='postcolor'>
    William,

    this wasn&#39;t indeed a good wording. I meant that among all amateur photographers (the audience of a magazine - as stated in the original post) the serious ones that use sheet film are a minority. Sorry for the confusion.

  5. #15

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    No problem Thilo, thanks for the explaination.

    - William Levitt

  6. #16

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    Part of the Zone System that is applicable to all photography, whether you develop the film yourself, print yourself, or use color film, is relating the luminance values in the scene to the film&#39;s exposure latitude. I rarely do much black and white work anymore (a personal choice after shooting B&W exclusively for 20 years) - but do use the Zone System for exposure of color film.

    It is a quite valuable technique in visualizing how the final result will look, and how the luminances will be rendered. Whether one needs to use, or chooses to use the Zone System is a personal value judgement. Anyone who "dismisses" the Zone System must also then be dismissing sensitometry - which is the very basis of the Zone System. It is really a visual sensitometric method of relating the scene to its final rendering (transparency, or print).

    Certainly, the advent of advanced matrix metering in 35mm has reduced the number of people who care to know about the Zone System, but that does not render the ideas contained within the Zone System any less useful. Lastly, when you really need to control the exposure (regardless of film type), and you are truly serious about the work you are doing, I believe you will be pulling out your spot meter and looking over the scene to evaluate how the luminances willl "fit" on the film. As soon as you start doing that - you ARE using the Zone System.


  7. #17

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    Sep 2002
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    Call me a heretic (or worse), but I&#39;ve always believed AA promulgated the zone system to explain aperature and exposure index to himself. I still don&#39;t understand why any competent B&W shooter and printer needs to even remotely bother with the zone system. If he understands his camera, middle grey, film latitude, and actually knows how to develop and print , he is a zone master, without ever seeing or hearing the words "zone system". Its always seemed an unnecessary layer of verbiage for stating the obvious in B&W. Notwithstanding John Shaw and some others, "zone system&#39; in colour, really means "film latitude, my meter, and thee".

  8. #18

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    I&#39;ve read a lot about the zone system, but I&#39;ve never done the testing necessary to establish a personal EI for any particular film and developer combination, and for normal or n-plus/minus developing times. I more or less understand the zone system conceptually. I use some of the ZS techniques. I place important shadow detail on zone III, measure and record the luminance range, and adjust development time up or down a bit (by guessing) to compensate for highly compressed or expanded ranges.

    I think part of the reason I&#39;ve never done rigorous testing is that I&#39;m still pretty much a novice B&W photographer, and I&#39;ve mostly been trying out various films and developers in order to discover what I really like. In retrospect, I think I&#39;d have made greater headway by sticking with one or two film/developer combinations and doing the ZS testing for each. Then perhaps I&#39;d know what a properly exposed negative should look like.

    I prefer less technical and more intuitive methods for my photography. Perhaps I&#39;m lazy, but I think I also just value simplicity and direct intuitive approaches. I&#39;ve been developing all of my film lately in PMK, but I plan to try ABC pyro ala Michael A Smith for my LF negs. I know that densitomitry is difficult or perhaps impossible with pyro-stained negatives, so I&#39;m considering picking one film and a non-staining developer, maybe Bergger BPF200 developed in D-76 or Rodinal, and run the full gamut of zone system testing. My objective will really be to learn what a properly exposed negative should look like, how it should print, and so forth. If ZS can help me achieve this, then I&#39;d have to say that it is still useful, at least for me.

    Skip A. (the other Skip)

  9. #19

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    "I still don&#39;t understand why any competent B&W shooter and printer needs to even remotely bother with the zone system."

    OK - I spent one year in a photo science class for 2 hours, three days a week. The class was taught by the best photo science people in the business (Todd, Zakia, Shoemaker, etc.). I learned everything they could teach about the physics of photography, chemistry of photography, sensitometry, film characteristic curves, paper characteristic curves, exposure, development, how to use densitometers, how to plot film curves, how to read a negative on a densitometer and calculate what grade paper to use, etc., etc.

    What was never taught was how to VISUALLY relate all of this information to the subject - and then to the final rendering. That&#39;s the basic premise of the Zone System is that you visualize what the final result should be prior to making the exposure. You then use the Zone calculations (arrived at through materials testing) to expose and develop the film to get the end result you want.

    The thing the Zone System gives you, is a clear, concise methodology for doing the technical portion and relating it to the visual part of photography. If you don&#39;t do that, or have developed your own methods to arrive at the end result you need - or, f you do just do that naturally - more power to you. For some of us dummies, the Zone System has made photography a lot more intuitive.

    Edward Weston never used an exposure meter. Personally, I couldn&#39;t make an accurate exposure without one.

  10. #20

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    > If he understands his camera, middle grey, film latitude, and actually knows how to develop and print , he is a zone master


    That works fine maybe 99 percent of the time; it&#39;s that last one percent that such procedures don&#39;t work well enough to yield a printable, much less optimal, negative. Those are always the times that have interesting light.

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