Should i use a spot meter?
Hello to all members,
I am a total newbie to film and this is only my second posting. I just bought a leica M3 and i have been using a canon S90 P&S for all my exposure reading. I found the exposures after only shooting one roll of fuji superia 400 very accurate. My next film will be Adox CMS 20 and i will be trying to develop it myself for the first time.
It is then that i stumbled upon this Zone System for the first time and have been reading it a lot. It seems that i need a spot meter for this. But my question is why cant i just use my pocket S90 and adjust exposure according to what i see on the LCD. This is much more visual and should it not be more accurate as well? I know i am wrong but i really do not know where i am wrong. Can someone enlighten me on whether it is wise to continue using the S90 as a meter reading or use something else?
Welcome to APUG Mark!
The downside with using digital cameras as lightmeters, especially if you want to go down the delightfully fussy zone system path, is that the exposure characteristics of film are quite different - and the info you get is harder to match than the raw "how much light in this bit?" data from a good light meter...
It will certainly give you a good idea, but not a complete idea.
So you are saying that exposure characteristics for film and digital are different. Would that also imply that exposure of film is the more accurate one resembling the raw light data from a good light meter?
Coming from a pure digital background and only using matrix metering all my life i am trying to convince myself that something is not right about me using a point and shoot as a meter reading. I dont mind buying a good light meter but i need more help to explain the shortcomings of my P&S meter. Can someone show me some practical situation where a light meter will be better?
Or should i just keep doing what i am doing now until i find by experience that a light meter is better?
The Zone System makes sense if you develop your B&W negatives one by one, separately, and you print yourself. When using roll film in general, and a colour film in particular, you adopt the same development for all exposures of the roll.
Digital clips the highlights abruptly. Slide film burn highlights much more gradually. Negative colour film is even more forgiving. B&W negative is extremely forgiving. A spot meter is especially useful to avoid burning highlights, while retaining details in the shadows, when using slides. Otherwise it is not indispensable.
With colour negatives your S90 can serve you as a decent reflected light lightmeter. A spot exposure meter or an incident light exposure meter are useful additions to your gear set in any case.
I shot a couple of rolls of colour negatives recently (outdoors, sunny) metering "by sight" with no problems.
Since i plan to only shoot black and white and knowing that it has a more forgiving exposure lattitude, all i need to do is use the S90 carefully exposing for the shadow areas and i should be good to go. Seems like i probably dont need at the moment to buy a light meter. Am i correct?
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As this will be only your second roll of film ever and your first roll of B&W (and also your first go at developing), I think that your current system is fine for now. As you get more experienced you may decide that you need a different metering system but it depends upon your results and how you feel about them. For now, just see how it goes.
Your little digisnapper will work fine for most situations.
Originally Posted by mingaun
Yes, negative film is more forgiving, just remember that most of that forgiveness is for extra exposure, not for a lack of exposure.
The real advantage of dedicated light meters and exposing using zone system principles is that, once you understand what they are telling you and have a bit of experience with them, it becomes very tough to fool YOU.
The digisnapper's meter will make certain "decisions" for you. It has been programmed by committee to give most people exposures they like.
There will come a time when you want something different than the norm.
Mark Barendt, Beaverton, OR
"We do not see things the way they are. We see things the way we are." Anaïs Nin
Originally Posted by mingaun
I go with the vein here. Yes, what you have is fine for now. The Zone System is intended for use with B&W sheet film for complete control. It can and has been adapted for roll film use. For years I had no spot meter. Only recently picked one up. And I got a steal at $130. For many years all I had was a Weston Master IV handheld meter and that was more than enough. You just need to learn to use it. But until you see the need for one in your resulting work I would not concern yourself with getting any meter at this time.
"Wubba, wubba, wubba. Bing, bang, bong. Yuck, yuck, yuck and a fiddle-dee-dee." - The Yeti
It will do... if it can find the right exposure for a CCD-Sensor with it's very small tolerances, it will do allright with any negative film, probably slide film too. Of course, a sensor reacts a lot different to light than film, that's why it's not optimal.
When you find, that analog is the way to go for you (very probable with a M3 ), you'll get a light meter, more cameras and lenses sooner or later, but until then you're fine with what you've got.
Using the zone system with 35mm film isn't that easy anyway and it makes your whole photography a lot slower.... that's not necessarily a bad thing, but you'll lose the main advantage of that lovely rangefinder: speed of use.
With time, you can learn to simply guess the exposure and snap away happily in most situations. I needed a few weeks to learn that, but now I don't need a light meter in most daylight situations, because my eyes and brain can do just as well or even better. I just started to take a guess before looking at the light meter... at first I was off by 2-3 steps quite often, but with time my guess was spot on every time. It doesn't substitute a light meter completely and in all situations, but it makes things a lot easier.