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  1. #1

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    incident or reflective metering in zone system application?

    What are the differences?
    Ideally, you are able to incident read the scene, would that be preferable for applying the zone system?

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    Diapositivo's Avatar
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    Reflective metering. The "zones" you see, and place, are the result of both how much light they receive and how much of it they reflect. If you use incident metering two elements of the picture that receive the same light but that you place on two different zones (a black cow and a white cow) will appear to "fall" on the same zone. Reflective metering keeps into account the different placing of the different cows on the film's curve.

    With an incident meter under even illumination you only meter one value and have no idea of the degree of "inner contrast" of the scene.
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    markbarendt's Avatar
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    If you are planning to measure SBR so you adjust development or you want to place exposure by measuring specific zones and all that jazz, a spot meter (one type of reflective meter) is handy and relatively simple to use.
    Mark Barendt, Ignacio, CO

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    onepuff's Avatar
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    I would agree with Mark that a spot meter is your best option. It will allow you to easily segregate elements to take readings. New ones are quite expensive but a well looked after second hand one would be as good. Alternatively (and possibly cheaper) you could buy a used camera with spot metering for this purpose. The Olympus OM-4 would be good as you can store the readings in it.
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    Lee L's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Diapositivo View Post
    With an incident meter under even illumination you only meter one value and have no idea of the degree of "inner contrast" of the scene.
    In Phil Davis' version of the Zone System (Beyond the Zone System), he takes advantage of the characteristics of the incident meter to make two readings with an incident meter, one in the main light and one in a shadow area, and uses the difference in those readings to determine a subject brightness range, then adjusts exposure and development time accordingly. It's a great system, relatively simple, and works very well. In my book it's a better system for a novice than expecting a novice to guess at how to 'place' zones with a spot meter.

    Of course there are instances where it's logistically impossible to make a shadow reading in the scene being photographed, but there are ways to make a substitute shadow reading. This is illustrated in Davis' books.

    Lee

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    ic-racer's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dikaiosune01 View Post
    What are the differences?
    Ideally, you are able to incident read the scene, would that be preferable for applying the zone system?
    I don't know how one can assign a zone to some part of a scene without knowing its reflected density.

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    2F/2F's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dikaiosune01 View Post
    What are the differences?
    Ideally, you are able to incident read the scene, would that be preferable for applying the zone system?
    The differences should be explained in any book on the Zone System. You use reflected meters for the bona-fide Zone System. The narrower the angle read by the meter, the smaller the part of the image you can tonally place.

    This being said, if you develop an eye for luminance range, you can certainly use exposure and development alterations to give yourself great negs when using an incident meter. But it isn't the Zone System, per se.

    I find the Zone System most useful for when I want to highly manipulate the tonality of an image. For most things, I prefer incident metering. When things are ideal, I use both meters for the same shot. I use the incident to get a "normal" EV, and then use the spot to measure the luminance range of the composition, and to see exactly where certain subjects will fall tonally if I use that "normal" incident exposure. The spot meter tells me exactly how much range I have, while my eyeballs tell me roughly how much I have, i.e. flat, normal, or contrasty at the least. With this info, I can decide if I want, and exactly how I want, to expose and develop differently from what the incident meter sez.
    Last edited by 2F/2F; 04-15-2011 at 04:07 PM. Click to view previous post history.
    2F/2F

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