Questions about metering with film
Hello all- Ive recently switched to all film, and I adore the process and Im really enjoying what it has to offer. However, Im having some issues with metering and the process for exposing best for color film. I understand how to use the zone system for BW film very well, and generally do pretty good with it.. but my color has been hit and miss. I shoot mostly with the new portra 160 or 400 and I know my goal is to expose it about 3/4 to a full stop over, Ive just not found the best way to do this DURING a shoot. I have a handheld, and i shoot with a 645afd, and I use the meter inside as well.
My question is should is:
- What is the best way to meter with my handheld to ensure Im getting the right exposure for this film? Ive read about several ways of doing it, but in practice Im finding it hard to constantly have to stop and meter. One thing ive read was with portra, meter with the bulb in will give me 3/4 over...but when when I do it, it seems to be the same as out.. reading wise. Im confused about this.
- Is it easier to just set my exposure comp + 3/4 or 1 stop and set my internal meter to average?
thanks for all your help!
What do you mean by hit and miss? Are you shooting landscape or still life, people? In geneal I have good luck by running a test roll to find the best ISO for my meter using a gray card or incident meter.
I do portraits.. what I mean is that I can tell when Im underexposed.. and I understand that using the built in meter isnt the best (Ive got 15 years shooting expierence).. Im just having issues on how to properly over expose portra..etc
Just use an external, incident light meter and, if you want, overexpose by some sensible amount (1/2 or 1 EV) and you'll hit anytime.
If you use reflective metering, the metering will vary according to the reflectivity of your subject (bright or dark). If you take a picture of a dark subject (skin, hair, dress, background, whatever) your reflective metering will tend toward overexposure. If you then further overexpose, you end up overexposing too much and you'll have a "miss".
Incident light metering will not be influenced by the characteristics of the subject and will give you the same reading whether the subject is bright or dark.
If there is one field of photography where incident metering wins hands down over reflective metering, I suppose that's portrait.
Second the incident metering, especially for portraits. Do some research on this. A substitute for incident reading is reflective off of an 18% gray card, but it can be tricky. I would search the "Exposure Discussion" forum, or even Google for Incident reading, and get a good understanding of what 18% gray is, what it means, and how it relates to both kinds of reading methods.
Basics: 18% is an "average" scene reflectivity, a reflective meter assumes that the scene is "average". If it isn't, then the reflective reading can be misleading. An incident meter reads the light that is falling on the subject, not the subject itself. Reading an 18% card (placed at the subject) with reflective meter is supposed to represent an incident reading. As always, technique and judgment are necessary for any kind of reading method.
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Ditto, to Fabrizio's advice. You didn't mention if you are using studio lighting that you control or available light or mixed lighting sources. With varying light sources and subjects your settings will have to match the situation. IMO you don't want to over expose but rather to properly expose for the particular situation. My limited experience with Portra has been to get excellent exposures at box speed with incident readings and available light and when necessary reflectors to open shadows.
Originally Posted by bibowj
You are saying that you are metering (incident?) in camera. That just doesn't support your claim that you know, and are actually using, the ZS well. You are using a spot meter if you are practicing the ZS. How else will you know how to place your zones? Shooting color negative needn't be any more difficult than monochrome negative, particularly if using the ZS. The ZS takes all the guesswork (confusion) out of film exposure, monochrome or color. No exposure compensations or averaging required. I would suggest you take another, perhaps more rigorous, look at the ZS before claiming that it is failing you, for any purpose.
But I agree with the others that the easiest solution for your situation is to use an incident meter.
lol.. people answer to rough to simple requests for advice. Ill take myself elsewhere, my apologies.
Set the meter to 80 for the 160 film or 200 for the 400, bulb out and stick the meter under the subjects nose and point it at the camera and take your reading.
Bulb in simply provides a more directional reading, for you lighting that may not matter and getting the same reading is not really a surprise.
Mark Barendt, Ignacio, CO
"The mind that opens to a new idea never returns to its original size." Albert Einstein
Simply put, I overexpose copor negative film, no quite as much as Mark(1 full stop)but by half a stop. I underexpose chromes by about a third of a stop. When photo'ing a person, place your incident meter under the subjects nose and aim it at the camera to get the proper reading. You are then reading the light falling on the subject, and getting the correct reading. If you stand at the camera and point the meter at the subject, you are reading the light falling on the camera, and getting the wrong reading.
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