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  1. #1

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    Thoughts on Nikon's Matrix Metering?

    Despite owning an F4(e), a couple of F5s and an F6, I have yet to ever use the "matrix" metering function on any of these cameras. Why not? Mostly because I prefer using manual focus lenses when shooting with my SLRs. Since the F5 does not allow use of matrix metering with manual focus lenses, and I often shoot with several bodies, I almost always have the cameras set to the same center-weighted setting. So, a couple of questions for owners of Nikons with matrix capabilities, and more narrowly, to those who shoot transparency films. 1. What is your overall assessment of matrix metering? 2. Are their particular shooting situations where you would avoid using the setting? 3. Are their any particular transparency films that do not lend themselves to matrix metering?
    An assortment of F-series Nikons (F to F6, excluding the F4) with quite a few Nikkors, a pair of M6s with some Leitz glass, a pair of 500c/ms with a wide range of Zeiss optics and, just to help keep Duracell solvent, a D800.

    Favourite films: (1). KE ("Kodachrome Era"): 35mm: PKM25 and PKR64, HP5/Tri-X; 120: PKR64, PanF, FP4. (2). PKE ("Post-Kodachrome Era"): (a) 35mm: E100G, HP5 Plus/Tri-X and Delta 3200; (b) 120: E100G, PanF Plus, FP4 Plus, TMax 100.

  2. #2

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    I have a few Nikons with matrix metering, and they've always proved accurate with slide film. In high contrast situations where you need to read for the highlights and crush the blacks, I prefer spot metering but for everything else I use matrix and tweak the compensation wheel.

  3. #3

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    frame a vertical--say, one third on one side significantly darker, like a tree trunk or an edge of the window shooting from inside. now flip the camera 180 and frame the exact same vertical. do this on all three cameras. meter reading the same? wasn't for me

  4. #4

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    I agree with blockend. I've used matix some but I prefer CW or spot depending on the conditions and how I'm shooting. I shoot manual exposure almost exclusively so CW and spot tend to suit me better. If I were shooting in an automatic mode I would probably be more inclined to use matrix. I would say if you are not familiar with compensating or you don't have time in an action situation matrix would probably give you a higher percentage of good exposures. However, as blockend said, it's not good at high contrast scenes.

  5. #5

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    I have used matrix metering when I first got an F100 and shot slides and negatives but then switched to CW and sometimes spot metering. I felt that the matrix metering was calibrated for slides as it tends to underexpose, and the slides that I shot with matrix metering was much better than the negatives (mono and color). And since the matrix mode has a mind of its own, literally, I found it hard to compensate so I just stayed clear of it.

  6. #6

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    Same experience here with my F100. After many incorrectly exposed frames, and a lot of studying to understand how it worked, I went back to CW. Matrix was just too unpredictable. The F4 doesn't seem as bad though.

    Quote Originally Posted by Salem View Post
    I have used matrix metering when I first got an F100 and shot slides and negatives but then switched to CW and sometimes spot metering. I felt that the matrix metering was calibrated for slides as it tends to underexpose, and the slides that I shot with matrix metering was much better than the negatives (mono and color). And since the matrix mode has a mind of its own, literally, I found it hard to compensate so I just stayed clear of it.

  7. #7
    resummerfield's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lamar View Post
    ...I shoot manual exposure almost exclusively so CW and spot tend to suit me better.....
    +1
    —Eric

  8. #8
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    I've owned an F5 for a few years and use centre-weighted\spot for portraiture but often use matrix for landscape scenes unless there a great range of contrast across the scene. Overall, for most landscapes, I find matrix to be really good.

    I might be wrong but I'm fairly sure I read once that the technology behind the matrix metering of the F5 was incorporated (and perhaps further improved a little) into the digital Nikon D3.

    It's very good. And I've used it a lot with Fuji Velvia.

    That said, nothing beats manual if you know what you're doing and given your experience there seems little point to use Matrix.
    Ted Smith Photography
    Hasselblad 501CM...my 2nd love.

  9. #9
    Sirius Glass's Avatar
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    It works extremely well with the N-75 and f-100.
    Warning!! Handling a Hasselblad can be harmful to your financial well being!

    Nothing beats a great piece of glass!

    I leave the digital work for the urologists and proctologists.

  10. #10

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    I pretty much always use the matrix meter on my F5- both for transparencies (I stick to velvia 100) and B&W negatives. It's almost always perfect- the problem with it in my opinion is that it's a very complicated matrix meter and I find it a little hard to predict when it is going to be wrong. I am always using my F5 to photograph action, so I count on the meter to deal with constant light changes, but if it starts giving readings that annoy me, I'll switch it off.

    I don't use the F4 too much anymore, but I found the matrix meter both more fallible and more predictable when I did.

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