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Thread: AE1 issues

  1. #1

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    AE1 issues

    Hello, all. I've had a lot of metering problems with an AE-1 I bought recently. I've never had this with any camera of age purchased before. It seems to be extremely sensitive to really light or dark areas. I know that this happens when metering areas that are far from grey, but the camera seems to adjust sometimes 2 or 3 stops in either direction versus a neutral colored area. It also treats items in brilliant sunlight as close to white in its calculation.

    Furthermore, I've tried using a 100mm macro lens with it, and anytime it's at full extension, the meter underexposes by several stops. I've had some disappointing results, so I'm just wondering...is the center weighted meter extremely sensitive to changes in brightness and can't deal with long lenses, or do you think I just got a lemon?

    Thanks.

  2. #2
    BobD's Avatar
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    Difficulty using the AE-1's meter is common, probably due to a poor explanation
    in the original camera manual for manual-metered operation. Apparently Canon
    wanted owners to only use it in AE mode. I suggest reading the manual
    carefully and making you sure you are following it exactly.

  3. #3
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    Hi. I have an AE-1 that I used for many years without problem. When you take a picture of a landscape, does the picture come out exposed OK? If so, you camera is probably metering OK. A landscape is close to an "average" scene, which is what your camera was designed to meter.

    However, if most of your frame is filled with a very dark subject, the camera thinks this is an "average" (18% grey) scene so your film will end up being overexposed. If you take a picture of a mostly white scene, the camera will underexpose, making a very dark subject appear grey. This is normal for most cameras/meters. You as the photographer will have to recognise when to give some exposure compensation.

    I have a black dog and a white dog, and it is very diffivcult to take a close up picture of either of them because of the under/over exposure problem when photographing a scene which is not average. I get around this by either manually setting the aperture and shutter (if they are sitting still), or by having a dog only take up a smaller portion of the frame. I will have to crop the picture later, but at least the camera will meter for an "average" scene and the dog, either one, will come out pretty good in the final picture.

    Hope this helps.
    ~Dom
    Last edited by Obtong; 04-30-2010 at 12:27 AM. Click to view previous post history.

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    Hi. I have an AE-1 that I used for many years without problem. When you take a picture of a landscape, does the picture come out exposed OK? If so, you camera is probably metering OK. A landscape is close to an "average" scene, which is what your camera was designed to meter.

    However, if most of your frame is filled with a very dark subject, the camera thinks this is an "average" (18% grey) scene so your film will end up being overexposed. If you take a picture of a mostly white scene, the camera will underexpose, making a very dark subject appear grey. This is normal for most cameras/meters. You as the photographer will have to recognise when to give some exposure compensation.

    I have a black dog and a white dog, and it is very diffivcult to take a close up picture of either of them because of the under/over exposure problem when photographing a scene which is not average. I get around this by either manually setting the aperture and shutter (if they are sitting still), or by having a dog only take up a smaller portion of the frame. I will have to crop the picture later, but at least the camera will meter for an "average" scene and the dog, either one, will come out pretty good in the final picture.
    Thanks, Dom. I do understand this, it just seems to be going WAY under/over. I think I just may have to replace the camera. Thanks for the help.

  5. #5

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    Quote Originally Posted by Obtong View Post
    When you take a picture of a landscape, does the picture come out exposed OK? If so, you camera is probably metering OK. A landscape is close to an "average" scene, which is what your camera was designed to meter.
    This is a new one.....:rolleyes:
    2F/2F

    "Truth and love are my law and worship. Form and conscience are my manifestation and guide. Nature and peace are my shelter and companions. Order is my attitude. Beauty and perfection are my attack."

    - Rob Tyner (1944 - 1991)

  6. #6
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    I used to use the AE1 Program with a 300 f2.8 and got fantastic results; could be the meter is faulty.
    Centre weighted will on most occasions average out the exposure and be correct, but you will have to compensate for white or black areas that are quite dominant.

    Admittedly I used mine in manual mode 95% of the time and used a hand-held meter, and adoption of the Zone System to assist me.

    Have you tried to compare your camera readings with a hand-held?

    It is possible you got a lemon, but I'd investigate a little further before I gave up on it.

  7. #7

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    Quote Originally Posted by marylandphoto View Post
    Hello, all. I've had a lot of metering problems with an AE-1 I bought recently. I've never had this with any camera of age purchased before. It seems to be extremely sensitive to really light or dark areas. I know that this happens when metering areas that are far from grey, but the camera seems to adjust sometimes 2 or 3 stops in either direction versus a neutral colored area. It also treats items in brilliant sunlight as close to white in its calculation.

    Furthermore, I've tried using a 100mm macro lens with it, and anytime it's at full extension, the meter underexposes by several stops. I've had some disappointing results, so I'm just wondering...is the center weighted meter extremely sensitive to changes in brightness and can't deal with long lenses, or do you think I just got a lemon?

    Thanks.
    The way it sounds, when your meter sees something very bright or very dim it tells you to change your exposure by several stops versus something that is a mid tone.

    This is what light meters do!!! What do you want it to do? Suggest the same exposure no matter what you point it at?

    It is very easy for there to be a scene in which there are over ten "stops" difference between the darkest area and the lightest area, so if you are just getting three stops each way from middle grey, your negs are going to be quite easy to print, if not a bit flat.

    This is one reason that we have grey cards. They are the best way to make an in-camera reflected meter actually give you consistently decent exposures. Read a grey card that is placed in the light for which you want to expose, and open up half a stop from your meter's recommended exposure. In-camera meters were originally designed as tools of compromise, and so they still are today. They were not ever intended to replace more accurate types of metering, but only to increase convenience. They will very rarely give you the ideal exposure if read directly off of the composition. Use a grey card whenever possible, and your exposures will improve about 90%.
    Last edited by 2F/2F; 04-30-2010 at 02:38 AM. Click to view previous post history.
    2F/2F

    "Truth and love are my law and worship. Form and conscience are my manifestation and guide. Nature and peace are my shelter and companions. Order is my attitude. Beauty and perfection are my attack."

    - Rob Tyner (1944 - 1991)

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    Obtong, if the landscape is snow - you'd end up with an 18% grey scene using the meter reading from the camera (or a hand-held meter); in this instance you would need to open up by 2 stops to get a "correctly" exposed image. (The same would be true of a very dark scene, but in that instance, you'd need to stop down 2 stops to render it "correct".)

    I remember doing a test at college with grey cards - you had to make the same card: 18% grey, white and black; it all had to do with your exposures. Some got the idea quickly, others had problems, but once you worked it out, adjusting to compensate for any scene you were presented with was much easier.

  9. #9

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    Not only can all sorts of photos be made in all sorts of different levels of darkness and brightness, but landscapes are typically some of the least average-toned photos there are.

    When spot metering snow that I want to be white, I place it three to four stops above middle grey, not just two. It is very easy for snow to become a bear to print if it is even slightly underexposed.
    2F/2F

    "Truth and love are my law and worship. Form and conscience are my manifestation and guide. Nature and peace are my shelter and companions. Order is my attitude. Beauty and perfection are my attack."

    - Rob Tyner (1944 - 1991)

  10. #10

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    This is what light meters do!!! What do you want it to do? Suggest the same exposure no matter what you point it at?
    That is not what I'm saying. I understand that they will change for light/dark areas, I'm just saying that mine is wildly off, changing many stops at just the slightest change in tone. This probably is just my camera. It's lasted me forever, just need a new one.

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