• Originally Posted by markbarendt
Well there's an urban myth.

It takes two readings, to tell us the range regardless of meter type. A single reading from an incident meter tells us nothing more than a single reading of a spot meter, they both only measure single points, not a range. The only difference is that with a reflective meter we have to judge the reflectivity offset, say 1-Stop for Bill's hand.

Neither meter knows anything about the films range unless we tell it, and only a select few meters will take that input and spit out range info; most of us have do the math to find the SBR with either type of meter.
You significantly overinterpreted what I stated! I'm accustomed to telling someone "There are clouds in the sky", and the interpretation is "Wilt said it's going to rain!"

The incident meter gives a single exposure value based upon intensity light falling upon the scene at the meter position, whether the scene has reflective tones spanning 5EV or 15EV or 8EV. It will allow me to record Zone V as a midtone. But if some of my scene is in shade, with a range of zones within the shade area, and my main subject is in the sun with its full 10 Zones of brightness tonality, my total scene = what is in the shade + what is in the sun...and that might easily span 14EV. So I have no idea how to expose to capture as much as will fit within my capture medium. In part, because I never took any reading in the shade.

Using the spotmeter intelligently allows a photographer to know if 5EV or 8EV or 14EV range of tones exist in the scene, and if you simply average the highest and lowest values you know 'the middle' of the range -- even if the middle of the range is Zone VII and not Zone V. I can read the dark tones in the shade, and I can read the bright tones in the sun, and know that my total scene spans 14EV...so then I can decide to capture the portion of the scene that matters to me, and maybe use processing and printing technicques to broaden what I capture and compress them within the 10 zones of the print, or to alter lighting in the studio to fit the 7EV range of the offset press.