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11-07-2007, 10:12 AM   #1
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Metering Techniques

I've been shooting with a DSLR for about 18 months, now. My previous cameras were a K1000 and an MX, both of which were manual exposure. I used these cameras for twelve years, and had grown accustomed to manual metering.

When I got my *ist DL2, I had to relearn how to take pictures. Took about six months. Still, I don't feel as proficient in getting great exposures with the DSLR as I think I should be. I really miss the in-viewfinder light meter. I still make mistakes, and considering the technology incorporated into this camera, I think I should be making fewer mistakes.

In particular, I find the DL2 tends to auto-expose a full stop too dark. I am often bumping up the exposure in Lightroom. I use EV adjustments when shooting, of course. But then I often forget to reset the EV, and I end up exposing my next shot incorrectly. Since there's no light meter in the viewfinder, I have no visual indication that my next exposure will be off.

Certainly, a handheld spotmeter would be useful, but would be an encumbrance for walking-and-shooting.

I suspect my technique needs adjustment. I can't believe that the best way to shoot is constant chimping.

11-07-2007, 12:12 PM   #2
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Are you using the matrix metering mode or center (or spot) weighted?
11-07-2007, 12:36 PM   #3
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I use matrix metering.

I'm aware that the automatic metering can be fooled into underexposing objects against bright backgrounds. However, I get the impression that the camera is desined to deliberately to try to overprotect me against blown highlights.

Sadly, I'm most comfortable using my screw-mount lenses in Av mode. I find them more predictable.
11-07-2007, 12:45 PM   #4
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You can always use it in M mode, which indicates in the viewfinder how far over or under the "correct" exposure you are. Then you could just adjust the shutter speed or aperture like you would on your MX or K1000.

Also, both of those cameras use center-weighted metering, so you might give that a try. On older manual lenses, I believe spot and center-weighted metering are your only choices anyway (at least it is on the K100), so even if you have it set to matrix metering, it still center-weights.

11-07-2007, 12:48 PM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by Jim Royal Quote
My previous cameras were a K1000 and an MX, both of which were manual exposure.
By the way, those are the two film bodies I use. They do have wonderfully reliable metering, don't they?
11-07-2007, 03:09 PM   #6
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The old K1000 and MX certainly were a pleasure to use. Built like tanks and solid metering indeed.

I think I will take your advice and spend a morning shooting only in Manual mode. I spend most of my time shooting in P or Av mode, but that still leaves me dealing with the semi-intelligent metering software, which often has to be fooled or shoved into giving the correct exposure.

I think I avoided Manual mode initially in order how to learn how to use this camera. I think it is time to return to it.
11-07-2007, 03:55 PM   #7
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Jim

On your manual cameras, what was your technique.

When I shot film, even with an advanced PZ-1, I often preferred manual metering. My method was to focus on something medium grey to simulate an 18% grey card.

I found paved pathways, tree trunks, etc...to be suitable alternatives.

Once I set my exposure I just kept shooting until lighting changed.

The only time I used auto exposure (on the PZ-1) was when I was shooting through shadow and light (wildlife mostly), then I used spot metering, or when I wsa shooting large groups of people, then I would use center weighted metering in either my XR-2s or my PZ-1 because spot metering might get it totaly wrong by hitting a black jacket or a white shirt.

I still do the same approach with my *istD and K10D
11-07-2007, 07:34 PM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by Jim Royal Quote
The old K1000 and MX certainly were a pleasure to use. Built like tanks and solid metering indeed.

I think I will take your advice and spend a morning shooting only in Manual mode. I spend most of my time shooting in P or Av mode, but that still leaves me dealing with the semi-intelligent metering software, which often has to be fooled or shoved into giving the correct exposure.

I think I avoided Manual mode initially in order how to learn how to use this camera. I think it is time to return to it.
This may not help much but this thread (Canon/Olympus-centric) has some interesting "food for thought" regarding metering in the digital age and compromises that have to be made...
What is "close enough"...: News Discussion Forum: Digital Photography Review
Re: What is "close enough"...: News Discussion Forum: Digital Photography Review
quote........
For instance, using centerweighted vs. matrix metering (ESP) on the Olympus E-500, you get a different and semi-selfcorrecting result when shooting an evenly lit, plain surface (camera was put in Aperture Preferred mode and the manual lens was stopped down a half stop for each shot). And frankly, the exposure errors I got when I ran this test a few years back are not quite what I expected. Even though you can't see hardly any brightness change from f/4 down with your eye at the viewfinder, the metering sensors sure could. Hence my suspicion that the placement and viewing angles of the sensors factor in.
.............unquote..................

11-07-2007, 11:19 PM   #9
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In the November issue of Digital Photo Pro, there is a full article on proper exposure for RAW, "Expose To The Right", (ETTR). If you get a copy, you will probably find that the Canon 5D does the same thing (that's what the author of the article uses). It has to do with the rendering of JPG images as opposed to RAW images.
11-08-2007, 02:17 AM   #10
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Actually all this stuff about shooting to the "right" has been around for quite some time. You shoot digital just like you shoot color slides. Expose for the highlights because pure white on a digital is just like clear acetate on slide film. Neither one of them are recoverable.

Now if you are old like me, you have a reasonable idea about what you want to be the middle grey tone. Then you meter off of that – just comes with a lot of experience (100’s of feet of B&W film) and a good understanding of how your camera/meter/film (ISO) combination works.

It is easier to get the necessary experience/clues with digital. That is why there are histograms – but you have to learn how to read them too. The LCD on your camera is actually a pretty poor guestimator.

The Elitist – formerly known as PDL
PS – I usually use center weighted – spot when I have a clear target to meter off of (good middle tone identified) with matrix in bland uniform scenes.
11-08-2007, 07:59 AM   #11
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Lowell, my technique when shooting film was identical to yours. I shall go back to it, and leave the auto-exposure for party snapshots, at least for a while.

I will have to do some tests to make sure that my Katz Eye focusing screen isn't unduly affecting spot metering.
11-08-2007, 08:05 AM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by Jim Royal Quote
Lowell, my technique when shooting film was identical to yours. I shall go back to it, and leave the auto-exposure for party snapshots, at least for a while.

I will have to do some tests to make sure that my Katz Eye focusing screen isn't unduly affecting spot metering.
Glad to hear that others think as I do, I'm not always sure.

One thing that I find with automatic modes, and digital specifically is that you tend to think less and take a lot more shots. While sometimes the shots are OK, I find that there are too many poor shots because you forget to think about what you are doing and how the camera sees the image. Manual mode makes you slow down and think, just a little.
11-08-2007, 03:37 PM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by Jim Royal Quote
Lowell, my technique when shooting film was identical to yours. I shall go back to it, and leave the auto-exposure for party snapshots, at least for a while.

I will have to do some tests to make sure that my Katz Eye focusing screen isn't unduly affecting spot metering.
NOW you mention that you switched screens????????? I would think that is information that you should have included in the first place. Oh well...
11-09-2007, 11:36 AM   #14
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Jeffkrol, this is a issue of technique and appraoch, not of the details of specific equipment. This was a problem for me for I put the new screen in, too.
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