Forgot Password
Pentax Camera Forums Home
 

Reply
Show Printable Version Search this Thread
06-07-2007, 04:02 PM   #1
Inactive Account




Join Date: Mar 2007
Location: Brisbane, Australia
Photos: Gallery
Posts: 98
Grey/Gray Card

I've been MIA (Missing In Action) lately. Reading sporadically but not posting. Workload is starting to pile up. Don't even have time to take photos!

Anyway, I've been practising setting exposure manually instead of using the Av mode. Does anyone here use Grey Card to set the exposure? I haven't actually seen one except on the net.

For those of you more experienced photographers, do you think that using a grey card for beginners like me helps in my understanding of exposure or is it better for me to learn how to find suitable substitutes and meter off it?


Last edited by LittleSwans; 06-07-2007 at 06:42 PM. Reason: fix spelling
06-07-2007, 07:28 PM   #2
Pentaxian
Lowell Goudge's Avatar

Join Date: Jan 2007
Location: Toronto
Photos: Gallery | Albums
Posts: 15,709
I bought a grey card many years ago (in fact I can't find it any more)

What I found is that you don't really need one, just meter off the pavement, or a tree trunk, what ever is about the right shade of grey and you will get the exposure set.

There are lots of things at the right shade of grey in our every day life that makes the card redundant.
06-07-2007, 09:48 PM   #3
Veteran Member
stewart_photo's Avatar

Join Date: Apr 2007
Location: Heidelberg, Germany
Posts: 1,864
QuoteOriginally posted by LittleSwans Quote
Does anyone here use Grey Card to set the exposure?
I use a grey card for commercial work or other situations where accuracy is absolutely required. Otherwise, I trust the camera meter and experience for most situations, and correct on the computer later when those fail me.

QuoteQuote:
I haven't actually seen one except on the net.
Any decent speciality camera store should have grey cards in stock. Otherwise, they are widely available on the internet...

Delta Gray Card 8x10" (1)

QuoteQuote:
For those of you more experienced photographers, do you think that using a grey card for beginners like me helps in my understanding of exposure or is it better for me to learn how to find suitable substitutes and meter off it?
There are two schools of thought on this. One group (traditionalists advocating basic skills) suggests beginners should only use the camera's manual mode and meter manually (using a grey card or other) until they have a firm grip on the basics. The other group (realists looking at modern cameras with advanced built-in metering) suggests beginners should simply watch the settings and results produced by the camera to learn where it fails and how to correct for those situations. While once a traditionalist, I now favor the realist view.

As for the grey card, you'll probably get bored with that in fairly short order. However, if you study the camera settings and results enough (experience), you'll eventually be able to fairly closely predict the settings for most scenes, whether the camera might meter a scene wrong, and what you need to do to avoid that.

stewart
06-07-2007, 11:53 PM   #4
PDL
Pentaxian




Join Date: Oct 2006
Location: Woodinville, WA USA
Photos: Gallery
Posts: 1,556
I have a Delta 1 18% Gray Card 2 pack. Two 8x10 cards with instructions on the oposite side. Cost was 9.98 USD. Back in the day - I had a Kodak 18% Gray card, on the flip side it was 90% white - nice to use as white balance. Cut the thing in half - take an image and in the dark room you had the mid tone and 1 step from pure white on the negative. Nice trick to set up what the proper exposure was for all the images off of that particular shoot in the same light.

A 18% gray card is a nice thing to shoot if you have issues setting the color balance in digital too. At least for one of the PP programs I use - it selects the grey point not black or white - having a known 18% gray would (will) be a nice thing to have for those real iffy situations that are bound to come up.

You might also take a look at WhiBal Gray Card for Digital Photo White Balance - RAW Workflow they have several sizes of cards from 2x3.5 in to 8.5x11 in. One of the guys I know who shoots portraits really loves his. I think I will just cut one of the 8x10 Delta 1's in to 4x5 and drop it into my camera bag.

PDL

06-08-2007, 12:57 AM   #5
Veteran Member
Matjazz's Avatar

Join Date: Sep 2006
Location: EU/Slovenia
Photos: Gallery
Posts: 773
Like Stewart I too have a "realist" point of view on this matter. I don't use gray card and I don't see how it could benefit from using one. With DSLR it's easier to snap a shot and correct exposure than to run around with a gray card. With time one gets used on camera metering and needs to correct less and less.
As for white balancing you definitely don't need gray card. Any white surface (like office paper) does the trick as long a you don't over/under expose it (the white surface that is).
06-08-2007, 02:17 AM   #6
Veteran Member
Mike Cash's Avatar

Join Date: Jan 2007
Location: Japan
Photos: Gallery
Posts: 6,952
Let's not forget the great "coffee filter" faux-ExpoDisc solution suggested here a while back.

My solution:

step-up ring, add cut-out of white coffee filter, hold in place with a clear lens guard filter.

Cheap. Effective.
06-08-2007, 03:23 AM   #7
Inactive Account




Join Date: Sep 2006
Location: Göteborg, Sweden
Posts: 810
QuoteOriginally posted by Mike Cash Quote
Let's not forget the great "coffee filter" faux-ExpoDisc solution suggested here a while back. -snip-
Surely great for JPG shooters in need of the right WB if you believe in your coffee filter. But it has nothing to do with metering the light and set the correct exposure values.
06-08-2007, 03:26 AM   #8
Inactive Account




Join Date: Sep 2006
Location: Göteborg, Sweden
Posts: 810
I'm with Stewart here. Experience and active thinking --> learning.
When things are critical I use not a grey card but a small Gretag Color Chart. I can use it for both exposure and "absolute" color corrections in PP.

06-08-2007, 06:24 AM   #9
New Member




Join Date: Apr 2007
Location: Norway
Posts: 21
I read in a text concerning exposure that grass actually would give more or less the same EV reading as a greycard (18% grey).

I don't know HOW close the readings are, but I find that the exposure usually works out when metering off grass.

I've never bothered with a greycard, though I'm a newbie.
I find that it's easy enough to make my(or the cameras) initial assumption, take the show, review with the histogram and correct if necessary.

But for 10$ (as someone mentioned earlier in this post) it's not a great expense, so if you feel like playing with one I doubt it will ruin you financially

Regards,
Beej80
06-08-2007, 06:49 AM   #10
Inactive Account




Join Date: May 2007
Location: Texas
Posts: 42
At the risk of sounding like an old pompous windbag let me chime in on this.

To make sure we are all on the same page, there are two ways to measure light for an exposure. We can measure light reflected from the subject (this is what your camera does) or we can measure falling on the subject. Measuring light falling on the subject—an incident reading—is generally more accurate because it eliminates the variables of subject reflectance and color. To take an incident reading we can use an incident meter or, as a substitute, take a reading off of a grey card.

Modern camera metering systems do a great job and are going to get you very close in the vast majority of situations. If you are shooting digital and regularly check your exposure by looking at a histogram, then you are probably going to be OK although you might find an incident reading helpful. I regularly use my incident meter, but then I already have an incident meter.

On the other hand, if you are shooting film and especially if you are shooting a low exposure latitude transparency film such as Velvia, then you probably should be taking an incident reading. A grey card is an inexpensive alternative to an incident meter.

Back before digital, photographers shooting for publication and/or stock commonly used low speed transparency films such as Kodachrome 64 (later Fujichrome 50 then Velvia) and the use of grey cards and incident meters was common. I’d usually take an incident reading and then bracket ½ stop in each direction.

There are times when your reflected meter will be fooled. For example, if you fill the frame with one color (e.g., purple flower petals) or encounter an unusual environmental situation such as freezing fog then you can easily get a false reading. If you think post processing is a good place to fix exposure errors then you should wear a T-shirt that says “Newbie” across the front. :-)

Also, if you do use a grey card, you have to be careful. Even though it has a matt surface, a slight change in the angle can sometimes change the reading.
06-08-2007, 11:10 PM   #11
Senior Member




Join Date: Mar 2007
Location: Brisbane, Qld, Australia
Posts: 165
Gray Card

QuoteOriginally posted by Jonas B Quote
Surely great for JPG shooters in need of the right WB if you believe in your coffee filter. But it has nothing to do with metering the light and set the correct exposure values.
You are absolutely correct. The gray card is invaluable when fine tuning the WB before converting the DNG / PEF files to JPG / TIFF.

BTW, it is worth noting that if you shoot in AdobeRGB colour space you can increase the exposure by up to 1 stop for average subject matter without loss of highlights.

What are your thoughts on this.
photog
06-09-2007, 02:45 PM   #12
Inactive Account




Join Date: Sep 2006
Location: Göteborg, Sweden
Posts: 810
QuoteOriginally posted by photog Quote
You are absolutely correct. The gray card is invaluable when fine tuning the WB before converting the DNG / PEF files to JPG / TIFF.

BTW, it is worth noting that if you shoot in AdobeRGB colour space you can increase the exposure by up to 1 stop for average subject matter without loss of highlights.

What are your thoughts on this.
photog
I think this is depending on if you are a 97er, 110er or 125er. I'm a bit sensitive to blown highlights. Then I don't think of minor details and reflections and such, but about larger areas which I always try to keep within and under the 255 limit for all the channels. Here are my exposure values:

In the diagarm above I have 0 EV set to 97 (RGB value in ACR 3.7 with everything set to flat, straight or default). This gives me some headroom and I can sometimes choose to increase the exposure to avoid noise in middle dark and dark areas. An illustration:


Above is the corner of the wheelhouse blown away


In the picture above is the exposure held back and we get a picture that is easier to the eyes. There are still blown parts in the picture but that is ok to me. Note that the PP for this picture isn't finished, there is still some work to do in curves to make things look "proper". At least that is what I would have done if I were to print it.

With or without a grey card we have to think a little when taking pictures. In this example a grey card and then +1EV would make for a picture like the first one. An alternate method may be to set the meter to spot, find the light corner or set the exposure manually to +2.5 EV.

Or you can continue your walk without making too much fuzz of everything and just turn on exposure bracketing.

I shoot raw only and the color space if of no interest to me when I take the pictures. The color mapping will take place when developing the raw pictures into something Photoshop can handle. Thinking of color spaces in general... I don't know why aRGB should allow for more stretching of the exposure or compensation later. Maybe you can explain that?

regards,
06-09-2007, 09:32 PM   #13
Veteran Member
stewart_photo's Avatar

Join Date: Apr 2007
Location: Heidelberg, Germany
Posts: 1,864
QuoteOriginally posted by Jonas B Quote
Above is the corner of the wheelhouse blown away
Good grief, Jonas. Don't you think it is about time to clean up your yard a little?

By the way, what happened to the rest of Sandy? A picture may indeed say a thousand words, but it doesn't always give the conclusion to the story.

stewart
06-11-2007, 02:46 PM   #14
Inactive Account




Join Date: Mar 2007
Location: Brisbane, Australia
Photos: Gallery
Posts: 98
Original Poster
I've actually forgotten that I've posted a topic! Well, I blame it on the long weekend in Aust.

I've been busy practising on Manual mode and checking the histogram. There's been hit and misses of course but I think I am getting the hang of it. All I can say it thank God it's digital and I can correct my mistake and reshoot!

I might post a couple of photos later on and get you guys to give me some pointers.
06-11-2007, 06:19 PM   #15
Pentaxian
khardur's Avatar

Join Date: Feb 2007
Location: NW Massachusetts
Photos: Gallery
Posts: 1,534
I actually got one of those 18% gray cloths, that doubles as a WB tool and a lens cleaner... not perfect, but quite handy.

I only use it for WB. I check the histograms and shoot to keep the highlights within a decent range. (and have the "blink" function turned on, so I can quickly see what highlights are blown in the image preview)

Since going to digital I've gotten much better with exposure though - seeing results in seconds and being able to correct is much more intuitive than waiting a few hours/days/weeks for film to come back... i was always too impatient to write down all my settings for every shot when I used film.
Reply

Bookmarks
  • Submit Thread to Facebook Facebook
  • Submit Thread to Twitter Twitter
  • Submit Thread to Digg Digg
Tags - Make this thread easier to find by adding keywords to it!
camera, card, exposure, photography
Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search


Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
grey card question trevorgrout Troubleshooting and Beginner Help 19 07-13-2010 04:44 PM
Utilizing a gray card for WB Gary G Photographic Technique 5 06-21-2010 11:50 AM
The 18% Gray card Eugene-S Pentax Camera and Field Accessories 31 03-29-2010 02:16 PM
Color temperature with gray card senojobmij Pentax DSLR Discussion 12 06-16-2009 09:25 PM
K10D Light Meter Question (18% Gray Card)... MNCurt-K10D Pentax DSLR Discussion 10 02-09-2008 10:27 PM



All times are GMT -7. The time now is 04:00 PM. | See also: NikonForums.com, CanonForums.com part of our network of photo forums!
  • Red (Default)
  • Green
  • Gray
  • Dark
  • Dark Yellow
  • Dark Blue
  • Old Red
  • Old Green
  • Old Gray
  • Dial-Up Style
Hello! It's great to see you back on the forum! Have you considered joining the community?
register
Creating a FREE ACCOUNT takes under a minute, removes ads, and lets you post! [Dismiss]
Top