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03-31-2014, 09:22 AM   #1
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Metering went wonky

Took my K-5 IIs out into the desert sun the other day. The metering was so wrong that I had to shoot everything in manual mode. I set at f/8 with shutter speed 1/250 and found those numbers to work well, but the camera's metering set shutter speeds as high as 1/1000 or higher, especially when in center weighted mode. I switched it to center spot and got slightly better results, but it was still wonky. A bright, sunny day shouldn't pose problems for the metering.

After the wild metering, I switched to my second battery to see if that fixed it, and it didn't. The batteries were fully charged the night before. I had just got off the airplane (a 4.5+ hour flight in total) a few hours earlier when I was shooting these photos and had actually taken a few on the plane. Could that have messed with my camera?

A couple days later, it went much better under similar conditions. What could explain a "bad day of metering"? I've shot in deserts before (albeit with a different lens) and not had this issue.

03-31-2014, 10:46 AM   #2
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QuoteOriginally posted by MadMathMind Quote
Took my K-5 IIs out into the desert sun the other day. The metering was so wrong that I had to shoot everything in manual mode. I set at f/8 with shutter speed 1/250 and found those numbers to work well, but the camera's metering set shutter speeds as high as 1/1000 or higher, especially when in center weighted mode. I switched it to center spot and got slightly better results, but it was still wonky. A bright, sunny day shouldn't pose problems for the metering.

A couple days later, it went much better under similar conditions. What could explain a "bad day of metering"? I've shot in deserts before (albeit with a different lens) and not had this issue.
Hard to say without knowing how the camera was setup as far as mode, aperture & ISO. If it was really bright and highly reflective, you might have been at EV16 (assuming ISO 100) and 1/1000 at f8 wouldn't have been too far off. Or maybe the small, dedicated PC we use that masquerades as a camera needed a Bill Gates salute.

About 5 years ago, I set my cameras to M and have never changed. Everything on my web sites and blog, manual exposure. It just isn't that hard to do and its a lot more reliable than a reflective meter reading. I really got started because metering is pretty useless on the theater productions. Once I got used to it and understood it ( The Ultimate Exposure Computer) its the only way I can shoot.

Reading Bryan Petersen's book "Understanding Exposure" confirmed the benefit of manual exposure to me. About the same time, I discovered that the experienced staff photographers on out local newspaper all shoot manual.

I have two K5IIs and and an older K-5 and I have no idea if the meters work. If Pentax would sell me a camera that only produced DNGs, without video, meters, Live View, filters, et al and put the cost savings into a better sensor, I'd buy it.
03-31-2014, 12:24 PM   #3
dms
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Actually a sunny day is one of the the toughest situations for a reflected light metering system! And the easiest for you to over ride the system and set it manually--or meter an alternate part of the scene.

1) Either use sunny 16 rule--set f/16 at 1/iso sec. e.g., at iso 100: f/16 at 1/100s, or f/11 at 1/200 s, or f/8 at 1/400 s, etc.

2) Or meter the clear blue sky, and use the result (blue sky is a midtone), or meter white clouds and increase exposure by 2.5~3 stops, or meter your palm held in sun and increase exposure by 1 stop.
04-01-2014, 10:11 AM   #4
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I don't believe that the day being sunny or super super sunny had anything to do with the problem. What you haven't told us is the reflectance of your subjects. I'll assume, based on the "desert sun" conditions that you were taking pictures of sand dunes. Depending on the reflectance of the sand (white sands in NM, yellow in Mojave, black in Hawaii) your metering could be off by 2-3 stops regardless if you used spot, center weighted or multi-segmented metering.

For me, I use multi-segmented when I want the camera do things for me. Since I could potentially point the camera at something that is brighter/darker than middle gray I avoid using spot or CW in these situations. But other when I'm being serious, then I'm in manual mode with spot metering and a single center point AF. I'll chimp to check things out - both exposure and composition - just to be safe.

A quick check - Point your camera at healthy green grass (which is very close to having an 18% middle gray reflectance value) and get an exposure. Set your camera manually to that exposure and take a few pictures. If they're good, then your meter is fine.

You may want to carry an 18% gray card with you.

Frank

04-01-2014, 02:20 PM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by dms Quote
or meter your palm held in sun and increase exposure by 1 stop.
"or meter your palm held in sun and increase exposure by 1 stop" Yep.

Which is why I got asked "Grandpa, why are you taking a picture of your hand?".

Last edited by Brooke Meyer; 12-03-2014 at 09:19 PM.
04-02-2014, 04:10 AM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by FrankC Quote
I don't believe that the day being sunny or super super sunny had anything to do with the problem. What you haven't told us is the reflectance of your subjects. I'll assume, based on the "desert sun" conditions that you were taking pictures of sand dunes. Depending on the reflectance of the sand (white sands in NM, yellow in Mojave, black in Hawaii) your metering could be off by 2-3 stops regardless if you used spot, center weighted or multi-segmented metering.Frank
I'm curious as to why you think bright sun and sand wouldn't affect/confuse camera metering (in the first sentence) then go on to say the cameras meter would/could be off by 2-3 stops?

I agree with the last part, I see it all the time when outside photographing in snow (bright or overcast) the camera never gets it right and the settings always have to be tweaked.

---------- Post added 04-02-2014 at 07:24 AM ----------

QuoteOriginally posted by Brooke Meyer Quote
"or meter your palm held in sun and increase exposure by 1 stop" Yep.

Which is why I got asked "Grandpa, why are you taking a picture of your hand?".
Or know the Sunny f16 rule (f16 @100 ISO 100 Tv) is the same as 100 ISO f8 & 500 Tv.

Pretty close to your settings in exif.

Love the photo dramatic, colorful, yet simple.
04-11-2014, 10:17 PM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by MadMathMind Quote
Took my K-5 IIs out into the desert sun the other day. The metering was so wrong that I had to shoot everything in manual mode. I set at f/8 with shutter speed 1/250 and found those numbers to work well, but the camera's metering set shutter speeds as high as 1/1000 or higher, especially when in center weighted mode. I switched it to center spot and got slightly better results, but it was still wonky. A bright, sunny day shouldn't pose problems for the metering.

After the wild metering, I switched to my second battery to see if that fixed it, and it didn't. The batteries were fully charged the night before. I had just got off the airplane (a 4.5+ hour flight in total) a few hours earlier when I was shooting these photos and had actually taken a few on the plane. Could that have messed with my camera?

A couple days later, it went much better under similar conditions. What could explain a "bad day of metering"? I've shot in deserts before (albeit with a different lens) and not had this issue.
Just use your exposure histogram, and your exposure problems will pretty much go away.
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