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02-19-2014, 07:41 AM   #1
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Spot metering for negative film

I have an early birthday present coming shortly (MZ-S) and wanted to get my head around the spot meter as it seems to be a great way to meter for negative film because you don't really care about the highlights as much when shooting.

Right now I have an LX and just trust the metering to be correct, and for the most part it is fine. You just have to remember to compensate for backlight etc.

So when metering spot, I am assuming I should hit the darkest part (that I care about) and that will put me metered at details for that dark part. So 'medium' grey which is what the spot is actually metered for would be about 2 stops above that.

So as long as I am comfortable with being 2-3 stops overexposed I would be ok just metering the darkest area I want details in, correct?

Jamey

02-19-2014, 08:29 AM   #2
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The old saying meter for the shadows and develop for the highlights. It's more for BW film than color though. So, yeah, you may want to keep an eye on the highlights.

The spot meter is giving you the middle gray (zone V) exposure for what it is seeing. So if you want to place a shadow you are spot metering at, say, zone III you would need to decrease the exposure by 2 stops from what the meter is reading either by increasing the shutter speed, stopping down the aperture or a combination of the two.
02-19-2014, 08:36 AM   #3
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With negative film, you have so much exposure latitude that it's easier to trust the center-weighted metering pattern, and compensate for backlighting. Many people also err on the side of over-exposure, too.

It really depends on what you're trying to do. If it'll go to the lab and be scanned, I don't really see an advantage in this, as they're going to make corrections for you. As long as you don't hit the shoulder of the film, they should look fine... maybe a tad bit grainier. If you're worried about losing shadows, just rate the film 1/2-1 stop slower and give exposure compensation for backlighting or overly light or dark subjects.

Spot metering really shines with landscape work with filters, work with the zone system (not really applicable to 35mm) and for slide film. When doing landscape, I use a spot meter through filters to see how the different tones will be put to the film. (not taking exposure, as that's not really accurate-- just comparing readings for comparison sake). With slide film, you need exposure accuracy within 1/3-1/2 of a stop, so spot metering let's you look at all your mid-tone areas individually. Also, you can use it to evaluate the dynamic range of each part of your scene, so you can know if you'll be able to capture it on your limited dynamic range.

For average work with 35mm negatives, what you're proposing will not be any better than CW metering, and may actually lead to a bit more inaccuracy.
02-19-2014, 08:48 AM   #4
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I just use the averaging method for slide film and it works well. Just take a reading of the darkest and lightest part of the scene and divide in half. As long as the difference is not more than 5 EV you will be ok. If the difference is more than five EV then take three or more readings, then divide that sum by the number of readings you took.

Phil.

02-19-2014, 08:51 AM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by gofour3 Quote
I just use the averaging method for slide film and it works well. Just take a reading of the darkest and lightest part of the scene and divide in half. As long as the difference is not more than 5 EV you will be ok. If the difference is more than five EV then take three or more readings, then divide that sum by the number of readings you took.

Phil.
Yup! For quick snaps that works great. It gets a little trickier when you use grads to bring the sky values down, but it's still easy math that can be done in your head while looking through the viewfinder.
02-19-2014, 09:20 AM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by fretlessdavis Quote
...
Spot metering really shines with landscape work with filters
...
If the sun is out and I'm shooting BW film, I don't even use a light meter anymore. So, IMHO, landscapes are the easiest to not use a spot meter. If you are exposing for the shadows, their EV value is pretty predictable and therefore your exposure filters or not. The latitude of BW film is so great you can just use the filter factor for the filter to adjust your exposure. Close enough. I have years of BW shots that say it's true too.
02-19-2014, 09:34 AM   #7
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Very true. I still like to point a spot meter around to get a good feel on the tones that'll hit the film. I'll probably keep doing that until I inherently know how tones will be affected. As far as exposure, last time I was out in full daylight, I don't think I used a meter to take an exposure reading, nor did I use any kind of timing for the exposure. With a green filter, polariser, and Acros @64, I just relied on my musician's sense of tempo and did a Bulb at 1.5 seconds =P

Tuco, I also committed a roll to the +3 exposure, very underdeveloped negatives you mentioned in my thread-- results were fantastic with Acros @10 (I used D76 @ 1:5, though). A test shot of mine had *very* deep shadows, and I got detail in everything from the deepest shadows to the fluffy clouds at a print grade of 1.5. I may have to dedicate another film holder to this, instead of just shooting everything at N-1.

Now if I could just end my streak of buying film holders that end up broken...
02-19-2014, 09:50 AM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by fretlessdavis Quote
...
Tuco, I also committed a roll to the +3 exposure, very underdeveloped negatives you mentioned in my thread-- results were fantastic with Acros @10 (I used D76 @ 1:5, though). A test shot of mine had *very* deep shadows, and I got detail in everything from the deepest shadows to the fluffy clouds at a print grade of 1.5. I may have to dedicate another film holder to this, instead of just shooting everything at N-1.
Sweet! IIRC, Kodak does not recommend development times shorter than 5 min for D-76. So I would have thought D-76 would not be a good developer for this process but it sounds like that's not the case.

02-19-2014, 10:09 AM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by tuco Quote
Sweet! IIRC, Kodak does not recommend development times shorter than 5 min for D-76. So I would have thought D-76 would not be a good developer for this process but it sounds like that's not the case.
Negatives came out a bit thin, but TOTALLY grainless (test 4x7 from a 16x20-- though detail was getting a little mushy from a 645). That's why I bumped up dilution to 1:5, with more volume. My understanding for the short time limit of D76 was for 1) easier process control, and b) silver solvent action not being enough. Diluted this way I'm way beyond it being a solvent developer, though.

When my father was teaching me darkroom stuff, he showed me what too warm of a developer and short of a time would do. Trying to process Tri-X in the central AZ heat in the summer gave high temps and short times (think he said 3-4 minutes) gave MASSIVE grain.

I calculated that time in stock D76 (72 degrees) would be about 2 minutes, 3.5 minutes @1:1, 6.5 minutes @1:3, and 12.5 minutes @1:5. I used 750ml of solution to make sure it wouldn't exhaust too rapidly, and did minimal agitation (3 inversions initially, then one at each 3 minute interval).

Basically, I had read that Adams used very dillute HC-110 as a compensating developer, and tried to calculate how to use D76 like that.

Obviously, needs some refinement-- likely more agitation or longer in the developer. Shoot to have the highest contrast scenes print at grade 0, so my normal scenes will print at something more like grade 4.

More than likely, I'll just use this with 4x5 where I can do sheets individually, or get another film holder and use it for special occasion very high contrast shots.

Sorry for going way off topic, OP...
02-19-2014, 10:24 AM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by fretlessdavis Quote
Negatives came out a bit thin, but TOTALLY grainless (test 4x7 from a 16x20-- though detail was getting a little mushy from a 645)..
I added more dev time too from the instructions as well as more exposure to favor the shadows more since I can capture the highlights. But be advised this process is not so good for flat light days ( eg overcast ).

I use PMK Pyro because I'm lazy. It has a 10-year shelf life, one-shot mixing and I don't have to mess with counting how many rolls have been developed on the mix or worry about the developer being exhausted due to age during winter periods when I'm not too actively shooting film.
02-19-2014, 10:27 AM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by tuco Quote
The old saying meter for the shadows and develop for the highlights. It's more for BW film than color though. So, yeah, you may want to keep an eye on the highlights.

The spot meter is giving you the middle gray (zone V) exposure for what it is seeing. So if you want to place a shadow you are spot metering at, say, zone III you would need to decrease the exposure by 2 stops from what the meter is reading either by increasing the shutter speed, stopping down the aperture or a combination of the two.
Thanks for weighing in. I saw this post shortly after it was made and was going to attempt a good answer, but figured you would come along and do a better job.


Steve
02-19-2014, 10:31 AM   #12
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I've been looking at the Pyro stuff. The last place I lived it was difficult to get warmer developer temps, which I know Pyro likes. Down here where it's warm (and we have a heat wave...) tap water is 72 degrees. The shelf life looks very nice, but I'll likely pick up one of HC-110 developers (Legacy Pro 110, Ilfotec HC), which will be more in line with my typical D76 experience.

I definitely concur on it not being good for days with flat lighting... not a problem for me here as I think we've had clouds on about 2 days in the last 2 months...

I'll play around with it a bit more, but I did browse through APUG, and other people are also using D76 1:5 as a compensating developer with very low speed negs. I'll keep digging and refining my times.
02-19-2014, 10:56 AM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by fretlessdavis Quote
Yup! For quick snaps that works great. It gets a little trickier when you use grads to bring the sky values down, but it's still easy math that can be done in your head while looking through the viewfinder.
I've also used the IRE Scale and metered for the brightest spot. This also worked well with slide film.

Phil.
02-19-2014, 02:56 PM   #14
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So really I have two situations:

1) I don't want to underexpose my color negative film. I have found the Portra 400 will tolerate +4 stops or something crazy over exposure but if you underexpose by a stop it will be grainy and nasty. I didn't know if having a spot meter would get me any better results.

2) I have been getting blowouts in my tri-x but recently discovered it was my scanner not the film :-) I will be switching from hc-110 to xtol next time I develop b&w as I hear it is gentler on the highlights. I think the scanner can do a better job if the developer is gentle with the highlights. (I have the pakon 135 and love it)

So it sounds like continuing with the center metering but rating a stop below box speed should keep me covered. Thanks for the input!
02-19-2014, 03:38 PM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by Jamey777 Quote
So really I have two situations:

1) I don't want to underexpose my color negative film. I have found the Portra 400 will tolerate +4 stops or something crazy over exposure but if you underexpose by a stop it will be grainy and nasty. I didn't know if having a spot meter would get me any better results.

2) I have been getting blowouts in my tri-x but recently discovered it was my scanner not the film :-) I will be switching from hc-110 to xtol next time I develop b&w as I hear it is gentler on the highlights. I think the scanner can do a better job if the developer is gentle with the highlights. (I have the pakon 135 and love it)

So it sounds like continuing with the center metering but rating a stop below box speed should keep me covered. Thanks for the input!
Don't switch developers just yet. I personally think it's better to work with a single developer whenever possible, instead of switching things around. HC-110 is great for it's convenience. If negatives are too contrasty, reduce development or agitation. Exposure controls shadows, and development controls highlights. If your shadows look good, then exposure is fine. If the highlights are blown out, things might be overdeveloped.

I don't scan myself, but others can weigh in here. Less contrasty negatives are easier for scanning. If the range of your negative is outside what the scanner can capture, then you can't recover what's missing. If your negatives scan and look flat and low contrast, it's easy to increase contrast without losing any detail.

Which dillution are you using with HC110? The weaker dillutions give a little bit easier control on development.
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