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Thread: Does anyone spotmeter any more?

  1. #1
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    Does anyone spotmeter any more?

    I have been using the E-1 since its introduction and often wonder if there would be an advantage to spotmetering over all these years vs esp metering. Looking for comments and education! Thanks!
    Last edited by bbodine9; 22nd August 2009 at 13:56. Reason: typo

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    Senior Member Per Ofverbeck's Avatar
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    Re: Does anyone spotmeter any more?

    FWIW, I use it quite a lot. For, say, a bright flower against a dark forest background, most other metering methods would give a burned-out flower, or at least a clipped channel. Spot metering gives the desired result with a minimum of fuss. Whenever a camera has a programmable function button, I put spot metering there.

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    ddk
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    Re: Does anyone spotmeter any more?

    Sure, for night shots and landscapes using zone system.

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    Senior Member barjohn's Avatar
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    Re: Does anyone spotmeter any more?

    I too prefer spot metering to be sure my subject is properly exposed.
    V/r John

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    Senior Member pellicle's Avatar
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    Re: Does anyone spotmeter any more?

    Hi

    well, another way of looking at this is take a shot evaluate it on your display and see. This way you are getting 12 million spots. I used a spot meter with my 4x5 for many years and gave it up eventually when I realised my old coolpix 5000 was a more reliable spot meter.

    If you're using film and can't see what the results will be like then sure, but with a digital I'm not sure I get the point ... unless for some reason you have time to make as many spot readings as you need, evaluate the results yet only have the opportunity to take one shot.

    It takes only a few experimental shots and evaluations of the RAW image in your software to determine how the 'blinking' hilight bit relates to your actual capture data. I doubt that you'd be able to get within 1/10th of a stop anyway.

    WRT blown channels : digital : film exposure : spot metering, I've been considering pondering and writing about this for a while (writing helps me learn as much as communicates to others).

    For example on blown channels with some ideas on technique on how to evaluate this in your images.

    On digital for film exposure (with a bent towards application to film).

    Even when using complex flash exposures I have essentially given up using my flash meter and just use the camera to take a few exposures ... perhaps my years of using these tools has programmed my thinking in such a way as I already intuit much and the camera assists me to fine tune it ... hard to answer that one myself.

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    Senior Member JBurnett's Avatar
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    Re: Does anyone spotmeter any more?

    I usually find it faster/easier to use the live histogram. Depending on the situation the histogram may prompt me to bracket exposures to assess them later, or perhaps even combine them. I also have the camera set up to display a histogram/blinking-blown-highlights after each shot, just in case.
    Best regards,
    John.
    http://jburnett.ca

  7. #7
    Ranger 9
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    Re: Does anyone spotmeter any more?

    I keep my G1 in spot mode by default, and only use evaluative occasionally.

    The histogram approach is great when you're trying to get the best fit of the overall tonal scale into the sensor's dynamic range. But when you need to nail the exposure in one specific area and can afford to let the other areas fall where they will, a spot meter reading is the quickest and surest way to get there.

    In this picture, an evaluative meter couldn't have known that I only cared about the faces and was willing to let the windows and floor blow out:


    I did actually take an evaluative reading of the scene first (because I had set the meter to evaluative earlier and had forgotten to switch it back) and it did a better job of holding detail in the floor, but the faces were much too dark.

    Of course being able to evaluate the shot on the LCD afterward is a great backstop. But I'm still not totally trusting of how well the LCD represents the final file. And some types of picture situations don't give you the chance to go back and reshoot if you don't like what you saw on the LCD, so you want to have the best exposure guess you can get beforehand.

  8. #8
    ddk
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    Re: Does anyone spotmeter any more?

    Using a spotmeter/spotmetering or your lcd and histogram aren't exclusive to one another!

  9. #9
    Subscriber Member Streetshooter's Avatar
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    Re: Does anyone spotmeter any more?

    Using a spot meter and not compensating for Zones is a waste of time.
    The meter reads Zone V. So if you don't place your skin tone to Zone VI or VII, your better off with evaluative.
    I find that evaluative works best with digicams. There is much more control with software than there ever was with film/developers.

    shooter

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    Senior Member barjohn's Avatar
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    Re: Does anyone spotmeter any more?

    The problem I have encountered is when you are shooting quickly and don't have time to look at the LCD image and evaluate what you got. I was at a wedding the other day and I was using the evaluative rather than spot exposure and shooting quickly to try and capture the moments and later discovered that my subject of interest were underexposed by around 1 to 1.5 stops. I would much rather have blown out the background than try to recover in post processing. When the E-P1 underexposes it creates a noisy image that can not really be fixed very well in PP. You clean up the noise and you lose detail and this is at ISO 200.
    V/r John

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    Senior Member pellicle's Avatar
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    Re: Does anyone spotmeter any more?

    Oh dear ... that sort of "spot meter"

    looks like I've outed myself as an old "film" fart.

    I've found that camera "spot" metering is very prone to the old metering problem of subject failure. In the image that Ranger9 put forward I'd probably be working on Manual with defined settings and checking things were close to what I wanted. I have been annoyed by irregular (and verging on unpredictable) exposure using spot meter (especially tied to the focus points). Funerals and weddings are especially tough with black driving me nuts.

    Generally light levels don't vary that much so manual gives me consistency shot to shot.

  12. #12
    ddk
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    Re: Does anyone spotmeter any more?

    Quote Originally Posted by pellicle View Post
    Oh dear ... that sort of "spot meter"

    Generally light levels don't vary that much so manual gives me consistency shot to shot.
    Why do you think that shooting in manual mode negates the need for spot metering?

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    Re: Does anyone spotmeter any more?

    I use evaluative and centerweighted metering with Aperture priority AE most of the time, as my priorities are to control the focus zone and lens' rendering characteristics first, and I find that the EV Compensation control combined with Auto ISO nets very accurate exposures most of the time this way.

    When needed for difficult lighting circumstances, I use Spot metering to limit the metering sensor's active area and more carefully select my metering target to place exposure where I want it, and I bracket. And similarly, Manual exposure is useful when needs demand it.

    These are all just tools for the task of exposure evaluation and setting. Tools should be exploited as appropriate. None are better than the other other than in specific contexts of use.

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    Senior Member pellicle's Avatar
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    Re: Does anyone spotmeter any more?

    Hi

    Quote Originally Posted by ddk View Post
    Why do you think that shooting in manual mode negates the need for spot metering?
    like I said above:

    Generally light levels don't vary that much so manual gives me consistency shot to shot.
    so once I have an exposure on a location I don't see the need to change it a lot. So I find that using manual exposure works well for me. YMMV

  15. #15
    ddk
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    Re: Does anyone spotmeter any more?

    Quote Originally Posted by pellicle View Post
    Hi

    like I said above: so once I have an exposure on a location I don't see the need to change it a lot. So I find that using manual exposure works well for me. YMMV
    I understand not having to change your exposure when situation is constant, but I still don't see how that makes spot metering useless.

  16. #16
    Ranger 9
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    Re: Does anyone spotmeter any more?

    Quote Originally Posted by pellicle View Post
    I've found that camera "spot" metering is very prone to the old metering problem of subject failure.
    You're right, shooting digitally hasn't changed the fact that you need to interpret a spot reading based on the tone you read. If I'm going to be spot-metering skin tones, for example, I usually compensate them by about +2/3 of a stop.

    In the image that Ranger9 put forward I'd probably be working on Manual with defined settings and checking things were close to what I wanted...Generally light levels don't vary that much so manual gives me consistency shot to shot.
    I'm with you there again (in fact, I recently wrote this on the same topic.) Once I've determined my base exposure via a spot meter reading, I'll usually either lock it by toggling the AEL, or set the same reading in manual exposure mode so it will stay put. The G1's in-finder histogram is a handy backup because it gives you an ongoing idea of how many light or dark values your locked-in exposure is going to throw away.

  17. #17
    Senior Member pellicle's Avatar
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    Re: Does anyone spotmeter any more?

    Hi

    Quote Originally Posted by ddk View Post
    I understand not having to change your exposure when situation is constant, but I still don't see how that makes spot metering useless.
    please identify where I have said that spot metering is useless.

    (when discussing the premise of a different spot meter) I have said that spot metering may not be worth your while. If you read what I've said you should find the answers, however (incase it is plain to me because of my proximity to my viewpoint and premise assumptions) the issue with using spot metering on the subject is that you really really need to know how it will react in terms of reflectance values (subject failure) so it is up to the photographer (and his training) to interpret this. Metering off other than 18% (or 12%) reflectance will yeild results biased one way or another.

    So I find that I'm just as well off using the meter of the entire scene (because its so damn good now days) and then locking that in by simply setting manual when I'm looking at the light meter reading during setting exposure. I also like my exposures to be close to each other (makes processing prints easier) Thus I no longer use it.

    I think Ranger9 seems to be on the same page as me there so perhaps he can express this better for you.

  18. #18
    Senior Member pellicle's Avatar
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    Re: Does anyone spotmeter any more?

    Hi

    Quote Originally Posted by Ranger 9 View Post
    I'm with you there again (in fact, I recently wrote this on the same topic.)
    nicely written ... and I do like that shot.

    this one is pretty good (pardon me linking this without your express permission)


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