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FORUMS Photography Talk by Genre General Photography Talk 
Thread started 17 Jun 2015 (Wednesday) 19:28
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Manual mode metering tolerances

 
iroctd
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Jun 17, 2015 19:28 |  #1

What I mean by the title is when you're in Manual mode and you meter a scene or subject, you get the needle pointing at zero or +/- away from it. Lets assume for this that we want the needle on zero without any purposeful over or under exposure. With that said, what is the allowable amount of +/- you personally allow before adjusting settings? I ask this because small hand movements cause the needle to adjust slightly and I want to get a idea from other photographers at what I can ignore and when I should change settings. It is obvious that drastic changes need a correction. However I did some test shots with +1 stop, 0 and -1 stop and it isn't something I can't correct using RAW and post production, save for the possibility of detail lost in the blacks on underexposure.

I want to feel/get more comfortable and stop chimping so much. Of course if I expose to the right I feel the need to chimp because I'm worried I'll clip some whites. Does this go away with experience or is it just a part of photography?


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Jon
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Jun 17, 2015 20:51 |  #2

Zeroing the needle isn't a guarantee you'll get a good exposure. If you're photographing a light, or dark, subject you may need to allow up to 2 stops away from the zero point to get the whole scene properly exposed. If you're just going to go for a zeroed needle, you might as well just shoot in one of the Auto modes. That's not meant disparagingly - I spent 30 years with match-needle cameras before I went digital with the D60. Since I changed over, I typically have the camera in "P" mode except for special events or studio shoots; it gives me an acceptable combination of shutter speed and DoF without letting me miss shots while adjusting my exposure. I may dial in EC when the environment calls for it, but that's about it. But I'd want to be within around 1/2 stop of a decent exposure for the specific subject, regardless of how I'm letting the exposure be defined (by me or by what I let the camera say).


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PhotosGuy
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Jun 17, 2015 21:18 |  #3

I ask this because small hand movements cause the needle to adjust slightly

As Jon said, you're just chasing the needle when the actual light might not be changing at all. Try this: Need an exposure crutch?


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CheleA
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Jun 17, 2015 21:20 |  #4

The biggest concern is the highlights, let the shadows fall where they may. Even if the image is predominantly dark, the highlight/lightest point is useless if it's blown as there is no data to recover -- this of course is not an all or nothing as you have to allow for highlights such as street lights, the sun, etc. This is the basic concept of ETTR. I had a hard time understanding how to get the proper exposure until I started playing with ETTR. Now it's easy(er), meter for the highlights and try not to clip them, the shadows(with much less noise) are handled in PP.




  
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tonylong
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Jun 17, 2015 21:24 |  #5

iroctd wrote in post #17601204 (external link)
Does this go away with experience

Yes

or is it just a part of photography?

Yes...!

You do learn to go "on the fly" but also taking the environment under consideration...


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Sacadelic
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Jun 17, 2015 22:03 |  #6

PhotosGuy wrote in post #17601296 (external link)
As Jon said, you're just chasing the needle when the actual light might not be changing at all. Try this: Need an exposure crutch?


Use this. I have been doing if for the last two years or so, and I have to say that it has helped with me attaining proper exposure on a consistent basis. Good read.


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Wilt
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Jun 17, 2015 22:31 |  #7

CheleA wrote in post #17601299 (external link)
The biggest concern is the highlights, let the shadows fall where they may.

I present the dissenting opinion to the above statement. It is true in SOME situation, but it is NOT true in other situations. Admittedly, I extracted the above statement out of the total context, and CheleA does mention exceptions but without clarifying explanations, "to allow for highlights such as street lights, the sun, etc." I present one such situation...

If the highlight is a reflection of the sun in a chrome bumper, there is NO DETAIL in this area which is worth preserving. And if there are some areas of the same scene which occur in the shade, while other parts are out in open sunlight, darker objects within the shaded area may well represent areas in which we DO wish to preserve details! It would be horrible to keep details of scratches in the chrome bumper where the sun's reflection is located, only to lose the important details in the shadows.

If the brightness range of the scene is 11EV, but the sensor only captures an 9EV wide range, one has to make a judgment call about what 9EV part of the 11EV is to be preserved, while the other 2EV is sacrificed. Assuming our brightness ranged from EV1 thru EV12, I can

  • center the needle to capture EV2-EV11, or
  • bias the needle to +EV, to capture the range from EV1 - EV10, or
  • bias the needle to -EV, to capture the range from EV3 thru EV12


That is the concept. I freely acknowledge that capturing 9EV of dynamic range is challenging for today's average digital camera...I use this range for illustrative discussion only.

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iroctd
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Jun 18, 2015 09:15 |  #8

PhotosGuy wrote in post #17601296 (external link)
As Jon said, you're just chasing the needle when the actual light might not be changing at all. Try this: Need an exposure crutch?

Thanks everyone! I'm reading through that link and going to go through the motions tonight with the camera to get a better feel for it. And yes, you're right, the light is not changing.

I think I'm trying to be too precise. No matter where the needle is, it has the tendency to dance around and that makes it annoying (for me at least).


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Wilt
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Jun 18, 2015 10:10 |  #9

iroctd wrote in post #17601786 (external link)
I think I'm trying to be too precise. No matter where the needle is, it has the tendency to dance around and that makes it annoying (for me at least).

The changing needle is simply a reflection of the fact that, even in fixed lighting conditions (artificial light) a reflected light meter (what is in all our dSLRs) sees a different amount of light reflected back from different colored clothing as people walk thru our field of view. And that is why the metering of an 18% grey card or the palm of the handle is a single value for exposure; you do not care that reflected light readings change because of variable subjectmatter, (not due to variable lighting intensity!) Learn to ignore dancing needles when the LIGHT falling upon the scene is STEADY!


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Snydremark
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Jun 18, 2015 10:53 |  #10

Wilt wrote in post #17601878 (external link)
...Learn to ignore dancing needles when the LIGHT falling upon the scene is STEADY!

Requoting the above for emphasis.

The needle dancing like that happens in Av/Tv since the camera is "seeing" varying numbers/amounts of different tones depending on what the lens is pointed at; this does not mean that your exposure for the current scene/ subject has changed...only that the camera sees something different. For those sorts of scenes, AE Lock is a great tool to use to keep the camera from switching up values unexpectedly.

If you're like me and just find that distracting, work on M and adjusting to conditions yourself. The there's no 'SQUIRREL' effect from seeing the needle move around ߘ


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CheleA
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Jun 18, 2015 13:28 |  #11

Snydremark wrote in post #17601929 (external link)
Requoting the above for emphasis.

For those sorts of scenes, AE Lock is a great tool to use to keep the camera from switching up values unexpectedly.

If you're like me and just find that distracting, work on M and adjusting to conditions yourself. The there's no 'SQUIRREL' effect from seeing the needle move around ߘ

What he said! There are three things that have made my life easier, manual exposure, ETTR, & BBF(back button focusing).

Full manual exposure(AV, TV, and ISO)= set the exposure, take the shot, check the histogram and adjust accordingly.

ETTR = This works so much better(for me) in full manual. Just lock onto the highlights, adjust if necessary, and fire away. Luckily, PP allows to compensate somewhat and don't need to be absolutely precise. My biggest concern is clipping the highlights.

BBF = it allows me to frame the shot as I want/need and re-aim the camera to meter the highlights and set the exposure as I see fit.

As always, there is a learning curve to this. You'll need to identify the highlights that interest you and you will also need to learn to read the histogram -- both of these points are critical to ETTR. The nice thing is that life will be so much easier once you get it. ETTR has been a real revelation in my case, it helped me truly understand exposure and has served me very well.




  
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merp
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Jul 10, 2015 04:17 |  #12
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Hmm why not try other shooting modes and using some exposure compensation. This way you can worry less about the needle and more on capturing the photograph. I wouldn't say you have an "allowable amount of +/-" because light changes like crazy but you can lock an exposure too.

So if you take a shot and it's too dark "chimp" to get the exposure correct (that you like) and lock the exposure if you are going to stick in the area for a little.


Don't worry about chimping they put an LCD there for you too look at ...so use it! You can also throw the histogram up to make sure you are exposing properly and not clipping whites/blacks etc

When I'm in the studio I am tethered to a computer ha. I take a good amount of photographs to make sure my lights correct with what I'm photographing. After the light and settings stays fixed then I can start shooting and worry less about looking at the screen.


over time more experience behind the camera will obviously help =] The more you shoot the better you get. Just keeping shooting like crazy =]




  
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Manual mode metering tolerances
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