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Thread: Incident Metering Again. BTZS.

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    Incident Metering Again. BTZS.

    I have heard about "Beyond The Zone-System", but have not bought the book yet.
    What is the difference between the BTZS method and the usual method for using an incident meter and how is the final exposure decided?

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    ki6mf's Avatar
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    Re: Incident Metering Again. BTZS.

    I have the books and the tubes! A short answer, others may have move to add, is that if you plot out the density of each zone at the top and bottom the curves flatten out and go horizontal. The BTZS system needs access to a densitometer, the book talks about how to build one with a spot meter that gives reasonable results, and follows a procedure to move your work flow to get the shadows and highlights into the flat part of the curves where highlights and shadows. This in theory optimizes the tonal range on the film and when you print. I don't use the system today as I am happy with my normal work flow of diluted developer and compensating development!
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    Re: Incident Metering Again. BTZS.

    To answer your question it still meters the shadows and highlights, stops down 2 stops to get zone 3 and alters development time to adjust highlights!
    Wally Brooks

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    Re: Incident Metering Again. BTZS.

    Quote Originally Posted by ki6mf View Post
    I have the books and the tubes! A short answer, others may have move to add, is that if you plot out the density of each zone at the top and bottom the curves flatten out and go horizontal. The BTZS system needs access to a densitometer, the book talks about how to build one with a spot meter that gives reasonable results, and follows a procedure to move your work flow to get the shadows and highlights into the flat part of the curves where highlights and shadows. This in theory optimizes the tonal range on the film and when you print. I don't use the system today as I am happy with my normal work flow of diluted developer and compensating development!
    I only use a Sekonic L-358 incident meter. I think the BTZS will be too complicated for me to understand.
    Thanks for the description.

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    Re: Incident Metering Again. BTZS.

    Quote Originally Posted by Sinar-Man View Post
    I only use a Sekonic L-358 incident meter. I think the BTZS will be too complicated for me to understand.
    Thanks for the description.
    A simple method to do the same thing! Meter shadows. Select F stop and go two stops faster. Example of F64 @ 2 Seconds go to F 64 @ 1/2 second. Shoot and develop. You will be close to getting a broad tonal range! Experiment with shorter or longer development times to vary high lights. I use a diluted developer (D 76 in my case 33% developer 67@ water) and my normal development is 14 minutes. For each stop over exposure as measured by the meter drop 2 minutes in development time. Take the rated ISO and cut it in half. This will give you broader tonal range on the negative! I have found when the sun is shining I always cut development times as highlights are over developed! Also for landscapes I use gentile agitation to help prevent to much highlight development
    Wally Brooks

    Everything is Analog!
    Any Fool Can Shoot Digital!
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  6. #6

    Re: Incident Metering Again. BTZS.

    Quote Originally Posted by Sinar-Man View Post
    I have heard about "Beyond The Zone-System", but have not bought the book yet.
    What is the difference between the BTZS method and the usual method for using an incident meter and how is the final exposure decided?
    Underlying the procedures, what is distinctive about BTZS is that it provides a systematic and rigorous approach for understanding the curve shapes of film and paper and how they interact to determine the print's tonal scale. In this way it provides more precise control over the tonal scale than systems that are based purely on an idealized zone exposure scale for film with N+/- development.

    The point of metering in BTZS is to determine the subject brightness range. But how you use the SBR to set exposure and development for a particular picture depends on what you've learned about your materials - your film and paper - in your calibration tests, and on what you want your print to look like.

    The various proposed shortcuts are not the same thing, because they leave out one or more factors that BTZS is expressly designed to explain and control.

    If you like to previsualize your final results and want to fully control what your prints look like, then eventually you will need to learn the things that BTZS talks about, whether or not you do that through the specific approach that Phil Davis presents in his book. If you're happy just going with the flow and don't care so much to control exactly how your prints come out, you can live happily without it.

    Even if you do learn BTZS or its equivalent, whether you need to follow the full discipline of customizing exposure and development for every sheet is up to you and depends on what you're trying to accomplish. I think BTZS is extremely valuable for learning about how films and papers behave. But I don't care about previsualization, and in normal practice I treat my sheet film the same way I do my roll film, with a standard exposure and development.

  7. #7

    Re: Incident Metering Again. BTZS.

    it is NOT that complicated. Find a way to get the book either through a library or in the used market and educate yourself. If you are paying for film you owe it to yourself to spend the time to read it and draw your own conclusions.

    By the way your meter is more than up for the task at hand. I personally find the BTZS technique the easiest and quickest way to make a perfectly satisfactory exposure. You need to own the process of making correct exposures before you can even dream about using your competence in the darkroom to produce excellent images in print form.
    Last edited by Michael Kadillak; 31-Aug-2010 at 19:41. Reason: typo

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    Re: Incident Metering Again. BTZS.

    Quote Originally Posted by Michael Kadillak View Post
    it is NOT that complicated. Find a way to get the book either through a library or in the used market and educate yourself. If you are paying for film you owe it to yourself to spend the time to rear it and draw your own conclusions.
    Mike is right. BTZS is not very complicated at all. Get a book and read the principles and in a very short time you will be all over the technique.

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    Re: Incident Metering Again. BTZS.

    Also, you can get a step wedge, expose and process your own film test, and send the negatives to the View Camera Store who will do the densitometer readings and generate all of the graphs and information for you. So even if you want to use a simplified version of BTZS, you could find your development times and film speeds for N +/- procedures.

    But once you have that information, you have to meter a scene with either a spot meter or an incident meter. I prefer the incident meter in almost all situations because it is fast and easy with less room for error.

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