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Thread: exposure with filter and spotmeter

  1. #21

    Join Date
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    Re: exposure with filter and spotmeter

    Quote Originally Posted by Doremus Scudder View Post
    I've written a bit here and on APUG about how I use my Pentax spotmeters to read directly through filters. I'll elaborate a bit later, but first, here's a quote from the manual that comes with the Pentax digital spotmeter:

    "By mounting different filters in front of the objective lens of the Pentax Spotmeter and comparing the readings taken of the various colored areas with each filter, it will be easy to determine which on provides the best contrast for black and white film."

    So, obviously the manufacturer thinks metering through the filter a viable option. . . .
    Respectifully, I tend to be skeptical about these kinds of manufacturers' statements. For one thing, it's out of context, since it refers to conventional exposure determination, which is fundamentally flawed, versus Zone Systems exposure determination (for the shadows). Also, one doesn't know whether it might be quasi-advertising, representing more aspirational thinking, versus realistic thinking.

    There are two reasons for using a meter that are worthwhile to bear in mind. One is to get an idea of how one area of the scene will compare with another in the final black and white photograph.

    A second is to determine exposure (exposing for the shadows) and to determine development (through metering highlights). I have both an analog Pentax V modified meter (where I can at least estimate tenths of stops for film texting and calibration), and a Pentax Digital modified meter for use in the field. I tend to think that modified meters are more useful for the former reason (above), where one is compariing how different colors will appear in the final black and white photograph. If one is using a color filter, then one can make these comparisons by metering through the color filter.

    In contrast, by evaluating shadows and highlights, one is metering areas in the scene that are relatively colorless. I think that using a non-modified meter in these cases is acceptable. If one is using a color filter, then one can compensate the meter reading by applying a filter factor.

    When I'm in the field, it might be nice to compare how different areas in the scene will copare in the final black and white photograph, with or without a filter. But, my primary purpose is to determine both exposure and what development time that I'll be using. After these have been determined for the negative, it's pretty much job-done.

    Chris Burkett is a master color photographer, especially when the method of capture is via color transparency. And I've had the good fortune to have twice participated in guided tours of his studeo. Its interesting to note that he used a Pentax modified meter to estimate exposure in the field. Just in case, he also maintained a second Pentax Zone VI modified meter as a backup.

  2. #22
    Drew Wiley
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    Sep 2008
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    SF Bay area, CA
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    17,187

    Re: exposure with filter and spotmeter

    If Chris Burkett has his reasons for using a modified Pentax meter, I have equally good reasons for using using the un-modified version. And one of those is the fact that modified meters contain internal filters which fade or degrade over time, and need a specialized kind of service, whereas factory meters are all calibrated to an industry standard which can easily be compared one to another to see if adjustment is due. The functional debate one style over the other, has been known to occur even with Hollywood cinematographers working in color exclusively. But all the modified ones are getting old by now, and I sure wouldn't buy one personally. But other than that arcane debate, Pentax and similar Minolta spotmeters are a well-known precise products known to be consistent for a number of decades now. I've have four of them, one so mauled from hundreds of trips the mountains that it's held together with masking tape, the others in fine condition - but all still read the same over the full range, given a minor recalibration tuneup about once per decade.

  3. #23

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    Forest Grove, Ore.
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    Re: exposure with filter and spotmeter

    Just as an aside, I was speaking in past tense to the time of the tours. (Probably 15 years ago.)

    I just had both my meters calibrated by Richard Ritter; I'll check with him on this. I know that both meters are currently reading corrrectly after calibration.

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