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Guest Message by DevFuse
 

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Your X-Pro1 may be lying to you!

X-Pro1

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56 replies to this topic

#1 cdodkin

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Posted 26 October 2012 - 10:22 PM

You've spent a small, or even a large fortune on your camera, it's state of the art, has bells, whistles, and even built-in metering.

You head-out to take photos, secure in the knowledge that some boffin engineers have programmed your cameras metering system to give you perfect exposure every time.

You set up your shot - choose your aperture, and click - the camera has chosen a shutter speed and your shot is in the bag.

Here's what my X-Pro1 came up with:

Posted Image

1/160 f/8 ISO200


But what if this exposure wasn't 'correct', or I should say optimal.....

How else could we judge the correct exposure for this scene?


You can use a hand-held light meter to set your exposure - an incident meter measures the light falling on it, and gives you an exposure value

Posted Image

It has a little white dome which you point at your light source - in this case the Sun, and you can set ISO and in this case f/8 for aperture, and the meter provides an optimal value for shutter speed.

My meter in full Sun gave me a value of 1/500 f/8 ISO200

I set my X-Pro1 to those settings and got this shot:

Posted Image

As you'd expect, the change in shutter speed has produced a darker image - the colors are more saturated, the highlights are muted, and the shadows are deep black.

If you compare detail from the camera exposure and incident exposure, you can really see the difference.

Posted Image
Posted Image

The rocks in full sun are now better exposed, as you;d expect because you took a meter reading of full sun.

But the shadows are now so dark that you've lost a lot of detail in those areas.


So what other options do you have?

This is where you can use a spot meter to help you gauge the optimal exposure.

A spot meter measures exposure from reflected light off of the subject - rather than the incident lighting we measured with the meter before.

It has a small viewfinder through which you see a highly magnified section of the scene, usually representing just 1 degree field of view.

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Using a spot meter I can look at my scene and select a precise area to meter from.

But which area do I use?

If I point at the pillar in the sun, I get a reading of 1/1000. But if I point at the area of shade under the porch I get a reading of 1/60! :(

In fact, as I point it around the scene I get a whole load of different readings, depending on what I'm pointing at.

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The results vary because different objects reflect different amounts of light - so how do I get to the 'optimal' setting?

This is where a spot meter can be useful - you put each reading into memory, selecting the brightest area in the shot, the darkest, and some in between.

Then you ask the meter to find the average exposure - it comes up with a value which is bang in the middle of the values you've put into memory.

That's cool - I could plug this into my camera and shoot - but hold on a minute!

What happens if the difference between that value and say the darkest area, was more than my camera could cope with?

What if the dynamic range of my film or sensor couldn't cope with that big a difference? Same goes for the brightest area.

A good meter will show you the spread of readings on an analogue scale to give you an idea.


And of even more use is a feature where you can look through the viewfinder on the spot meter, and pan around your scene, and the meter will tell you how far over or under that point is, compared to the average value you're proposing to use for exposure.

So the dark areas will be a -EV reading, i.e. darker than the average, and the lightest areas will have a +EV reading, as they are brighter than the average reading.

As long as your Ev reading stay within the dynamic range of your film or sensor, you're golden!

+/- 2 for slide film is safe, +/- 2.5 for print film, +/- 3 or more for digital.

Here's what we get from our sample points in this scene:

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The grass is at 0 EV - this is a confirmation of a tip on metering - if you have nothing else to check exposure, set it for a piece of green grass - seems to hold true!

The pillar is at EV +1.9, the shadow area in the porch is at EV -2.8 etc etc.

So you get a feel for where various objects will fall in the way of dark/light shading - and whether they are going to fit within the dynamic range of your film/sensor.

My max Ev difference is 2.8, so I'm good for digital (but would be unable to capture this full range on slide film)

I set my X-Pro1 to the calculated average spot value from my meter - which is 1/250 f/8 ISO200 - and take a shot:

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As calculated, the highlights are clean without being blown out, and there's still detail in the shadows.

If you look at that detail view of the average exposure, you can clearly see how it differs from the Camera Exposure and the Incident Exposure.

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It sounds way more complicated than it is - and it really doesn't take a whole lot of effort to do when shooting from a tripod.

You can take it further, and convert the various exposure levels into Zones, as used by Ansel Adams et al - very useful for B&W exposure.

There's another whole book on that - suggest you read Ansel Admas The Negative

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Hopefully you can see how using the meter and some basic logic has enabled the capture of a better image in-camera - leading to potentially better image quality all the way through post processing.

Sure there's a lot you can do with digital these days to 'fix' exposure - but getting it right in camera is preferable, and with slide film it's critical.

So now you know - your X-Pro1 has been lying to you all this time.. :P

#2 golgo13

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Posted 26 October 2012 - 11:05 PM

You, Flysurfer, Arjay = the best Fuji guys I have ever read anything from. Yes this post is not rocket science but you still post some of the most quality stuff on this forum and any other forum dealing with Fuji cameras.

UGH YOU HAVE ALL THE NICE NEW TOYS TOOOOOOOO!



#3 Jeroen

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Posted 27 October 2012 - 12:35 AM

Just out of curiousity... What kind of metering was your camera set to in the first shot?

Also, if you'd set your camera to spot-metering, couldn't you take several readings, just like you did with the lightmeter?



#4 AusPhotoHiker

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Posted 27 October 2012 - 12:58 AM

All good. Love to nail the exposure like that, but those Sekonic L758DR meters are over $500.

Are there any other worthwhile meters for less money?



#5 MuMinded

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Posted 27 October 2012 - 01:35 AM

Would it be blasphemy if I said I prefer the original image the most? Yes, it is "slightly" over exposed but I feel this closest reveals an image taken in the American SW.... The "optimal" shot is too dark in the shadow areas and just does not feel right to me..

Great write-up and walk-through of this system.. Even though it's the basics, and I have Ansel's "The Negative" on my shelf right now (actually, I have all three in that series), it's always good to refresh the thinking..

MuMinded



#6 JasperD

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Posted 27 October 2012 - 05:18 AM

A very enjoyable reading and resulting image! Thanks for taking the time to spell it out (again), looks like I could use a refresh indeed...



#7 jknights

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Posted 27 October 2012 - 05:37 AM

All good. Love to nail the exposure like that, but those Sekonic L758DR meters are over $500.

Are there any other worthwhile meters for less money?

:lol: I was looking at one the other day and baulked at the £330. It is the Rolls-Royce of meters.

I think the Sekonics L358 has a 1º attachment that replaces the incident globe.
Posted Image

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Sekonic NP Finder 1 Degree for L-358 Lightmeter


My L308 doesnt so I can only use incident metering.
That said I have found with my Nikons that if I underexpose EV-0.3 in overcast and EV-0.7 in sunny conditions with some clouds and EV-1.0 in full sun conditions that I get much better results.
I use similar settings on my X-Pro1 and it seems to work well.
As we get into winter I will need to check my values to see if they need to change.

If you want to individually meter parts of your image the spot meter in the X-Pro1 seems to work fairly well. I tend to have my camera set on Avg Metering as this equates well with my expectations when I have the EV settings set.
This brings us to the point again as to whether EV settings should apply when in full Manual exposure mode. I think Yes but that is just so I dont have to keep adjusting all the dials, but I can see Fuji's logic in that if you are doing Manual exposure setting then EV shouldnt come into play.



BTW: I can heavily recommend the Ansel Adams book that Chris showed a link to. :D

There is also another very good book that is called.... MASTERING Exposure and the Zone System for Digital Photographers, by Lee Varis.
It is excellent and he uses the Sekonic L758DR meter for his examples.

#8 M4cr0s

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Posted 27 October 2012 - 07:22 AM

Good example and well explained, you know your esposure theory! :)

I'm a RAW and ETTR shooter, but I shoot mostly jpgs with the X-Pro1 for the time being so I have to go for a bit more balanced exposures or use DR200/400. The ETTR technique is somewhat difficult with the X-cameras as they have no color histogram. I find the basic luminance variety in the shooting display or in image review pretty much unusable as you really need to see the red channel to judge highlight clipping. However with experience you learn to eyeball things pretty good, even from looking at jpg previews and you also learn how the camera tends to expose in different situations. I.e. red flowers or cloth means you really need to watch your exposure lest you blow the red channel beyond oblivion and filling the frame with a pitch black dog will lead to very confused metering. Metering off a specific area with the AF-L button (for instance the sky on a bright high DR day) or making exposure compensations is quick and easy. Also, understanding the light meter of the camera and the different metering modes means you can safely go out and about without an external light meter, but this is old news, been like this for quite a while now :D Obviously RAW give a lot of freedom in the exposure area too...

On the other hand, nothing wrong with doing it slow and considerate with an external light meter, I just personally find it a bit over the top with a digital body. For film it's an entirely different matter.

Mac



#9 artuk

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Posted 27 October 2012 - 07:44 AM

As asked earlier, could the cameras spot meter be used the same way?

My Minolta Dynax 7 (film SLR) had a wonderful feature that would allow you to see the EV distribution around the scene from the meter zones on the rear LCD based on the current exposure. I used it in a similar way to the process you describe using your external meter - spot from different areas, average an exposure, then check the exposure distribution across the scene. It's a shame a similar feature does not exist on digital cameras - I appreciate the histogram serves a similar purpose - but seeing how zones of the photo relate to the exposure in +/- EV would be a very powerful feature and easy to implement on digital cameras.

Interesting that in the end the camera exposure was about +0.5EV over. Before FW2.0 I often used -1/3 or -2/3EV as the matrix meter always seemed to over exposure a little, although FW 2 does seem to have changed that. The last time I used the camera "in anger" I didn't seem to need negative exposure compensation as much as before. Do others find that?



#10 cdodkin

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Posted 27 October 2012 - 07:46 AM

Just out of curiousity... What kind of metering was your camera set to in the first shot?

Also, if you'd set your camera to spot-metering, couldn't you take several readings, just like you did with the lightmeter?


Good questions

Camera metering was multi

You can use SPOT on the X-Pro1, and this is tied to the center of the frame. This gets you a single reading, so you'd have to move the camera around the scene, do your own math on average reading, and then perhaps use the histogram to get an idea of dynamic range.

Not as definitive as the hand-held meter, but it may be useful to give it a try.

Note, the SPOT does not move with the AF point, it stays locked at the center 2% of the frame.

#11 cdodkin

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Posted 27 October 2012 - 07:52 AM

All good. Love to nail the exposure like that, but those Sekonic L758DR meters are over $500.

Are there any other worthwhile meters for less money?


There are cheaper meters available which you can then add a spot capability to.

The Sekonic L-358 is a lower priced digital meter, and you can then buy a 1 degree spot attachment for it to use it as a spot meter.

Or you can go to EBAY and find a whole load of spot meters being sold of by people who think that they're no longer needed after they gave up using film!

So some used bargains to be had - including some older models which still deliver everything you'd need.

#12 cdodkin

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Posted 27 October 2012 - 07:55 AM

Would it be blasphemy if I said I prefer the original image the most? Yes, it is "slightly" over exposed but I feel this closest reveals an image taken in the American SW.... The "optimal" shot is too dark in the shadow areas and just does not feel right to me..

Great write-up and walk-through of this system.. Even though it's the basics, and I have Ansel's "The Negative" on my shelf right now (actually, I have all three in that series), it's always good to refresh the thinking..

MuMinded


Thats the great thing about exposure - there's no 'right' value, just variations of preference :)

#13 stevej

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Posted 27 October 2012 - 08:28 AM

Ah the good old days :)

Two possible shortcuts that seem to work for me...

1. Set the meter to "average". This seems to work better in bright scenes, possibly because its doing something similar? Its my default setting for high contrast.
2. Use the live histogram and apply -ve EVcomp until the right hand spike has disappeared.

However, even in your first example I reckon LR would recover the highlights in the bricks, in other words it's only blown out on the JPEG, but not on the RAW. Always impressed just how much info I can recoup in RAW.

One place I cannot seem to avoid using my Sekonic - using studio flash. No way around it.



#14 TropicalYankee

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Posted 27 October 2012 - 08:45 AM

Chris,
Great post that I think will be very helpful to many (and not just X-Pro1 owners).

How have you found the ETTR technique while using the in-camera meter's settings?

I've been ETTRing with Canons for years and have been doing it with the X-Pro1 as well. With the X-Pro1 I'm finding more and more that the technique is not as necessary (at least for the results I like).

Would you mind taking your first shot (1/160 f8) and just pulling back the highlights in post? I would love to see how this compares to your calculated image. Thanks.



#15 cdodkin

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Posted 27 October 2012 - 09:22 AM

Chris,
Great post that I think will be very helpful to many (and not just X-Pro1 owners).

How have you found the ETTR technique while using the in-camera meter's settings?

I've been ETTRing with Canons for years and have been doing it with the X-Pro1 as well. With the X-Pro1 I'm finding more and more that the technique is not as necessary (at least for the results I like).

Would you mind taking your first shot (1/160 f8) and just pulling back the highlights in post? I would love to see how this compares to your calculated image. Thanks.


I find that the X-Pro1 MULTI mode metering does ETTR very well itself - you then need to add 'black' back in during PP to taste.

It can still be fooled though, as in this case.

In this case, even with -100 highlight recovery in ACR, there are still highlights showing as blown, although the over-all look of the image is greatly improved - RAW files are excellent for this sort of recovery of highlights, but there are limits of course.

Here's the original camera exposure shot with -100 highlight recovery in ACR

Posted Image





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