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What Metering Mode Do You Use?  
User currently offlineFlyfisher1976 From United States of America, joined Jan 2005, 804 posts, RR: 2
Posted (9 years 3 months 2 weeks 3 days 21 hours ago) and read 8943 times:

I will start off this thread by stating the obvious: Not all situations are the same and the metering mode selected will depend on current circumstances.

That being said, given the following set of standards, what metering mode would you use?

-Bright sun, aircraft lit from side (not backlit)
-Few or no clouds/blue sky
-Picture being taken is a side on view on takeoff/landing

26 replies: All unread, showing first 25:
 
User currently offlineChrisH From Sweden, joined Jul 2004, 1136 posts, RR: 16
Reply 1, posted (9 years 3 months 2 weeks 3 days 20 hours ago) and read 8924 times:

Always use Matrix Metering on my Nikon. Hasn't failed me yet.


what seems to be the officer, problem?
User currently offlinePhotopilot From Canada, joined Jul 2002, 2822 posts, RR: 18
Reply 2, posted (9 years 3 months 2 weeks 3 days 20 hours ago) and read 8915 times:

Incident Meter. Of course by definition this means a handheld and setting the exposure manually on the camera.

Next best alternative is an 18% grey card, meter the card, lock the exposure and shoot away.

Steve


User currently offlineJeffM From United States of America, joined May 2005, 3266 posts, RR: 51
Reply 3, posted (9 years 3 months 2 weeks 3 days 20 hours ago) and read 8902 times:



I try not to use the camera's meetering unless there is no other way. Here is why:

http://www.sekonic.com/BenefitsOfIncident.html


User currently offlineFlyfisher1976 From United States of America, joined Jan 2005, 804 posts, RR: 2
Reply 4, posted (9 years 3 months 2 weeks 3 days 19 hours ago) and read 8881 times:

When shooting fast-moving subjects such as aircraft, I can't imagine it would be very practical to use an auxillary device for metering. I mean how much time do you really have to use one of these devices when you only have moments to take the shot? Not to mention that the exposure is constantly changing due to clouds passing over the sun etc.. It seems that you would have to have more than two hands to make this possible.

This device might be practical for landscape or portrait photography...

[Edited 2005-09-04 23:00:07]

User currently offlineSkp From Brazil, joined Sep 2004, 47 posts, RR: 13
Reply 5, posted (9 years 3 months 2 weeks 3 days 19 hours ago) and read 8858 times:

If there is Full Sun, I don't meter - just use Manual Mode  

Mainly the Sunny16 -1/3EV rule. This gives ISO 100, f/8 and 1/500s exposure. It always gives great results, with the histogram spot on!

300D's metering mode is unreliable enough to trust!!!


Stephan

[Edited 2005-09-04 23:38:23]


R$ 0.02
User currently offlineJeffM From United States of America, joined May 2005, 3266 posts, RR: 51
Reply 6, posted (9 years 3 months 2 weeks 3 days 18 hours ago) and read 8847 times:

Quoting Flyfisher1976 (Reply 4):
When shooting fast-moving subjects such as aircraft, I can't imagine it would be very practical to use an auxillary device for metering. I mean how much time do you really have to use one of these devices when you only have moments to take the shot?

LOL....come on man...you don't meter before each shot. Were you being serious? You meter the light only when it changes, (it takes about three seconds to do anyway), that is why using a meter is so consistent vs. reflected light. The speed of your subject has absolutely nothing to do with your exposure anyway. Using the meter, you can select what shutter speed or aperature you want, and it will tell you what to set. Did you check out the link? From your response it doesn't appear that you have. It explains the benefits very well.

Quoting Flyfisher1976 (Reply 4):
It seems that you would have to have more than two hands to make this possible.

To push one button? Why would you need two hands?

Quoting Flyfisher1976 (Reply 4):
This device might be practical for landscape or portrait photography...

LOL...yea....they just might be.... banghead 


User currently offlinePhotopilot From Canada, joined Jul 2002, 2822 posts, RR: 18
Reply 7, posted (9 years 3 months 2 weeks 3 days 18 hours ago) and read 8834 times:

I've spent YEARS photographing Formula One, CART Indy, Trans-Am, etc and even though those are very fast subjects..... I still use an incident reading.

It's the difference between picking the result YOU want, vs accepting the result the camera GIVES you.

Of course, it really helps if you are knowledgeable enough to understand light, it's values and qualities.

The ONLY way to get even close with a camera's built in meter is to use an 18% grey card... if you know how.

Nice Sekonic Jeff, but personally I'm partial to the Minolta Auto Meter IV F



User currently offlineJeffM From United States of America, joined May 2005, 3266 posts, RR: 51
Reply 8, posted (9 years 3 months 2 weeks 3 days 18 hours ago) and read 8813 times:

I tried one, but compared the two
http://www.sekonic.com/Products/SekonicL-358vsMinoltaIVF.pdf

Very similar, yet with different qualities.

Quoting Photopilot (Reply 7):
It's the difference between picking the result YOU want, vs accepting the result the camera GIVES you.

The exact reason I wanted an incident meter. Plus, it is almost impossible to get good results in a multi-light studio setting without using one.


User currently offlineScbriml From United Kingdom, joined Jul 2003, 12877 posts, RR: 46
Reply 9, posted (9 years 3 months 2 weeks 3 days 9 hours ago) and read 8748 times:
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Quoting Flyfisher1976 (Reply 4):
When shooting fast-moving subjects such as aircraft, I can't imagine it would be very practical to use an auxillary device for metering. I mean how much time do you really have to use one of these devices when you only have moments to take the shot?

While I've never used anything other than the in-camera meter for my aviation shots, I have been doing it a long time. The first camera I used was a Nikkormat FT-3, which was manual everything. Looking back I don't know how on earth I ever managed to take a light reading, set the aperture/speed, compose and focus as a plane went past.

Of course, I'm so old that most of the planes had props in those days! That isn't actually true, it just feels like it.  old 



Time flies like an arrow, but fruit flies like a banana! #44cHAMpion
User currently offlineEdoca From Belgium, joined Mar 2005, 688 posts, RR: 9
Reply 10, posted (9 years 3 months 2 weeks 3 days 3 hours ago) and read 8686 times:

Just like Flyfisher1976, I had absolutely no idea that people would be using this for aviation photography. Thanks all for the very interesting info!

I must say I am quite happy with Nikon matrix metering combined with some intelligence (exposure compensation), but this seems very reliable indeed! Will definitely investigate further...


User currently offlineFlyfisher1976 From United States of America, joined Jan 2005, 804 posts, RR: 2
Reply 11, posted (9 years 3 months 2 weeks 2 days 16 hours ago) and read 8647 times:

Well, I have to admit that I was intrigued by this whole discussion and it got me thinking about the Sekonic light meter mentioned above. So, I downloaded the manual for the L-358 (as an example) so I could become familiar with its operation.

There is a clear contradiction between how the manual instructs how to use this device and the comments made in this thread:

Quoting JeffM (Reply 6):
that is why using a meter is so consistent vs. reflected light.

Quoted from the L-358 manual:
(Please make special note of the items surrounded by "**")

"When set for incident light:
This is used to photograph people, buildings, and other three dimensional objects. Measurements are basically made by the method of measuring with the lumisphere aimed in the camera direction (more precisely, in the direction of the light axis of the lens) ***at the position of the subject***."

"When set for reflected light
This method measures the brightness (luminance) of the light reflected from the subject. It is useful for distant objects such as landscapes, ***when you cannot go to the position of the subject***, or for metering subjects that generate light (neon signs, etc.), highly reflective surfaces or translucent subjects (stained glass, etc.)."

According to the manual, in order to use the "incident light" metering mode for this device, you would need to be "at the position of the subject". This would be impossible when your subject is flying through the air!  boggled 

It appears that Jeff (among others) is saying that incident metering is the best way to go. How is this possible? The only practical way (according to the manual) to meter light in an aircraft-in-flight shoot, would be via reflected light, "when you cannot go to the position of the subject".

Is there something I am not understanding?  Confused Please explain.

Quoting Skp (Reply 5):
300D's metering mode is unreliable enough to trust!!!

Amen to that! Many shots missed due to improper exposure with my 300D.  Sad

Quoting JeffM (Reply 6):
The speed of your subject has absolutely nothing to do with your exposure anyway.

Thanks for stating the obvious...I was referring to the short amount of time one often has to get a shot (when shooting fast moving subjects)...time better spent shooting, rather than miss a shot while you fumble with gadgets.


User currently offlineJeffM From United States of America, joined May 2005, 3266 posts, RR: 51
Reply 12, posted (9 years 3 months 2 weeks 2 days 14 hours ago) and read 8625 times:

Quoting Flyfisher1976 (Reply 11):
According to the manual, in order to use the "incident light" metering mode for this device, you would need to be "at the position of the subject". This would be impossible when your subject is flying through the air!

Well it is very simple, I don't think you are really thinking this through, it is not that difficult. All you do is position the dome in front of you at the angle you face the aircraft, and you get the same angle and quantity of light as you would if you were standing infront of the aircraft you are shooting. You don't actually have to be next to the aircraft. Remember, you are measuring light falling on the subject, not what is reflecting off it. Think of it this way...you get the same sunburn on the back of your legs and neck on one side of the road as you will if you are on a parralell road 300 meters away right? As long as both objects are in the sun, or the same amount of shade, you get the right reading. Simple. Let the meter read how much light is there, you tell it what aperature or f-stop, and it gives you the proper 'other' to dial in in manual mode. This way there is no inconsistancy in metering based on what your center spot or matrix is seeing i.e. dark fuselage vs. white fuselage, sky background or trees and buildings. Using incident light, they all get the same amount of light ON them, yet each will reflect that light differently, screwing up your exposure.

Now, if you are using an on camera flash 9 (yuk!), or a series of 5 or 6 mono lights, then yes, you need to put the meter exactly at the spot where the reading is to be made to have it read how much light is hitting the subject. BIG Difference. But you won't be doing that with an aircraft.

[Edited 2005-09-06 04:19:03]

User currently offlineJ.mo From United States of America, joined Feb 2002, 666 posts, RR: 1
Reply 13, posted (9 years 3 months 2 weeks 18 hours ago) and read 8533 times:

Quoting JeffM (Reply 12):
Let the meter read how much light is there, you tell it what aperature or f-stop, and it gives you the proper 'other' to dial in in manual mode.

Could you use Matrix Metering in the same fashion? Point the camera in the direction, note the settings and switch to manual mode? If your "scene" read 1/250 at F8 just keep it at that? Am I missing something. I did read the link but it looks like the values changed on the reflected side.

JM



What is the difference between Fighter pilots and God? God never thought he was a fighter pilot.
User currently offlineJeffM From United States of America, joined May 2005, 3266 posts, RR: 51
Reply 14, posted (9 years 3 months 2 weeks 18 hours ago) and read 8524 times:

Quoting J.mo (Reply 13):
Could you use Matrix Metering in the same fashion?

You could if you knew the values the matrix sees is accurate and proper for the scene you are shooting.

Quoting J.mo (Reply 13):
I did read the link but it looks like the values changed on the reflected side.

They will change, that is the point, (you don't want them to though) and they do every time you shoot using the camera's meter. In the example I gave, there was no increase or decrease in the AMOUNT of light, the only thing that changed is what the camera saw, ie. a dark plate, light plate, and gray plate. That is why all the reflected light shots have plates that look more gray then anything else. Reflected measurements of any single tone area, for instance, will result in a neutral gray rendition of that object, not the actual color. Look at the fruit...

Compare the plate colors and fruit colors of the incident meter's photos...they are the properly exposed and rendered colors each time, with only one setting used for all three shots.

Can you now see why incident light readings are so much better? You tell the camera what to do, don't let it make poor choices.


User currently offlineJ.mo From United States of America, joined Feb 2002, 666 posts, RR: 1
Reply 15, posted (9 years 3 months 2 weeks 17 hours ago) and read 8516 times:

Quoting JeffM (Reply 14):
You could if you knew the values the matrix sees is accurate and proper for the scene you are shooting.

A test shot of the "scene" using matrix and a look at the corresponding histogram should help with this.

If I switched to manual mode after taking a reading this should eliminate the wondering values.

I am not trying to argue, just trying to do what you mentioned, without a meter.  thumbsup 

JM



What is the difference between Fighter pilots and God? God never thought he was a fighter pilot.
User currently offlinePhotopilot From Canada, joined Jul 2002, 2822 posts, RR: 18
Reply 16, posted (9 years 3 months 2 weeks 15 hours ago) and read 8504 times:

The one totally accurate way to still use the camera's built-in meter, and have the advantages of an incident meter (removing subject reflectivity from the equation) is to meter off an 18% grey card.

These specially printed and calibrated cards are and EXACT 18% grey and if you used your cameras meter to take a reading of the card that fills the entire frame, then you would get an accurate meter reading.

Note that this card must face exactly AWAY from where your subject is. This means that the light falling ON the grey card is the same value as the light falling on your subject.

Here's a couple of links that explain it further.

http://www.photography.ca/phototips/meter.html

http://www.apogeephoto.com/mag2-6/mag2-9st_1.shtml

http://home.nc.rr.com/tspadaro/The_Grey_Card.html

http://www.camerahobby.com/EBook-Metering_Chapter3.htm

So enjoy some happy reading and while these articles will undoubtedly cause you to have more questions, they'll be new questions based on a better understanding of light and meters.

Happy reading.
Steve


User currently offlineJ.mo From United States of America, joined Feb 2002, 666 posts, RR: 1
Reply 17, posted (9 years 3 months 2 weeks 14 hours ago) and read 8499 times:

Steve,
Thanks for the links. I understand how the gray card works but I guess what I am questioning is the use of a light meter in aviation spotting photography.

I understand if you are up close and personal, but if I am shooting from some road, I am metering a scene, more or less. The light meter is not going to tell me the proper values from light bouncing off an airplane 1/4 to 3/4 miles away. Correct? I may be missing something.

JM



What is the difference between Fighter pilots and God? God never thought he was a fighter pilot.
User currently offlineJeffM From United States of America, joined May 2005, 3266 posts, RR: 51
Reply 18, posted (9 years 3 months 2 weeks 13 hours ago) and read 8493 times:

Quoting J.mo (Reply 17):
The light meter is not going to tell me the proper values from light bouncing off an airplane 1/4 to 3/4 miles away. Correct? I may be missing something.

Yes you are missing everything. You don't use the meter to measure light reflecting off anything. You use the meter to measure how much light is falling on it, which will be the same amount that is hitting the plane. YOU DO NOT HAVE TO BE RIGHT NEXT TO IT(the plane). And it does not matter how fast or slow the object is moving.


User currently offlinePhotopilot From Canada, joined Jul 2002, 2822 posts, RR: 18
Reply 19, posted (9 years 3 months 2 weeks 11 hours ago) and read 8480 times:

Ok, here's what you have to remember and that Jeff has pointed out..... in diagram form.



It's really straightforward and has absolutely NO dependency on the reflective value of your aircraft. Whether it's a jet black painted aircraft, or shiny aluminium, or painted gloss white, an incident reading or a reading from an 18% grey card will render the values correctly.

Hope this clarifies things a bit.

Steve

[Edited 2005-09-08 07:35:06]

User currently offlineFlyfisher1976 From United States of America, joined Jan 2005, 804 posts, RR: 2
Reply 20, posted (9 years 3 months 2 weeks 10 hours ago) and read 8466 times:

Quoting Photopilot (Reply 19):
Ok, here's what you have to remember and that Jeff has pointed out..... in diagram form.

The diagram seems to illustrate a reflective light reading (from the grey card) as apposed to an incident reading. Jeff was trying to explain an incident reading.

Quoting Photopilot (Reply 16):
These specially printed and calibrated cards are and EXACT 18% grey

Where can I get one?...this sounds like a better option rather than spending $250 on a light meter, when my camera has one built-in.


User currently offlineChrisH From Sweden, joined Jul 2004, 1136 posts, RR: 16
Reply 21, posted (9 years 3 months 2 weeks 9 hours ago) and read 8461 times:

Quoting Flyfisher1976 (Reply 20):
The diagram seems to illustrate a reflective light reading (from the grey card)

True, but since it's a proper grey card, spotmetering its reflection (and this should be done at a certain angle to the light if I remember correctly?), will give the same result as incident-reading the ambient light.

I have a couple of grey cards from Kodak, I think B&H should have them or maybe order from Kodak directly. (If you don't have a grey card, you can take a reading off the palm of your hand and then open up one stop from what the meter tells you).

http://www.kodak.com/cluster/global/.../products/techInfo/af9/index.shtml

Good reading.

[Edited 2005-09-08 09:38:32]


what seems to be the officer, problem?
User currently offlineKey From Netherlands, joined Feb 2005, 99 posts, RR: 0
Reply 22, posted (9 years 3 months 2 weeks 7 hours ago) and read 8447 times:

Great thread, and I'd like to add a slightly different angle. Different devices and methods will do OK, as long as you understand how they work and know what you want to achieve. None of the devices is perfect for every situation with the handheld meter arguably being an exemption provided you choose your angle before setting the camera.

In aviation photography however I often need the flexibility to shoot at varying angles and in fast-changing light. All in all I use a combination of built-in metering (usually matrix or center-weighted in my Nikons) while shooting, or manual mode based on that and the Sunny 16* rule plus trying to observe what's going on with my subject as well as I can. I never got round to buying a handheld meter but I do miss it at times, so I guess I just picked my Christmas present for this year.

Example of when a fixed setting (based on incident metering or whatever) does not work for me: highly manoeuvrable subject in close-up tele - in other words a fighter display. I don't want natural lighting there all the time, I want different things for different shots that are made sometimes within one second. When shooting just the underside that should turn up with all the detail, so be a little overexposed compared to natural light. Shiny upper surface with sun on it works great in underexposure. Both of these can be achieved with center-weighted metering doing its thing, so that will be my setting for part of the display.
Just the opposite would be the case for a formation fly-by under partly clouded sky: as long as the planes catch direct sunlight, the changing background only gets in the way for instant metering so a fixed setting is best here.

On the Nikon bodies I use(d) matrix metering will generally work fine, certainly in scenery-like situations or the bright plane in the blue sky. The Nikon F100 has a nasty exemption to this: it can not handle a white plane against a dark background (like trees), even when the scene as a whole is balanced it will overexpose the plane. I thinks this has to do with its internal exposure reference database. In other situations the F100 does remarkably well.

* In direct sunlight, shutter speed = iso for aperture f8. Close one stop for snow, open one stop for bright light under clouds etc.

Erik



... slides!
User currently offlineJeffM From United States of America, joined May 2005, 3266 posts, RR: 51
Reply 23, posted (9 years 3 months 2 weeks 3 hours ago) and read 8409 times:

Quoting Flyfisher1976 (Reply 20):
The diagram seems to illustrate a reflective light reading (from the grey card) as apposed to an incident reading. Jeff was trying to explain an incident reading.

Substitute a meter for the gray card in the diagram, that is how it would be used. The card can give you good results, a meter is much faster, as it takes only a second to push the button.

Good luck with whatever you use.


User currently offlinePhotopilot From Canada, joined Jul 2002, 2822 posts, RR: 18
Reply 24, posted (9 years 3 months 2 weeks 2 hours ago) and read 8399 times:

Quoting Flyfisher1976 (Reply 20):
The diagram seems to illustrate a reflective light reading (from the grey card) as apposed to an incident reading. Jeff was trying to explain an incident reading.

Ok now we have two diagrams. The first is to use a grey card. You would take a REFLECTED light reading of the Grey card



which would be exactly the same reading as an INCIDENT reading with an incident meter.



The whole key to using this technique for metering is that the light falling on your subject must be the same as the light falling on either your greycard or your incident meter.

Boy, hope this is clear now.

Stev

[Edited 2005-09-08 16:03:06]

25 J.mo : Actually, the only thing I am missing is the benefit. JM
26 Photopilot : The benefits are ABSOLUTE ACCURACY, whether you're shooting a black cat in a coalmine or a white rabbit on a snowfield. It eliminates the errors caus
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