Spot Meter Highlights

Discussion in 'Digital Cameras' started by paul, Mar 8, 2005.

  1. paul

    paul Guest

    If I wanted to 'expose right' I should spot meter on the highlights with
    a D70, right? It seems I would have to raise the Exposure Compensation
    to make those highlights almost blown rather than 18% gray. Is that a
    standard amount, like 3 stops? Or will it vary by shot... anything else
    I should know about spot metering?
    paul, Mar 8, 2005
    #1
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  2. I used a spot meter in the days of sheet film and the zone system and in
    that situation it worked like this...

    Meter the high and the low....determine the number of stops so that you can
    determine the development of the film to fit the ranges to each other. How
    does this apply to digital...not well. We can't adjust the development. If
    your camera shows a histogram that might give you some clues. Try with three
    stops and check the histogram to see if the highs are blown...most likely
    not. I suspect you should get another stop...but it depends on the camera. I
    would also suggest you shoot RAW for a bit more range. The real world has
    more range than our cameras can capture. There will almost always be a
    compromise.

    "paul" <> wrote in message
    news:...
    > If I wanted to 'expose right' I should spot meter on the highlights with
    > a D70, right? It seems I would have to raise the Exposure Compensation
    > to make those highlights almost blown rather than 18% gray. Is that a
    > standard amount, like 3 stops? Or will it vary by shot... anything else
    > I should know about spot metering?
    Gene Palmiter, Mar 8, 2005
    #2
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  3. paul <> writes:

    > If I wanted to 'expose right' I should spot meter on the highlights
    > with a D70, right? It seems I would have to raise the Exposure
    > Compensation to make those highlights almost blown rather than 18%
    > gray. Is that a standard amount, like 3 stops? Or will it vary by
    > shot... anything else I should know about spot metering?


    As always, "it depends". Specular highlights can be allowed to blow
    out; there was never any detail there to begin with. Sometimes it's
    specifically desired for a white background to blow out (just
    barely). Mostly you don't want facial highlights to blow out.

    3 stops over 18% is mostly just on the edge of the ability to hold
    detail, so that or a stop more is where many kinds of highlights want
    to be. If you're setting the exposure from the highlights.

    I find I have *very* little use for spot metering any more since I got
    a digital camera with histogram display. Just shoot the photo and see
    what the histogram is like, maybe zoom in to check important areas.
    If you don't have time for this, you don't have time to mess around
    with a spot meter either.
    --
    David Dyer-Bennet, <mailto:>, <http://www.dd-b.net/dd-b/>
    RKBA: <http://noguns-nomoney.com/> <http://www.dd-b.net/carry/>
    Pics: <http://dd-b.lighthunters.net/> <http://www.dd-b.net/dd-b/SnapshotAlbum/>
    Dragaera/Steven Brust: <http://dragaera.info/>
    David Dyer-Bennet, Mar 8, 2005
    #3
  4. "David Dyer-Bennet" <> wrote in message
    news:-b.net...
    > paul <> writes:
    >
    > > If I wanted to 'expose right' I should spot meter on the highlights
    > > with a D70, right? It seems I would have to raise the Exposure
    > > Compensation to make those highlights almost blown rather than 18%
    > > gray. Is that a standard amount, like 3 stops? Or will it vary by
    > > shot... anything else I should know about spot metering?

    >
    > As always, "it depends". Specular highlights can be allowed to blow
    > out; there was never any detail there to begin with. Sometimes it's
    > specifically desired for a white background to blow out (just
    > barely). Mostly you don't want facial highlights to blow out.
    >
    > 3 stops over 18% is mostly just on the edge of the ability to hold
    > detail, so that or a stop more is where many kinds of highlights want
    > to be. If you're setting the exposure from the highlights.
    >
    > I find I have *very* little use for spot metering any more since I got
    > a digital camera with histogram display. Just shoot the photo and see
    > what the histogram is like, maybe zoom in to check important areas.
    > If you don't have time for this, you don't have time to mess around
    > with a spot meter either.


    If you can figure out how you want your main subject placed, you just dial
    in the right compensation and meter on said main subject, and get correct
    exposures every time no matter how hyperactive the twit controlling the
    lighting happens to be that day. Especially useful if the background
    lighting is changing, since that will fool everything except spot metering.

    David J. Littleboy
    Tokyo, Japan
    David J. Littleboy, Mar 8, 2005
    #4
  5. "David J. Littleboy" <> writes:

    > "David Dyer-Bennet" <> wrote in message
    > news:-b.net...
    >> paul <> writes:
    >>
    >> > If I wanted to 'expose right' I should spot meter on the highlights
    >> > with a D70, right? It seems I would have to raise the Exposure
    >> > Compensation to make those highlights almost blown rather than 18%
    >> > gray. Is that a standard amount, like 3 stops? Or will it vary by
    >> > shot... anything else I should know about spot metering?

    >>
    >> As always, "it depends". Specular highlights can be allowed to blow
    >> out; there was never any detail there to begin with. Sometimes it's
    >> specifically desired for a white background to blow out (just
    >> barely). Mostly you don't want facial highlights to blow out.
    >>
    >> 3 stops over 18% is mostly just on the edge of the ability to hold
    >> detail, so that or a stop more is where many kinds of highlights want
    >> to be. If you're setting the exposure from the highlights.
    >>
    >> I find I have *very* little use for spot metering any more since I got
    >> a digital camera with histogram display. Just shoot the photo and see
    >> what the histogram is like, maybe zoom in to check important areas.
    >> If you don't have time for this, you don't have time to mess around
    >> with a spot meter either.

    >
    > If you can figure out how you want your main subject placed, you just dial
    > in the right compensation and meter on said main subject, and get correct
    > exposures every time no matter how hyperactive the twit controlling the
    > lighting happens to be that day. Especially useful if the background
    > lighting is changing, since that will fool everything except spot metering.


    If what you want to do is ignore the changing background lighting, set
    the exposure once in manual and just keep on using it! More reliable
    and much quicker.
    --
    David Dyer-Bennet, <mailto:>, <http://www.dd-b.net/dd-b/>
    RKBA: <http://noguns-nomoney.com/> <http://www.dd-b.net/carry/>
    Pics: <http://dd-b.lighthunters.net/> <http://www.dd-b.net/dd-b/SnapshotAlbum/>
    Dragaera/Steven Brust: <http://dragaera.info/>
    David Dyer-Bennet, Mar 8, 2005
    #5
  6. paul

    Alan Browne Guest

    paul wrote:
    > If I wanted to 'expose right' I should spot meter on the highlights with
    > a D70, right? It seems I would have to raise the Exposure Compensation
    > to make those highlights almost blown rather than 18% gray. Is that a
    > standard amount, like 3 stops? Or will it vary by shot... anything else
    > I should know about spot metering?


    For a white highlight, 2 stops is about right. If you're shooting RAW,
    I'd guess you could get away with 3 stops.

    For a backlit, yellow leaf, 1 stop is about bang on.

    Cheers,
    Alan
    --
    -- r.p.e.35mm user resource: http://www.aliasimages.com/rpe35mmur.htm
    -- r.p.d.slr-systems: http://www.aliasimages.com/rpdslrsysur.htm
    -- [SI] gallery & rulz: http://www.pbase.com/shootin
    -- e-meil: there's no such thing as a FreeLunch.
    Alan Browne, Mar 8, 2005
    #6
  7. "David Dyer-Bennet" <> wrote:
    > "David J. Littleboy" <> writes:
    > > "David Dyer-Bennet" <> wrote:
    > >>
    > >> I find I have *very* little use for spot metering any more since I got
    > >> a digital camera with histogram display. Just shoot the photo and see
    > >> what the histogram is like, maybe zoom in to check important areas.
    > >> If you don't have time for this, you don't have time to mess around
    > >> with a spot meter either.

    > >
    > > If you can figure out how you want your main subject placed, you just

    dial
    > > in the right compensation and meter on said main subject, and get

    correct
    > > exposures every time no matter how hyperactive the twit controlling the
    > > lighting happens to be that day. Especially useful if the background
    > > lighting is changing, since that will fool everything except spot

    metering.
    >
    > If what you want to do is ignore the changing background lighting, set
    > the exposure once in manual and just keep on using it! More reliable
    > and much quicker.


    That doesn't work if the subject light is changing, which is what you get at
    concerts and other stage events and lots of other times as well.

    David J. Littleboy
    Tokyo, Japan
    David J. Littleboy, Mar 8, 2005
    #7
  8. paul

    bob Guest

    paul wrote:
    > If I wanted to 'expose right' I should spot meter on the highlights with
    > a D70, right? It seems I would have to raise the Exposure Compensation
    > to make those highlights almost blown rather than 18% gray. Is that a
    > standard amount, like 3 stops? Or will it vary by shot... anything else
    > I should know about spot metering?



    When you spot meter, you meter the highlights and the shadows. If your
    recording device (i.e., the D70) has enough latitude to record
    everything, then you pick the middle exposure.

    OTOH, if there is not enough latitude, then you decide which things are
    more important in the scene, the highlights or the shadows. In most
    cases, most photographers (with a digital camera) will expose to capture
    the highlight detail.

    Rather than taking someone else's word for it, I suggest you go out with
    a paper. Sketch a simple scene (maybe your house). It doesn't need to be
    a very good sketch at all. Then make meter readings of different parts
    of the scene and write them down. Take some photos with various
    exposures. Print your results.

    Try the same thing in different lighting conditions. (bright sun,
    clouds, sunrise, etc.)

    In case you think I'm particularly clever, you can read more about tests
    like this in Ansel Adams' books, the negative, and the print.

    Bob
    bob, Mar 8, 2005
    #8
  9. paul

    Guest

    In message <>,
    paul <> wrote:

    >If I wanted to 'expose right' I should spot meter on the highlights with
    >a D70, right? It seems I would have to raise the Exposure Compensation
    >to make those highlights almost blown rather than 18% gray. Is that a
    >standard amount, like 3 stops? Or will it vary by shot... anything else
    >I should know about spot metering?


    Well, 3 stops probably requires RAW mode. On the Canon 10D and 20D, +3
    for the highlights is about right. Each color channel is different
    though. Generally speaking, there is more headroom in the red channel
    than any other in most digital cameras. Blue may be the same as green,
    or have a little more headroom.

    If you want to see what your RAW values are for your shots, download a
    program called IRIS, which will show you the RAW value under the cursor.
    It will interpolate full RGB channels, to, which make it easier to see
    (you initially get a checker-board-looking greyscale).
    --

    <>>< ><<> ><<> <>>< ><<> <>>< <>>< ><<>
    John P Sheehy <>
    ><<> <>>< <>>< ><<> <>>< ><<> ><<> <>><
    , Mar 9, 2005
    #9
  10. paul

    Guest

    In message <-b.net>,
    David Dyer-Bennet <> wrote:

    >I find I have *very* little use for spot metering any more since I got
    >a digital camera with histogram display. Just shoot the photo and see
    >what the histogram is like, maybe zoom in to check important areas.
    >If you don't have time for this, you don't have time to mess around
    >with a spot meter either.


    IIRC, you have a JPEG-only camera (no RAW). In your case, you can see
    the best the camera can do on the histogram, but for people shooting
    RAW, the histograms on most cameras is not fully useful, as they tend to
    be luminance-only, or green-only, and report JPEG values, not RAW
    values. This is very unfortunate.
    --

    <>>< ><<> ><<> <>>< ><<> <>>< <>>< ><<>
    John P Sheehy <>
    ><<> <>>< <>>< ><<> <>>< ><<> ><<> <>><
    , Mar 9, 2005
    #10
  11. writes:

    > In message <-b.net>,
    > David Dyer-Bennet <> wrote:
    >
    >>I find I have *very* little use for spot metering any more since I got
    >>a digital camera with histogram display. Just shoot the photo and see
    >>what the histogram is like, maybe zoom in to check important areas.
    >>If you don't have time for this, you don't have time to mess around
    >>with a spot meter either.

    >
    > IIRC, you have a JPEG-only camera (no RAW).


    Incorrect. I have a Fuji S2, which has a good RAW format (though the
    files are oversize).
    --
    David Dyer-Bennet, <mailto:>, <http://www.dd-b.net/dd-b/>
    RKBA: <http://noguns-nomoney.com/> <http://www.dd-b.net/carry/>
    Pics: <http://dd-b.lighthunters.net/> <http://www.dd-b.net/dd-b/SnapshotAlbum/>
    Dragaera/Steven Brust: <http://dragaera.info/>
    David Dyer-Bennet, Mar 9, 2005
    #11
  12. paul

    Guest

    In message <-b.net>,
    David Dyer-Bennet <> wrote:

    > writes:


    >> IIRC, you have a JPEG-only camera (no RAW).


    >Incorrect. I have a Fuji S2, which has a good RAW format (though the
    >files are oversize).


    What type of histogram does it have?
    --

    <>>< ><<> ><<> <>>< ><<> <>>< <>>< ><<>
    John P Sheehy <>
    ><<> <>>< <>>< ><<> <>>< ><<> ><<> <>><
    , Mar 9, 2005
    #12
  13. writes:

    > In message <-b.net>,
    > David Dyer-Bennet <> wrote:
    >
    >> writes:

    >
    >>> IIRC, you have a JPEG-only camera (no RAW).

    >
    >>Incorrect. I have a Fuji S2, which has a good RAW format (though the
    >>files are oversize).

    >
    > What type of histogram does it have?


    Not having access to the source code, I don't really know. I suspect
    that it's just of the preview jpeg, however, which is of course suboptimal.
    --
    David Dyer-Bennet, <mailto:>, <http://www.dd-b.net/dd-b/>
    RKBA: <http://noguns-nomoney.com/> <http://www.dd-b.net/carry/>
    Pics: <http://dd-b.lighthunters.net/> <http://www.dd-b.net/dd-b/SnapshotAlbum/>
    Dragaera/Steven Brust: <http://dragaera.info/>
    David Dyer-Bennet, Mar 10, 2005
    #13
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