how reliable is the exposure on the back of the box?

Discussion in '35mm Cameras' started by k, Feb 28, 2004.

  1. k

    k Guest

    Has anyone shot based on the film chart on the back of boxes?
    I was wondering how people can shoot Leica M3s without a meter, whether this
    an easily achievable skill (to shoot without a meter).

    k, Feb 28, 2004
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  2. k

    Rich Pos Guest

    That was pretty much the only way 25 years ago....

    I'm not sayin, I'm just sayin,

    Experience is one thing you can't get for nothing.

    - Oscar Wilde -
    Rich Pos, Feb 28, 2004
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  3. k

    Tom Thackrey Guest

    Light meters were not in common usage for the first 100 years or so of
    photography. So, yes it's possible to determine exposure without a meter.
    The film charts are pretty good, but they require experience to fine tune
    your exposure. Most experienced photographers take the meter reading as a
    starting point that they adjust based on their knowledge of how the
    film/camera/lens/meter respond to a particular subject.
    Tom Thackrey, Feb 28, 2004
  4. k

    Peter Irwin Guest

    The basic daylight conditions are not that difficult to master.
    Lots of people shot Kodachrome slides without a meter and
    got acceptable results, negative films are much easier.

    If you want to learn exposure estimation, I would recommend
    that you carry a handheld incident/reflected meter, but shoot
    first and consult the meter later. You will soon get within 1/2 a stop
    on bright sky conditions. On negative films, both B&W and colour,
    you can get more latitude for guesswork by down rating the film
    to one shutter speed below the rated EI.

    At a shutter speed equal to film EI two hours after sunset till
    two hours before sunrise:

    f/16 - Bright sun (with sharp shadows)
    f/11 - Hazy Sun (with weak shadows)
    f/8 - Cloudy Bright (no shadows, bright sky with sun behind cloud)
    f/5/6 - Open Shade (on bright day)

    Under bright sun/hazy bright conditions, open up one stop for
    side lighting, two stops for back lighting.

    At the beach, on the water, or in a field of snow, close down
    one stop.

    Grey or dark clouds can vary from f/5.6 down to f/2.0, but you can
    get fairly close with experience. The character of the clouds is
    more important than how bright it seems which can be misleading.

    You can trade shutter speeds and apertures quickly in your head
    if you remember that halving the aperture value allows you four
    times the shutter speed.

    Peter Irwin, Feb 28, 2004
  5. k

    m II Guest

    great..if you're a vampire..

    m II, Feb 28, 2004
  6. k

    Peter Irwin Guest

    Don't know why I got that backwards, it's two hours after sunrise
    until two hours before sunset, of course.

    Peter Irwin, Feb 28, 2004
  7. k

    m II Guest

    I all the time that do. <g>

    m II, Feb 28, 2004
  8. k

    PhotoMan Guest

    I know you believe you understand what you think he said, but I'm not sure
    you realize that what you read is not what he meant.
    PhotoMan, Feb 28, 2004

  9. I do it from time to time when I'm out biking, because my old OM-1 is
    light and small, and I've stopped trying to locate batteries for it ;-).

    If you notice by the recommendations, there isn't a whole lot of
    difference in the light levels per stop, i.e., bright direct sun versus
    hazy. So being off by a stop often doesn't make much of a difference in the

    Additionally, print film normally has two stops or so of 'latitude',
    which means being off by up to two stops usually won't ruin the shot - the
    shadows or highlights are affected, but not destroyed by being so far off
    that all detail vanishes. And when printed, small exposure errors can be
    corrected for because the print exposure can be altered too.

    So on average, it isn't hard. But at least a little experience is
    called for, so that you know what to expect from certain situations. So
    learning it will take a little time, but not too much if you're paying
    strict attention to what the results are. Prints make it trickier - did you
    get the exposure right, or were you off by a stop and the printer corrected
    for it? This is one of the reasons slides are often used for learning -
    with no print, there's no alteration to what you shot, and you see the
    exact results.

    The hard situations are the ones where you want all of the exposure
    range the film gives: shadow detail and highlight detail right at the
    limits of the film's capability. Being off means you'll lose something in
    the image. For instance, the white dog may bleach out until none of the fur
    detail can be seen, giving you mostly an outline with eyes and a nose. In
    such cases, you would need to be really good. But I have yet to see any
    photographer who could do this, or would trust themselves - if the range is
    that crucial, they use a meter.

    And if the shot is very crucial, especially if they don't have the
    time to calculate all the light levels in the shot, they bracket the
    exposure as well, which means taking a few frames above and below the
    'recommended' exposure to be sure that at least one frame has the detail
    they're after.

    - Al.
    Al Denelsbeck, Feb 28, 2004
  10. k

    Alan Browne Guest

    Yes, of course they do. OTOH if you misevaluate the scene, you will get
    the same errors as if you had made a boo-boo with your in camera meter.

    See: Intensity Chart

    The "situations" in the 2nd link above are pretty good. Once you know
    EV, any combo of ISO, speed and aperture can be chosen.

    Works very well, esp. when the light is below EV -1, where most camera
    meters no longer measure...

    Alan Browne, Feb 28, 2004
  11. k

    Alan Browne Guest

    Here's the graduate course: Intensity Chart

    Alan Browne, Feb 28, 2004
  12. k

    bmoag Guest

    For me the question is how reliable is my M3: the last time I used it the
    shutter speeds were all off and I am not sure I want to pay for the repairs.
    bmoag, Feb 28, 2004
  13. Of course. I shot for about 10 years -- age 10 to 20 -- using first
    nothing but the exposure guide that came with the film, and after a
    while, shot at the exposure my experience dictated.

    In fact, in college, in the first photo course I took, we were not even
    permitted to use a light meter for the entire first semester. The
    instructor wanted us to learn to judge the exposures by eye.
    Stefan Patric, Feb 28, 2004
  14. k

    Peter Irwin Guest

    There's lots of good information on exposure estimation there,
    but I find the [email protected] 100 system cumbersome compared to
    f-stop at EI.

    I rate average incandescent light at f/0.5, bright incandescent
    at f/0.7, average fluorescent at f/1.4.

    Thus, in a room which seems generously supplied with incandescent
    light bulbs for its size and 400 speed film I make the quick
    conversion f/[email protected] = f/[email protected] = f/[email protected] each time following
    the double the aperture number, quarter the speed rule.

    I find that quicker and easier than the EV numbers. If you carry
    a pocket incident/reflected exposure meter, you can learn a lot
    on the shoot first, consult the exposure meter afterwards method.

    Peter Irwin, Feb 29, 2004
  15. k

    Chris Guest

    Exposure figuring without a meter can be done, but you should know what
    you're doing.

    Of course, these charts are estimations based upon common variables. With a
    light meter, you can check their estimates. A decent light meter shouldn't
    really cost too much.
    Chris, Feb 29, 2004
  16. k

    EDGY01 Guest

    All REAL photographers had better be able to ascertain exposure by simply
    looking at a scene. It was what we had to do before the invention of meters.
    It is also a seriously good way of constantly cross-checking the readings that
    you are getting from your meters today. Before I could afford a meter, I
    learned to evaluate lighting by eye.

    dan Lindsay
    santa barbara
    EDGY01, Feb 29, 2004
  17. k

    Alan Browne Guest

    Whatever works for you is fine. I simply wanted to answer to the OP on
    the point that there are means for people to evaluate the scene and then
    determine a correct exposure in the absence of a meter or in tricky
    conditions that will fool the meter.

    I like EV as a unit because it is not constrained by ISO, aperture or
    speed. My meter reads out in EV (although I don't do that often) so I
    can verify the table and add notes to it as I see fit.

    Regarding the referenced page, I find it well organized (if a bit long
    winded at the top, hence the links to the tables).
    I printed out a copy of that web page on 17 x 11 paper and I keep it
    handy in my office. When I go out to shoot in conditions where the
    lighting will likely fool the meter, I consult it and/or bring it along.

    Alan Browne, Feb 29, 2004
  18. k

    Gordon Moat Guest

    When my M3 was working, I also carried a Nikon FM. Sometimes, I would
    notice what the meter on the FM read, and transfer that over to the M3.
    With negative film, there was more room for error. With transparency
    film, it is tougher. The readings on the boxes are usually fairly close,
    and some experience can guide one to compensate for more shade,
    reflections, or unusual lighting. Doing night exposures, it is much
    tougher, though there are work arounds.

    Of course, now I have a great Sekonic L-358. I use this with all my
    medium format gear, none of which is metered. If I got the M3 repaired,
    or just got a slightly newer M Leica, I would just carry the Sekonic.


    Gordon Moat
    Alliance Graphique Studio
    Gordon Moat, Mar 1, 2004
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