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#1 grantsmith

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Posted 10 July 2008 - 03:07 PM

Hi there,

I thought I had exposure nailed but after reading about the zone system i got confused.

i understand that your light meter gives you a zone 5 reading.

if it was an overcast day with even daylight and i wanted to expose for a face correctly, would zone 5 not be underexposed? if the stop was 5.6 on the meter would i need to open up to 4 to get zone 6, or even 2.8 for zone 7 to get a 'normal' face exposure? in the same way that you look for 70ire on a video camera to get a good face reference exposure.

he seemed to suggest that many light meters were not correctly callibrated and some give you the face exposure for your initial reading.

I want to shoot some reversal but don't want to mess up the exposure.

any ideas? thanks
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#2 Stephen Williams

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Posted 10 July 2008 - 04:21 PM

Hi,

I think you are misunderstanding the zone system, you need to use a spot meter !

By taking an incident reading (Mid grey) would be zone 5. A caucasian face will be about 1 stop brighter so it would be in zone 6 if you measured with a spot meter without changing anything!

By shooting some tests with reversal you will learn very quickly!

Stephen

Hi there,

I thought I had exposure nailed but after reading about the zone system i got confused.

i understand that your light meter gives you a zone 5 reading.

if it was an overcast day with even daylight and i wanted to expose for a face correctly, would zone 5 not be underexposed? if the stop was 5.6 on the meter would i need to open up to 4 to get zone 6, or even 2.8 for zone 7 to get a 'normal' face exposure? in the same way that you look for 70ire on a video camera to get a good face reference exposure.

he seemed to suggest that many light meters were not correctly callibrated and some give you the face exposure for your initial reading.

I want to shoot some reversal but don't want to mess up the exposure.

any ideas? thanks


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#3 Matt Workman

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Posted 10 July 2008 - 05:33 PM

Hey,

When I started shooting film I found shooting with a digital SLR was a great tool for checking yourself.

Put in the ASA/ISO of the film.
Put the shutter at 1/50 (close to 1/48)
And set the F stop based on the meter.
Anything else like faster lenses or filters I adjusted with the shutter or ASA.

You can check the histogram to see how things came out. After a few shoots I got comfortable enough to just go by meter and by eye. Also having a contrast glass is really helpful if there is a difficult scene, as in high contrast ranges.

Also if you have a good gaffer or AC you trust, you can talk about the exposure right before you shoot so they will remind you that you have a 45 degree shutter, ND9, Polorizer and or that sun is now in clouds. Stuff you won't notice necessarily if you are used to shooting digital.

Hope that helps,

Matt

Edited by Matt Workman, 10 July 2008 - 05:35 PM.

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#4 David Regan

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Posted 10 July 2008 - 07:52 PM

An incident meter (reading generally taken towards the camera, in your light source) will give you a reading that should accurately represent the range of contrast in your scene. This means your whites should look white, your blacks black, and your midtones at middle gray.

A reflected meter or spot meter, will tell you what stop to use in order for that surface to read as middle gray, i.e. zone V. So, theoretically, if you took an incident reading and it gave you a 5.6, and you also put a greycard in the same lighting conditions and took a reading of the grey portion, you would also get a 5.6.

What you have to consider therefor when using a spot/reflected meter, is what kind of surface you are metering, and that comes with practice and experience, and as the others mentioned; testing. Back to the greycard example, if you meter the black portion of the card in the same lighting situation, it will tell you to open up, because remembmer the meter is telling you what stop to set to get middle grey. So if you set it at that stop, perhaps a 2.8, your scene would be overexposed, and your blacks milky. Conversly if you metered the white portion of the card, in order to render it grey you would have to close down, and so you might get a reading of perhaps an 8 or so.

So in regards to your question about someones face, it depends on how reflective their skin is. Again something you will learn through testing and experience. If you actor is very fair skinned, you may have to open up from your spot meter reading to accurately expose. And conversely, if your actor is a very dark skinned subject, you may have to close down.

Hope this helps, goodness knows I used to get confused with it all the time and sometimes still do.

Good luck!
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#5 Frank Barrera

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Posted 10 July 2008 - 10:04 PM

the best approach to a project shooting in reversal is to shoot some bracketed exposure tests. you would do the same if shooting reversal still film so why not do it as a test for motion picture?
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#6 Mark Dunn

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Posted 11 July 2008 - 03:43 AM

I'd be wary of applying the zone system to anything other than black-and-white negative to be printed on paper. Don't confuse yourself. A white face is indeed about zone 6, but you can't just expose for that and ignore the rest of the scene- you'd then have blown highlights and overexposed shadows. You've got to control the brightness range of the scene- the movie equivalent of burning and dodging a print.
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#7 Serge Teulon

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Posted 11 July 2008 - 07:12 AM

When I started shooting film I found shooting with a digital SLR was a great tool for checking yourself.


I do use a D SLR to check certain things on set but when I was learning about the Ansel's "Zone system" I found that experimenting with a SLR as the nearest to going out there with a 16/35 film camera.
In my experience D SLR's never replicate exactly how film reacts.
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