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Figuring out metering. Please comment.


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I took the plunge: sold a lot of my Canon DSLR-stuff and bought a as-good-as-new M8 demo (black). My experience with Epson's R-D1 brought me to the rangefinder-concept. Love the portability and optics.

 

Now I'm playing around with my M8. Figuring out the way it meters light. Below some links to rather challenging subjects: black coal mud, concrete and piles of black earth. I metered on my hand and took the EV down with 1 2/3 or 1 1/3. Liked the result. But please tell me what you think. Hope your experience will get me learn better.

Westpoort 1

Westpoort 2

Westpoort 3

 

All pics are taken with a CV 35 mm F1.4 Nokton Classic. Many thanks in advance for your effort.

 

Wim

 

P.S. photos can also be found on Flickr

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Your exposures look great to me, so keep it up!

 

Personally I don't use A mode and always use the M8 (and my other M film cameras) on Manual. I'll often meter with my hand or some other standard mid-toned object to meter.

 

The main thing with digital is not to judge too much based on the image on the LCD, but DO judge based on the histogram.

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The main thing with digital is not to judge too much based on the image on the LCD, but DO judge based on the histogram.

Agreed. The main danger with digital (as with slide film) is highlight burnout. I bias all my M8 exposures at -1/3 because of that.

 

The old man from the Age of Nometers

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..... Liked the result. But please tell me what you think.....

 

Wim - Welcome, I will take your invitation to criticise at face value, but I don't like the results and need to be less generous than others have been.

 

The third image's histogram [when imported into Photoshop] is blowing highlights in the brightest sky, and the brightest highlights in the sign. For me this would be a bad exposure. The image is very contrasty of course, and the shadows are blocking up to some extent too, though it's the highlight blowing which I find unacceptable.

 

Likewise, the second image is a high contrast one, though I suspect too much contrast has been added to the exposure in post production. Highlights are blowing in the [e.g.] concrete 'lumps', and the reflected highlights in the mud - particularly to the right. There is some shadow blocking in the blacks but that doesn't worry me. I would expect the highlights to hold with a good exposure. I know that some will like your rendering but I don't; it might not matter so much when viewing the image on screen, but those burnt out highlights would look horrible in a print.

 

We have discussed M8 metering many times and it might be useful for you to do a search of previous threads. Personally, I find the M8 auto metering utterly unusable, and the weighting of the metering too poor for mid-grey [ish] metering. Like I said, this is repeat territory and I can feel Lars about to tell you to use an incident meter [no thanks Lars]. The only way I can get optimal histograms outdoors with a first exposure is to meter the brightest area [often sky] with +1 2/3 exposure compensation dialled in, plus experience tweaks when necessary [say a small patch of high reflectance which might enjoy perhaps 1/3 of a stop less exposure]. The M8 metering did drive me nuts, it longer does, my histograms are now good, my sanity [such as it is] is restored, my M8 metering is now extremely fast and reliable.

 

Hope this helps.

 

........... Chris

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I quite like the metering on the images provided. It is vey hard not to blow highlights on web jpegs if you try to get any kind of decent gradation in my experience. After all, the dynamic range of screens is quite limited. The original file itself will print perfectly, however.

The remarks about the histogram are of course quite correct, but there is about one stop of headroom in them. Newer RAW converters allow for that with their highlight recovery sliders.

Edited by jaapv
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The only way I can get optimal histograms outdoors with a first exposure is to meter the brightest area [often sky] with +1 2/3 exposure compensation dialled in, plus experience tweaks when necessary [say a small patch of high reflectance which might enjoy perhaps 1/3 of a stop less exposure]. The M8 metering did drive me nuts, it longer does, my histograms are now good, my sanity [such as it is] is restored, my M8 metering is now extremely fast and reliable.

 

Chris this is very interesting - does it not blow all your highlights to overexpose the brightest area by doing this?

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Chris, Jaap, Julian and all others: Thank you very much for your indepth replies! Chris: I can take a beating, so don't be reluctant in your remarks ;-)

 

I agree there is a strong difference in PP for screen versus for print. Although I work with a calibrated screen, I tend to raise the contrasts for screen-viewing. Also a matter of taste...

 

I like the suggestion for meting on the highlights and than compensate up. As I understand [Julian]: metering on the highlights will be translated by the M8 to bring them to gray (18%). Compensating in the plus, as suggested by Chris, will bring them back to being highlights again.

 

I did search on this subject before posting. Nice to learn this is an old discussion (aren't they all?)... Will do a better search to see what is said about this earlier.

 

Thanks again you all! I value this forum highly.

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The M8 metering is no different than any simple metering system. Its just 18% grey reflectance. Adjust upwards or downwards depending upon the situation.

 

Metering a highlight and then overexposing may work - but my question is why?

 

I find the M8 meter to be very very accurate. The asa of the camera is about 1/3 stop slower than actual. In other words 160 is actually 200. I suspect this rating is built in to help post adjustment of shadows.

 

On numerous occasions I have compared metering to my hand held sekonic and it has always been spot on!

 

Learning to use a meter is craft that requires time to learn. The m8 does not have matrix metering like my eos 1ds but I prefer to make the decisions so it isnt a limiting factor to me.

 

The beauty of the M8 is that it stays true to the original concept of other Leica RF's. The user makes the decisions and is much more responsible for the quality of the output than in comparable priced dslrs.

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Of course there is no "right" exposure either. It all depends on the choices the photographer makes. Personally I don't think blown highlights are a cardinal sin in many shots, especially B&W.

It is all a matter of try, and try again...

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..... I can take a beating, so don't be reluctant in your remarks.....

 

Wim - I really hope you didn't feel a beating; that wasn't my intention, but a contrary viewpoint to the thread consensus seemed necessary. I hoped that whilst I was contrary, the fact that I replied indicates support. Despite a few decades of accurate manual metering [mostly roll-film] the M8 is the only camera I've owned or used whose metering has challenged me and having sorted out an efficient working method [thank you Jamie Roberts] I hoped it would be useful for you. But I do take Jaap's warning about discussing files when all we have is a crushed J-peg to view, other than importing your images into Photoshop to examine their histograms [which I did], I don't know how else I could get a better examination of the exposures.

 

I hope you enjoy your camera.

 

.... very interesting - does it not blow all your highlights to overexpose the brightest area by doing this?

 

Julian - With a +1 2/3 stops exposure compensation dialled in, in fairly typical summer UK light contrast, and metering off the very brightest areas [with the tweaking caveat in mind] gives me a histogram which is well filled to the right with no highlight clipping. The same image, but with metering off a mid-grey area would however give me a badly over exposed file. Exposure compensation used in the above way, with experience tweaks when necessary, does not lead to over-exposure. It helps me to use a focusing-loupe to magnify the right hand corner of each histogram. It's easier to try the technique than discuss it, you might find it suits your way of working after a little practice. I mostly work outdoors - indoor exposure technique has slightly different pit-falls.

 

.................. Chris

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as a new M8 user myselfi have found the simplest way of getting a good exposure is to let the M8 expose for a darker part of the scene and then as long as there are no over-exposed areas on the histogram I accept the image. I then adjust the rest in post. I would rather take exposure down than up afterwards to avoid introducing more noise.

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Chris

 

Thanks for that - I am going to give it a whirl! Previously I was metering the darker stuff and exposing probably + 0.3 or so - but I like the your idea a lot - thanks!!

 

Jaay -

 

as a new M8 user myselfi have found the simplest way of getting a good exposure is to let the M8 expose for a darker part of the scene and then as long as there are no over-exposed areas on the histogram I accept the image. I then adjust the rest in post. I would rather take exposure down than up afterwards to avoid introducing more noise.

 

In practice do you not find that metering for the darker parts of the scene means that you get blown sky etc? I think this is the reason Chris is using the brightest areas as the datum and then edging into the safety zone by his +EV...

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Chris: I DO value your tips and suggestions very much. Thanks. This discussion is getting more interesting by the hour currently. I will do a search on the usernames you mention. I completely agree with you when it comes down to the hardness of judging photos by JPG's.

 

All the other contributors: many thanks to you all also! I will experiment with all the suggestions done. Guess this will be a step ahead in getting to know the M8 better.

 

I guess the part of the VF/Shutter the M8 is metering on (the horizontal band at the midst of the image) is typical for this metering behaviour? But than again, wasn't this the case with most rangefinders? My Epson R-D1 also has the typical light grey shutter-stripe.

 

Wim

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Chris,

 

Just to clarify I don't choose the darkest part of the scene, just something that I know I want properly exposed afterwards. I aim to have the highlights like the sky shown as White but not overexposed on the histogram and then I use the nik filters to selectively adjust the exposure - but always down! The dynamic range of the M8s pictures seem to like this well.

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