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malteser

My problem with Spot metering...

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If there's one thing that annoys me with the XE2 it's the spot metering system. Why oh why is it that when you set the meter to spot, the spot is stuck in the centre of the screen?! I want to meter for the subject which is where I'm focussing...obviously! I do not want to meter in one place and then recompose. That's a 2-step process for a 1-step situation.

 

Does anyone else think this mode is bonkers?

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Isn’t meter-and-recompose – the standard approach to spot metering – much faster and more flexible than shifting the spot? Since there is no recomposition error as there is with focusing, what would be the downside? Note that the spot you are focusing on may not be suitable for spot metering which assumes an 18% reflectivity.

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You can't always assume focus point and spot are the same. What if you want to spot meter for the clouds in the sky in a landscape shot. For me, the problem with cameras prior to X-T1 is not so much the center spot as much as there is no indicator for where this is when you move the focus point off center and no longer have a reference point.

 

As far as assuming 18% gray, I.e zone V. I just apply the desired EC to map what I am spot metering into the zone it needs to be in. For example EC -1 would make it zone IV, EC +1 would make it zone VI.

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As far as assuming 18% gray, I.e zone V. I just apply the desired EC to map what I am spot metering into the zone it needs to be in. For example EC -1 would make it zone IV, EC +1 would make it zone VI.

Olympus supports spot metering for either highlights or shadows which comes in handy in situations as these, and this could make for a nice addition to the existing metering options. Still these days I don’t think spot metering is as useful as it used to be. The original idea of spot metering was that you metered for 18% gray (or whatever) and all the other zones would take care of themselves. Now with sensors clipping harshly at some point it should be obvious that the highlights do emphatically not take care of themselves; they require the photographer’s special attention. Or the camera’s – which implies using matrix metering, evaluating highlights and shadows individually. Or you just check the histogram to make sure you have captured all the tonal values worth capturing. It doesn’t matter if they don’t come out right at first; that is what raw development is for. This isn’t that different from the original zone system where developing the film and printing from the negative were just as important as getting the metering right.

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I think you are arguing that spot meter is obsolete in the same was that correct framing (vs cropping in post) and making sure the horizon is level (vs straightening in post).  I think to most people who are willing to do these kind of corrections in post, then you are correct. However, there are some people who see it as a necessity to do things as much as possible in camera.  Not only does it save time in post but it also maximizes workable dynamic range.

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I think you are arguing that spot meter is obsolete in the same was that correct framing (vs cropping in post) and making sure the horizon is level (vs straightening in post).  I think to most people who are willing to do these kind of corrections in post, then you are correct.

As a matter of fact I was arguing you should take care to expose each shot correctly, but that spot metering might not be the best way to achieve that (the reasons for both are outlined in my original post). I also argued that metering is for making sure the sensor captures all the tonal values worth capturing, something that cannot possibly be done in post-processing. Only that is just the first part of a two-part process.

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Spot metering is nice in manual exposure mode (M). It gives us a direct zone reading wherever we point the camera at, and this can come in handy if we know what zone we prefer for a specific part of the subject. Experienced photographers know what zone they want for freshly fallen snow or a caucasian child's face (just two of many examples), so for users who know what they are doing (obviously a near-extinct breed in this day and age of smartphone photography), it's a quick way to check exposure. In this context, interlocking the metering area with the active AF frame makes a lot of sense, if not for metering frame position, then for metering frame size.

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Olympus supports spot metering for either highlights or shadows which comes in handy in situations as these, and this could make for a nice addition to the existing metering options. Still these days I don’t think spot metering is as useful as it used to be. The original idea of spot metering was that you metered for 18% gray (or whatever) and all the other zones would take care of themselves. Now with sensors clipping harshly at some point it should be obvious that the highlights do emphatically not take care of themselves; they require the photographer’s special attention. Or the camera’s – which implies using matrix metering, evaluating highlights and shadows individually. Or you just check the histogram to make sure you have captured all the tonal values worth capturing. It doesn’t matter if they don’t come out right at first; that is what raw development is for. This isn’t that different from the original zone system where developing the film and printing from the negative were just as important as getting the metering right.

I assume you are trying to summarize in order to comment on Fuji's metering technicalities, but I am afraid you completely mist-stated how the zone system works. You do not just meter the scene for 18%, you meter your specific area of interest (hence the need for a spot meter) understanding the meter will interpret it as being 18% reflective, you the adjust your exposure to render your subject as you have envisioned it. The remainder of the scene would also be metered to ensure it falls within the dynamic range of your chosen media, chemicals, and processes as to provide the image that is sought without unplanned blow or black out.

 

The zone system is a complex and precise process that can be just as relevant in digital photography is it is with silver based. Over simplifying it serves no one or purpose.

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I am afraid you completely mist-stated how the zone system works. You do not just meter the scene for 18% …

Obviously, but then I never said one did.

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Obviously, but then I never said one did.

You are correct you never said that but your implication was quite strong. There is no 'whatever' in using the Zone system and no zones are left to take care of themselves. The whole point of the Zone System is to measure and account (with a high degree of predicatability) for all the exposure values within the image area. 

 

Also, I do not mean to insult or offend and apologize if I have, but your statement was neither complete nor correct so I would expect and welcome the same from you as long as it is collegial in nature

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Your closing comment is exactly correct by the way

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You are correct you never said that but your implication was quite strong.

I never attempted to explain how the zone system works. My post was about spot metering assuming a 18% percent reflectivity which was quite useful with silver-halide film – make sure that middle gray gets rendered as middle gray and the highlights and shadows will take care of themselves (obviously the zone system adds a lot of sophistication to that simple rule). With digital photography this rule doesn’t work at all as the highlights require serious attention; it is rather the midtones and shadows that take care of themselves (or that we can easily take care of during raw development) after we have made sure that the highlights are preserved. Thus my contention that spot metering isn’t as useful anymore as it used to be. Having said that, one can use the built-in spot meter as one would use an external spot meter, i.e. for measuring highlights and shadows individually and choosing an f-stop and shutter speed to deal with the measured scene contrast.

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Yes I realise there are workarounds such as the AE-L or AE-F buttons or focus and recompose, but these are workarounds. There's little point to having a movable selectable focus box if you can't meter on that point when you choose spot metering. The suggestion that one should apply care  when using spot metering is specious - I choose spot metering precisely because I need that spot metered - duh! The other options are averages. Occasionally I need to spot meter - e.g. a brightly lit day and I'm shooting a bird in a tree. The subject is in shadow and so an accurate metering of the subject is essential, but the framing could have bright highlights in it. Typical and not unreasonable.

 

As for the suggestion to buy an X30/X100T etc - what kind of solution is that for someone who already has 4 lenses?! And I dislike the X-T series because they have a central viewfinder and I am left-eyed. The XE series means I simply smudge the screen which I use rarely anyway. The X-T series means my nose gets in the way of buttons - or activates them. 

 

Anyway, changing the camera body is a drastic option for something which is a) already fixed on the X-T, which uses the same basic hardware, and

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