Tuesday, 13 December 2005

Spot metering

Thanks to Jon, the photoSoc kitmaster, I've been experimenting with spot metering for the past three or four days. It all started off when he said "ground is often close to middle grey" and that if you meter a person's face and adjust exposure compensation to over-expose by 2/3rds of a stop you could end up with something usable.

These are pretty good tips... just by using these I managed to make a handful of half-decent exposures where I'd've been lucky to get close after three of four attempts on random areas with spot metering previously.

Since then I've read one or two articles on the subject, none of which have been very helpful. Possibly the most sensible article I came across was Ken Rockwell's How to use the Nikon Spot meter which said "FORGET the spot meter and just use Matrix". Excellent!

Having said that I just switched my camera from aperture-priority to manual and I have no difficulty exposing various areas of my room just as I'd like them. Admittedly, this doesn't seem much of a challenge and it'll be interesting to see how I cope in the great outdoors.

Why did I switch to manual? Well, because annoyingly the D70 has a really crappy viewfinder and top LCD display for meter readings and exposure compensation. The D1x's top LCD panel displays the number of third stops over and under, while the D70 merely shows that you are /using/ exposure compensation. That's no use at all. You can see it in the viewfinder, but in turn that's no use if you're spot metering! However, in manual you can quickly see the spot meter readings and compensate as required. Okay, so this seems a little slow (twisting two knobs instead of one!?) but thinking about it nine times out of ten I end up using some exposure compensation in the form of +/- 1/3rd EV stops... so I'm not losing much and I get to look hardcore using manual.

I don't honestly know how much use this will all be. But the point is that I'd like to get pretty fluent in using it so I have a better feel for exposure, etc. I'm a little fed up of pointing my camera at a scene, relying on matrix metering, looking at the on-screen histogram/blowouts, adjusting my exposure and trying again. If at the end I came evaluate a scene, set my exposure and get a (technically) perfect shot each time then I gain a lot.

It's also proving to be quite fun.

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