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Does any camera have different metering modes for slide and negative?
Old 04-22-2018   #1
retinax
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Does any camera have different metering modes for slide and negative?

When we use a hand-held meter, we tend to use different techniques to meter for different media, at least in high-contrast situations. Slide and digital keyed to the highlights, negative to the shadows. Now most cameras, even those with complex matrix metering, don't seem to have different modes for different media, or do any? Did the makers simply calibrate them for positive film, assuming that for neg users, it would either be good enough or they'd take the time to manually compensate, use spot meter...?
It's a purely theoretical questions for me as I don't use matrix metering cameras, but an interesting one.
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Old 04-22-2018   #2
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AFAIK, some of Minolta's Dynax -- Maxxum -- α (Alpha, in Japan) models had additional Chip cards for e.g. Highlight/Shadow situations; perhaps others know details?
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Old 04-22-2018   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by retinax View Post
Did the makers simply calibrate them for positive film, assuming that for neg users, it would either be good enough or they'd take the time to manually compensate, use spot meter...?
I believe all in camera meters, which use reflective light, are calibrated for the 18% grey card.
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Old 04-22-2018   #4
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Doesn’t the same amount of photons (light) hit film be it negative or transparency?

With slide film I tend to underexpose a little as this is a positive film with overexposure can look washed out. Same for digital.

With negative film I tend to overexpise a little.

As Clint said, “you just gotta know (your) the limits.”
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Old 04-22-2018   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bill Clark View Post
Quote:
Originally Posted by retinax View Post
Slide and digital keyed to the highlights, negative to the shadows.
With slide film I tend to underexpose a little as this is a positive film with overexposure can look washed out. Same for digital.
With negative film I tend to overexpose a little.
My rule is simple: when I'm between the equator and about 40 degrees North or South, Diapositive = *sunny 18*, Negative = *sunny 12*
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Old 04-22-2018   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bill Clark View Post
Doesn’t the same amount of photons (light) hit film be it negative or transparency?

With slide film I tend to underexpose a little as this is a positive film with overexposure can look washed out. Same for digital.

With negative film I tend to overexpose a little.

As Clint said, “you just gotta know (your) the limits.”
What I'm wondering about may be pretty meaningless in practice, yes. In any case it would only matter in high contrast situations, because as you said, slide film doesn't like overexposure, so needs to be handled differently from neg at times.

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Originally Posted by Beemermark View Post
I believe all in camera meters, which use reflective light, are calibrated for the 18% grey card.
Yes, or somewhere thereabouts, of course. There's no question for "dumb" meters (center-weighted), only for matrix metering. This must have some way to interpret the readings from different parts of the scene. It's not just averaging them, that would be the same as what can be achieved with a single metering cell. Ideally for slide film, the interpretation of the different readings would be done so to avoid overexposure, whereas with negative film to avoid underexposure. It would only make a difference in contrasty scenes.
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Old 04-22-2018   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sumarongi View Post
My rule is simple: when I'm between the equator and about 40 degrees North or South, Diapositive = *sunny 18*, Negative = *sunny 12*
Whoa that difference seems excessive.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Sumarongi View Post
AFAIK, some of Minolta's Dynax -- Maxxum -- α (Alpha, in Japan) models had additional Chip cards for e.g. Highlight/Shadow situations; perhaps others know details?
Just looked at the manual for the Maxxum 9, couldn't find it in there, but this sounds interesting, hope someone else knows details.
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Old 04-22-2018   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by retinax View Post
Whoa that difference seems excessive.
Well, I haven't shot slides in years -- but truth is, most negative films will work fine, whether you expose it correctly (sunny 16), or overexpose it (sunny 11, sunny 8) up to two (perhaps even three?) stops or steps, however one wants to call it.
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Old 04-22-2018   #9
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Meters are simply calibrated to render the metered area as 18% grey the film type is not taken into consideration.
That being said a good basic rule of thumb/starting point is to expose B&W film for the shadows and develop for the highlights. Slides typically should be metered not to blow out the highlights. Hence the recommendation to underexpose them a bit.
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Old 04-22-2018   #10
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When I shoot slides, I prefer to use a Nikon SLR (such as the F4) with matrix metering because it has proven to be the most accurate for me.
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Old 04-22-2018   #11
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Truth be known, with digital, everything I use RAW capture, I look at the histogram more than anything else. For me, it works better than a light meter.
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Old 04-22-2018   #12
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Originally Posted by narsuitus View Post
When I shoot slides, I prefer to use a Nikon SLR (such as the F4) with matrix metering because it has proven to be the most accurate for me.
So if you have used it for negatives, did you also rely on the matrix metering? If it's optimal for slides, it might give you less shadow detail with negative film than what you could get otherwise, right?
For example, in a back-lit situation, with slide film, we would accept slight underexposure of the foreground if that allows keeping the background from blowing out, whereas with negative film (especially black and white, where we can control contrast in printing) we expose for the foreground and get the overexposed background back in the darkroom. So we'd give negative film a stop or two more if we're exposing deliberately, perhaps using a spotmeter.
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Old 04-22-2018   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by retinax View Post
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sumarongi View Post
AFAIK, some of Minolta's Dynax -- Maxxum -- α (Alpha, in Japan) models had additional Chip cards for e.g. Highlight/Shadow situations; perhaps others know details?
Just looked at the manual for the Maxxum 9, couldn't find it in there, but this sounds interesting, hope someone else knows details.
Apparently it was made for another Dynax -- Maxxum -- α generation, see:
https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/MINOLTA-C...-/380664538677
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Old 04-22-2018   #14
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Understanding a spotmeter and your film's range is the solution. W/ a spotmeter, take a couple of readings of the high and low in your shot, decide what is more important, and find a happy medium. If you can't achieve that due to the stop limit of your film, no matter what type of film you have, decide which you're willing to sacrifice to get what you want. My place of interest is generally in the center, especially w/ people, so I just use my camera's AE lock to get what I want exposed properly, recompose, and let things go where they will.

Your life will be much, much easier using a camera w/ a good spotmeter and AE lock.
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Old 04-22-2018   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve M. View Post
Understanding a spotmeter and your film's range is the solution. W/ a spotmeter, take a couple of readings of the high and low in your shot, decide what is more important, and find a happy medium. If you can't achieve that due to the stop limit of your film, no matter what type of film you have, decide which you're willing to sacrifice to get what you want. My place of interest is generally in the center, especially w/ people, so I just use my camera's AE lock to get what I want exposed properly, recompose, and let things go where they will.

Your life will be much, much easier using a camera w/ a good spotmeter and AE lock.
Thank you, but I'm not looking for a solution here.
I thought I made clear that this is purely of theoretical interest to me. I don't use matrix metering and while I don't have a spot meter (yet?), I've sometimes used a normal reflective meter in the same way, by holding it up close to different objects in the scene.
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Old 04-22-2018   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sumarongi View Post
Apparently it was made for another Dynax -- Maxxum -- α generation, see:
https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/MINOLTA-C...-/380664538677
Ah I still can't find a manual for it, too bad! But the pictures on the packaging suggest it would do something like keying exposure to shadows or highlights indeed.
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Old 04-22-2018   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Beemermark View Post
I believe all in camera meters, which use reflective light, are calibrated for the 18% grey card.
The ISO standard (2720:1974) for light meters, and all cameras, use 12% reflenctance as standard.

Marty
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Old 04-22-2018   #18
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Metering could be accurate or not. This is it. Media argument is irrelevant.
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Old 04-22-2018   #19
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Originally Posted by Ko.Fe. View Post
Metering could be accurate or not. This is it. Media argument is irrelevant.
No. One can expose negative film like slide film, but at times that means sacrificing shadow detail one could easily get.
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Old 04-22-2018   #20
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The ISO standard (2720:1974) for light meters, and all cameras, use 12% reflenctance as standard.

Marty
That's interesting. So that means metering a grey card would put it one stop (?) lighter on the zone system? Gotta think about that one.

It was always expose for the highlights with slide film, expose for the darkest area for negative film.
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Old 04-22-2018   #21
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Light meters that I have don't have a different mode, but old camera manuals and books written in the Fourties, Fifties, and Sixties often mentioned that slides demanded absolutely accurate metering, where black and white film was much more forgiving, allowing pushing and pulling in the darkroom to get good results. Maybe this is where the "different for b/w versus color slide film" idea came from?

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Old 04-22-2018   #22
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Don't know of any camera having dedicated slide metering modes.
But some metering setups do seem to work better than others for slides.
I used to shoot slides almost exclusively, using a Canon FT at first. It had a convenient manual match needle system, with a very selective metering pattern, mostly limited to a rectangle in the middle of the view. For slides, I used it to meter relevant highlight areas.
I had very predictable results and no blown highlights.
My results were less predictable when i switched to an Canon AE-1, which had no convenient manual mode and no selective metering.
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Old 04-22-2018   #23
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It is an interesting question. It would have been a simple matter to add an exposure comp feature that increases the exposure a bit for B&W. It could even be a mark added to the exposure comp dial. I guess the black & white "mode" could be to set the exposure comp to +2/3 stop.
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Old 04-22-2018   #24
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Unless you know that your camera's shutter is completely accurate, and the film is going to be developed perfectly at exactly the right times, temps and chemical concentrations, with the chemicals being fresh, you're kidding yourself.

Just meter how you feel you want the scene to appear and shoot. Or use digital...
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Old 04-22-2018   #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Huss View Post
Unless you know that your camera's shutter is completely accurate, and the film is going to be developed perfectly at exactly the right times, temps and chemical concentrations, with the chemicals being fresh, you're kidding yourself.

Just meter how you feel you want the scene to appear and shoot. Or use digital...
The latter is my point - how I and most people want the scene to appear is different for slide film and negatives in high contrast scenes. Slide - avoid blown highlights, neg - get all the shadow detail, blown highlights are no worry. The difference can be several stops.

do you really use a handheld meter the same way for slide film and negative film? Then you're throwing shadow detail away. Can be fine of course if that's the look you're going for.
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Old 04-22-2018   #26
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Wait wait wait -- we should mention: The film makers. They are quite exactly aware how exposure metering works -- Kodak, Agfa, Fuji, Konica, to name but the most prominent, make (or made) cameras themselves.

Hence I'm very sure: the ISO/ASA/DIN numbers of transparency vs. negative films (at least those films for the hobby shooters) were (are) adjusted or rectified in a way that the dumbness of the built-in exposure meter cannot cause too bad mistakes.
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Old 04-22-2018   #27
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Originally Posted by Sumarongi View Post
Wait wait wait -- we should mention: The film makers. They are quite exactly aware how exposure metering works -- Kodak, Agfa, Fuji, Konica, to name but the most prominent, make (or made) cameras themselves.

Hence I'm very sure: the ISO/ASA/DIN numbers of transparency vs. negative films (at least those films for the hobby shooters) were (are) adjusted or rectified in a way that the dumbness of the built-in exposure meter cannot cause too bad mistakes.
Yes, I don't think the sensitivity rating for slide film is based on shadow detail like for negative film. Obviously averaging meters work fine for all films most of the time. It's just that the whole point of matrix meters is that they're supposed to give good exposures also in the rarer cases where averaging meters don't. And these are the cases where exposure strategies for negative and slide films tend to be different.
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Old 04-23-2018   #28
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Beemermark View Post
That's interesting. So that means metering a grey card would put it one stop (?) lighter on the zone system? Gotta think about that one.

It was always expose for the highlights with slide film, expose for the darkest area for negative film.
Darker, not lighter. If you meter, expose the film and develop to the ISO standard, pale-ish European skin (which reflects roughly 18% like an 18% grey card) comes out a middle grey - zone V, whatever you want to call it, which is unnaturally dark. To get good skn the nes, meter off the face, open up 1-1.5 stops, and fire away.

There is a good explanation of it starting p33 here: http://ctein.com/PostExposure2ndIllustrated.pdf - compulsory disclaimer - I have corresponded with Ctein, but don't know him, and I have no financial or professional links with him. It's just a good explanation that is worth reading and thinking about.

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Old 04-23-2018   #29
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Seems people rely too much on automation, which is fine in some cases, not so for others. I would suggest getting a copy of Ansel Adams "The Negative". The concept is that a negative displays a range of tones (or Zones) from blackest black (no detail) to a white with no detail. Each zone represents a difference of 1 stop. Pure black is Zone 0, pure white is Zone X. Zone V is in the middle progression an is 18% grey. Thus if you meter a white sheet of paper with no compensation the white sheet of paper will print as a 18% grey piece of paper. Like wise if you meter a black sheet of paper it will print as an 18% grey sheet of paper. If you what that sheet of paper to print correctly you need to know to open up or close down the approximate number of Zones - or f stops.

You can develop a large format B&W negative and obtain a range of 10 zones. 35mm negatives at best will be around 9 zones. Slide film is only about 6 Zones. so slide film is very contrasty compared to a B&W negative.

All of above applies to the final print. The point is you must know how you want your final print to turn out. No light meter can make this decision for you. If you take something like Nikon Matrix metering (which is very good) and get up close to take a picture of your black cat, tabby will print as a grey cat. Likewise if you take a picture of a snow covered mountain that is predominately snow the snow will turn out grey.

Printing B&W (or color) from a good negative allows you a certain range to adjust contrast to get the picture you want. For slide film, made for projection, you have no chance to correct the contrast (unless of course you print it but you will still have a very contrasty print).

For B&W (and color) you expose for the shadows to get a minimal amount of detail (for 35mm typical 2 or 3 stops from your meter's grey). You develop for the highlights by use of different contrast grades of paper. Slide, or reversal film, is just the opposite. You meter so you have some detail left in the highlights - 2 or 3 stops above your meter's middle Zone.

No metering system is sophisticated enough to make these decisions for you.
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Old 04-23-2018   #30
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Beemermark View Post
Seems people rely too much on automation, which is fine in some cases, not so for others. I would suggest getting a copy of Ansel Adams "The Negative". The concept is
... certainly more *magick* than science

See what Frances Schultz and Roger Hicks have to say:

http://www.rogerandfrances.com/subsc...ps%20zone.html
http://www.rogerandfrances.com/subsc...%20system.html


Quote:
Originally Posted by Beemermark View Post
No metering system is sophisticated enough to make these decisions for you.
Except one is a BORG, I guess?
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Old 04-23-2018   #31
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Quote:
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So if you have used it for negatives, did you also rely on the matrix metering? If it's optimal for slides, it might give you less shadow detail with negative film than what you could get otherwise, right?
I cannot directly answer your questions.

All I can say is that when shooting slides with averaging meters, spot meters, center-weighted meters, or no meters, I was getting about 70% accurate exposures.

When I started shooting slides with matrix metering, I started getting about 90% accurate exposures.
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Old 04-23-2018   #32
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If we delegate exposure completely to a light meter, we are doing it wrong. An exception is when time is of the essence (action photography, spontaneous candids, etc.) since there is no opportunity to ponder exposure parameter selection.

The idea that metering is a precise means to compute exposure parameter is flawed.

The meter can only provides an estimate that we use to select exposure parameters. Often those estimates are sufficient. Sometimes they are not.

Photographers are responsible for using all of their prior experience to choose exposure parameters based on the meter's estimate. In the end, we are the smartest light meter (link).

Of course, light meters often make useful estimates. Vendors use a variety of techniques to improve how in-camera metering compute estimates. Nikon's 3D Color Matrix Metering II takes readings from highlight regions and compares them to an in-camera data base of 30,000 different scenes. In other words, they try to mimic what an experienced photographer actually does. Other brands offer similar sophisticated methods. But the creators of these algorithms face a profound disadvantage. They will never see what we see and they have no idea about our subjective preferences or how and when a photographer's goals will can change these preferences.

Bracketing three exposures by an appropriate number of stops is one technique to optimize exposure. For some cameras this is trivial to implement. For transparency film (where exposure is often critical) it does triple film and development costs.
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Old 04-23-2018   #33
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The real challenge I had and liked is when I made photographs at a wedding. I worked with many lighting conditions and venues and had to have a game plan made of how I was going to capture beautiful images on a very important day.

The only time I let the camera control exposure was when making candids.

Otherwise I would form a picture in my mind and come up with how I was going to tell each part of a wedding day story. The 5 or 6 P’s, very important.

Light meter, hardly used it. Those that did, usually got into trouble. I can tell. See blown background while the in camera light meter is trying to properly achieve exposure of people in the foreground. White dress, dark tux, light meter has a difficult time with those two extremes. There are many others.

It was hectic but I really enjoyed it. Clients could tell it.

Hope this helps you to see the light and rely less on tools such as a light meter.
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Old 04-23-2018   #34
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Quote:
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...Now most cameras, even those with complex matrix metering, don't seem to have different modes for different media, or do any?...
I've never heard of any that had a user option like that.

The DX Code system does support an exposure tolerance factor with 4 options. Whether or not any camera ever made use of it is another matter. I've never read of any that do.
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Old 04-23-2018   #35
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Light meters tell you how much light is falling on a subject (incident) or reflected by a subject (reflective). What you do with that information is up to you. I use either an incident meter or a reflective spot meter depending on the circumstances, and then think. The thinking is the important part.
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Old 04-23-2018   #36
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.. No light meter can make this decision for you. If you take something like Nikon Matrix metering (which is very good) and get up close to take a picture of your black cat, tabby will print as a grey cat. Likewise if you take a picture of a snow covered mountain that is predominately snow the snow will turn out grey....
Exactly. Which is why I am always amused when people laud the matrix metering in Nikon cameras. I have the F6, have had the D750 and now also have the D850.
The matrix metering in the F6 is a joke if one thinks it's infallible. It is just an avg pattern meter. Have a heavily back lit subject? It will underexpose it. Have a subject in front of a dark background? It will overexpose it.
The D850 is better, as it should be given the advances in tech, but still does the same.
It's why Nikon also offer center and spot metering.

Here's an anecdote - ever see the documentary with Steve McCurry shooting the last roll of Kodachrome? He used a Nikon F6 but he first shot the scene with a DSLR to make sure the exposure would be correct, and reshot with the DSLR until it was correct. Then he transferred those settings to the F6. So much for that matrix metering.
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Old 04-23-2018   #37
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Somehow I really haven't succeeded in getting my point across. Thanks for all the practical advice, guys. That wasn't what I came looking for with this thread, as I've written a couple times, but I'm sure other readers will benefit from it. I agree with what all of you are saying, making deliberate choices about exposure is to be preferred over automation.
Yet, camera makers claim to have meters that are better than averaging meters. I say, if you want to refine metering beyond blindly following averaged readings, you quickly get to a point where you need to know if you're exposing for slide or negative film, and adjust accordingly. Which is what those of us that share my premise do when we're exposing deliberately. Matrix meters, however, don't.

I guess I could have phrased my whole question like this - why don't matrix meters do a standardized version of what a photographer with a spot meter does, something along these lines:
For slide or neg at night: If contrast is too hight to be reproduced completely, place highlights that cover an area larger than one metering point in zone VII. If that would mean that more than, say, half the image area falls below zone III, accept blown highlights and and expose for mid tones instead.
For negative: If contrast is too hight to be reproduced completely, expose so that no shadow area covering more than, say, three metering points falls below zone II.

Of course we who deliberately decide about our exposures would still sometimes want something different from that. But I imagine that in some critical situations, it would be better at what it's supposed to do than a metering system that is blind to its medium.
The answer to the question why why this isn't being done must be that there are practical obstacles to that level of sophistication, perhaps it would introduce too many new problems. Perhaps complex software is actually necessary for that. I wouldn't have thought so, but so it seems.
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Old 04-23-2018   #38
retinax
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Beemermark View Post
If you take something like Nikon Matrix metering (which is very good) and get up close to take a picture of your black cat, tabby will print as a grey cat. Likewise if you take a picture of a snow covered mountain that is predominately snow the snow will turn out grey.
Of course it's impossible for a meter to know the reflectivity of what it's aimed at. That's not a problem that can be automated except with "AI".
Contrast that exceeds what the medium can capture, however, is something a matrix meter can detect.
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Old 04-23-2018   #39
pagpow
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I, too, grew up with the Canon FTb and F1 with very well defined metering areas. Despite all the concern about the required precise exposure for slides, I simply uprated the slide film about a third of a stop, made sure that scene highlights fell into the measurement patch of the meter and shot. Nice saturated colors all the time. This is equivalent to shooting for the highlights and letting the shadows fall where they may, plus a bit of underexposure.

Moving to digital, with experience mostly with Canon 5D, 7D, Epson RD1, and the Canon Powershot S90, etc succession of small cameras, I have set, again, for underexposure.

No need for spot metering.

Haven't shot film with a matrix metering camera.

Isn't this the equivalent of programming the meter/camera for different media? Instead of saying "slide or negative", the button says "exposure compensation". The only difference I see is that the shift is "manual"; you have to set the exposure compensation dial, rather than "automatic" when you insert a roll of slide film. Or am I missing the point of the OP's question?
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