Archived posting to the Leica Users Group, 1996/08/10

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Subject: Re: MR4 meters
From: Eric Welch <>
Date: Sat, 10 Aug 1996 11:45:58 -0700

At 12:52 PM 8/10/96 -0500, you wrote:

>Look at the place with the most invested in a day s photography. With
>movies costing tens of millions, every day is worth hundreds of
>thousands of dollars. You have never and will never see a film
>photographer, whose exposures have to be dead-on, use a reflected meter.
>He knows they do do not work. Only incident light is read when the
>readings are important. 

That is unless you use the Zone system (or equivalent <G> basic principles).

My objection to incident meters is they give great info about the light
falling on the subject, but nothing whatsoever about the subject itself. If
the range of tones is outside the "latitude" of the film, it will tell you
nothing about which way to adjust. It takes experience. With a reflected
meter, you can measure the highlights, shadows or mid-tones and make a
judgement on where to place the exposure. That takes a spot meter (which I
have) or the built in selective meters in Leica R cameras. The M6 isn't so
selective. In that case, an incident meter is probably a good choice, but
it's not my choice. It takes too long, and with experience, you can judge a
subject with any meter. 

So either way, using a reflected light meter, or an incident meter, you have
to have experience to look at a scene and adjust for variations from the
norm. Photography is the easiest thing in the world to do, unless you want
good photographs. That takes discipline to use whatever tool works for you.

Since my studying the zone system, I have never had problems metering my
subjects with either incident or reflected, but I personally find reflected
meters more to my liking, which is probably why I'm taking some time to get
used to the M6. It's not so selective.

Eric Welch
Grants Pass Daily Courier
NPPA Region 11 JIB Chair