How do people use multi metering?

Discussion in 'Coffee with Rico Pfirstinger, Fuji X-Pert' started by bartjeej, Apr 13, 2013.

  1. bartjeej

    bartjeej FujiXspot Regular

    139
    Mar 31, 2013
    I've been trying out different things on my X100, and one of the things I really haven't figured out yet is metering, particularly with regards to exposure.
    I figure, if your scene doesn't have a whole lot of contrast, it doesnt matter much which metering mode you use (sure there'll be different outcomes, but you could always correct a little bit up or down to get the result you want).

    However, if there's a lot of contrast in the scene, I find that multi metering often tries to preserve the highlights, which usually aren't my subject. As a result, the subject gets buried in deep, deep shadows - but not always! Relatively minor changes in composition can swith the whole thing over to exposing for the shadows, throwing off any exposure compensation I had dialed in to correct the earlier underexposure, resulting in an overexposed subject!

    So, to make sure my subject is always properly exposed, I use spot metering. The downside, of course, is that this doesn't do anything to preserve highlights (or shadows), so I have to dial in exposure compensation quite often. Average metering seems even dumber than multi metering, and does nothing in particular to have a properly exposed subject, but at least it's predictable and doesn't seem to vary quite so wildly with slightly different compositions. You just have to use exposure compensation with almost every shot.

    I guess my optimum would be a multi metering mode that assigned more importance to the subject than it does right now... how do you guys & girls use deal with metering?:confused:

    BTW, I haven't really looked into the effect different metering modes have on white balance behavior yet.
     
  2. Gary

    Gary FujiXspot Top Veteran

    698
    Feb 15, 2013
    SoCal
    Gary
    I use Spot metering and manually exposed. In a nutshell ... I meter off of something I hope is 18% grey and on my principle subject, center the needle and shoot. Or I meter off something which I know the value, like the palm of my hand or grass, center the needle and either open it up or close it down accordingly. I check/reset my settings per changes in lighting/subject.
     
  3. bartjeej

    bartjeej FujiXspot Regular

    139
    Mar 31, 2013
    Thanks for the explanation :) but what do you mean exactly with centering the needle?

    anyone else got any thoughts on metering? Are there people here who use multi metering to their satisfaction, or found a way to make it behave more predictably?
     
  4. joeradza

    joeradza FujiXspot Regular

    76
    Feb 22, 2013
    I tend to use average metering for people and multi for general shooting but use exp comp or chimp to check. Spot is very reliable when appropriate.

    Joe
     
  5. Lawrence A.

    Lawrence A. FujiXspot Veteran

    409
    Jan 31, 2013
    Albuquerque, NM
    "Centering the needle" just means using the exposure indicated without compensation when you meter off something with 18% reflectance. Meters are wonderful, but even the smart ones are dumb. They don't know what they are looking at and the assumption built into them is that they are looking at something medium gray, 18% reflectance, as Gary said. If you're pointing at Caucasian skin, the rule says open up one stop. If you're taking a picture of a black wall, you'll want to close down a couple of stops. The multi-meter reads the scene and tries to figure out how bright it is and, while averaging the scene to roughly 18% to keep as much as possible highlights from blowing out or shadows from blocking up. If it can't do both if decides, in this case usually in favor of the highlights. It doesn't know what the subject is, only the ratios of the reflectance received. For average subjects under average light, it does a pretty good job. But you need to know the rules for exposure compensation. I've always felt that except in rapid fire situations where the light is changing fast, manual exposure was more efficient, and often quicker than constantly fiddling with a compensation dial. In which cast you want to use Spot metering. Beware, though, if you use spot metering on auto your thumb will live on the exposure compensation dial, and it's easier to simply dial in the f stop and shutter speed.

    But I come from the era of "centering the needle", like Gary. It may be an old-fashioned habit, but it really is a very efficient way to meter. Averaging meters give you -- well -- averaged exposures. They are often useable, and quite as often less than optimal.

    On the X20, which is my point and shoot, I often use multi-metering for scenes with large tonal variations in which there is not one specific subject. It's a useful setting but not if you want a specific subject critically metered. Use spot for that.
     
  6. Gary

    Gary FujiXspot Top Veteran

    698
    Feb 15, 2013
    SoCal
    Gary
    Centering the needle is dialing-in/using the exposure settings recommended by the light meter. With auto mode, like 'A' or 'S', the camera automatically centers the needle for you. In manual you center the needle by adjusting the shutter speed, aperture, ISO or a combination of the three. But, the big but, the light meter reads for 18% grey. So if you fill the frame with a white wall and center the needle, take a shot and print without any adjustments in processing ... and you'll have a print which is grey, 18% reflective grey (medium grey). Now you take a shot of a black wall, doing everything the same, center the needle, et cetera ... and again you end up with an 18% grey print.

    A meter is a guide not something hammered in stone. So if you meter off something that is 18% reflective grey, you've pretty much nailed the exposure (if the scene is evenly lighted). In lieu of metering off something which is 18% grey, you have to make adjustments. If you meter off something which is lighter than 18% grey, you have to made adjustments, you have to over-expose from what the light meter sugests in order to lighten up from 18% grey. The lighter the subject the more you need to compensate. Conversely, if a subject is darker than 18% grey ... one has to under-expose in order to attain the proper exposure. The darker the subject the greater the under-exposure.

    In an automatic mode, like 'A' or 'S', you have to compensate, (over/under expose), using the EV Compensation. In Manual you have choices of either shutter speed, aperture and/or ISO to compensate, but now your needle will no longer be centered on what the meter suggest as the proper exposure.

    That's a bit of a primer on general metering.

    Gary
     
  7. bartjeej

    bartjeej FujiXspot Regular

    139
    Mar 31, 2013
    Thanks for the explanation guys! I've always relied on the camera's meter and the histogram, but I can see how centering the needle is an efficient way of metering. I'll keep it in mind! It appears to me that this method doesn't really apply to multi or average metering, since you won't know exactly what the camera is metering on?
     
  8. Gary

    Gary FujiXspot Top Veteran

    698
    Feb 15, 2013
    SoCal
    Gary
    It does apply in average, if it is a simple average, then again it is up to the photog to see and interpret what the meter is reading, For example if the overall scene is a highly reflective sand dune, you realize that the meter will turn all those highlights into this low contrast muddiness, so you got to open it up for a correct exposure and vice versa for an overall dark scene.

    I don't know much about Multi Metering. I believe that Multi Metering (matrix, evaluative, et al) breaks up the sensor landscape into numerous segments then reads and compares the light being reflected from the various segments to each other. Then camera makers toss on some secretive smoke & mirrors stuff to further refine the process. Stuff like distance from auto focus point to segment may be calculated into the final exposure analysis, et cetera. Then, I believe, the segments or maybe the whole scene is compared to an onboard database of properly exposed scenes stored in the camera. The camera compares a similarly image properly exposed (database) to your scene and calculates a final exposure based upon existing and historic values.

    This is supposedly the most accurate metering option available today and should/can be used for every situation. I am new to Fuji and haven't sufficient time to play with the various metering modes. As stated earlier I'm a spot meter type of guy and my training is to make absolutely sure that the primary subject is properly exposed and not to worry much about the rest of the scene.

    Gary

    PS- Between chimping and the histogram you should be about to easily determine which metering mode best fits your desired final image expectations.
    G
     
  9. bartjeej

    bartjeej FujiXspot Regular

    139
    Mar 31, 2013
    Thanks Gary :) I see your point about centering the needle also applying to average metering, although that'll be pretty difficult if it's a scene with mixed lighting / objects of various lightness/darkness...

    I used multi metering in a situation without much contrast today, I quite like the results. I don't know if they would've been much different if I'd been using spot metering though, unless I would've focused on a particularly contrasty bit. I think, at least in tricky lighting situations, that I'll keep using spot metering for the time being. I'll keep experimenting to see which mode I like best in "normal" lighting conditions.
     
  10. jloden

    jloden FujiXspot Top Veteran

    708
    Mar 9, 2013
    Hunterdon County, NJ
    Jay
    I almost didn't open this thread but now I'm glad I did, because it led me to try a little more experimentation with the X100S.

    For other cameras I'll use multi-metering as my default "dumb" mode, letting the camera pick the exposure (usually in M mode with Auto-ISO). For my Nikon gear or RX1 this works surprisingly accurately, and when needed I just dial in some exposure comp if it's a little off. I appreciate being able to control both shutter and aperture for DoF and motion while the camera can still react to changes in lighting via Auto-ISO. However, as I discovered this weekend that doesn't work very well with the X100S, for 2 reasons:

    1) In Manual mode you can't use AEL - for some inexplicable reason, Fuji decided you could only use AFL+AEL together unless you're in aperture or shutter priority mode. Why they would assume you wouldn't want to use spot-metering + AEL in manual mode I'm not really sure.

    2) Shooting in Manual + Auto-ISO disables the exposure compensation dial. Again, This is unnecessarily restrictive but also means you literally *can't* fine tune your exposure.

    Given the above, on the X100S I think I'm going to end up resorting to different methods:

    * Multi-metering with aperture or shutter priority modes and exposure comp
    * Spot metering with aperture or shutter priority mode and exposure comp + AEL to lock meter reading on a suitable point
    * Fully Manual mode with spot meter (or multi-metering) to dial in an appropriate exposure, if the light isn't variable

    For my purposes I've also increased the minimum shutter speed to 1/125 since for people photos indoors I find anything slower to be unreliable. That will help me be able to use Av/Tv modes more often where I would currently be shooting M + Auto-ISO to push the shutter speed higher.
     
  11. bartjeej

    bartjeej FujiXspot Regular

    139
    Mar 31, 2013
    yeah, not being able to use exposure compensation when you're in manual mode with auto-ISO bothers me too - if exposure compensation would be possible there, I'd probably use manual 100% of the time. As it is, I don't want to be changing ISO values every time the lighting changes or I change my composition, so I'm sticking to Aperture mode (with 1/125th minimum shutter speed) almost exclusively. I hadn't thought of it yet, but indeed spot metering could be used as an alternative to exposure compensation in Manual+auto-ISO mode.
     
  12. Gary

    Gary FujiXspot Top Veteran

    698
    Feb 15, 2013
    SoCal
    Gary
    I haven't tried exposure compensation with the Fujis. If true then I don't agree with Fuji exposure compensation implementation, but remember exposure compensation is simply over/under exposing. Easily done in Manual, the handicap being it won't automatically adjust to changes in lighting as exposure compensation is designed to do. So in Manual, if you feel the need to use exposure compensation ... say minus one stop, then simply halve your shutter speed or close down the aperture a stop. I don't think this will work in auto ISO as the ISO should constantly change to accomodate your shutter speed and aperture settings with the metered light.
     
  13. jloden

    jloden FujiXspot Top Veteran

    708
    Mar 9, 2013
    Hunterdon County, NJ
    Jay
    Exactly - it works fine if you're in full manual mode, but if you have Auto-ISO on it just automatically adjusts to metering so the exposure comp dial becomes effectively decorative.

    The RX1 or my Nikon DSLR on the other hand I can put it in M + Auto-ISO and use exposure compensation to effectively control the exposure via ISO adjustment (my absolute favorite way to shoot). There doesn't seem to be any good reason to *not* implement it that way, or for that matter to disable AE-L only in M mode.
     
  14. Gary

    Gary FujiXspot Top Veteran

    698
    Feb 15, 2013
    SoCal
    Gary
    I agree that it doesn't make sense not to have exposure comp available all the time. Ask Rico about that, he wrote the X-Pro1 book.