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Metering vs Histogram Question
Old 04-17-2008, 10:26 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Maybe my naivete is showing here or maybe I am missing something that is right in front of me but I am baffled as to why I at times see a large difference between the settings my meter tells me and the settings I have to adjust my camera to in order to get a good in-camera Histogram.

With good light under shaded conditions (ie: in the shadow of a building) generally my meter is on target as far as a good in-camera Histogram. If the meter says F5.6 at 1/250 and I set the camera there I get a good in-camera Histogram but if I am photographing in direct or strong sunlight the meter reading and what I have to set my camera to in order to get a good in-camera Histogram differ greatly sometimes by 2 or 3 stops on the overexposed side.

My question is what in the heck is going on here? I have gotten better at guessing what my digital camera is going to do under these conditions and when I run into one of these situations and the test shot Histogram is blown out horrible I automatically stop down 3 stops and then if I need to I open up 1 stop to nail the Histogram but I would really like to know what is going on here? Anybody??
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Re: Metering vs Histogram Question
Old 04-17-2008, 11:54 PM   #2 (permalink)
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What do you consider a "good in-camera Histogram?"
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Re: Metering vs Histogram Question
Old 04-18-2008, 12:00 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mark_Oehler View Post
What do you consider a "good in-camera Histogram?"
1 spike in the middle of the in-camera Histogram display that gently slopes downward on both sides of the spike to touch the bottom of the display on both sides of the in-camera Histogram.
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Re: Metering vs Histogram Question
Old 04-18-2008, 12:08 AM   #4 (permalink)
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I sounds like your image was exposing for something towards the darker side of the scene and there is too few blacks in the image or the exposure range of the scene was greater than the camera could capture.
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Re: Metering vs Histogram Question
Old 04-18-2008, 12:40 AM   #5 (permalink)
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Digital cameras can capture about a 4 stop range. If you are in bright sunlight you can be twice as much as that from deep shadow to strong highlight to reflections of the sun itself.

You have to decide what is important to hold detail in and if there is anything you can do to reduce the contrast either by using a reflector or fill flash for the shadows or scrimming or silking the light hitting the subject to diffuse the highlights into the shadows.

It doesn't matter where the mid tones falls, just where the shadows (left) and highlights(right). If they touch either end that is lost data. It doesn't matter if the middle is a spike or a soft curve, it is simply a representation of the volume of the varying tones in the image.
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Re: Metering vs Histogram Question
Old 04-18-2008, 07:57 AM   #6 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PhotoDave1 View Post
1 spike in the middle of the in-camera Histogram display that gently slopes downward on both sides of the spike to touch the bottom of the display on both sides of the in-camera Histogram.
That is not necessarily a good histogram. A histogram is good if it represents the tonal range of the scene properly. So in a high key scene we would see more spikes on the right, on low key, more on the left. The bell curve might be okay for a shots that has mostly middle tones. The real key is to use a method that lets you have a consistent working method. That is why the PhotoVision target (black/gray/white) is so helpful. In any scene, shoot it full frame. Now the histogram represents in 3 spikes where the tonal values will fall. If one spike is missing, then you know you're way off the correct exposure. Shoot the target full frame till you get three full spikes and then usually move them to the right due to the linear nature of digital photography. Sometimes the tonal range is too great, and then you have the pick the range you want to capture. The target can help you there also.

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Re: Metering vs Histogram Question 

Cheers,
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Re: Metering vs Histogram Question
Old 04-18-2008, 09:11 AM   #7 (permalink)
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Thanks all, your comments about "range" and "tones" make sense to me and sometimes I forget this.

As for the Photo Vision target I have one and I find it to be cumbersome and I have never really figured out how to use it effectively so it stays in a drawer. I do look at the DVD on occassion because it has some good posing tips as well.

As I said in my original post, I have gotten to the point when I can pretty much accurately guess what my camera is going to do in a given situation and I automatically take steps to adjust for this and so far although it is time consuming it is working and until I can figure out a better and more reliable way to deal with this I will stay with what I know works.
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Re: Metering vs Histogram Question
Old 04-18-2008, 07:16 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Dave,

Buy the book Skin off Amazon.com. It will show you how to calibrate and answer all your questions. I am finding answer there to questions I posted on another thread.
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Re: Metering vs Histogram Question
Old 04-18-2008, 09:15 PM   #9 (permalink)
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I have a Sekonic 358 and had the same problems shooting with a 5D. sekonic says the meter measures a "baseline" from factory and can be adjusted with offsets by the end user. this is what i had to there is really no easy way to do this either.. it is trial and error and gets to be time consuming. in the end there is a time where i didnt trust my meter than after a month or so i can pretty much rely on it within a 1/2 stop.

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Re: Metering vs Histogram Question
Old 04-18-2008, 09:31 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Eric,

I have the same setup with the 358 and 5D. Where did you find the instructions on how to adjust the meter?

Pete
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