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Author Topic: Zone System for Digital Cameras  (Read 2379 times)
Jose Luis Gonzalez
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« on: January 16, 2005, 02:30:14 AM »
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Take a reading of a hilite that you want to preserve detail (zone VII ) and open one and half stops, zone change seems to happen every 2/3 of stop aprox. with this method you avoid clipping hilites. If you want rich shadows as in B&W you either use  a tripod and make another exposure for shadows ( best quality ) or reprocess raw with overexposure ( more noise ) and blend digitally in PS or equivalent. Remember the old saying ¨Expose for shadows and develop for hilites¨just do the opposite ¨ -)¨

This work for me with a D 60, I dont know if other cameras behave otherwise.

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Jose
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Jose Luis Gonzalez
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« Reply #1 on: January 17, 2005, 03:36:56 PM »
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>Another, more precise technique, is to simply spot-meter the brightest area in which detail is important, and simply close the lens and/or shorten the shutter speed by a total of 2 1/3 to 2 2/3 stops, placing the area into Zone VII.
*   Or, to keep it really simple, set the camera's exposure compensation to its maximum, -2.0 stops and meter from the bright areas. (This will set the bright area on Exposure Zone VII.


 I may be wrong but as far as I know when one takes a reading of a hilite and takes a shot with that reading the hilite is rendered as  middle gray, therefore if one wants to place that part of the subject in lets say zone VII is necessary to open two stops to go from rendered middle gray to textured white.
In my opinion if I were to follow your advise I´ll end up with the metered zone place in III.  From VII to V by the fact of taken a reading of the hilite, all meters behave that way, everything  measured is converted to  zone V, if then I stop down two stops then I go from  zone V to zone III.

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Jose
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boku
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« Reply #2 on: January 17, 2005, 08:53:05 PM »
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You really have no way of compressing a 9-stop range with one picture taken in digital.

Nor do you have it with slide film. At least with digital you have the raw converter and blending techniques to help get around the problem.

Alas, what Michael said.
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Bob Kulon

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sieracki
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« Reply #3 on: January 21, 2005, 10:50:18 PM »
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Note sure that I agree that the Zone System is 'Meaningless' if you mean the term in the sense that the classic ZS has absolutely nothing to inform on digital photography. What is certainly irrelevant are the development techniques for the negative and the various printing techniques employed, since I don't bathe my RAW files in developer solutions.

I would argue that some techniques and certainly some of the ideas are highly relevant if not essential. The whole idea of visualization is pertinent. Digital does not deprive a photographer of this responsibility. Fine art demands that we see photographically whether we are shooting digital or with film or with any other media. A film devotee once told me that digital was just 'geeks playing with toys' -- I begged to differ! Digital doesn't mean that we are reduced to 'snap-shooters.'

Another concept is careful calibration and testing of equipment. Knowing what will result under which conditions are still important in digital. In the classic ZS, exposure is regarded as the most essential step to be performed in getting a fine print. It's still true in digital, except that now we are concerned with capturing the maximum amount of information (if RAW is being used) to later describe the subject. A negative was the same thing, just a record of the information to produce the print.

Exposure is even more critical in digital since we are 'caught in a vise' of noise in shadows and blown highlights that cannot be recovered. This demands a very precise determination of the SBR of the scene. From what I've read, this is also the basis of the ZS. 'Expose for the Shadows, develop for Highlights' is still true in this sense: I am really trying to preserve detail in my shadow areas by moving the highlights up as much as I can ('expose to the right'). I can later recover blown color channels in the RAW converter if I 'develop' them with the exposure slider and the contrast slider.

So the philosophy is intact, just the methods have changed.
Any comments?
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Jonathan Wienke
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« Reply #4 on: January 22, 2005, 10:19:32 AM »
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Put that way, I agree as well. The objective is still to record as much as possible of the scene into the RAW file, but the methodology to achieve that goal with digital is quite different from film.
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Murph
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« Reply #5 on: January 15, 2005, 10:58:40 PM »
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Anyone have any suggestions as to how to apply the Zone system to digital cameras?
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johnsondanl
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« Reply #6 on: January 16, 2005, 07:13:46 PM »
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See the comments regarding the zone system on the first page of My analysis of the K-M A2
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« Reply #7 on: January 17, 2005, 08:42:53 PM »
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The Zone System is meaningless when shooting with a digital camera.

Simply expose so as not to blow important highlights, and then use the available tonal controls in the raw converter to place the remaining values where wanted.

Michael
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BJL
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« Reply #8 on: January 19, 2005, 03:55:03 PM »
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Quote
The Zone System is meaningless when shooting with a digital camera.
Indeed, about the only vestige of the Zone system for exposure is the broad concept of "placement".

The spot meter is perhaps replaced by the histogram (but I still like spot metering)

"expose for the shadows" becomes "expose for the highights", placing highlights as high as they can go without blowing them out.

"develop for the highlights" becomes "play with tone curves, black point, etc."
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Jose Luis Gonzalez
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« Reply #9 on: January 22, 2005, 04:00:48 AM »
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I agree fully with Sieracki. Digital has made the Zone System more workable and precise. As useful as a Histogram is ( though somewhat imprecise with hilite clipping ) I still prefer a calibrated ,to sensor response, spotmeter. With it I can place the hilites exactly where I want them, and then scan the subject to see if I can go along with a just  a exposure and a two versions raw processing, or if I really need to make a second exposure to improve shadows. This depends on subject and ligthing conditions ( kind of adjusted development  )

 We, ZS users in film days, were considered as Lone Rangers and now I think, more so :-)

Regards
Jose
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dlashier
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« Reply #10 on: January 22, 2005, 04:13:18 AM »
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> I agree fully with Sieracki.

So do I. The techniques have changed but the principles remain.

- DL
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Simetra
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« Reply #11 on: January 24, 2005, 10:50:47 AM »
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The new S3 Fuji helps towards the control of of the extremes of highlight and shadow, but it still needs care and consideration with exposure, it handles the shadows well with less noise than previous with the S2. Definite shot RAW file for maximum control of range.
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