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Thread: Metering when using manual mode?

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    Metering when using manual mode?

    Hi folks, I have a question regarding the camera's built-in metering system. I understand that the MS helps the camera determine the correct exposure by choosing the values for ISO (if Auto ISO mode is selected and/or program mode is selected), shutter speed (when using Aperture priority or program mode) and aperture (when using Shutter priority mode or program mode). However, what happen when we use manual mode? does the metering mode really count? does it affect the exposure? My guess is that it doesn't because shutter speed and aperture will be selected my the user and if ISO is manually chosen then doesn't affect it either. Is that correct?

    Thanks

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    Re: Metering when using manual mode?

    Yes, but . . .

    It probably depends on your camera but mine will still 'advise me' if it thinks I have made a mistake. Admittedly I normally switch to manual mode because the metering system 'doesn't understand me' or at least my intentions. Which is why I wish to over rule the camera's advice.

    I normally work out my manual settings by first using Tv/Av (for example to spot meter around a scene) then switch to manual.

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    Re: Metering when using manual mode?

    Quote Originally Posted by tonga View Post
    Hi folks, I have a question regarding the camera's built-in metering system. I understand that the MS helps the camera determine the correct exposure by choosing the values for ISO (if Auto ISO mode is selected and/or program mode is selected), shutter speed (when using Aperture priority or program mode) and aperture (when using Shutter priority mode or program mode). However, what happen when we use manual mode? does the metering mode really count? does it affect the exposure? My guess is that it doesn't because shutter speed and aperture will be selected my the user and if ISO is manually chosen then doesn't affect it either. Is that correct?

    Thanks
    Hi Tonga,

    I can't speak for all cameras, but with Canon the metering gives an indication of how it thinks the scene will be exposed eg if the camera is still set to 30 seconds from a previous night shoot - and I'm now metering a day shot - it'll go off the scale (which acts as a warning). So it doesn't do anything to affect the exposure, but it still operates.

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    Re: Metering when using manual mode?

    Quote Originally Posted by tonga View Post
    I have a question regarding the camera's built-in metering system. I understand that the MS helps the camera determine the correct exposure by choosing the....
    I think it's an interesting question, but the main problem is that wording 'correct exposure'. If you want to a take a shot that is going to attempt to recreate a 'representational' image of what you (or any one else who was there) actually saw, then that is probably the closest definition you will get to 'correct' exposure. But do you always want to do that? Take this shot for example

    Metering when using manual mode?

    It's clearly a teapot, and it was shot in manual mode. But is it a correct exposure? I bet if I had shot this with the 'correct' exposure it wouldn't look as good as this.

    I tend to go much more on what a shot looks like in the viewer just after I have shot it, and also by the histogram, than what settings I used. I took some shots the other night and just by looking at the back screen I knew they were going to be really nice. And they were.

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    Re: Metering when using manual mode?

    I bet if I had shot this with the 'correct' exposure it wouldn't look as good as this.
    awesome shot, rob...but wouldnt it have driven home the point better, esp to novices like me, if we could've compared this shot with one which u'd've clicked following the camera meters 'correct exposure'? i just started learning photography and have been experimenting with the meter as the best way to achieve correct exposure manually without going too wrong, and so far (just been a few days) that seems to give me the best results (compared to just blind point-and-shooting)! if i knew how i can do even better, that would be a great lesson...

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    Re: Metering when using manual mode?

    I don't think the teapot has a correct exposure as regards things being correctly exposed everywhere, but since some highlights are blown this is the best job achievable in a single frame.

    The meter does work in manual on a Canon to give some idea of where to start to find the correct exposure, and graphs and blinkies and just plain looking does the rest.

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    Re: Metering when using manual mode?

    Hi folks,

    Geoff, Colin, I see what you mean. My camera (Nikon D300s) does tell me anyway what it thinks is (would be) the "correct" exposure and I do take it as valuable piece of information many times because it helps me make corrections to the settings I choose.

    Awesome shot Rob! and I must say I agree with you on the "correct exposure" concept. At the end of the day everything depends on what you want to achieve with the camera and what you want to capture. This is the case when shooting at night for example. The camera will always tell me the scene is being underexposed but sometimes underexposing is good.

    Thanks for the answers and comments.

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    Re: Metering when using manual mode?

    continuing with my query on metering in manual mode, here are the first pics with my new canon S90 from my window (all on self-timer) uploading for the 1st time so pls excuse any gaffs - will learn better from your comments :
    - the first one's in manual mode to show the actual lighting condition outside at 9pm (pitch dark, barely any moonlight, as visible to the naked eye), ISO 200 F2.2 shutter speed 1", exp.comp.= -2
    copy-1-img_0158.jpg


    - the second one, lo-and-behold, like its shot at sunset! shot manually, ISO 200, F2.2, shutter speed 8", exp. comp.= 0.
    copy-1-img_0154.jpg


    - the third on auto - ISO 1600 (so obviously grainy!), F2.0, shutter speed 1/8!!
    img_0160.jpg

    my point being isnt the exp.comp. setting at 0 the best option for any pic? is that what you mean by metering = correct exposure = exp.comp at 0? or would the 2nd one be better off under-exposed since its a night-pic, and then be corrected in PP?

    btw, as a newcomer, i'm totally blown by the possibility of night shooting in manual mode!! i thought cams are only supposed to show what the naked eye can see, so never attached much importance to night photography, since a flash comes out so terrible on landscapes, and without a flash its pitch-dark and thats what would show, i thought. now i'm all excited with possibilities...so many night pics i've seen and wondered 'hows that possible?' now make more sense!

    and i thought only james bond gets magical gadgets!!!
    Attached Images Attached Images
    Last edited by Dave Humphries; 5th October 2010 at 07:07 PM. Reason: add images inline

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    Re: Metering when using manual mode?

    I would suggest, as a general rule, try to prevent the highlights from becoming overexposed. If that makes the shadows a bit dark, they can be recovered by careful editing; but blown highlights are gone for ever.

    Yes, I know, occasionally having overexposed highlights does make a better photo.

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    Re: Metering when using manual mode?

    Hi Mitesh,

    Quote Originally Posted by cityscapelover View Post
    - the first one's in manual mode to show the actual lighting condition outside at 9pm (pitch dark, barely any moonlight, as visible to the naked eye), ISO 200 F2.2 shutter speed 1", exp.comp.= -2
    - the second one, lo-and-behold, like its shot at sunset! shot manually, ISO 200, F2.2, shutter speed 8", exp. comp.= 0.
    - the third on auto - ISO 1600 (so obviously grainy!), F2.0, shutter speed 1/8!!

    my point being isnt the exp.comp. setting at 0 the best option for any pic? is that what you mean by metering = correct exposure = exp.comp at 0? or would the 2nd one be better off under-exposed since its a night-pic, and then be corrected in PP?
    If you're setting the exposure manually then "EC" ceases to exist. Probably what you're seeing on the meter is an indication of how the camera THINKS it will expose compared to how it thinks it SHOULD expose. So if the meter is on 02EV then it THINK it'll be under-exposed by 2 stops.

    btw, as a newcomer, i'm totally blown by the possibility of night shooting in manual mode!! i thought cams are only supposed to show what the naked eye can see, so never attached much importance to night photography, since a flash comes out so terrible on landscapes, and without a flash its pitch-dark and thats what would show, i thought. now i'm all excited with possibilities...so many night pics i've seen and wondered 'hows that possible?' now make more sense!
    The only rule is "there are no rules". It's your photo, so you can choose how you wish to interpret the scene. THe bottom line is that the camera DOESN'T work the same way as the human eye, so what you capture with a night scene will always be different to what you see. Here's a good example; this shot was a 12 minute exposure - in reality is was so dark I had to abort an earlier shot that night when I tripped over a tripod leg, but the camera saw things just fine ...

    Metering when using manual mode?

    With regards to night shooting, the camera will be incapable of capturing the complete dynamic range of the scene (the ratio of the brightest detail to the darkest detail), so something is going to have to give. If you capture the highlights correctly then other parts of the scene will be dark and/or noisy. If you capture the darker bit correctly then the highlights will be blown. In reality, it's usually the midtones you'll be wanting (a-la the middle image of your 3 above) - so my suggestion is to adjust the exposure so that these look approx correct on the camera's review screen, and then adjust them to taste in post-processing.

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    Re: Metering when using manual mode?

    Quote Originally Posted by Colin Southern View Post
    Hi Mitesh,



    If you're setting the exposure manually then "EC" ceases to exist. Probably what you're seeing on the meter is an indication of how the camera THINKS it will expose compared to how it thinks it SHOULD expose. So if the meter is on 02EV then it THINK it'll be under-exposed by 2 stops.



    The only rule is "there are no rules". It's your photo, so you can choose how you wish to interpret the scene. THe bottom line is that the camera DOESN'T work the same way as the human eye, so what you capture with a night scene will always be different to what you see. Here's a good example; this shot was a 12 minute exposure - in reality is was so dark I had to abort an earlier shot that night when I tripped over a tripod leg, but the camera saw things just fine ...

    Metering when using manual mode?

    With regards to night shooting, the camera will be incapable of capturing the complete dynamic range of the scene (the ratio of the brightest detail to the darkest detail), so something is going to have to give. If you capture the highlights correctly then other parts of the scene will be dark and/or noisy. If you capture the darker bit correctly then the highlights will be blown. In reality, it's usually the midtones you'll be wanting (a-la the middle image of your 3 above) - so my suggestion is to adjust the exposure so that these look approx correct on the camera's review screen, and then adjust them to taste in post-processing.
    This pic is what I would call proper exposure. But what do I know.

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    Re: Metering when using manual mode?

    Hi Mitesh,

    just to complement what Colin correctly pointed out here is an extract of what the manual of my Nikon 300s says in regards to EC:

    "Exposure compensation is used to alter exposure from the value suggested by the camera, making pictures brighter or darker." The key here is the word "suggested".

    Then it goes on to say: "In exposure mode M (Manual), only the exposure information shown in the exposure indicator is affected; shutter speed and aperture do not change."

    And the same probably applies to other cameras as well. Moreover, if in manual mode you also set the ISO to auto then EC will affect the ISO value but neither the shutter speed nor the aperture value you've set. If you leave the ISO in manual mode, meaning that you set the ISO value to whatever you want, then EC won't affect the final result because the photograph will be taken using the settings you've chosen. In other words, EC is meant to be used in those cases when you don't agree with the values proposed by the camera for those parameters that you are not controlling, typically, for shutter speed, aperture and ISO (and certain properties of the flash). In aperture priority mode for instance EC will affect the shutter speed and in shutter priority EC will affect the aperture value.

    Hope it helps.

    cheers,

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    Re: Metering when using manual mode?

    Quote Originally Posted by arith View Post
    This pic is what I would call proper exposure.
    Well it's how I wanted to interpret the scene anyway. There's some very nice detail hidden in the shadows of the mountains, but the dynamic range of the scene would have been too much to reveal it (and I wouldn't have wanted to reveal it anyway). So for this kind of scene I usually just meter the brightest part of the sky - shift the exposure up 2 stops - add in a fiddle factor for the fact that the light will be lower at the end of the exposure, and "let rip". Always a relief to see that it's turned out OK at the end of the long wait

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    Re: Metering when using manual mode?

    And I thought my 2nd picture was nice because it showed what wasn't visible to the eye!! rather over-exposed, it turns out! Clearly have a long way to go before I can tell what is a good pic!! and I don't even know where to start - can books even teach u that???

    meter the brightest part of the sky - shift the exposure up 2 stops
    so by meter you mean focus the brightest part of the sky? but if you shift the exposure up 2 stops - isnt that over-exposing whats already so bright??? What am I missing here?
    Last edited by Colin Southern; 6th October 2010 at 08:02 PM.

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    Re: Metering when using manual mode?

    The only rule is "there are no rules". It's your photo, so you can choose how you wish to interpret the scene. THe bottom line is that the camera DOESN'T work the same way as the human eye, so what you capture with a night scene will always be different to what you see. Here's a good example; this shot was a 12 minute exposure - in reality is was so dark I had to abort an earlier shot that night when I tripped over a tripod leg, but the camera saw things just fine ...
    this does make things clearer and what an amazing pic, colin..and it was pitch dark, eh...incredible! 12 MINS exposure? and i thought 15secs was too long...

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    Re: Metering when using manual mode?

    That is a tricky idea to understand, Mitesh. And probably even more difficult for me to explain coherently.

    But very basically, a camera will attempt to prevent overexposure of the highlights by setting a 'white balance' which is slightly below the maximum possible setting, and pure white becomes slightly grey. Adding a touch of extra exposure fools the camera into accepting a 'true brightness'.

    How much extra is possible/desirable before the highlights overexpose is the tricky part, which requires experience.

    Can somebody else put it better, please.

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    Re: Metering when using manual mode?

    "In exposure mode M (Manual), only the exposure information shown in the exposure indicator is affected; shutter speed and aperture do not change."
    i thought i read that exposure = shutter speed, always! and in fact when i move the EC dial (ranging between -2, -1, 0, 1, 2) in manual mode, it changes the shutter speed! maybe bcoz i cant set the ISO to auto in manual mode in my S90.

    EC is meant to be used in those cases when you don't agree with the values proposed by the camera for those parameters that you are not controlling, typically, for shutter speed, aperture and ISO
    and i thought the camera knows better and so shows me how i've gone off on the EC (0 being the goal) so i SHOULD bring it to 0 for a perfect shot!

    In aperture priority mode for instance EC will affect the shutter speed and in shutter priority EC will affect the aperture value.
    gotcha!!!

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    Re: Metering when using manual mode?

    Quote Originally Posted by cityscapelover View Post
    so by meter you mean focus the brightest part of the sky? but if you shift the exposure up 2 stops - isnt that over-exposing whats already so bright??? What am I missing here?
    No - focus doesn't enter into it.

    When you spot-meter something, the camera or lightmeter assumes you're pointing at something that's middle gray (it has no way of knowing what it is that you're pointing at). So if you point at a black cat on a black rug, and take the shot without adjusting the reccommendation, you'll get a gray cat on a gray rug. If you point the camera using spot metering at a bride in a white dress sitting in the snow, and take the shot without adjusting the exposure, you'll get a bride in a gray dress sitting in gray snow (it'll be under-exposed by 2 stops). So when you spot-meter something that SHOULD be a highlight (eg brightest part of the sky) you then have to adjust the exposure up by 2 stops because the recommended reading will only expose it as a midtone.

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    Re: Metering when using manual mode?

    Quote Originally Posted by cityscapelover View Post
    i thought i read that exposure = shutter speed, always! and in fact when i move the EC dial (ranging between -2, -1, 0, 1, 2) in manual mode, it changes the shutter speed! maybe bcoz i cant set the ISO to auto in manual mode in my S90.
    Hi Mitesh,

    Your goal for the day ... Type "I" instead of "i", "can't" instead of "cant", and "because" instead of "bcoz"

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    Re: Metering when using manual mode?

    Quote Originally Posted by Colin Southern View Post
    No - focus doesn't enter into it.

    When you spot-meter something, the camera or lightmeter assumes you're pointing at something that's middle gray (it has no way of knowing what it is that you're pointing at). So if you point at a black cat on a black rug, and take the shot without adjusting the reccommendation, you'll get a gray cat on a gray rug. If you point the camera using spot metering at a bride in a white dress sitting in the snow, and take the shot without adjusting the exposure, you'll get a bride in a gray dress sitting in gray snow (it'll be under-exposed by 2 stops). So when you spot-meter something that SHOULD be a highlight (eg brightest part of the sky) you then have to adjust the exposure up by 2 stops because the recommended reading will only expose it as a midtone.
    Woah! deja-vu!!!

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