John Walker

Determining correct exposure in manual mode

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I should know the answer to this one but I'm not sure.  All of my images so far have been in full auto mode leaving me to concentrate on composition etc.

 

Years ago, I used a Weston Meter to determine exposure.

 

My question is.  How do you guys determine exposure in full manual mode (RX100 series for instance).  Do you just rely on the viewfinder or am I missing something more obvious?

 

John

Edited by John Walker

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I spot meter off an approximate mid tone in the same light as the subject. I can guess this pretty well whether it is a landscape, a portrait or anything much else. Very accurate exposure is generally far less critical than it used to be, depending on equipment of course, but I am usually within half a stop. I usually carry a grey card in my bag and use it if I remember to do so for determining white balance for later raw processing (I don't set WB in camera) and for an exposure check if I use it. I sync all similar files for WB in Lightroom on the basis of the grey card shot. Takes out a lot of the guesswork and it is amazing how often the auto WB on my Nikons is off - usually way too blue.

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On a mirrorless camera such as the RX100 series that you use, WYSIWYG is the perfect way to establish exposure.  I keep an eye on the histogram and apply exposure compensation to maximize the DR. I have the control wheel set to EC and adjusting exposure is very quick this way. Indoors and low light I use the Night program mode which somehow keeps the ISO at 125 and stabilizes at ridiculous slow speeds. In general I use centre weighted metering but in tricky light such as deep shadow with high contrast range, where the DR is too great, I'll switch to spot having determined which area I wish to retain bearing in mind that opening up the shadows is really a no-no. Auto WB is perfect on the RX100.

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Grew up without an exposure meter and had to guesstimate the settings. Later I read Ansel Adams and went to great lengths to measure the correct exposure. These days I take an educated guess and then rely on the camera's histogram. You know that if the subject is predominantly white you are going to have to open up a tad etc. Similarly with flash, other than the on camera pop up, I don't have a dedicated gun, but I have a rough idea what the exposure should be and suck it and see. Life's too short, and exposures so cheap,  to mess around measuring stuff.

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Expose to the right regarding the histogram. If it looks too dark on the screen, it probably is. But then, I tend to overexpose a little anyway. I've set up the highlight alert on my Canon. As I shoot in RAW, the proper adjustments only happen on the computer. 

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I use the exposure meter in the camera viewfinder and adjust aperture and shutter speed to zero it.

 

Image result for nikon exposure meter

 

That said, I usually shoot in aperture priority mode because given that all I usually do is adjust to zero on the exposure meter, the camera is just as capable (and quicker) at doing this than me!

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I usually do it by eye or the meter on the camera, but when I want to use flash, I set it according to a light meter app I downloaded to my phone.  It does the trick.  I can't remember if it was free, but it's far cheaper than a professional meter and it's always with me.

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On 11/2/2018 at 19:49, John Walker said:

My question is.  How do you guys determine exposure in full manual mode (RX100 series for instance).  Do you just rely on the viewfinder or am I missing something more obvious?

 

John

Don't know if this will apply to your rig, John.

 

I've been recently addressing this, having always relied on an automatic metering mode that is activated with autofocus. I typically shoot in manual SS and Aperture, with Auto ISO (which can then be adjusted, if necessary, by Exposure Comp).   I also focus and recompose--probably 75% of the time--and always using back button focus. What I finally figured out (duh!) was that when I recomposed, the shutter button half-press (alas, you do have to go to half-press before full-press) was readjusting my exposure based on the center of the recomposed image. 

 

So I've started practicing using an exposure lock button-conveniently located to the right of my back button focus button, which holds that exposure through the full-press of the shutter.   Though I've read (you know, on the internet) that this will only work on the AI servo setting, I've found it also works (at least on my Canon 5dM4) with the AI one shot setting.  

 

This also gives one the option of setting an exposure off a point other than the focus point, by first setting focus, moving to exposure point and setting that, then recomposing.    I know, I know---complicated.

 

But as Thomas Mann said, "only the exhaustive can be truly interesting".   He then proceeded to write The Magic Mountain. He could walk the walk.

 

--Michael

Edited by MilesbeforeIsleep
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3 hours ago, MilesbeforeIsleep said:

Don't know if this will apply to your rig, John.

 

I've been recently addressing this, having always relied on an automatic metering mode that is activated with autofocus. I typically shoot in manual SS and Aperture, with Auto ISO (which can then be adjusted, if necessary, by Exposure Comp).   I also focus and recompose--probably 75% of the time--and always using back button focus. What I finally figured out (duh!) was that when I recomposed, the shutter button half-press (alas, you do have to go to half-press before full-press) was readjusting my exposure based on the center of the recomposed image. 

 

So I've started practicing using an exposure lock button-conveniently located to the right of my back button focus button, which holds that exposure through the full-press of the shutter.   Though I've read (you know, on the internet) that this will only work on the AI servo setting, I've found it also works (at least on my Canon 5dM4) with the AI one shot setting.  

 

This also gives one the option of setting an exposure off a point other than the focus point, by first setting focus, moving to exposure point and setting that, then recomposing.    I know, I know---complicated.

 

But as Thomas Mann said, "only the exhaustive can be truly interesting".   He then proceeded to write The Magic Mountain. He could walk the walk.

 

--Michael

 

Or you could do things the easy way and use manual exposure mode and choose the ISO yourself, allowing you to concentrate on the subject and image itself rather than a very complex routine as you describe. Identify an approximate midtone in the scene, meter it using spot metering and use that for your exposure. Unless the light changes you no longer have to think about exposure which is not anything like as critical as it once was in any case as there is a lot of latitude for error in exposure and I am sure your 5DMk4 can cope. Why allow the camera to choose your shutter speed and ISO anyway? A brief look at your portfolio suggests that you are not shooting action so you have plenty of time to think about what you are doing. It is well worth the relatively shallow learning curve involved I think.

Edited by MDM

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3 hours ago, MDM said:

 

Or you could do things the easy way and use manual exposure mode and choose the ISO yourself, allowing you to concentrate on the subject and image itself rather than a very complex routine as you describe. Identify an approximate midtone in the scene, meter it using spot metering and use that for your exposure. Unless the light changes you no longer have to think about exposure which is not anything like as critical as it once was in any case as there is a lot of latitude for error in exposure and I am sure your 5DMk4 can cope. Why allow the camera to choose your shutter speed and ISO anyway? A brief look at your portfolio suggests that you are not shooting action so you have plenty of time to think about what you are doing. It is well worth the relatively shallow learning curve involved I think.

 

Perhaps I didn't explain myself clearly.  What I described IS using a manual exposure mode.  I'm choosing SS, Aperture, focus point and exposure all manually.  But in order to separate exposure lock from shutter press,  I have to take an extra short step.   The only thing I'm setting to auto is ISO, which--as I said--if it gets out of hand, I can adjust with Exposure compensation.  I'm sure this is all very familiar to experienced Canon users. 

 

I am more recently starting to shoot more "action" shots which are not much reflected in my port , hence the need to refine my technique.  My "complex routine" isn't really so complex--that was a bit of an overstatement.  I do tend to hyperbole at times.

 

I also wasn't asking for advice on how to do anything, but was explaining how I am, in fact, doing it--thinking that the bit on exposure locking might be of some help to the OP.  Perhaps that was a bit presumptuous on my part.  I'm probably too new a member to be giving anyone advice on anything. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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11 hours ago, MilesbeforeIsleep said:

 

Perhaps I didn't explain myself clearly.  What I described IS using a manual exposure mode.  I'm choosing SS, Aperture, focus point and exposure all manually.  But in order to separate exposure lock from shutter press,  I have to take an extra short step.   The only thing I'm setting to auto is ISO, which--as I said--if it gets out of hand, I can adjust with Exposure compensation.  I'm sure this is all very familiar to experienced Canon users. 

 

I am more recently starting to shoot more "action" shots which are not much reflected in my port , hence the need to refine my technique.  My "complex routine" isn't really so complex--that was a bit of an overstatement.  I do tend to hyperbole at times.

 

I also wasn't asking for advice on how to do anything, but was explaining how I am, in fact, doing it--thinking that the bit on exposure locking might be of some help to the OP.  Perhaps that was a bit presumptuous on my part.  I'm probably too new a member to be giving anyone advice on anything. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I am confused and reading over what you wrote I think the confusion is justifed. Why do you set exposure lock if you are in manual exposure mode as the exposure is already set in any case? That does not make any sense. You should only use exposure lock when shooting in an auto mode, not manual. And why adjust Auto ISO using exposure compensation. That does sound very complicated and unnecessary.  

 

I choose the minimum possible ISO value that fits with my aperture and shutter speed choice. For example, if handholding, I choose the aperture to control depth of field within the constraints of the lens and shutter speed to ensure I don't get camera shake or undesired subject movement. Then I choose the lowest possible ISO that allows me to use those values for highest image quality - minimising noise is the main goal. Or I choose the ISO first and see if that works with the aperture and shutter speed I want to use. Whatever way I do it, it is an iterative process but it becomes automatic once one gets used to it. It is all about taking control of the camera.

Edited by MDM

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When I shoot outdoors during the day, if I can see the sun I shot manual, 200 iso, 1/200 sec at f16.

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On 11/20/2018 at 04:40, MDM said:

 

I am confused and reading over what you wrote I think the confusion is justifed. Why do you set exposure lock if you are in manual exposure mode as the exposure is already set in any case? That does not make any sense. You should only use exposure lock when shooting in an auto mode, not manual. And why adjust Auto ISO using exposure compensation. That does sound very complicated and unnecessary.  

 

I choose the minimum possible ISO value that fits with my aperture and shutter speed choice. For example, if handholding, I choose the aperture to control depth of field within the constraints of the lens and shutter speed to ensure I don't get camera shake or undesired subject movement. Then I choose the lowest possible ISO that allows me to use those values for highest image quality - minimising noise is the main goal. Or I choose the ISO first and see if that works with the aperture and shutter speed I want to use. Whatever way I do it, it is an iterative process but it becomes automatic once one gets used to it. It is all about taking control of the camera.

 

OK.  Let me try to sort this out.   When I said I shoot manual, with auto ISO, that's not strictly  manual, is it?   But on my camera, when I set the knob to manual mode, it still allows me to set ISO to Auto.    Thus, I am--strictly speaking--in an Auto mode, while my little knob says 'manual'.  And because my knob says "manual", I said "manual".   My bad.

 

And with the camera set up thusly,  if I'm not happy with what the light meter has done with ISO, I can still manually control ISO using the exposure compensation dial.  Simple as that.

 

So, with that setup, if I should want to meter off a point or area other than the desired point of focus, I can do that by using the exposure lock button while focused on that area, then move, refocus, recompose, and shoot. 

 

How's that?

 

 

Edited by MilesbeforeIsleep
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11 hours ago, MilesbeforeIsleep said:

 

OK.  Let me try to sort this out.   When I said I shoot manual, with auto ISO, that's not strictly  manual, is it?   But on my camera, when I set the knob to manual mode, it still allows me to set ISO to Auto.    Thus, I am--strictly speaking--in an Auto mode, while my little knob says 'manual'.  And because my knob says "manual", I said "manual".   My bad.

 

And with the camera set up thusly,  if I'm not happy with what the light meter has done with ISO, I can still manually control ISO using the exposure compensation dial.  Simple as that.

 

So, with that setup, if I should want to meter off a point or area other than the desired point of focus, I can do that by using the exposure lock button while focused on that area, then move, refocus, recompose, and shoot. 

 

How's that?

 

 

 

It makes sense now in that I understand what you are doing but I have to say it doesn't make an awful lot of sense to me in practice. You are allowing the camera to decide the ISO (effectively decide the image quality) and then you are having to undertake a fairly complex series of steps to do something that can and should be very simple in practice. But each to his or her own, it's not illegal or harmful to anyone so best of luck with it :).

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On 11/2/2018 at 23:49, John Walker said:

I should know the answer to this one but I'm not sure.  All of my images so far have been in full auto mode leaving me to concentrate on composition etc.

 

Years ago, I used a Weston Meter to determine exposure.

 

My question is.  How do you guys determine exposure in full manual mode (RX100 series for instance).  Do you just rely on the viewfinder or am I missing something more obvious?

 

John

I still have my Weston, although it could do with re-calibrating, if such a thing still exists!

 

Anyway, I always shoot in Manual, I found even in the 80's that using my Nikon cameras general meter generally worked, if I simply adjusted it, to what I felt the scene needed under or over exposure, going by what the meter was saying. I managed to be pretty good at it using slide film, which obviously had less latitude than film, so it had to be close, to actually work.

 

I may be doing it completely wrong, but with digital, I find it still works and in RAW you have more latitude anyway, I shoot with my D2X's & Sony RX100 the same way, if I ever shoot in Auto, Shutter or Exposure, I am find I always further out than with manual? But that's just me

 

Regards

Chris

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I shoot in Live View, use the "sunny 16" rule, and bracket until I get the exposure right if I'm shooting manual. But Aperture Priority covers all my needs right now :)

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