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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