Center Weigted vs. 12% spot metering

Discussion in 'Canon FD' started by danac, Jul 20, 2021.

  1. Suppose you have a FTBn and an A1 camera as I have. When are the most advantageous times to use either given the difference in metering? I acquired my FTBn recently and haven't had a chance to experiment with it much.
  2. I own a F-1N so can change metering patterns by changing screens. I use the averaging screen whenever the camera is in automatic mode (either aperture or shutter-speed preferred automation). Usually this is when I'm photographing action and don't want to worry about exposure. I use the 12% screen when I don't need automation and want to be more in control of the situation (contrasty lighting conditions). Either system works, once you're used to it, but overall, I prefer the 12% metering pattern to averaging.
  3. I'd use the 12° for concert photography, metering performers faces with stage lights in my frame.
    TBH: I don't care anymore, even with digital aside. The majority of my film beaters is meterless and I rather bring at least 3 than waste time during first 3 songs only, to change lenses. Relying on a handheld meter I know makes premium & bottom SLR + RF in between a wash and switching to bigger cameras easier.
    I guess with them12° you could shootma bride like a groom, metering onntheir faces?
  4. Sandy Vongries

    Sandy Vongries Administrator Staff Member

    IMO the trick with Spot metering, and I use it a lot still, is to wring the result you want out of it by selecting the right place to put the spot. After a while you train yourself. It isn't foolproof, but a learnable part of the photographic skill set.
    laurencecochrane likes this.
  5. My next experiment will involve a landscape photo session using both cameras. I'll make the same image with each, using the A1 as a control and later compare the image pairs. That should give me some indication of how to adjust my technique with the FTBn.
  6. 12% is not exactly what I'd call spot metering. 3% is more like it which is one of the screens for the New F1
  7. I have come to the conclusion that the FTb 12% metering mode is far less effective for landscapes than the meters in my A-1 and AE-1. The landscape practice photos I took were simply terrible. Once again, my only photographic interest is black & white film landscapes. Nature photography and portraits where the subject is backlit seems to be the province of 12% metering but I very seldom ever make those images. I really want to use that darned camera though.
  8. I don't take many landscapes photos anymore, but did so back in my FTb days. I recall treating the 12% rectangle as a spot meter, placing it on a dark area of the picture, and on a highlight, and using a value someplace in-between. Maybe shoot a few more test rolls?
  9. Spot metering can be helpful when you're using the famous "ozone" system. Depending on what you're doing, you can expose for the highlights or for the darkest areas. If the image is to be digitized this can be used in post-processing.

    They all, including incident metering, have their uses
  10. The FTB and the A1 are both great cameras BUT they are vastly different and should not be compared to each other. I used both from the mid-70's to the early 90's. Each had it's own learning curve. Once I learned the particulars of each model I was able to switch between them with little problem. I would advise you to shoot with only one for 20 rolls so as to learn how best to use its features and limits. Then use only the other one for 20 rolls to learn its features and limits. If you try learning both at the same time you likely will become very confused. Each model has its own mindset.
  11. As little use as the cameras get I may not live long enough to expose forty roles of film;). There is a British Car Conclave in Denver this weekend. Over 500 Brit cars and motorcycles will be exhibited. It will be a perfect venue for the FTb. We are taking a trip to Utah next month. The A-1 and AE-1 will go. The FTb stays home. Whenever one of the above gets used careful notes will be taken. I've had the AE-1 for forty-one years now. The A-1 for three. The FTb for a few months only.
  12. Perhaps the best way to learn the 12% metering of an FTb is to shoot a roll of transparency film, like Ektachrome. Transparency film has very little exposure latitude, just a stop or so, and if your exposure is off, you will quickly know it. And as importantly, you'll know how to correct the exposure mistake. Slide film isn't cheap, but a roll or so, may be worth it.
  13. (As little use as the cameras get I may not live long enough to expose forty roles of film). I know that feeling all too well myself, the point of my "20 rolls" is to become very accustomed to the operation particulars of each cameras metering patterns, you may be able to learn them in 10 rolls or even 5 rolls. The FTB has a simple light meter, the only "computer" is in your brain, that meter is giving you a reading of the light to produce a 18% gray tone, you have to determine "is what the meter seeing actually 18% reflectance" if it is then you have a correct exposure, most times it is not 18%, if the subject light is lighter then you overexpose, if it is darker then you underexpose, you determine how much to over/under expose and that knowledge come from experience.
    The A1 has a much more sophisticated metering system. It does some of the calculation for you but you can still modify the exposure for unusual lighting scenes. After learning how the A1's meter worked I was able to trust it for most scenes, I just paid a lot of attention to large areas of bright or dark tones that were not the main subject that would affect the auto exposure.
  14. I don't have a camera with 12% spot but I feel it's better to have center weighted than 12% spot.
    Vincent Peri likes this.
  15. Not necessarily once you learn how to use it. For auto exposure you are right. FTb is a manual exposure camera same as the old F1 Are you saying the F1 is flawed ?
    Last edited: Sep 19, 2021
  16. I have been using the 12% "spot" since the 70s on an FTb, F1 and F1N. Never had an issue as long as I was aware of where the "spot" was aimed. I do admit that I sometimes I had to use a grey card. Yes, for auto exposure, a center weighted screen is more convenient. Then again, if the subject is tricky, I'll take my EF out of auto and bracket. Sometimes I get real fussy and put in a 3%. That's great when I'm doing close-up and macro. Read my main subject's exposure and let the rest fall where it will. Perfect for flowers. (Dang, the old FTb bit the dust about 20 years ago. Loved that camera. One of these days I'll talk my sister out of hers)
  17. I think 12% is small enough, in most situation, to meter something.
    You just have to be aware you are taking a very specific reading. It is up to YOU to decide what it will be.
    If you meter a shirt, you need to decide where the shirt falls compared to Zone-5
    If you meter the "Important Shadows" in a scene, you need to close down 2 stops.

    The typical center weighted 60/40 might be easier for most people doing street photography.
  18. As I said I never had one like that but I think 12% is too big to be used as spot. I would rather have center weighted.
  19. Not a spot meter. Partial spot metering

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