Zone system usable for colour transparency?

Discussion in 'Medium Format' started by william_shepard|1, Nov 6, 1998.

  1. Can the Zone system be used for transparency film? I seem to recall reading that one can use it, but instead of a zone being one stop, make it a half a stop, ie: zone vii would be like zone vi, zone vi would become zone v and a half.(due to the reduced scale of the film vs b&w.

    <p>

    Do you all concur with this? Does it apply only to transparency or to color print film as well?

    <p>

    Or did I get it mixed up and does it apply to color print and not to transparency?

    <p>

    I can't remember where I read it, Adams, or Picker, or some other book on the zone system.

    <p>

    I realize that development control is limited, too.

    <p>

    Bill Shepard
     
  2. i used zone system exposure basics with large format color trans
    photography for many years and found it extremely useful.

    <p>

    be sure to use a spotmeter, and set your own standards using 1/2 zones
    rather than redesigning the wheel.

    <p>

    i found white with detail that was printable to fall about zone 7.5
    and black with printable detail around 3.5, but you should find your
    own reference points. color reproduction on the film varies with lens
    and films. digital printing has changed the amount of recordable info
    on film that is reproduceable on paper.

    <p>

    developement techniques (push/pull developement) works to a much
    smaller degree with color films due to shifts in color created by
    changes in developement time.
     
  3. I use the Zone system with everything, but I don't use half-stops.
    Honestly, the Zone system is simply a method to determine what the range of light is in a scene, and knowing if your film will handle it. Will you need to adjust film development? Will you need to pre- expose the film? Yadda yadda yadda, etc. etc., and on and on.
    The Zone system is most useful with a spot meter. I have a used Pentax meter, and it's great. Buy one, and then if it hasn't been to Zone VI, send it to them. They will calibrate your meter and put a little sticker for the zones on it.
    Pulling E100S one stop has been great for me. The resulting exposure came out dead on the money.
     
  4. Yes, you can use the Zone System to some extent for color film. I assume that you already know that light meters "see" everything as 18 percent grey and that zone V on the 10 step grey scale is 18 percent grey etc.

    <p>

    What you need to do is meter the scene you are photographing for highlights, shadows, and your key tone area (the subject of your photograph). Once you have done the metering you decide where the key area needs to be placed on the 10 step grey scale to render it to your liking. You then evaluate where the highlights and shadows will fall after you have placed the key tone. If the highlights are overexposed or the shadows underexposed, you will have to decide if you can live with it or need to alter the placement of your key tone.

    <p>

    The Pentax digital spotmeter has an interesting feature that is helpful for doing this. There is a red/orange mark that is used to line up the EV value. On either side of the mark is a scale that goes from 1 (on the left) to 10 (on the right). The scale is marked "TV IRE x10 1:32." It is meant for television use (IRE is Institute of Radio Engineers and is the type of unit measurement used on a television waveform monitor for measuring signal level). But, what it represents is a 5 stop exposure range (1:32) that corresponds nicely to what most transparency films will do. If you put your key tone across from the red/orange arrow, and then note what EV falls on 1 and what EV falls on 10 on this scale you will have a range that will show detail in the shadows (1 marker) and detail in the highlights (10 marker). The really interesting thing about this scale is that it shows compression in the highlights (numbers get closer together as the number gets higher) that just about matches what most transparency films do with highlights.

    <p>

    This is about the best you can do. You have to translate colors, shadows, and highlights into shades of grey and then note where they will fall when the key tone is placed. Unfortunately, under/over development of color film does not have the same effect on image compression/expansion as it does with black and white film. So you do not have the total control of exposure and results that can be achieved using the Zone System with black and white film.
     
  5. Thanks Bill for starting this thread and the others for contributing.
    I had wanted to ask the same question, having recently gotten back
    into experimenting with Velvia, Provia and other reversal films in my
    P67, after teaching myself the zone system and applying it to TMX with
    good results. I like the control that it gives me.

    <p>

    I would like to grasp an easy to remember system that works for chrome
    films. To start off, what is the exposure range of transparency film?
    Does it vary from Fuji to Kodak to Agfa, or with the speed of the
    film? Is this published somewhere?

    <p>

    For Tom it sounds like he gets a range of about 4 stops (zone 3.5 to
    zone 7.5) Steve sounds like he gets 5 stops.

    <p>

    For my purposes, I'm looking for a "rule of thumb" (ROT) approach.
    So, what zone will hold blacks or shadow areas with detail, and what
    zone will hold whites with detail? More specifically, what zone will
    keep detail in puffy white clouds while keeping them white (still
    talking chrome film here); what zone will keep (some) detail in
    shadows of buildings or trees or whatever? Keep in mind, looking for
    a "ROT" approach, as I know there will be variables.

    <p>

    Does a polarizing filter in any way affect exposure range on chromes?

    <p>

    Brian-when you say you get dead-on exposures from pulling E110S one
    stop- is the intention to reduce contrast by contraction development?
    Were you looking to place your whites with detail on zone 7 or 8, for
    example, because they had fallen on zone 8 or 9, and would have been
    blown out?

    <p>

    Are there charts published anywhere that will indicate what kind of
    contraction can be achieved with different chrome films by "pulling" a
    1/3, 1/2 or full stop? Or is there a "ROT"?

    <p>

    I realize I answered a question with many more questions- so thanks to
    all of you in advance for
     
  6. Thanks Bill for starting this thread and the others for contributing.
    I had wanted to ask the same question, having recently gotten back
    into experimenting with Velvia, Provia and other reversal films in my
    P67, after teaching myself the zone system and applying it to TMX with
    good results. I like the control that it gives me.

    <p>

    I would like to grasp an easy to remember system that works for chrome
    films. To start off, what is the exposure range of transparency film?
    Does it vary from Fuji to Kodak to Agfa, or with the speed of the
    film? Is this published somewhere?

    <p>

    For Tom it sounds like he gets a range of about 4 stops (zone 3.5 to
    zone 7.5) Steve sounds like he gets 5 stops.

    <p>

    For my purposes, I'm looking for a "rule of thumb" (ROT) approach.
    So, what zone will hold blacks or shadow areas with detail, and what
    zone will hold whites with detail? More specifically, what zone will
    keep detail in puffy white clouds while keeping them white (still
    talking chrome film here); what zone will keep (some) detail in
    shadows of buildings or trees or whatever? Keep in mind, looking for
    a "ROT" approach, as I know there will be variables.

    <p>

    Does a polarizing filter in any way affect exposure range on chromes?

    <p>

    Brian-when you say you get dead-on exposures from pulling E110S one
    stop- is the intention to reduce contrast by contraction development?
    Were you looking to place your whites with detail on zone 7 or 8, for
    example, because they had fallen on zone 8 or 9, and would have been
    blown out?

    <p>

    Are there charts published anywhere that will indicate what kind of
    contraction can be achieved with different chrome films by "pulling" a
    1/3, 1/2 or full stop? Or is there a "ROT"?

    <p>

    I realize I answered a question with many more questions- so thanks to
    all of you in advance for res
     
  7. my experience is that adjusting process times in e-6 developement will
    change the color of the image. if it's enough to bother you is a
    personal choice you can determine with a subjective test, if you have
    three backs, or can shoot sheet film.

    <p>

    hit a normal, 1 over, 1 under. then push the under, pull the over and
    run the normal....normal (!).check them out on a lightbox and decide
    for yourself.

    <p>

    my 4 to 4.5 stop range is for printing unmasked on fuji type 35 or
    ektachrome radiance. scanning will show a lot more in the shadows, but
    once you're into clear film, there's not much for even a scanner to
    see.

    <p>

    masking can give you 1 or two more printable stops, but highlights
    begin to loose their sparkle and the midtones can turn to mush (flat).
    it takes a real pro "ciba" printer to pull off that type of precise
    masking. they do exist and are expensive. a good dye transfer will
    show more detail from shadows and fabulous color, but watch out for
    your wallet.
     
  8. Bill,

    <p>

    To supplement the answers already posted, you might want to visit a
    site titled "The Zone System in Color Transparency Photography" at

    <p>

    http://idiom.com/~elight/earthlight/photo_tech_notes/color_zone_p1.htm
    l
     
  9. For the Rule of Thumb. Zone III will give you detail in the shadows (very dark with detail). Zone IV will be open shadows with lots of detail. Zone VII will give you whites with detail. Zone VIII whites with a hint of detail. Zone IX and above - total white. The information given on the Pentax digital spotmeter dial (1:32) may be somewhat misleading as one reader interpreted that it equates to my shooting for only 5 zones. In one sense it does, in that the film will only give you detail from Zones III to about VII 1/2. You may have a subject with 12 zones of exposure range but you have to make a choice as to how the image will be placed to give you the rendering you want over the 5 zones of available detail. Needless to say, at some point on a high contrast subject you just run out of film response. With a low contrast subject you have much more latitude to place it within the 5 zones of available detail. For example, sand dunes under high thin overcast at 1:00 pm may give you shadows that are only 1 stop less than the sand. With this type of subject I have "overexposed" (placed the key tone - the sand in sunlight) on Zone VI-1/2, which in turn, renders the shadows Zone V-1/2 which is a very "high key" depiction of the subject. Not the least bit realistic but very effective in conveying the mood of place and time. I have used the concept of the Zone system and the ideas of how the Zones relate to detail rendering within the 5 Zones of avialable detail to give me the image I visualized.
     
  10. I have come to this discussion late, but I believe that I can help. I
    have found three separate sources that will provide you with the info
    that you want and have been very helpful to me. 1. "The Confused
    Photographer's Guide to On-Camera Spot Metering" by Bahman Farzad is a
    staightforward explanation of using the zone system for slide film. It
    is straightfoward and very well done. You can get it from Amazon.com.He
    also has a web site at: http://www.spotmetering.com
    2. "How to Shoot Perfect Natural Light Exposures on Color Tranpearency
    Film" by John Gerlach, is a very lucid monograph on the subject which
    you can order for a mere $8.00 from Gerlach Nature Photography. Their
    phone number is: 906-439-5144. It is based upon the workshops he
    teaches on the same subject and could not be clearer. 3. "The
    Backpacker's Photography Handbook" by Charles Campbell has a chapter on
    what he calls the "Chroma-zone System" of slide film exposure which is
    basically the zone system refined for color tranparency film. He also
    markets products to help you with this including a set of color cards
    which are used to estimate tonality. You can get the book through
    Amazon.com and I have seen it at our local Borders Books. He also has a
    website at www.photonaturalist.com. All three of these sources explain
    basically the same concepts in slightly different ways. I hope that
    this helps.
     

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