Zone System : LUSENET : B&W Photo - Film & Processing : One Thread

I am new to the message board so sorry if this has been asked a million times. I have taken pictures for many years but I have recently become serious about taking photographs. I have just bought a Nikon 70 and Tameron lens. My question: I have read in depth about the zone system and it sounds great. But is it worth it for a 34 ml. camera, or do I need to use a medium format camera? . Thanks

-- Bart Lund (, October 10, 1997


The most important thing about the zone system is that it forces you to think about the brightness range of your subject and about how you want to render the subject on film. This analysis is appropriate no matter what camera system you use. The "complete" zone system includes ways to adjust the contrast and tonal range of a subject by over or under exposing the film and then using pull or push development. For obvious reasons the contrast and tone adjustments can only be applied in a camera systems where the film can be changed at will. Normally you think of view cameras and detachable-back medium format cameras when you think of changing film at will, but the new APS film format allows mid-roll removal and replacement and there are some high-end SLR's coming out in APS format.

-- Tony Doucet (, October 10, 1997.

The zone system can be a great help just as long as you don't lose sight of the fact that the outcome is good photos, not endless testing, worry over minor variations, and slavishly following your meter. Don't forget to be adventurous & bold at times & don't hide behind the endless metering of subjects to the exclusion of following your own common sense in making images. Keep it fun & when in doubt shoot away & back up or bracket as well as try the methodical approach. Results count so do whatever it takes to get them. Do whatever it takes to work with good technique as it can only help your quality and give physical expression to your inner vision.

-- Dan Smith (, October 11, 1997.

Great answers to your question!

At its simplest the Zone system (or any system or way of working that you come up with that is based on the way films, papers and chemicals really work -- IE "Sensitometry") is nothing more than a means to make sure that the subject you see out in the field, and the "photograph" you see in your mind of that subject, will come out as you "saw" it when you expose and develop the film and make the print.

-- Tony Brent (, September 22, 1998.

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