Zone system: Is it relevant in a matrix-metered world?

Started May 1, 2013 | Discussions thread
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christophorosp
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Zone system: Is it relevant in a matrix-metered world?
May 1, 2013

Dear all what started as a casual hobby for me has evolved more and more into passion and science. The more i get involved with photography, the more the amount of reading material  grows. I just recently came across the Zone System. Reading through it gave me a new perspective about exposure, tonality and bit depth but it also created a number of questions.

The Zone System was primarily developed as a technique for correct film exposure that made its way into the digital world. More importantly for the artist to be able to visualize a scene upon his/her artistic interpretation of that scene. The Zone System (and correct me if im wrong here) is used to transform the photographer into - among others- a nearly correct and intelligent light meter, i.e. be able to interpret the tonality of a surface correctly instead of trying to even it out as a 18% reflective surface, hence a white wall will always be "correctly"exposed as white and black/dark brown hair will always be "correctly" exposed as dark brown/black.

My main question is, how relevant is the Zone System with the advances of Matrix metering in a digital SLR (or any other camera than can matrix-meter in that aspect)?

True, for a brightly dominant or overall dark scene, the matrix meter would screw up, but other than these exceptions why would anyone need to get into more depth with the Zone System?

Breaking it down further:

  1. Is the Zone System applicable for an average tonality/exposure scene, metered using the Matrix meter?
  2. The Zone System is used with Spot metering. Many Pro photographers live on the matrix metering zone and swear in favor of it while support that spot metering - unless in special situations - is a remain of the 70's era photography.
  3. Is there any advantage of knowing about is VS using a 18% grey card for studio work?
  4. Can the Zone System be used in flash photography?

The last question is more because of my lack of knowledge. I havent yet investigated enough about the topic but i would appreciate any response.

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