Gray cards : the 12% - 18% controversy

Started Apr 13, 2013 | Questions thread
Zone8 Forum Pro • Posts: 17,274
Re: Gray cards : the 12% - 18% controversy

The traditional Kodak Neutral Test Card (Grey  card) was 18% and specifically designed for using for colour transparency films as Zone 5 - and thus was never Zone 5 but actually Zone 6 for all negative films, something many writers of exposure system books did not seem to understand.  Thus if used as a midtone for exposure for negative films, the result was underexposure by one full f-stop.  With the original Kodak packets, containing two 10x8 cards, Grey one side and White the other, was a small printed leaflet actually indicating its intent.  Presumably, as with camera manuals and suchlike, was ignored or disbanded without being read.  

For transparency films - and thus digital sensors - the card was correct in sense of being Zone 5.  Of course, that does not mean creative exposure techniques as such but just a statement of fact.

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