As a present1 to myself I am renting a Mamiya RB67 kit for 2 weeks. One of the things I want to try is to take some sunsets using a split ND filter.

The kit doesn't come with a metered viewfinder, but I do have a Sekonic hand-held meter (as well as my Nikon dig and film cameras). So what is the best technique for metering such a scene?

  • Do I simply use the spot meter to meter two different parts of the sky and landscape and try to combine them into one Frankenstein like exposure?

  • Or should I slap the ND filter on my digital cam and see what it says as an overall exposure for the entire scene?

  • Or something that I haven't thought about?

I am planning on experimenting using my dig cam before I commit to film, but I don't even know where to start as a best practice.

FWIW I will be shooting Ektar 100

  1. Or torture, only time will tell.

1 Answer 1


You basically have the right idea in your first bullet. The simple approach is to meter and set your exposure for the foreground. Then meter the sky (not the sun), and pick a ND grad filter strength that is the difference of the two meter readings (or slightly less, to within a stop if you can).

Depending on your scene, you might need to adjust your exposure slightly. For instance, if you have deep shadows in the foreground (perhaps from nearby mountains or trees), you'd probably want to increase your exposure a little bit. However, if the foreground is primarily reflective water and you don't have deep shadows, I'd definitely decrease the exposure a little.

Lee Filters' page on ND grad filters has several examples with details about filters used, and a section about metering. I found it helpful when I first started getting into shooting with filters.

I definitely recommend experimenting with your digital camera before committing to the Mamiya. But note that depending on the size of your digital camera's sensor and the lens used, the filter will appear to be a softer transition than when it is mounted on the Mamiya. The same hard-transition ND grad filter on 6×7 will appear more like a medium-transition ND grad, or even soft-transition, on a DSLR or MILC. Especially so on a crop-sensor body. You can reduce this effect slightly by making sure the digital camera's lens projects a similar field of view as the Mamiya and its lens.

  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ As soon as I saw some of the diagrams on that link it all clicked! I only have the one split ND filter to play with, but this is going to be fun. \$\endgroup\$
    – Peter M
    Dec 27, 2019 at 22:58
  • \$\begingroup\$ I just tested with my Dig cam and I I only have 2 stops to play with, but I kept metering 3+stops on todays sunset. Plus I was getting a huge internal reflection with the Cokin filter I was using. Never expected that, but glad I found out before I committed to film \$\endgroup\$
    – Peter M
    Dec 30, 2019 at 1:01
  • \$\begingroup\$ Yeah, forgot to mention about reflections, that can happen. Depends on if the lens has anti-reflective coatings on the front surface. \$\endgroup\$
    – scottbb
    Dec 30, 2019 at 1:15
  • \$\begingroup\$ This is why I am experimenting. I didn't get the shots I wanted, but I now know why. I was also dealing with sub-freezing temperatures and had to practice how to handle my equipment when coming in from the cold to a 70°F house. \$\endgroup\$
    – Peter M
    Dec 30, 2019 at 4:12

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.