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I am new to film photography and just wanted to double check something I am confused about.

So imagine I am using a fully manual film camera with an older light meter in the cold shoe. No exposure compensation feature so I need to do this manually. I attach a yellow filter over the lens, which I need to compensate +1 stop for.

So if my film ISO is 100, before metering and taking pictures with my camera, shouldn't I dial in 50 ISO on my light meter to compensate for that +1?

That way I don't have to meter and remember to constantly change the aperture or shutter speed by +1?

Thanks.

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  • You have a light meter that attaches to the flash shoe? A light meter measures light. "That way I don't have to meter and remember to constantly change the aperture or shutter speed by +1?" Are you saying that a light meter in the cold shoe is controlling the camera settings? Or are you talking about a flash? – Alaska Man Jan 10 at 18:30
  • Hi sorry for the late response. I use a Voigtlander VC light meter and it does not control the camera settings. I have to transfer them to the camera. – Mr Smith Jan 19 at 23:13
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So if my film ISO is 100, before metering and taking pictures with my camera, shouldn't I dial in 50 ISO on my light meter to compensate for that +1?

Yes.

You've got it.

If your shutter speeds are edging into the seconds, do keep in mind reciprocity failure and the additional time needed to compensate for that as well. But, for general shooting at handheld shutter speeds, the method you've described will get you by beautifully.

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    Thank you so much! And assuming my film speed is 100, I can just keep the ISO at 50 on the meter the entire time I am taking pictures with my filter on? It seems so beautifully simple! – Mr Smith Jan 8 at 6:17
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    It is simple. That's why we have the shutter/aperture/ISO film speed system we have now. In the late 19th and early 20th century, there were multiple other notations for aperture and film speed -- but the ones we have now won out because it's easy to calculate exposure compensations and reciprocal (same total value) exposures like 1/30 @ f/11, ISO 100 = 1/60 @ f/5.6, ISO 50. – Zeiss Ikon Jan 8 at 12:08
  • @ZeissIkon, one could argue that subtracting 3 in DIN is easier than dividing by 2 in ISO. – Carsten S Jan 8 at 15:26
  • Sure, but the result isn't as obviously half or double the result. – Zeiss Ikon Jan 8 at 15:28
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    @MrSmith The hardest part about it is remembering to return the ISO setting to, in your example, ISO 100 when you remove the filter! – Michael C Jan 8 at 20:08

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