The zone system was developed by Ansel Adams in order to obtain ideally printable negatives from the analog photography process with the film materials available at that time, which demonstrated a limited contrast range, by controlling developing time. During the course of time the zone system has lost in significance for the development of analog film materials because, on the one hand, negatives were no longer developed individually but rather in rolls and, on the other hand, because modern film and printing paper can handle a larger contrast range.
In the age of digital photography, the contrast range can be selected and final visual results can be viewed for creative planning before the image is recorded with the help of the zone system. Use of an 11-stage zone system makes it possible to evaluate deviating brightness within the subject in consideration of exposure, so that adequate tonal values and detail are present even in the bright and dark areas of the subject in order to ensure exact reproduction.
As a standard feature, acquired measurement results correspond to the neutral gray tone (18% reflection) in the zone V tone scale. All of the details which are important for an image recording can then be individually measured on this basis and allocated to the respective zone.
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