Beyond the Digital Zone System—Bibliography and Links

cover Ansel Adams, The Negative
This, Polaroid Land Photography, and The New Zone System Manual are the definitive original sources for the zone system.  If you think the zone system just means dividing everything into ten zones, give all three of these books a thorough read.
cover Ansel Adams, Polaroid Land Photography
Especially the chapter called “Exposure and the Zone System.”
cover Minor White et al., The New Zone System Manual
cover Phil Davis, Beyond the Zone System
Current edition is the fourth; I actually own the third.  Phil Davis was the guru of practical sensitometry, and extended Ansel’s ideas about careful measurement and analysis of one’s photographic process.  I have followed his example and applied it to digital photography.
cover Ansel Adams, Examples:  The Making of 40 Photographs
It’s like a workshop with Ansel himself.
cover Michael Frye, Digital Landscape Photography:  In the Footsteps of Ansel Adams and the Masters
More examples, this time using a digital camera.
cover Christian Bloch, The HDRI Handbook 2.0:  High Dynamic Range Imaging for Photographers and CG Artists
cover Harold Davis, Creating HDR Photos:  The Complete Guide to High Dynamic Range Photography
cover Jack Howard, Practical HDRI:  High Dynamic Range Imaging Using Photoshop CS5 and Other Tools
cover Jürgen Gulbins, Photographic Multishot Techniques:  High Dynamic Range, Super-Resolution, Extended Depth of Field, Stitching
cover Jeff Schewe, The Digital Negative:  Raw Image Processing in Lightroom, Camera Raw, and Photoshop
cover Tom P. Ashe, Color Management & Quality Output:  Working with Color from Camera to Display to Print (The Digital Imaging Masters Series)
This, Real World Color Management, Color Confidence, and Fine Art Printing for Photographers contain essential information about the color management and printing end of the digital photographic process.
cover Bruce Fraser et al., Real World Color Management
cover Tim Grey, Color Confidence:  The Digital Photographer's Guide to Color Management
cover Uwe Steinmüller & Jürgen Gulbins, Fine Art Printing for Photographers:  Exhibition Quality Prints with Inkjet Printers
cover Bahman Farzad, The Confused Photographer’s Guide to Photographic Exposure and the Simplified Zone System
You may like this book.  In the final analysis it is an accurate description of the zone system, based on the work of Ansel Adams and Minor White.  The author’s pedagogic and repetitive writing style resonates with some people better than others.
cover Glenn Rand, Chris Broughton, and Amanda Quintenz-Fiedler, Capture:  Digital Photography Essentials
I confess that I have been reluctant to recommend any of the currently-available digital zone system books, because I do not believe that any of them hits the nail on the head.  Capture comes close; it correctly defines “zones” as “the values, or the light energies, that reflect from the subject and are used to previsualize the final image”; and it contains a lot of useful information about the nuts and bolts of digital photography in general.  But the testing method is oversimplified; and even though the description of how to make use of the captured zones is correct, the “0-to-X” anachronism is still recited in rote fashion.
The following statements are correct, based on the response of most digital cameras:
Using the handheld meter, measure the light reflecting from the brightest point in the image for which you want detail.  This is zone VII.
If the detailed scenic dynamic range is six stops or less, the exposure should fit well within the capacity of most sensors.
If the detailed dynamic range is beyond the capacity of the sensor, normally beyond seven stops, you must make a choice.
But, based on the above, the following cannot be correct, as zones above VIII are not included in the image:
Described briefly, there are 11 zones that range from zone 0 to zone X (10).
Last are the light zones:  VIII, IX, and X.  These three light zones add energy and life to the image.
A more correct statement would have been something like, “The zones that are captured in most digital images range from zone I (pure black) to zone VIII (pure white).”  Remember, the number of zones recorded in the image depends on the capture medium and the subsequent process.  There are not always ten zones.  Ansel himself said this.  If you don’t believe me, start with Polaroid Land Photography.

Can the Zone System Go Digital?
by Alan Ross
In a word:  YES!

The Zone System and Digital – Let your Spot Meter do the Work
by Alan Ross

Stops, Zones and things
by Chris Broadhurst

Digital Exposure Techniques
at Cambridge in Colour
This excellent article succinctly describes all the important factors that go into making a digital exposure, except for the solution to exercising full control over the process:  you guessed it, the zone system!

Exposure Metering:  Relating Subject Lighting to Film Exposure
(see “The Two-Minute Zone System” on page 4)
by Jeff Conrad

Understanding & Using Ansel Adam’s Zone System
by Diana Eftaiha

A simplified Zone system for making good exposures, and
Making fine prints in your digital darkroom:  Tonal quality and dynamic range in digital cameras
by Norman Koren

S/N ratio vs. exposure, and Dynamic Range
by Emil Martinec

Using the Zone System in Digital Photography
by Nancy Ori

Simplified Zone System
by Marco Raugei

Expose (to the) Right:  Maximizing S/N Ratio in Digital Photography
by Michael Reichmann

The Zone System
by Ken Rockwell

Zone System & Histograms
by Eddie van der Walt

Exposure Compensation Using the Zone System

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