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Author Topic: Do you use a light meter? Which type?  (Read 9412 times)

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« on: June 25, 2008, 15:32 »
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I have been advised by a few good photographers to buy a light meter before I invest in studio lighting.

I was wondering if anyone could tell me about theirs, and the uses they have for it.


« Reply #1 on: June 25, 2008, 18:24 »
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I have been using  sekonic L308s flash mate.
A small yet an  inexpensive and a very useful toy. Some people would say flash meters are out dated  but some people would disagree.
Although I don't always use it it's good to have it in the pocket.it meters Flash light as well as ambient light. there are many other models and brand of flash meters but for me this one is more than enough so I'd confidently recommend  it
http://www.sekonic.com/products/products.asp?ID=3
you might also want to check the L358S too
http://www.sekonic.com/products/products.asp?ID=4
« Last Edit: June 25, 2008, 18:27 by stokfoto »

« Reply #2 on: June 25, 2008, 19:47 »
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I don't see the need for a light meter when shooting digitally. It only takes a few trial shots to get the correct digital exposure (i.e. expose-to-the-right), which takes almost no time and costs nothing. A light meter is geared towards shooting film, and thus isn't going to be able to calculate the right setting for you.

Offhand, I'd say that anyone who says you need a light meter is stuck in the past. In my experience, these are the same people who say that you need to know The Zone System, too. Yeah right, sure thing. I'd better get on that.
« Last Edit: June 25, 2008, 19:52 by sharply_done »

« Reply #3 on: June 25, 2008, 20:09 »
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Yeah right, sure thing. I'd better get on that.

LOL a man after my own heart!

Cranky MIZ
The voice of reason

RT


« Reply #4 on: June 26, 2008, 05:09 »
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It depends on what level of work you intend to do, if you are just going to do some basic studio work using 2-3 lights you could probably get by wothout one, however once you start using more advanced lighting set up's you will have to use a light meter.

Oh and I've got a Sekonic L-508, good bit of kit.

« Reply #5 on: June 26, 2008, 05:32 »
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A light meter is geared towards shooting film, and thus isn't going to be able to calculate the right setting for you.

Like I said in my first post  there are many people think that light meters no longer necessary .but can you please tell me Sharply why you can't use it with digital technology.

film and digital they both work in  a very similar way especial when you talk of exposure so I don't see why they'd  fail to work with digital.

I think one other good think about using light meters is (I am not talking of experienced photographers)but  for sort of less experienced photographers I think it helps a lot to understand studio lighting.

I agree it was a must have back in the film days but I wouldn't say they are completely unnecessary now but  kind of optional.



« Last Edit: June 26, 2008, 05:33 by stokfoto »

« Reply #6 on: June 26, 2008, 05:35 »
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Other then the obvious studio shoots, I did use a light meter more than once in night and low light photography.

Your camera won't measure exposures that last more than 30 seconds, and when the exposure is measured in several minutes or even hours, trial and error is not a very useful method.

« Reply #7 on: June 26, 2008, 10:51 »
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A couple weeks ago Chase Jarvis blogged Dear Light Meter: You're Dead To Me.   There's a ton of great comments on the post. 

http://blog.chasejarvis.com/blog/2008/04/dear-light-meter-youre-dead-to-me.html

« Reply #8 on: June 26, 2008, 12:45 »
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You don't need an expensive flash meter nowadays ... or even a cheap one.

Here's a simple way of getting the exposure spot-on under flash using nothing more than a sheet of pure white paper (stuff out of your printer will do, provided it's not recycled).

Set up your shoot.

Set the exposure to a good guess and than take a trial shot with the piece of white paper in the scene (get your model to hold it, or place it strategically).

Look at the histogram. It will have a spike on it for the white paper. If that spike is jammed hard up against the right side you're over-exposed. If it's somewhere down to the left you're under.

Adjust your exposure to get the spike just nudging up against the right-hand side. No more.

That's it. Exposure spot-on. Easy-peasy.

« Reply #9 on: June 26, 2008, 12:56 »
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Like I said in my first post  there are many people think that light meters no longer necessary .but can you please tell me Sharply why you can't use it with digital technology.
...
I didn't say you can't use a light meter with a digital camera, I said that it won't provide you with the correct digital exposure.

A light meter calculates exposure based on obtaining an average brightness of medium gray. Although this is the correct method for using film, it's going to give you a noisier image if you use a digital camera.

The proper way to work digitally is to overexpose so that the brightest colour is as close as possible to the right side of the histogram. This provides the sensor with a maximum signal-to-noise ratio, resulting in a cleaner image.
« Last Edit: June 26, 2008, 13:26 by sharply_done »

« Reply #10 on: June 26, 2008, 16:15 »
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Thank you very much for the clarification Sharply!

« Reply #11 on: June 26, 2008, 18:28 »
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I guess it depends what you shoot. If you want to set certain lighting ratios you will need a flash meter. If you trust the settings on your strobes you could calculate manually via inverse square law. But as soon as your equipment ages this won't be accurate anymore.

I use a Sekonic flash meter.

« Reply #12 on: June 27, 2008, 03:16 »
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I've got an L308 as well.  Great little meter for studio/setup work, and use it a bit for window light portraits or other really contrasty ambient setups.

The white paper trick works well as well, and I do that if I'm meter-less and the camera seems to be getting it wrong (Ambient, not flash light)

When I'm doing multi-head flash setup's I find the flash meter is the only way to go, but for a single light, or where you've got a high level of diffusion the white paper is just as good if you've got the time to shoot'n'set a couple of times.

Some large setups like sports teams the meter is the only way to go, when the camera is 20+ feet from the subject, and you've got 2000WS of light on two heads.  The other issue there of course is that you loose a wad of credibility if the sports team arrives early and you're piddling around like that...  With the meter you set the lights to your usual setting, take one reading, set the camera and you're hot to trot.

As an aside, I do a bit of child photography, and I find that having the kids play with the meter plugged into one of the strobes is sometimes an excellent ice breaker for nervous kids as well...

Cheers, Me.

« Reply #13 on: August 13, 2008, 03:49 »
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Depends. Sekonic L558 is sometimes indispensable - when shooting something in a softbox.

« Reply #14 on: January 30, 2009, 19:53 »
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I use the Polaris Digital Flash Meter<img src="http://www.assoc-amazon.com/e/ir?t=xpopro-20&l=as2&o=1&a=B00009UTKE" width="1" height="1" border="0" alt="" style="border:none !important; margin:0px !important;" />


« Reply #16 on: January 31, 2009, 16:53 »
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I have the Sekonic L-358 as well, and always use it for studio shooting. I use the histogram method when shooting outdoors.

« Reply #17 on: March 30, 2009, 15:36 »
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Don't touch a light meter just use my preview window and histogram but a color temp. meter saves lots of time in post if you can balance your light temp. before shooting.


 

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