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Gear Talk => Lighting => Topic started by: Coolhandchuck on September 06, 2013, 06:21:06 AM

Title: Thinking of buying a Light Meter
Post by: Coolhandchuck on September 06, 2013, 06:21:06 AM
Thinking about buying a Light Meter and I'm wondering what are some of the features I need to look for? Thanks for the help.
Title: Re: Thinking of buying a Light Meter
Post by: paul13walnut5 on September 06, 2013, 09:03:23 AM
backlit LCD

Flash synching mode (optical)
Flash synching mode (wired if you use wired heads)

EV mode

Exposure settings mode

Incident mode reflected mode

Spot mode (sometimes requires an attachment)

Meter compensation

I had a polaris shepherd that did all of this and was pretty inexpensive and gave me good results.  It also ran off a double A battery, be careful of fancy lithium types which may be expensive and hard to find these days.
Title: Re: Thinking of buying a Light Meter
Post by: AcutancePhotography on September 06, 2013, 11:39:08 AM
Thinking about buying a Light Meter and I'm wondering what are some of the features I need to look for? Thanks for the help.

Well, a light meter is a tool.  Nothing more, nothing less.  What is it that you want to light-meter-tool to do?

Do you want the narrow focus of a 1 degree spot meter?
Are you interested in incident light reading?
Do you plan on using this light meter to help you with flash/strobe photography?
For flash/strobe metering do you want to use a wired connection or wireless?
Are you going to be working zone systems where you want to spot meter several areas in your scene and then generate a scene brightness value?
Do you just want another meter to confirm what your in-camera meter indicates?
Do you wish to do your exposure calculations in EVs and your camera displays stops?

A separate light meter can do these things.  Very expensive ones can do all of them, less expensive ones can do some of them.  Which of these capablities are important to you?

If I were spending YOUR money, then the IKAN MK 350 is only $2,000.   ;D

If I were spending MY money, I would want to pick a light meter that does only what I need it to do and only pay for that functionality.

I use a 20 year old Sekonic 308.  It does everything I need it to do other than spot metering.  If I get to a position where I need spot metering, I would consider upgrading.  But honestly, if you won't be using spot metering, don't buy a spot meter.

Like everything else in photography, there is no best... only what is best for you.

Find out what you need and purchase accordingly.   

There are several reviews on the Internets Tubes, but from an accuracy point of view, they are all pretty good.  The only differences are in the different metering capabilities.

Good luck with it. 
Title: Re: Thinking of buying a Light Meter
Post by: Zv on September 06, 2013, 12:26:35 PM
I still don't really understand what a light meter does vs the meter in camera. Why wouldn't you just take a picture and look at the histogram then readjust? How does the meter know what you want to do? Doesn't it just meter for 18% gray?  ???
Title: Re: Thinking of buying a Light Meter
Post by: paul13walnut5 on September 06, 2013, 01:07:47 PM
A meter lets you determine the dr in a scene
A meter helps you measure lighting ratios
A meter helps you set up a studio flash manually
A meter can measure fir incident light, a camera meter alnost exclusively measures reflected light, reflected by shades and textures assumed to be matte assumed to be 18% gray but usually aren't

99% of hobby photographers, even very serious very capable hobby photographers have no real need for a light meter.

If you can appreciate the difference between light that falls on a subject snd light thats reflected from a subject then you can probably appreciate the need that some people need for a light meter, even if you are unlikely to need one yourself,
Title: Re: Thinking of buying a Light Meter
Post by: Policar on September 06, 2013, 01:17:11 PM
A meter lets you determine the dr in a scene
A meter helps you measure lighting ratios
A meter helps you set up a studio flash manually
A meter can measure fir incident light, a camera meter alnost exclusively measures reflected light, reflected by shades and textures assumed to be matte assumed to be 18% gray but usually aren't

99% of hobby photographers, even very serious very capable hobby photographers have no real need for a light meter.

If you can appreciate the difference between light that falls on a subject snd light thats reflected from a subject then tou can probably sppreciate the need that some people need for a light, even if you are unlikely to need one yourself,

I think most hobby photographers have some need for a light meter (anyone who shoots 4x5 needs one for sure!), but I think to some extent that anyone who wants to wait on light or modify light (strobes) should really consider one whereas someone who just wants to shoot what's there and get the best exposure should use the in-camera meter, as they are so good and you have instant feedback anyway.

Features depend on what you need. I have the 758-Cine, but most serious landscape photographers use a Pentax Digital Spotmeter and most serious videographers use Spectra meters, which are considered more accurate as incident meters than Sekonic.

I love the 758-Cine, but am easily impressed. :)
Title: Re: Thinking of buying a Light Meter
Post by: emag on September 06, 2013, 01:51:24 PM
99% of hobby photographers, even very serious very capable hobby photographers have no real need for a light meter.

I'm in that 99% group and I have to agree.  I can chimp my exposure and flash settings.  My most used (and useful to me) accessory is a Color Checker Passport.  I actually have an old light meter but haven't used it in very many years.  I think the last time was when I still used film.
Title: Re: Thinking of buying a Light Meter
Post by: leGreve on September 06, 2013, 02:31:39 PM
Hey! I thought about doing that too....... then I came to my senses.

The light metre, although very valuable when you have to build up a scene in a movie from the bottom while controlling exposure, is not really needed for a modern day hobby photographer. Heck, I don't know a single serious professional commercial photographer who does. I haven't used one since photography school year 1......

And you know what, one of the worlds best cinematographers have again and again stated that he never uses a metre. He uses his eyes. That person is Roger Deakins...

Save your money, let your modern day dslr do the work and learn to use your eye and your histogram. Or... you could even buy a small monitor with waveform monitor built in... that would be way more useful than a meter to me.
Title: Re: Thinking of buying a Light Meter
Post by: Aglet on September 06, 2013, 02:47:24 PM
99% of hobby photographers, even very serious very capable hobby photographers have no real need for a light meter.
I've got a pair of higher end older Sekonics.  They're wonderful.
They spend most of their life in a drawer, with the battery removed - cuz it seems to run down if I leave it installed.
Occasionally use them for setting up complex strobe lighting or as a comparison tool when I need to check my camera metering.
Title: Re: Thinking of buying a Light Meter
Post by: Policar on September 06, 2013, 03:35:42 PM
And you know what, one of the worlds best cinematographers have again and again stated that he never uses a metre. He uses his eyes. That person is Roger Deakins...

Can you find a source for this? From what I understand he meters regularly, and at the very least metered for years and years until he outgrew the need. There are plenty of photos of him using a meter, and he appears to carry a meter with him everywhere.

Also if you have to get to his level to not need a meter, well, there are maybe ten people at the world at that level.
Title: Re: Thinking of buying a Light Meter
Post by: risc32 on September 06, 2013, 04:37:26 PM
just now i arrived at the canon rumors homepage and noticed an ad for lightmeters. i thought, why would anyone buy a light meter? then scrolled down to see that someone is asking for lightmeter advise. in 2013, why would anyone want a lightmeter? before you get all film on me, i know all about film. well, i don't know "all" about it, but i can and do use full manual film cameras. i don't need no stinking lightmeter...
Title: Re: Thinking of buying a Light Meter
Post by: Policar on September 06, 2013, 05:48:32 PM
just now i arrived at the canon rumors homepage and noticed an ad for lightmeters. i thought, why would anyone buy a light meter? then scrolled down to see that someone is asking for lightmeter advise. in 2013, why would anyone want a lightmeter? before you get all film on me, i know all about film. well, i don't know "all" about it, but i can and do use full manual film cameras. i don't need no stinking lightmeter...

Do those film cameras have light meters built in? Then do you need one... it's just built into the camera.

I use my meter for video and 4x5 film primarily. I'd argue that it's useful when using strobes, too. For snapshots, obviously not so much.
Title: Re: Thinking of buying a Light Meter
Post by: scottkinfw on September 06, 2013, 06:11:08 PM
That reminds me, I better get the battery out of my meter before it corrodes.

sek
Title: Re: Thinking of buying a Light Meter
Post by: Dantana on September 06, 2013, 06:33:56 PM
That's an interesting bunch of responses.

Of course you don't "need" a light meter. On the side of the viewfinder of an old TLR that I have it has settings to use for "sunny" and "in the shade."

If you get the results you are looking for with the meter built into your camera, then maybe you don't need an external meter.

But, there are plenty of places where it's useful to have a handheld meter, especially an incident meter. To know how much light is actually falling on something, not just the processor's idea of what a proper exposure should be. To check different areas of a scene to know what your ratios are coming out at. I can think of a lot of reasons why to use one.

That being said, my old (and I mean really really old, like doesn't need a battery old) Sekonic doesn't usually come out. But when I need it, it's there.
Title: Re: Thinking of buying a Light Meter
Post by: Lawliet on September 06, 2013, 07:40:54 PM
in 2013, why would anyone want a lightmeter?

Mine tells me what each light I use contributes to the final image, if each part of the set gets the intended amount of light, not just whether there are some areas that  happen to reflect a certain amount of light - either as planned or by at least two errors accidently canceling each other out. And allows to keep the exposure consistant and spot on without having the model go through all the changes and even poses.
OTOH I wouldn't miss the built in meter, good thing that the 600EX-RT actually is allowed to use its metering cell instead of relying on E-TTL ;)
Title: Re: Thinking of buying a Light Meter
Post by: risc32 on September 06, 2013, 09:00:35 PM
no, when i mean full manual i mean FULL MANUAL. as in, no batteries or solar powered thingymabobs they used to use. manual film loading/advancing/rewinding/unloading, manual aperture adjustment, manual shutter cocking, manual shutter speed settings, no ISO settings, no AF, and the HDR functions are broken(i kid.)  i either use a little point and shoot and do some math in my head to get where i want( not hard, but trickier than you might think. not everything works in 1/2 or 1/3rd stops), or i use "the force".

besides, I've watched enough behind the scenes and making of type stuff from famous pros running around using lightmeters, and checking all manner of crap. looking very professional then you watch them fire a few polaroids at the settings that they came up with, only for it to be way off.  with an LCD screen, and RGB histogram on a little point and shot, i need a lightmeter?
  lightmeters, i just don't get it.
Title: Re: Thinking of buying a Light Meter
Post by: eml58 on September 06, 2013, 09:33:13 PM
Well it's becoming clear that People either like them, or hate them.

My view would be that if your going to be doing a reasonable amount of multi/Flash/Strobe work, in particular in a Studio situation where you need to balance light between strobes, you probably could use the help.

As Paulwalnut mentioned, if you appreciate the difference between "incident" and "reflective" light, then you may well find that metering for "incident" light could help your Photography.

It would help just to look on the internet & research the use of meters, there's a tonne of useful, and useless info out there, then look for a meter that you feel will fill the slot for yourself.

I have a couple, the Sekonic L-758DR, which has a 1 degree spot reading ability, and the Sekonic L-478DR which has a 5 degree spot reading ability, but is smaller and touch screen.

Do you "need" a meter ?? No, the metering done in most newer Cameras does a pretty good job, to a degree, if you want to be able to balance the exposure better, then a meter is a tool that can help but not replace your Camera meter & Histogram.

Do I use my meters a lot, not really, but I'm an unapologetic "gear" nut, plus I work on the principal, better to have it & not need it, than to need it and not have it. I generally do take at least 1 of the meters with me wherever I go on a trip for Photography, due to the view mentioned, and I'll often find that the meter does get used and has helped with difficult exposure set ups, Snow, Sunrise/sunset, fill flash etc.

Wish you luck in your decision making.
Title: Re: Thinking of buying a Light Meter
Post by: Policar on September 06, 2013, 11:43:20 PM
no, when i mean full manual i mean FULL MANUAL. as in, no batteries or solar powered thingymabobs they used to use. manual film loading/advancing/rewinding/unloading, manual aperture adjustment, manual shutter cocking, manual shutter speed settings, no ISO settings, no AF, and the HDR functions are broken(i kid.)  i either use a little point and shoot and do some math in my head to get where i want( not hard, but trickier than you might think. not everything works in 1/2 or 1/3rd stops), or i use "the force".

besides, I've watched enough behind the scenes and making of type stuff from famous pros running around using lightmeters, and checking all manner of crap. looking very professional then you watch them fire a few polaroids at the settings that they came up with, only for it to be way off.  with an LCD screen, and RGB histogram on a little point and shot, i need a lightmeter?
  lightmeters, i just don't get it.

Have you ever shot 4x5 slides or motion picture film?

If not, I can see why you wouldn't get it.

That's neither an insult nor a compliment. I know very good photographers and gaffers who used spotmeters until they no longer needed to (or only use incident meters in rare cases as back ups); I also know that point-and-shoots are loaded with C41 with huge exposure latitude and that everything DOES work in stops, no matter how you measure them or guess them. :)

Once you need it, you need it. And that the original poster is even asking means he might. "I don't need it because I'm amazing; here's a vague description of the gear I use" isn't helpful, but congrats on being amazing.

Oh, and do I carry a meter and point it at something to keep people off my back when I want to be left alone? All the time. But it's still a valid use!
Title: Re: Thinking of buying a Light Meter
Post by: Jim O on September 07, 2013, 09:24:48 AM
I have a  Sekonic L-608 that I still use occasionally (more like rarely) for complex situations.

I used it extensively with low DR films like Velvia, and that's primarily why I got it. For getting the shot right with film the first time a good light meter was cost effective, especially when traveling. I don't know if I'd get one today for what I do.
Title: Re: Thinking of buying a Light Meter
Post by: Coolhandchuck on September 07, 2013, 10:10:15 AM
I'm a still photographer and the video I take, I use my iPhone so a light meter will be strictly for stills. How do meters fire strobes?
Title: Re: Thinking of buying a Light Meter
Post by: risc32 on September 07, 2013, 10:36:37 AM
yes i shoot 4x5, and 6x9 and 35mm and others.  i almost never shoot print film as i much prefer slides. point and shoots loaded with c41? well i don't know anything about that, when i said point and shoots, i was talking about a P&S digital pocket cam. Also, when i said that not everything works in 1/2 or 1/3rd stops, i should have made this clearer. you see my 6x9 for example has a shutter that works in full stops, and aperture settings in 1/2 stops. my 4x5's shutter works in full stops, and the aperture adjustments are also full stops. except between f5.6 and f4. it jumps from 5.6 to f4.5. so you see when i get a reading from my P&S digital and i have to transfer those settings, it gets jumbled. you don't have to be "rainman" to do it, but just a bit harder than you might think.
  oh, i'm not amazing, not at all. I've seen loads of work right here that i would be very proud to call my own. that would be cool though.
Title: Re: Thinking of buying a Light Meter
Post by: CharlieB on September 07, 2013, 10:39:09 AM
Light meters.... lots to choose from.

I've used almost every kind of meter there is.  Minolta, Pentax, Sekonic, even old Weston meters.

Here's what I've found most useful in an all-round meter.

Forget all the averaging and storage and multi-exposure nonesense.  Its nonsense!

Get a meter with a big dome, not a little pinky sized dome.  Incident readings do half your ambient light work, and 99 percent of your flash work.  Big domes just work better.   Make sure your meter can do flash and ambient light and that it has a standard synch connection.   All the rest is icing on the cake.

Minolta meters have been bulletproof for me.  Only used now, but fetching higher prices used, as they are super rugged and are consistent.   I'm using a 4F Minolta right now, and it... works.  Does not have 1/3 stop only 1/2 stop settings.  Big deal.  Also ISO goes to 4000 I think.   Doesn't bother me, as most of my metering is for studio flash.

And thats that.  Big dome, flash with synch.  Sekonic, Minolta (or Konica or the folks that took over production for them), or Gossen.   Used, in good shape (with return privs) is a good way to go.   B&H or other good retailers always have meters in stock used, and have good return policies (and good vetting of used equipment... I've never had a problem with B&H's grading).
Title: Re: Thinking of buying a Light Meter
Post by: paul13walnut5 on September 07, 2013, 12:14:54 PM
I'm a still photographer and the video I take, I use my iPhone so a light meter will be strictly for stills. How do meters fire strobes?

My Polaris had a PC socket on it for use in tripping cabled studio flash.  By PC I mean the Prontor / Compar concentric circle socket, not personal computer.
Title: Re: Thinking of buying a Light Meter
Post by: zim on September 07, 2013, 02:20:58 PM
Thinking about buying a Light Meter and I'm wondering what are some of the features I need to look for? Thanks for the help.

That it's a Weston Master..... Still don't know where my Dad's went to.... still gutted  :'(

(only joking about the first part incase anyone takes offence!)
Title: Re: Thinking of buying a Light Meter
Post by: Lawliet on September 07, 2013, 02:34:05 PM
How do meters fire strobes?

The mentioned sync socket is one way(& my least favorite), sometimes radio is an option, for Sekonic meters you can get pocket wizard transmitters for example. Or you approach the job from the other side, have the strobes trigger the meter.
Title: Re: Thinking of buying a Light Meter
Post by: eli452 on September 07, 2013, 03:58:10 PM
"99% of hobby photographers, even very serious very capable hobby photographers have no real need for a light meter."

And I'm one of them. I know that a light meter is very good at complex scenes and at spot metering outdoors.
But all the very good advice given above do not say anything about the excitement of buying a new piece of hardware. I'll be the first to admit an addiction to the blood rush of a new purchase, a new toy to learn and play with. It is your money, if you think you will enjoy it go ahead. 8)
Title: Re: Thinking of buying a Light Meter
Post by: Sporgon on September 07, 2013, 04:19:02 PM
Thinking about buying a Light Meter and I'm wondering what are some of the features I need to look for? Thanks for the help.

That it's a Weston Master..... Still don't know where my Dad's went to.... still gutted  :'(

(only joking about the first part incase anyone takes offence!)

Oy ! I still use a Western Master V. Measuring light by incident method can put me straight on the money in certain situations without having to take multiple shots, but as others have stated it is no longer essential as it was with slide film. Suggest the OP gets one off e bay and gives it a go before spending much.
Title: Re: Thinking of buying a Light Meter
Post by: Policar on September 07, 2013, 05:00:04 PM
yes i shoot 4x5, and 6x9 and 35mm and others.  i almost never shoot print film as i much prefer slides. point and shoots loaded with c41? well i don't know anything about that, when i said point and shoots, i was talking about a P&S digital pocket cam. Also, when i said that not everything works in 1/2 or 1/3rd stops, i should have made this clearer. you see my 6x9 for example has a shutter that works in full stops, and aperture settings in 1/2 stops. my 4x5's shutter works in full stops, and the aperture adjustments are also full stops. except between f5.6 and f4. it jumps from 5.6 to f4.5. so you see when i get a reading from my P&S digital and i have to transfer those settings, it gets jumbled. you don't have to be "rainman" to do it, but just a bit harder than you might think.
  oh, i'm not amazing, not at all. I've seen loads of work right here that i would be very proud to call my own. that would be cool though.

Copal shutters don't have hard stops on the aperture, though the timing is indeed in hard stops (and bulb). You're talking out your ass if you claim you can't adjust large format shutters more precisely than one stop. There are no hard stops on copal shutters and long exposures can be done with bulb.

Also, no one can shoot 4x5 slides without a meter and get consistent exposures. It's near-impossible, at least without some sort of help; velvia for instance has +/- 1/3 stops of latitude. If you're using a point and shoot as the basis for your exposures (I misread what you wrote before -- I thought you wrote you were using a P&S without a meter, not that you were using one AS a meter), you're still using its internal meter, and it's a much less meaningful reading than a proper spot metering, though it works crudely, yes. You're STILL using a meter, though, just a worse one.

It's fine that you're doing this if it works for you, but there are better and more reliable ways to get the same (or better) results.
Title: Re: Thinking of buying a Light Meter
Post by: Don Haines on September 09, 2013, 08:24:01 PM
In the good old days when you pressed the shutter it cost you a dollar or two, or five, or even $10 in film depending on which format you're using. It was very important to get the exposure right. Meters were indispensable. You had to wait until the film was processed to know if you got it right.

In the digital world, take the shot, look at the screen, look at the histogram, look at the zebras, or whatever works for you. You instantly know if you got the shot and if not, can adjust accordingly, and try again..... Or you can turn on bracketing...

It makes light meters a lot less needed in the digital world.
Title: Re: Thinking of buying a Light Meter
Post by: risc32 on September 09, 2013, 10:55:19 PM
talking out my ass... hmm. well, i think you're talking out your ass. my shutter that's probably older than you are, probably 1.5X as old, doesn't have any hard stops for shutter speed, or aperture.  i'm sure it would work just fine somewhere in between for aperture values,( i doubt shutter speeds), but that's about as accurate as you'd be. somewhere in between one stop and another.
 i don't shoot much velvia, but i haven't had a problem with exposure when i do. i mostly run provia and astia.

seems the meter companies played their cards very well during the transition to digital, to bad kodak and many others didn't.

 anyone want to tell me i haven't watched BTS videos from true pros using all sorts of light meters all over a studio only to use a take an "instant" to see where they really are, only to find that they are way off. now days we should do this the other way around? ha!

Don Haines, thank you.
Title: Re: Thinking of buying a Light Meter
Post by: Policar on September 10, 2013, 11:28:45 AM
talking out my ass... hmm. well, i think you're talking out your ass. my shutter that's probably older than you are, probably 1.5X as old, doesn't have any hard stops for shutter speed, or aperture.  i'm sure it would work just fine somewhere in between for aperture values,( i doubt shutter speeds), but that's about as accurate as you'd be. somewhere in between one stop and another.
 i don't shoot much velvia, but i haven't had a problem with exposure when i do. i mostly run provia and astia.

seems the meter companies played their cards very well during the transition to digital, to bad kodak and many others didn't.

 anyone want to tell me i haven't watched BTS videos from true pros using all sorts of light meters all over a studio only to use a take an "instant" to see where they really are, only to find that they are way off. now days we should do this the other way around? ha!

Don Haines, thank you.

I wrote that most large format shutters don't have hard stops on the aperture and you can set an in-between stop by eye, allowing you to adjust more precisely than full stops. Your argument against that was that your large format shutter doesn't have hard stops and you set in-between stops by eye, allowing you to adjust more precisely than by the full stop? Uhh.... Wait, so I'm right but you still disagree?

Few lenses have precise markings between stops. You can easily guess by eye on the shutter accurate to about a third of a stop and you have theoretically unlimited adjustment without hard stops. So uhh... how does that make your large format shutter precise only to the stop? It has UNLIMITED adjustment between stops, limited only to how precisely you can guess placement (which is pretty precise).

So what the hell is your argument again?

Just sit back and think for a second. You're making no sense. You have NO IDEA what you're talking about.

Also, stop talking about shooting Velvia if you've never shot it. It does have less latitude than Provia and Astia, and higher color saturation and resolution. And fwiw, yes a point and shoot is an accurate enough meter for most slide films BUT IT'S STILL A METER! In a pinch you could use a grey card and a point and shoot and have a very accurate incident meter, too, it's just slower and somewhat less precise than an external one. Still a meter.

Every set I've been on the DP has used a meter extensively and the gaffer will always carry a meter, too. For motion picture work they're almost necessary. Any Hollywood set will have a DP and a gaffer with a meter and camera ops will often carry them, too. As for stills: do you think Gursky meters? Crewdson? OF COURSE THEY DO! By claiming meters are unnecessary you're just insulting people who actually know what they're doing.

Can you get by without one? Sure, in some instances. In others you can fake it by using other gear (a point and shoot's internal meter for instance). No one is arguing against this.

Do you need an external meter if you're not lighting externally and shooting exclusively digitally? Of course not. Photojournalists have always used in-camera meters, same as digital photojournalists do today. Some will benefit from them, some won't. Can you fudge shooting large format with a point and shoot? Sure, plenty of people do. But having one gives you more precision and much more speed. Just because you're not working at the level of craft that benefits from metering doesn't mean others are. If I need a spot meter to see how hot a highlight is or an incident meter to shape a light or I'm resetting a set up after tearing it down I'm a lot better off with my Sekonic than with guessing and checking.

Please stop giving bad, ignorant advice to those who are trying to learn and improve their craft.
Title: Re: Thinking of buying a Light Meter
Post by: Don Haines on September 10, 2013, 12:05:37 PM
talking out my ass... hmm. well, i think you're talking out your ass. my shutter that's probably older than you are, probably 1.5X as old, doesn't have any hard stops for shutter speed, or aperture.  i'm sure it would work just fine somewhere in between for aperture values,( i doubt shutter speeds), but that's about as accurate as you'd be. somewhere in between one stop and another.
 i don't shoot much velvia, but i haven't had a problem with exposure when i do. i mostly run provia and astia.

seems the meter companies played their cards very well during the transition to digital, to bad kodak and many others didn't.

 anyone want to tell me i haven't watched BTS videos from true pros using all sorts of light meters all over a studio only to use a take an "instant" to see where they really are, only to find that they are way off. now days we should do this the other way around? ha!

Don Haines, thank you.

When I shot film, every shot was set up with a light meter, except for my trusty OM-1. I had used it enough to know how much to compensate for various lighting conditions by eye, but I bracketed shots when I was not sure and whenever I got confused, out came the light meter. I should have used it more because there were lots of shots over the years that I thought I got, yet did not compensate enough for. If you are shooting film, I could not do without a light meter.

Since going digital, I don't use my light meter, I find the metering of digital SLR's so good compared to the OM1 that there really isn't a need for it anymore. Change to live view, adjust the camera settings, and you see the answer now. It is a lot more convenient (at least for me), than having a separate piece of kit to do the metering.

I don't shoot video very much.... Just enough to know to avoid automatic exposures... I will leave it up to those who know more to comment on if a light meter is needed, but for me, I rely on live-view to get it right.

Digital gives you instant feedback. You know NOW! If the settings are right.... You have in-camera bracketing, zebras, and histograms. We had none of that with film.... The best you could hope for was to have a one-hour processing shack beside you.... Just does not cut it for live action....
Title: Re: Thinking of buying a Light Meter
Post by: paul13walnut5 on September 10, 2013, 12:09:32 PM
Histograms won't always do it.

Especially if a subject is supposed to be very dark or very bright (High ISO and High DR don't change what the correct expsoure is)

LCD live views won't always do it, as the monitors don't usually have great contrast, aren't that well calibrated and not every camera has the ability to switch off live view exposure simulation (try and use a lensbaby or tilt-shift on a rebel and you'll have lots of fun fun fun)

The need for off camera metering may have diminished for the general market, now that everybody can afford a 5D3 and is therefore a professional in waiting, but the folk who always needed them still do, and some of the folk who think they don't should get a loan of one to see the difference between metering for the light and metering for the subject, whether you shoot on digital, APS-C, 135 / leica / minature or medium format.

As I said earlier, 99% of hobbyists don't need one, no matter how good they think they are.  But their photography would probably be a lot better if they borrowed one and really got to grips with exposure.

I'm actually thinking of buying one again, just a cheapie, as 10 stop screw in filters are a pain in the arth.
Title: Re: Thinking of buying a Light Meter
Post by: paul13walnut5 on September 10, 2013, 12:13:38 PM


I don't shoot video very much.... Just enough to know to avoid automatic exposures... I will leave it up to those who know more to comment on if a light meter is needed, but for me, I rely on live-view to get it right.


I don't tend to use a light meter for setting the video exposure, but I do use one for setting up bigger light rigs, helps with ratios on a subject, helps even out kickers and set lights so everything is uniform where it needs to be, and the correct ratios when it needs to be different.  Coloured gels can really confuse the eye and the camera, it's handy to have a colour blind exposure meter to make sure luma is where it's supposed to be at for a given part of a scene, or for a fill vs key etc.
Title: Re: Thinking of buying a Light Meter
Post by: Don Haines on September 10, 2013, 12:24:39 PM


I don't shoot video very much.... Just enough to know to avoid automatic exposures... I will leave it up to those who know more to comment on if a light meter is needed, but for me, I rely on live-view to get it right.


I don't tend to use a light meter for setting the video exposure, but I do use one for setting up bigger light rigs, helps with ratios on a subject, helps even out kickers and set lights so everything is uniform where it needs to be, and the correct ratios when it needs to be different.  Coloured gels can really confuse the eye and the camera, it's handy to have a colour blind exposure meter to make sure luma is where it's supposed to be at for a given part of a scene, or for a fill vs key etc.
That's far beyond my skills and equipment.... But I can certainly understand why you need one with external lights... And particularly gel filters... Kudos to those who can set things up well under such difficult conditions...

Edit - and that holds for stills with external lighting too
Title: Re: Thinking of buying a Light Meter
Post by: Sporgon on September 10, 2013, 12:36:32 PM
Histograms won't always do it.


This is true. Histograms are not infallible in so much as they require the photographer to recognise where the photographed scene lies between light and dark. If you photographed a dark scene and exposed to have a histogram's bulk predominately in the middle you're going to be over exposed, for instance.

Encouraging people to try exposing by incident light reading is good advice. No, it's not critically necessary anymore, but it is a good tool for learning if nothing else, and you can pick old ones up off e bay for about £30. Just check it against your cameras meter on a grey card before using to make sure it is still accurate.
Title: Re: Thinking of buying a Light Meter
Post by: eml58 on September 10, 2013, 09:57:25 PM
Sekonic have a $50 back discount offer currently running on the Sekonic L478D & L478DR, probably as good a time as any to buy a Light meter if you were going to, I have the 478DR, works a treat, has a 5 degree Spot meter arrangement as against a 1 degree. Not a bad price.
Title: Re: Thinking of buying a Light Meter
Post by: Don Haines on September 12, 2013, 02:14:54 PM
talking out my ass... hmm. well, i think you're talking out your ass. my shutter that's probably older than you are, probably 1.5X as old, doesn't have any hard stops for shutter speed, or aperture.  i'm sure it would work just fine somewhere in between for aperture values,( i doubt shutter speeds), but that's about as accurate as you'd be. somewhere in between one stop and another.
 i don't shoot much velvia, but i haven't had a problem with exposure when i do. i mostly run provia and astia.

seems the meter companies played their cards very well during the transition to digital, to bad kodak and many others didn't.

 anyone want to tell me i haven't watched BTS videos from true pros using all sorts of light meters all over a studio only to use a take an "instant" to see where they really are, only to find that they are way off. now days we should do this the other way around? ha!

Don Haines, thank you.

I did not say they were not needed, I said they were a lot less needed. For simple setups, the on camera metering is so good now that most people will get away without one.... Remember, most people will be shooting with no external lights, and if they do use a flash, it is a pop-up flash.

If you are dealing with multiple flashes.... Get a light meter. If you are dealing with studio lighting, get one.  The on camera metering is not designed for those conditions... Yes, you can go by trial and error to adjust your settings and digital gives you instant feedback, but the more complex your setup is, the more time it will take, and eventually you start guessing what to do instead of knowing what to do.