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Author Topic: Do I need a light meter? Can I use Android or iPhone??  (Read 5474 times)

omar

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Re: Do I need a light meter? Can I use Android or iPhone??
« Reply #15 on: May 31, 2013, 09:47:32 PM »
Ok... I get that there's a precise science...
But is there a super simple beginners guide?
A fail safe step by step guide that will give you 95% good results without a £400 light meter?
If not 95% what's the closest you can get through simple steps?

Thanks

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Re: Do I need a light meter? Can I use Android or iPhone??
« Reply #15 on: May 31, 2013, 09:47:32 PM »

privatebydesign

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Re: Do I need a light meter? Can I use Android or iPhone??
« Reply #16 on: May 31, 2013, 09:59:45 PM »
It 100% depends on what you are trying to achieve, what equipment you have and how accurate you need to be.

If your lights are the same make and have levels dials or bank switches then you can work out levels from them (or a tape measure!). If you are shooting multiple interviews at different locations, or scenes from different angles and you need continuity in light then a meter would be your best bet.

If you just want a pleasing look then you can wing it easily. If you want to work like a pro then a tape measure first and a lightmeter second.

If you want to wing it, set your background exposure so it just clips first (for a white background) then set your key light two stops lower, then set your fill one or two stops below that. You can guess the brightness by what your shadows are doing.
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omar

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Re: Do I need a light meter? Can I use Android or iPhone??
« Reply #17 on: May 31, 2013, 11:07:28 PM »
If you want to wing it, set your background exposure so it just clips first (for a white background) then set your key light two stops lower, then set your fill one or two stops below that. You can guess the brightness by what your shadows are doing.
thanks for the reply
how do i set the light to be x steps higher or lower?
is there a control for doing this on high end lights or something?
thanks

dirtcastle

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Re: Do I need a light meter? Can I use Android or iPhone??
« Reply #18 on: May 31, 2013, 11:36:48 PM »
Start off by using in-camera metering and firing off test shots to get it dialed.

Once you reach the limit of that approach, then go to the next level.

chauncey

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Re: Do I need a light meter? Can I use Android or iPhone??
« Reply #19 on: June 01, 2013, 10:19:27 PM »
I never could grasp the concept of lighting/exposure and whatnot so...I cheat by using manual mode and use the LCD histogram in live view.

Taking into consideration that the histogram is a jpeg rendition for the LCD screen, for RAW shooting you should neutralize your in-camera settings.
Open your RGB histograms in LV>dial in wanted/needed SS and f/stop and use your ISO setting to push that histogram to just shy of touching the right edge.
That location for the histogram is known as "exposing to the right", commonly thought to be proper exposure.

When that histogram encroaches off both the right and left edges, black dog in snow scenario, you have overwhelmed your dynamic range...maybe do HDR.

Halfrack

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Re: Do I need a light meter? Can I use Android or iPhone??
« Reply #20 on: June 01, 2013, 11:38:45 PM »
So to answer the original question, both are a solid maybe.  iPhone and Android based light meters can be used for constant lights - stuff you'd use to shoot video.  Light meters that understand what a strobe is are worth their weight in gold, as it allows you to construct a photo, building an image in layers, and lighting each layer independently.

So the next question is if you need a light meter.  Long story short it depends on what you're shooting.   Light meters are used in fine art and portraiture, mostly when using strobes.  If you do this style of photography AND you are doing off camera flash, then it would be a good idea to pick up a light meter.  Otherwise, save your money.
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docholliday

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Re: Do I need a light meter? Can I use Android or iPhone??
« Reply #21 on: June 02, 2013, 01:09:51 AM »
A real meter offers something that an iPhone or android box can't - repeatability. The whole point of a real, calibrated meter is to insure consistency shot to shot. Your in-camera meter will do more than any phone will. Using a histogram is only good for verifying the shot, and will only show exposure truly correct if the whole frame consists of mostly midtones. Having a lot of sky will push the histogram more one way and having a lot of shadows will push it the other - not the proper tool for determining exposure, but for verifying that you have given the most info you can to the sensor without going outside the limits.

Why not pick up a good, used meter, such as the Sekonic L-328 and learn the concepts of photography - light control? You can get the 328 for under $100, with the incident dome, and be able to do still, cine, and strobe. There's also the Minolta AutoMeter IIIF for around $50. Somewhere like KEH http://www.keh.com/Camera/format-Accessories/system-Light-Meters/category-Light-and-Exposure-Meters?s=1&bcode=GM&ccode=70&cc=80576&r=WG&fwould be a good place to start.

Then, pick up a cheap beginner's book on photography and learn something like the SLAT (SL=AT) relationship and you'll be doing more than randomly firing off shots trying to "dial-in" proper exposure. What looks right at the time of exposure on your tiny little view screen to your eyes may not actually be proper, you may be off by 1-2 stops - which will be enough to destroy shadow or highlight detail (Zones 1-2 and 8-9). Not to mention the needless number of wasted exposures and time and will piss you off when you get to editing and realize that you can't push the recover/highlight slider in Lightroom far enough to get back the detail you saw when you shot it.
« Last Edit: June 02, 2013, 01:16:04 AM by docholliday »

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Re: Do I need a light meter? Can I use Android or iPhone??
« Reply #21 on: June 02, 2013, 01:09:51 AM »