Light Meters

Discussion in 'Photography Beginners' Forum' started by ChickenFriedRyce, Jun 13, 2008.

  1. ChickenFriedRyce

    ChickenFriedRyce TPF Noob!

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    I was given a few suggestions on how to start out with portraiture.

    I saw that a light meter was mentioned with one of the options. The problem is, I don't know how to use one.... or what one is. I know it gives you a correct exposure in the situation you're in, but can you explain how you use one??
     
  2. julie32

    julie32 TPF Noob!

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    If you're using a DSLR, you have a light meter built into your camera. Why not just use the histogram?
     
  3. usayit

    usayit No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Personally, I prefer handheld light meters BUT for the most part, just rely on the TTL meter of your camera. Once you realize the limitations, you can make a decision to purchase a light meter or work within the limitations at that time.

    More important than the equipment you use to meter whether it be in the camera or handheld is a good understanding of exposure in general. There are several good sources online and in print that can be found via a search of the TPF forums.

    For portraiture which might require you to use fill flash, you should make sure whatever meter you purchase is also a flashmeter. I like the Sekonic 308 and recently purchased a used 408 to provide the option of aperture or shutter priority.

    Very short tutorial on meters:
    http://www.luminous-landscape.com/tutorials/meters.shtml

    Understanding histograms:
    http://www.luminous-landscape.com/tutorials/understanding-series/understanding-histograms.shtml

    Learning exposure is probably the first key step.
     
  4. JerryPH

    JerryPH No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Sheesh... do a search on youtube for light meters... there were about 125 tutorials the last time I looked.
     
  5. JerryPH

    JerryPH No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Because it cannot compensate for off camera flashes. ;)
     
  6. usayit

    usayit No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Some can...

    Canon ETTL DSLR with Canon flashes will compensate. Metering is done on the preflash.
     
  7. kundalini

    kundalini Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    Pretty sure that Nikons CLS system does as well. Isn't that the whole concept behind the Commander Mode and SB's in TTL?
     
  8. AndrewG

    AndrewG TPF Noob!

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    If you are considering indoor portraiture a hand-held meter will give you a more accurate reading than that in your camera because you will be able to measure the light falling on the subject (incident metering) as opposed to that reflected from the subject which is all that the camera meter will measure.
    You will, of course, have to use your camera in manual mode, setting aperture and shutter speed yourself.
     
  9. gryphonslair99

    gryphonslair99 Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    And with this setup the camera can meter for ratios and do averaging of reading? I'm a Canon shooter but my Sekonic 358 is the only thing I have that will do this. Not my Body and 580's in ETTL.

    I think it kind of depends on what kind of shots the OP is planning on taking.
     
  10. usayit

    usayit No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Unless I am mistaken.. yup. If non-ettl flashes or strobes, no .. you'll want to have a handheld meter.

    Let me be clear... I am sure there are situations that a handheld meter is a must. I never said that one should choose one over the other. I even stated that I personally prefer a handheld meter. What I am saying is that for many of those learning or just beginner, an understanding of exposure and the proper use of the built-in capabilities of the camera are more than enough to take several steps towards better photos. After a while you start to realize the limitations and it is at that point you make a decision whether an investment in more/better equipment is necessary. It is a that point in which you are well equipped to determine your needs require.

    This is not a discussion of which is better.... Is the OP even at the point that ratios, complex lighting, types of lighting, and averaging? They did just say "starting out" so I am assuming a basic portrait.

    I understand that a group of us are advanced (perhaps experts) in photography. As such we have a tendency to internalize recommendations. This leads us to always recommend the best of the best and anything less is a waste. These include threads like:

    * Kit versus high expensive zooms
    * P&S versus DSLRs
    * Low end entry (Canon rebel) versus Mid to high end cameras (40D, 5D)

    etc... if the OP is simply asking for advice, simply stating what he/she should purchase to move forward is often not the best advice.
     
  11. gryphonslair99

    gryphonslair99 Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    With questions like this it would be very helpful if the OP would include what equipment they are working with. Then we would could advise for their situation instead of the whole range of possibilities.
     
  12. ChickenFriedRyce

    ChickenFriedRyce TPF Noob!

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    Natural Lighting, an Entry Level DSLR, and a 50mm prime? I don't have lighting equiment yet because I'm still trying to find a job. I'm planning on buying a flash soon with the money I have though.
     

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