Light Meters?

Discussion in 'Beyond the Basics' started by EhJsNe, Jan 26, 2009.

  1. EhJsNe

    EhJsNe TPF Noob!

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    I need some help picking one out. Theres a built in one on my camera, but it has problems, I doubt I need to use f/22 a 1/2000 second on a cloudy day. (it is snowy though.....maybe I do?)

    Ive looked at light meters on the internet and have totaly confused myself so I totaly ridded (not sure if thats a wrod....I know its not rad! ahahaha) my mind of all knowledge I have other than they read the light.

    Im not sure what kind I should get, how to use them, or basicly ANYTHING about them.

    If you could please explain, I would greatly appreciate it! :sillysmi:


    edit: The camera is a Nikon FM10 (fully manual film camera. I love it!)
     
    Last edited: Jan 26, 2009
  2. Big Mike

    Big Mike I am Big, I am Mike Staff Member Supporting Member

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    Were you pointing at the sun when you got a reading of F22 @ 1/2000?

    The camera's built-in meter 'should' be all you need...but it really helps if you know what the meter is trying to do. After all, it's just an electronic device, it doesn't know what it's shooting...only you do.

    A camera's meter is a 'reflected' light meter...it measures the light coming off of the subject/scene. It takes that light and gives you settings to render the scene to 18% grey (mid tone). Since most scenes have a variety of tones & colors etc, this average value works for many scenes...especially the type of scenes that 'snap shooters' might photograph.
    However, a photographer knows that if the subject isn't actually 18% grey...then the meter will give setting to turn it grey rather than keep it's actual tone. For example, if you meter snow, the meter will make it grey...and anything darker than snow might end up black. So the photographer will see that the camera is metering off of snow and adjust the exposure away from the suggested settings. In the case of snow, you might add one to two stops. This will make the snow white and other things in the scene look more normal.
    The same principle applies with dark scenes/subjects....you need to subtract exposure away from the meter reading.

    Also, with digital, it's easy to shoot and check the image on the camera. It's best to check the histogram, rather than just looking at the image on the LCD.

    Now, a hand held light meter can still be a great tool...especially if you have an incident light meter. This can meter the light that is falling on the subject, as opposed to a reflected meter which measures the light coming off of the subject. This eliminates the need to change the settings away from the reading. So if you used an incident meter and it told you F8 & 1/400...then you would just put that into your camera (in manual mode) and then shoot away.

    A lot of light meters are also flash meters...which we use to measure flash (obviously :D ). So if you need to measure flash, then you would need a flash meter...and would probably also act as a reflected or incident meter. But if you don't need to meter flash, then you could save a lot by getting a meter that doesn't measure flash.
     
  3. SandShots

    SandShots TPF Noob!

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    an external meter is a very good tool to have. I used it alot when i shot studio but even now outdoors when mixing daylight and fill i still take ambient readings. I have a Minolta lv and i have never upgraded it because it does all the things i do. I also have a minolta spot meter that i do not use verry often, id rather spot with the camera.
     
  4. ksmattfish

    ksmattfish Now 100% DC - not as cool as I once was, but still

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    The FM10 meter technology is almost 40 years old, so it's easy to fool. Also remember that the meter is going for mid gray. To make white snow white you'd want to overexpose a stop or two.

    Ultimate Exposure Computer

    Guide to using a hand-held light meter

    There are some simple meters out there, but I think they are too expensive for what they offer. Unfortunately meters with more options quickly get expensive. You might as well get everything you are ever going to need in a meter the first time you spend the money. You want something that will do incident and flash. Many will also include a spot meter. I like the Sekonic L-408 and L-508; they'll do everything except hook up to a computer. The L-408 goes for about $160 on Ebay, and the 508 about $100 more. I've been using a 508 for over a decade, and it's served me well.
     
  5. Alleh Lindquist

    Alleh Lindquist TPF Noob!

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    Get one and learn to use it. Sekonic makes great meters. It will allow you to fine tune your lighting.
     
  6. dxqcanada

    dxqcanada Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    Most hand held light meters will have digital displays. It will display the Shutter speed and Aperture instantly.
    The classic light meter is the Sekonic L-398. It will indicate the EV level of the exposure ... then you look it up on the dials to get the Shutter / Aperture combination.

    Hand held light meters can meter:
    Ambient light - the light falling on a subject
    Reflective light - the light reflected by a subject.

    Your in-camera meter measures Reflective light.

    When you see a light meter with a white dome ... that is used for Ambient readings. You would take the meter and place it in front of the subject and point the dome at the camera.
    The meter reading will be of the light falling on the subject. This is great for a general reading that is not affected by the subjects tone/colour/reflective properties.

    If you remove the dome you can take Reflective readings. You would take the meter and point it directly at the subject. This is the same as your in-camera meter ... though most hand held meters have a wide field of view so you will need to get close to the subject.


    I used to have a Weston Master and a Sekonic L-398 light meter. I currently have a Sekonic L-328.

    I forgot to add ... most digital light meters have Flash metering capabilities.
     

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all light meters will try to render tones as

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all light meters will try to render tones as?

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what type of light meter do most hand-held camera have?