Light Meters?

rexbobcat

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Ok, so I've never really used a light meter because I never really needed one, I guess, but since I've gotten into flash photography and lighting I've recently bought one and began playing with it.

Soooooo, I'm just wondering how exactly to use the meter for flash photography? Or if it has any other uses?

I mean, can't I just use the in-camera meter? And when the colors trick the sensor I can just trial and error it?
 

Big Mike

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Yes, having a meter that is also a flash meter, is very handy.

But a hand held light meter, can usually be used to measure incident light (incident light meter)...as opposed to the meter that is in your camera, which is a 'reflected' light meter.
The incident light meter reads the light falling on the scene, the reflected meter reads the light bouncing off of the scene.

Metering for the incident light, will give you settings for proper exposure. Meter for the reflected light, will give you settings to make your scene (or the part that you're reading) come out the same tone as middle grey.
So in other words, a reflected light meter may or may not give you setting for 'proper' exposure. To get proper exposure, you would have to adjust the exposure, based on the part of the scene you're metering, and how bright/reflective it is.
 

Robin Usagani

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I hope you use it enough to get your money worth.
 
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rexbobcat

rexbobcat

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I hope you use it enough to get your money worth.

I probably will. I understand the use, I'm just trying to determine why it's deemed such an important piece of gear. I didn't buy it new, so I can always resell it after I learn what it's about and decide whether or not I truly need it. I just got it out of curiosity.
 

gsgary

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I hope you use it enough to get your money worth.

I probably will. I understand the use, I'm just trying to determine why it's deemed such an important piece of gear. I didn't buy it new, so I can always resell it after I learn what it's about and decide whether or not I truly need it. I just got it out of curiosity.

Because it is so much easier and quicker than trying to adjust them using your camera screen and more accurate
 

unpopular

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I am finding that the spot in my built-in meter is a little too wide to really utilize effectively, and I am thinking about getting a 1 degree spot meter again.

As for flash photography, I find it easier just to estimate and adjust - provided I am shooting digital. But I can see if you're shooting portraits of paying customers that might not be ideal.
 

tirediron

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...decide whether or not I truly need it. I just got it out of curiosity.
A hand-held flash-meter is, IMO, an invaluable tool for any manual flash work, but especially with multi-light set-ups and for calculating ratios when trying to balance flash with ambient. You can determine exposure by trial & error, using your histogram and rear LCD review, but using a meter saves a LOT of time.
 

pgriz

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If you got one primary light, then chimping will work. But if you are trying to balance light from a number of sources (say, ambient + main + fill + background) then a meter can really help you set your ratios manually, and will let you see the relative contributions of the various light sources. If you are using modifiers, then a meter becomes almost essential. As for non-flash metering, I use my L-358 to take incident light readings in the direct sunlight, open shade, subject light position and dark background (where I want detail) to see what the overall range of values is, and then i have a pretty good idea of where my starting point will be in terms of exposure.
 

Derrel

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"other uses" for a flash meter are book page place-holder on kitchen or bathroom runs; cool neck "bling" when hangin' with your buds on photo shoots; impresses the ladies; convinces security guards that you really DO belong there; makes old folks think you're a "perfesshunal fu-tog-ruh-fer"; bedazzles hot babes when twirled on its cord as you talk to them in the pub; functions as a faithful companion at metering light that your camera's meter can not measure, but more importantly it LOOKS COOL; it color-coordinates with everything, since it's black!; and finally, it looks COOL!
 

unpopular

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Oh, I don't know. I'll admit lighting isn't at all my strong point ... but I don't know if "essential" is the right word. It's pretty easy to estimate how much an area is over/under exposed by just looking at it. Your built-in meter will give you how much ambient light is present, it's just a matter of adjusting aperture and compensating time.

What I do is set all my lights to similar intensity determined by maximum aperture, and balance out ambient using shutter speed. I get an exposure so that nothing is over/under, adjust positions to address any weird shadows, then decrease intensity of the fill light using key as a reference. If it gets too dark, I just increase intensity of both lights equally until key is at maximum, if that doesn't do it then I adjust aperture and compensate time accordingly. For me anyway, this is a lot more intuitive than using a meter. But it is a bit time consuming.
 

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...decide whether or not I truly need it. I just got it out of curiosity.
A hand-held flash-meter is, IMO, an invaluable tool for any manual flash work, but especially with multi-light set-ups and for calculating ratios when trying to balance flash with ambient. You can determine exposure by trial & error, using your histogram and rear LCD review, but using a meter saves a LOT of time.

Indeed light meters save a TON of time balancing ambient and flash. Also mine is saving me a lot of time too when going in a studio I haven't been in before, instantly I know the aperture setting instead of "popping off shots" or adjusting lights up and down a few stops.

I haven't had my sekonic 358 all that long but its been used and abused already
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Tee

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I agree with multiple lighting a light meter is beneficial in adjusting ratio's and simply, it can really cut down on time and guesswork. As I've been progressing I wanted to add a light meter to my kit. I went to two local mom and pop shops, explained I was learning multiple light studio lighting and both times was told my in-camera metering was all I needed. After a few more shoots and a lot of time wasted constantly chimping, adjusting lights, etc I got on Amazon and ordered one. I'm all for a salesperson keeping customer loyalty by not selling them things they don't need but a light meter in a studio with multiple lights is not exactly pi$$ing money away. From my own personal perspective, if this is something you're seriously considering pursuing, a light meter can be a beneficial tool in your bag.
 

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