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Old November 21st, 2012, 05:56 AM
Thatguy Steve's Avatar
Thatguy Steve Thatguy Steve is offline
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External Light Meter ..... Do You Own / Use One?

I was watching a video on YouTube, one of the Adorama Digital Photography series on light meters, and was wondering how many on this forum include a light meter in their bag .....

I thought about getting one back in the 80's when I was shooting film ..... but was too cheap and didn't want to spend the money .....

Do you use one? Why? Why not?

Just curious .....
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Old November 21st, 2012, 07:56 AM
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Re: External Light Meter ..... Do You Own / Use One?

I do not use a light meter and personally do not plan to unless I learn of some super advantage in the future. My take is that with the meter in my camera and coupled with having gotten to know it I can usually eyeball the little sliding bar and dial my exposure in pretty accurately. Sure sometimes I may take a couple test shots to get it just right, but I don't see how this would be any different.
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Old November 21st, 2012, 08:09 AM
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Re: External Light Meter ..... Do You Own / Use One?

Is it better to meter the incident or reflective light? ,,,,, Does it matter?

The cameras meter meters the reflective light but it seems (in the video) that it may be more beneficial using a incident measurement in specific circumstances?

Also, both meters probably yield different values for the same scene ...... So ..... which method (meter) is preferable?

Is the in camera meter more likely to be fooled than an external meter? .... hmmmmm
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Old November 21st, 2012, 08:10 AM
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Re: External Light Meter ..... Do You Own / Use One?

With film it was a good idea to have a separate meter. With digital the meters built into the camera are more than sufficient
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Old November 23rd, 2012, 08:49 PM
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Re: External Light Meter ..... Do You Own / Use One?

Invaluable for shooting in the studio. For example with strobes you would be shooting in manual mode. You would set your shutter to your flash sync speed. This might be 1/160 or up to 1/250 - some cameras go a bit higher. Then the task is to set the exposure of your strobes to get the aperture or f/stop that you want to shoot at.
You might for example want your main light to be one stop more than your fill light. You might also have a background light or a hair light or a kicker light that you want at a stop more or less than your main light depending on what effect you are after. You can trial and error to get the setting right - and keep the client waiting while you set and reset - or you can use a light/ flash meter to get desireable results quicker. Not to mention determining what the best exposure will be when you have all those strobes firing. Which is something else that the meter will help you zero in on.
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Old November 24th, 2012, 09:31 AM
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Re: External Light Meter ..... Do You Own / Use One?

I own one and do use it whenever I want to measure incident light. While modern cameras have good reflective light meters, an incident meter reading will give you a much more accurate reading, particularly if using flash in any mode other than the camera's priority auto modes. Studio lighting is a great example of when incident meters rule.

I never use mine to measure reflective lighting as my camera's built in meter is perfectly acceptable for that data.
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Old November 25th, 2012, 02:04 PM
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Re: External Light Meter ..... Do You Own / Use One?

The main problem with any reflective light meter is that the exposure is based on a reading off an 18% gray card. Many pros carry one in their bag for this reason. An incident light meter reads the available light but not necessarily that falling on the subject unless you can put the meter between the light source and the subject which is often done in a studio setting. And yes, I still carry my ancient Sekonic meter which can read both ways. Just my .
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Old November 25th, 2012, 05:25 PM
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Re: External Light Meter ..... Do You Own / Use One?

I have an old Gossen Luna-Pro which served me well in the film days too. With digital DSLS's and all the ITTL metering and computerised controls I only pull it out for nostalgic sake. Sometimes I do miss all the metering, settings, sunny 16 rules and just fideling with the old heavy metal bricks, but the images I get today are soo much better and consistant that I'll leave some things just for the memory trips.
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Old November 29th, 2012, 01:01 PM
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Re: External Light Meter ..... Do You Own / Use One?

I just bought a Sekonic L-358. Invaluable indoors or outdoors for portraiture/weddings. I can set up my strobes - and fire them wireless with the light-meter and see the results. Go back, set the camera - and I'm pretty much done.

I use pocket wizards to communicate to the strobes (both speedlite and alien bee).

I never thought I would use one as much as I have.
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Old November 29th, 2012, 07:38 PM
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Re: External Light Meter ..... Do You Own / Use One?

I have four, all of which do incident, reflected, and flash readings. The only one I still regularly use is a little Sekonic. I find it useful sometimes when the light is really tricky, when I use studio flash, and when I'm using an off-camera or hotshoe flash at full power. I am NOT going to buy a separate TTL flash for each different brand of camera I own (Canon, Olympus, Panasonic, Rollei, Contax) when it is so easy to use a generic flash at full power with a meter that reads flash exposures).
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