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Light Meter
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Jan 14, 2022 13:38:41   #
azted Loc: Las Vegas, NV.
 
I have been on the cusp about buying a light meter. I only shoot mirrorless, but I am expanding my use of off camera lighting, by purchasing more flashes, strobes, stands, and electronic transmitters. I would like to hear the professionals talk about this topic prior to spending more of my decreasing amount of cash on equipment! (I have purchased several books on the lighting topic)


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Jan 14, 2022 14:03:35   #
rmalarz Loc: Tempe, Arizona
 
I use a Sekonic L758DR for various metering situations. It's invaluable when it comes to setting up studio stobes, as I can fire each one and get the appropriate spread of light values. It's been replaced with the Sekonic Speedmaster L-858D-U Light Meter. This particular meter allows for modules that will talk to various strobes. So, make your strobe choice and synch it with your light meter module.
--Bob
azted wrote:
I have been on the cusp about buying a light meter. I only shoot mirrorless, but I am expanding my use of off camera lighting, by purchasing more flashes, strobes, stands, and electronic transmitters. I would like to hear the professionals talk about this topic prior to spending more of my decreasing amount of cash on equipment! (I have purchased several books on the lighting topic)

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Jan 14, 2022 14:13:50   #
ski Loc: West Coast, USA
 
Sekonic is the best

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Jan 14, 2022 14:14:48   #
rgrenaderphoto Loc: Hollywood, CA
 
rmalarz wrote:
I use a Sekonic L758DR for various metering situations. It's invaluable when it comes to setting up studio stobes, as I can fire each one and get the appropriate spread of light values. It's been replaced with the Sekonic Speedmaster L-858D-U Light Meter. This particular meter allows for modules that will talk to various strobes. So, make your strobe choice and synch it with your light meter module.
--Bob


Can't you accomplish the same thing with the camera's internal meter and a remote trigger?

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Jan 14, 2022 14:16:59   #
ski Loc: West Coast, USA
 
You can but unreliable in low light

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Jan 14, 2022 14:19:16   #
rmalarz Loc: Tempe, Arizona
 
rgrenaderphoto, it would be very difficult. The meter reads the light and locks that reading in the display. I'm not sure how the in-camera meter would do that.
--Bob
rgrenaderphoto wrote:
Can't you accomplish the same thing with the camera's internal meter and a remote trigger?

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Jan 14, 2022 14:40:25   #
BebuLamar
 
I always have and want to have a good meter but for good exposure with and without flash and if you shoot digital there is no need. The meter doesn't help getting better exposure.

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Jan 14, 2022 14:46:15   #
rmalarz Loc: Tempe, Arizona
 
That depends. The Sekonic I use has the ability to store exposure data. So, it can be programmed to provide a more precise metering of the scene than the camera can on its own. It can also sample a smaller area of the scene.
--Bob
BebuLamar wrote:
I always have and want to have a good meter but for good exposure with and without flash and if you shoot digital there is no need. The meter doesn't help getting better exposure.

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Jan 14, 2022 15:03:31   #
CHG_CANON Loc: the Windy City
 
If you shoot digital, in RAW, look at your highlight blinking warnings, review and perfect the exposure and lighting from test images, and have more than one (1) single chance to capture the image, why wouldn't you just use the on-board tools of the digital camera? No new equipment to do the same thing. How to set the lighting and control the camera exposure independent of the lighting output (and modeling of that lighting), those all seem more relevant.

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Jan 14, 2022 15:38:23   #
azted Loc: Las Vegas, NV.
 
BebuLamar wrote:
I always have and want to have a good meter but for good exposure with and without flash and if you shoot digital there is no need. The meter doesn't help getting better exposure.


Let's say you are setting up several strobe lights and want to see the power settings on each one prior to letting the subject sit. Isn't this where a light meter comes in handy?

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Jan 14, 2022 16:08:39   #
BebuLamar
 
azted wrote:
Let's say you are setting up several strobe lights and want to see the power settings on each one prior to letting the subject sit. Isn't this where a light meter comes in handy?


For me it’s faster to shoot,review,adjust

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Jan 14, 2022 16:15:07   #
BebuLamar
 
rmalarz wrote:
That depends. The Sekonic I use has the ability to store exposure data. So, it can be programmed to provide a more precise metering of the scene than the camera can on its own. It can also sample a smaller area of the scene.
--Bob


I am not talking about metering with the camera. I am talking about test shot and adjust. Because if you have time to use the meter you have time to take test shot. If you have to work fast there is no time for the meter.

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Jan 14, 2022 16:55:13   #
rmalarz Loc: Tempe, Arizona
 
With all due respect, if I'm setting up strobes to do a photo session, speed is not critical. Efficiency is. So, the few minutes it takes to get a precise balance of illumination by the strobes is really minuscule.
--Bob
BebuLamar wrote:
I am not talking about metering with the camera. I am talking about test shot and adjust. Because if you have time to use the meter you have time to take test shot. If you have to work fast there is no time for the meter.

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Jan 14, 2022 16:55:36   #
E.L.. Shapiro Loc: Ottawa, Ontario Canada
 
An exposure meter, AKA light meter or Flash meter is a very important tool in serious electronic flash usage in multiple flash studio-like setups, provided you know how to use it effectively and accurately. I assume the camera will be set in MANUAL mode and all TTL, automatic and command setups are not in play. The meter will assist you in determining basic exposure, determine the evenness of coverage of light in certain situations, and importantly assist you in arriving at lighting ratios between man, fill and accents light source in multiple lighting setups.

You will note that I use the word "assist". That is because the meter is not a magic device that will determine all of the aforementioned aspects of flash usage in one "click" of the activation button.

Firstly, you need to understand the correct method of making incident light readings - basically, holding the meter at the subject position and aiming the receptor dome towards the camera. This should get you well into the ballpark of a correct reading for a single light source- for example, a single light on or near the camera. Let's call that, in a portrait setup, the FILL light. You can place your MAIN light off the camera/subject axis and make individual readings. You can establish a ratio between the two basic lights. You may want a 1:2 to 1:4 ratio for various moods in portraiture. You can add more accent, background and hair lights to your setup and make certain they are all in range and subservient to the basic MAIN/FILL setup.

Sound pretty straightforward but here are a few issues that usually occur. The readings are made and seem to make sense but their resulting images are not what is expected- oftentimes too flat and the desired ratio was not achieved. This is due to UNSEEN SECONDARY LIGHT. When all your units fire simultaneously, there is lots of light bouncing from the surrounding walls and ceilings. It is UNSEEN because the modelling lamps usually will not show this effect. This can easily be solved by reducing the power to the distance of the FILL light. I metion this because it is especially prevalent in home-studio situations where the room may be small and brightly painted.

Another important issue: The light dome on most meters is collected light from multiple directions. This can work well in many available light and flash usage situations, however, when precisely setting I up ratios it is better to restrict the light receptor to one straight in the direction. Some of the older model meters had an interchange FLAT disk that replaced the dome for that purpose. The modern meters have a retractable dome that gobos the dome for more individual reading of ratios between units and between natural or ambient light and flash fill ratios.
The retractable dome will enable your making readings from individual light and also verifying reading on the highlight and shadow sides of a subject's face.

I have 2 flash meters in service. My youngest one is 15 years old- a Sekonic with all the aforementioned features. My Back up meter is a 25-year old Minolta mode with interchangeable receptors and both are extremely accurate.

Here are a few more points to consider. If you purchase a good meter and master its usage, you do not need any of those full-featured command exposure control systems- your radio transmitters need only serve to synchronize all the units.

If your studio setup is permanent, once you arrive at the basic setup, by trial and error, you may not requr a meter- you will get to know the power settings and distance to vary the effects, however. the meter is extremely handy if you make aesthetic variations, employ feathering, and various diffusion and modification devices. It makes it easier to integrate additional lights into your system.

A meter can help you create a CALLIIBRATED lighting system for location work. If your system is mobile you can make notations as to your ideal setup at home and easily replicate it at other locations by making individual readings of the various lights to match what you have established at home.

Of course, you can also use the meter for natural light as well.

As for brands, Sekonic would be my current choice if I were to replace my meters.

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Jan 14, 2022 19:38:02   #
JohnSwanda Loc: San Francisco
 
BebuLamar wrote:
For me it’s faster to shoot,review,adjust


When shooting people in the studio, shooting, reviewing, and adjusting every time I change the lighting doesn't look professional to me. A quick reading with a flash meter does.

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