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External lightmeters - how do they work and uses (nature)

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    Overread
    Overread  63746 forum posts England18 Constructive Critique Points
    9 May 2011 - 12:04 AM

    So I keep reading about these relics from the days before digital and the instant preview histogram on the back of the camera and I've gotten curious as to their use and practical application for a photographer.

    As far as I can tell for work in a studio they work well as you can move them around your controled subject area and read the light directly around the actual subject - combining this with flash to allow you fire the flashes - read the exposures (based on the exposure settings you have chosen) and then make choices about flash powers and settings based on how the light lands on different parts of your subject.
    I've also read how they can work well in a constant lighting environment - where the lighting is fairly even and you just read the ambient at the meter and then shoot.


    However whilst I can see their application in a studio environment and translating that to other constant light or flash dominated situations (eg studio macro shooting); I'm finding it harder to work out if there is any bonus for using an external flash meter over the internal camera one when shooting further off subjects (ie ones where you can't walk up to them).

    I'm interested because sometimes you don't get the option to shoot - chimp - change and shoot again at a subject so anything that can allow me to shoot with better understanding of the light the first time is worth considering.

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    9 May 2011 - 12:04 AM

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    keithh
    keithh e2 Member 1022890 forum postskeithh vcard Wallis and Futuna30 Constructive Critique Points
    9 May 2011 - 9:57 AM

    Modern digital cameras are equipped with as good and in some cases better light meters than off-camera, so I'd say outside of the studio and what with live histograms and fast review, no, their use is limited.

    ade_mcfade
    ade_mcfade e2 Member 1014778 forum postsade_mcfade vcard England216 Constructive Critique Points
    9 May 2011 - 10:30 AM

    I may be being a bit stupid here, but I've never used a flash meter with my srobist set up - 2/3 of my flashes don't have synch ports so I can't trigger them from the flash meter via a cable

    do flash meters have a setting where they "wait" for a flash to happen then take the reading?

    could be handy out there in the field if they did.

    guess the answer is getting them there Rangers I've been dreaming of Wink

    Grampy
    Grampy  4507 forum posts England71 Constructive Critique Points
    9 May 2011 - 11:26 AM

    I never use a flash meter either , I think my eyes give me the f stop, actually I am never more than a stop out and the camera shows me a result straight away. In the "old days" we used poloroid 75 to the same effect. it seemed a good poloroid meant a good exposure on tungsten velvia,
    Now as to a old fashioned light meter, I agree in changing light it is a problem, I used to have an assistant telling me the changes constantly, shouting out the f stop as it changed.
    On one occasion way back I was assistant on a shoot in scotland ,I had forgotten to pack a exposure meter, I never admitted this to the photographer and shouted out the exposure holding my wallet in front of the model, she played the game and I was spot on I'm glad to say. I owned up to the photographer a few years later, when he became my partner, it cost me a couple of drinks.
    Phill

    thewilliam
    9 May 2011 - 11:41 AM

    The meter that has't been made obselete by digital is the 1 degree spot-meter. It allows you to take a reading of a tiny part of the scene, but it takes a little skill to interpret the reading it gives.

    Very useful for landscape.

    JJGEE
    JJGEE  96276 forum posts England18 Constructive Critique Points
    9 May 2011 - 11:51 AM


    Quote: tungsten velvia

    ? Never came across that Wink Always thought Velvia was daylight balanced Wink

    keithh
    keithh e2 Member 1022890 forum postskeithh vcard Wallis and Futuna30 Constructive Critique Points
    9 May 2011 - 12:06 PM

    Nope - Tungsten Velvia did exist.

    Grampy
    Grampy  4507 forum posts England71 Constructive Critique Points
    9 May 2011 - 12:10 PM

    We used to use about 100 sheets a month of 10x8 tungsten Velvia, probably not made anymore. Ohh those good old days !!
    Phill

    JJGEE
    JJGEE  96276 forum posts England18 Constructive Critique Points
    9 May 2011 - 12:16 PM

    OK fair enough Keith & Phil, I was / am only aware of the branded T64 tungsten transparency film from Fuji.
    I assume the tungsten Velvia was only available from "professional" outlets. Wink

    dlegros
    dlegros  12217 forum posts England
    9 May 2011 - 4:12 PM


    Quote: I may be being a bit stupid here, but I've never used a flash meter with my srobist set up - 2/3 of my flashes don't have synch ports so I can't trigger them from the flash meter via a cable

    do flash meters have a setting where they "wait" for a flash to happen then take the reading?

    could be handy out there in the field if they did.

    guess the answer is getting them there Rangers I've been dreaming of Wink

    Ade,

    I have a Sekonic L-308 and that's precisely how I use it.

    Set the ISO, press the metering button then trigger the flash using the normal trigger (PT-04), the Sekonic then gives me the reading.

    HTH
    Dom

    thewilliam
    9 May 2011 - 6:11 PM

    We have a couple of ancient but still excellent Lunasix F meters. They'll combine the effect of several flashes - whatever happens between resetting and reading.

    ade_mcfade
    ade_mcfade e2 Member 1014778 forum postsade_mcfade vcard England216 Constructive Critique Points
    9 May 2011 - 11:26 PM

    nice one Dom

    could be handy to get kicker lights right, often end up with them burning out Sad

    Paul Morgan
    Paul Morgan e2 Member 1315152 forum postsPaul Morgan vcard England6 Constructive Critique Points
    9 May 2011 - 11:59 PM


    Quote: could be handy to get kicker lights right, often end up with them burning out

    Would be money well spent Ade, especially with what your doing, both the sekonic and polaris would do the job equally well.

    HJKeithW
    HJKeithW  659 forum posts New Zealand
    8 Jun 2011 - 5:59 AM

    THe lightmeter in the camera reads the reflected light from the subject. THe camera can be fooled into over or underexposing the shot depending on whether the scene is lighter or darker than the average which is 18% grey. If you use an incident light meter, that reads the light falling on the subject and is accurate irrespective of how light or dark the subject is.

    HJKeithW
    HJKeithW  659 forum posts New Zealand
    8 Jun 2011 - 6:08 AM

    Perhaps I should explain a little further. A very dark subject will be over exposed by the camera to put more light in to make the subject appear more the average mid grey. A very light subject would be under exposed to bring the white back to a mid grey. You can allow for this when yoou recognise the situation by reducing the metered exposure for a black subject by about 2 or maybe 3 stops and increasing the exposure of a white subject by about the same amount. You would have to experiment to find out what is the correct exposure. Use of an incident light meter to measure the exposure will ignore whether the subject is dark or light and give you an accurate exposure.

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