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Thread: Hand Held Meter - Sekonic L-608

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    Hand Held Meter - Sekonic L-608

    Hi there, i've recently purchased a hand held meter in anticipation of setting up a home studio in my spare bedroom. I realise that the meter will benefit me in the studio but what are your thoughts for landscape photography as i will be travelling to the Lake District for a week soon?

    Thanks in advance

    Nick

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    Re: Hand Held Meter - Sekonic L-608

    Quote Originally Posted by flyclicker View Post
    Hi there, i've recently purchased a hand held meter in anticipation of setting up a home studio in my spare bedroom. I realise that the meter will benefit me in the studio but what are your thoughts for landscape photography as i will be travelling to the Lake District for a week soon?

    Thanks in advance

    Nick
    Hi Nick,

    The short answer is "no, you probably won't find it any use".

    In the studio they're great for not only getting the basic exposure right, but for contrast ratios as well (I typically run about 3:1), but for landscape it's not that easy though ...

    - If you're shooting into the light - and still want to retain shadow detail - then it's important to capture the biggest dynamic range possible, and typically, a light meter will put your middle gray point about 3 stops down from the sensor maximum rather than the (approx) 2 stops that's needed).

    - If you're not shooting into the light then the scene will simply be reflective, and your in-camera metering will almost certainly do a good job.

    I think a lot of people think that using a light meter automatically gives them a "correct" exposure, but few seen to appreciate just what a "correct" exposure actually is - what it's NOT is an exposure that results in an image popping straight out of the camera without needing any further exposure adjustment in post processing. The basic problem is that an average reflective scene only needs about 4 stops of dynamic range (but more if you want to get more shadow detail); medium gray is 1/2 way between black and white (2 stops down from white, 2 stops up from black) - but that point ISN'T in the middle of the sensors range.

    In reality, just turn highlight alert on and when shooting landscape - if you get the blinkies - then have a look and see if they're in any important areas. If you DON'T get blinkies, then use the histogram to see how under-exposed the shot is (if it's more than about 1 stop then adjust your exposure upwards).

    About the only time I use my lightmeter for landscape is when I'll spot-meter the brightest portion of a sunrise or sunset, and adjust up 2 stops.

    Hope this helps

  3. #3
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    Re: Hand Held Meter - Sekonic L-608

    Colin - This has been part of the learning curve for me in the transition from film to digital. I'm not shooting Ektachrome anymore and "best" exposure may not be the same as it once was. Old habits die hard. I still carry a light meter but in practice it mainly gets used for studio type shots with multiple lights.

    John

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    Re: Hand Held Meter - Sekonic L-608

    Quote Originally Posted by PhotomanJohn View Post
    Colin - This has been part of the learning curve for me in the transition from film to digital. I'm not shooting Ektachrome anymore and "best" exposure may not be the same as it once was. Old habits die hard. I still carry a light meter but in practice it mainly gets used for studio type shots with multiple lights.

    John
    Hi John,

    I still have my light meter with me also, but I can't say that it gets a lot of use for normal outside stuff.

    With digital, there's typically more shadow detail captured than we know what to do with, but zero tolerance of (truly) blown highlights ... So "don't blow the highlights" becomes the new big rule of exposure. The actual techniques vary depending on the dynamic range of the scene though; sometimes ETTR is needed, sometimes it's not.

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    Re: Hand Held Meter - Sekonic L-608

    Thanks Colin/John,

    I always have my histogram on when shooting landscapes and shoot in manual mode which gives me a fair indication of any clipping. The meter i have has a viewfinder on it which the manual states is used for distant subjects when you cannot get close enough for an accurate reading it spot meters from 1 to 4 degrees which i understand is a lot more accurate than my cameras metering system?

    Cheers in advance

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    Re: Hand Held Meter - Sekonic L-608

    Quote Originally Posted by flyclicker View Post
    it spot meters from 1 to 4 degrees which i understand is a lot more accurate than my cameras metering system?
    Not really. Spot-metering (which is what you're talking about) measures the light being reflected from an object (as opposed to incident light measurement which is what is captured by the lumishpere) - the problem is, it has no way of knowing if what you're measuring is black - white - or something in between ... and so it assumes it's medium gray, and you have to apply up to +/- 2 stops of adjustment to compensate. Or to put that another way, if it's not a medium gray object - and you don't apply any exposure compensation - then it WILL be gray when you shoot it based on the spot meter reading.

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    Re: Hand Held Meter - Sekonic L-608

    Thanks again Colin, below is an excerpt from the luminous-landscape review of the L-608 spot metering ability:

    'Most high-end cameras these days have so-called built-in spotmetering. I write "so-called" because while the center area of the camera's viewfinder that is being read is much tighter than the usual center-weighted averaging or matrix metering, when using a normal lens, for example, a camera's center spot reading is about 15 degrees. Having a variable 1 degree spotmeter available, regardless of the lens that's currently mounted therefore makes a huge difference in ones ability to do precise metering.'

    The way i see it is by using the handheld spot meter this will give me a more accurate reading than the camera built-in meter. Is this not the case?

    Added to this, the meter has the ability to memorise 9 separate readings at 1 degree and will give an average of these readings so i am assuming this will be a lot more accurate than the matrix metering option?

    Cheers

    Nick
    Last edited by flyclicker; 30th October 2011 at 10:25 AM.

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    Re: Hand Held Meter - Sekonic L-608

    Hi Nick,

    There's no doubt that the spot-metering of the hand-held light meter examines a much smaller "spot" - but - one STILL has to apply a correction to the result, and that's where most will come unstuck.

    Case in point, if you stand across the street from a wedding, and spot-meter the bride in a white dress - and get a reading of 1/800th, and then spot-meter the groom in a black suit - and get 1/50th - what will you set your camera to?

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    Re: Hand Held Meter - Sekonic L-608

    Think you have missed my original point. I have bought the meter for studio work but i wished to know peoples thoughts on using it for landscape work. I understand that extremes (black v white) are far more difficult to arrive at the correct exposure but i am visiting the Lake District which is primarily mountains and water, 'll take it with me anyway and feedback my results in a few weeks. Thanks for the input.

    Cheers

    Nick

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    Re: Hand Held Meter - Sekonic L-608

    Quote Originally Posted by flyclicker View Post
    Think you have missed my original point. I have bought the meter for studio work but i wished to know peoples thoughts on using it for landscape work. I understand that extremes (black v white) are far more difficult to arrive at the correct exposure but i am visiting the Lake District which is primarily mountains and water, 'll take it with me anyway and feedback my results in a few weeks. Thanks for the input.

    Cheers

    Nick
    Hi Nick,

    No, I haven't missed your original point - in the studio they're pretty much essential (I use a Sekonic 758DR, hooked up to an Elinchrom Skyport); there's just no way to make quality lighting decisions by looking at the image on a 3" camera screen (I also shoot tethered to a 40" LED TV - and even that isn't great for overall exposure decisions -- although it's much better for contrast ratios).

    Black -v- White are easy corrections to make for any kind of reflective metering (-2 EV and +2 EV) -- the hard part is when it's something not as definitive (perhaps green tree, water on a lake, grass etc) - plus you're going to have to evaluate each part of the scene to work out what you'd need to spot-meter - and even then decide if you needed to cut into your (typically 1 stop) safety margin because the scene had a relatively high dynamic range. In contrast, personally, I find it easier to let the camera evaluate the whole scene, and indicate areas of over-exposure via the blinkies, and under-exposure via the histogram. I like to think that the automation is our assistant, not our master

  11. #11

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    Re: Hand Held Meter - Sekonic L-608

    Thanks for your input Colin, i will surely take note the next time my finger is on the shutter

    Nick

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