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Thread: Handheld Light Meter

  1. #1
    MajaMolly's Avatar
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    Handheld Light Meter

    I'm beginning to look into purchasing a handheld light meter...I have no clue what I'm looking for. I'm wanting to begin experimenting with a Lensbaby lens and my camera body does not meter with the Lensbaby so I'll have to shoot in full manual mode.

    So... what I am interested in (no clue if this is available) is a budget friendly (new or used) meter that will help me know what shutter speed and ISO to choose after I choose the aperture. Does such a thing exist?

    Thank you.

  2. #2

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    Re: Handheld Light Meter

    I haven't used a light meter since my film days, but at least back then, you set the ISO and the meter showed you the aperture/shutter speed options that fit the light readings. I'm not aware of one that vectors off the aperture for the other two variables, but I'm many years out of date with these things. OTOH, the relationship of all the variables is hardly obscure. Once you know any triple that will work, it is ludicrously simple to convert in your head to any light-equivalent triple.

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    Tringa's Avatar
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    Re: Handheld Light Meter

    I'm in the same position as Tom - it is many years, about 40, since I last used a hand held light meter and my recollection of what they do is the same.

    Why not use the meter in your camera and save some money?

    Experiment by setting the ISO to, say, 200 and an aperture of, say, f5.6 and then alter the shutter speed until your camera tells you have a correct exposure.

    You will need to vary these depending on the conditions - eg available light, movement in the subject and if you want a large or shallow depth of field, but then you would have to do this with a separate hand held meter.

    Dave

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    Boatman's Avatar
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    Re: Handheld Light Meter

    I'm not sure I understand your need. With the Lens Baby you won't be able to shoot in auto mode as there is no aperture control. However, your camera should still be able to measure the light coming in. Check your histogram and implement Expose-To-The-Right (ETTR), adjusting your ISO and sutter speeds until the histogram is as far to the right as possible without blowing the highlights.That's where you want to be. A light meter will never get you this information.

    See item #3 of this article: http://www.luminous-landscape.com/es...wont_get.shtml

  5. #5

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    Christopher Wilson

    Re: Handheld Light Meter

    I'm looking at buying a hand held meter also and I've been do some research. Sekonic seems to be one of the more popular brands.

    Todays light meters are much more advanced than the older film day models. Light meters measure ambient light while the meter in you camera measures reflected light. They are really handy in the studio when setting up you lighting.

  6. #6

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    Re: Handheld Light Meter

    Hi, Chris. Just a terminological note -- when talking about light meters, the alternative to "Ambient" is "Flash." The alternative to "Reflected" is "Incident." What the terms mean is this: some meters can be used to read the intensity of flash illumination. They basically grab and hold a reading when you fire your flash. Other light meters are used to measure a continuous illumination. The normal steady-state light condition of a scene is called "ambient" light. Confusing the issue is that some spot meters can grab and hold an ambient light reading.

    The difference between "incident" and "reflective" meters is this: your camera's light meter is a reflective meter -- it measures the light that bounces off the subject and enters the camera. Some light meters can measure the "incident" light, which is the light that is falling on the subject. You need to go to the subject and point the meter at the light source to use these. The reason you would want to do that is that reflective meters assume that what is being measured is a gray object. If you set the camera the way a reflective meter tells you to, what was metered will be exposed mid-gray (if viewed in B&W, of course). But, with an incident meter, you are measuring the illumination that falls on the object, so you can calculate the exposure required without worrying about whether the object being illumiated is black, gray, or white. Black objects will look black, gray objects gray, and white objects white.

    I hope that was intelligible.

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    Moderator Dave Humphries's Avatar
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    Re: Handheld Light Meter

    Quote Originally Posted by Boatman View Post
    I'm not sure I understand your need. With the Lens Baby you won't be able to shoot in auto mode as there is no aperture control. However, your camera should still be able to measure the light coming in.
    Unfortunately it won't - it's a Nikon thing on their lower end bodies, they rely on chipped lenses for metering to function; no aperture feedback (from lens) and it just sulks (it also refuses to work at all in Auto, P, A and S modes, but will work in M mode)

    Quote Originally Posted by Boatman View Post
    Check your histogram and implement Expose-To-The-Right (ETTR), adjusting your ISO and sutter speeds until the histogram is as far to the right as possible without blowing the highlights.That's where you want to be. A light meter will never get you this information.
    I agree, I suspect a light meter will just be another handicap and one that, with a little experience, won't be needed after a while.

    Just take a shot, review the histogram and blinkies, readjust shutterspeed and/or iso, then reshoot, repeat as necessary.
    In time, your initial guess exposure will become more accurate and you'll need less trips around the reshoot loop to achieve success.

    If your camera has Live view (I cannot remember), use that; it may have a 'live' histogram feature available (can't remember that either), avoiding need for reshooting.

    Cheers,

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