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Author Topic: Need Help with Light Meter Question(s)  (Read 5357 times)
svaughan
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« on: April 01, 2006, 04:00:38 PM »
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After reading how light meters can help with exposure, I invested in a Sekonic 508. For the most part I have it figured out, all the features and stuff it can do. Even bought the Hand Exposure Meter Book by Bob Shell, to learn more.

However I am having a problem figuring out how to get my camera set to the exactness of the meter. As an example, it will read in 10ths of an f stop, or the combination f stop and shutter doesn't match my camera. I am shooting with a Sony F828 (I know I need a real DSLR, that will come soon).

My camera has f stops that go from 2.2 to 8.0.  But the combination of these stops on the meter does not always match. So how do you handle this difference? When I meter my subjects, it gives readings in tenths, and then I am not sure what to do.  Say I get a reading of shutter 125 and f 5.6.6, if I move the wheel to get a smaller aperture; it moves it to shutter 90 and f 8.0.1. My camera does not have shutter speed 90, nor does it have f 5.6.6.

As you can imagine, I am a novice not a pro, but I sure have learned a lot here. Any help is greatly appreciated.

slv.
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michael
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« Reply #1 on: April 01, 2006, 04:33:21 PM »
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Setting your exposure with a precision in 1/10ths of a stop is like holding your speed to 61.28 miles an hour.

Most cameras have settings within a half stop, and that's almost always good enough.

For working digitally you're much better off using the camera's histogram to judge exposure in any event. Hand held meters are nice to have, and good learning tools, but not that relevant in most cases when working with a digital camera.

There are applications where they're nice to have, such as flash metering, spot metering and  incident metering, but for day to day use they don't add much to your exposures when using a modern camera with TTL metering.

Michael
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BernardLanguillier
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« Reply #2 on: April 01, 2006, 10:13:12 PM »
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As a tongue in cheek comment, didn't you hesitate before spending nearly as much money for a light meter as you spent for the camera?

Cheers,
Bernard
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erusan
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« Reply #3 on: April 01, 2006, 11:35:05 PM »
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As a tongue in cheek comment, didn't you hesitate before spending nearly as much money for a light meter as you spent for the camera?
[{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

Well, there is always the debate if high-amateurs (Jap. kamera-ojisan) are not a perverse expression of society's unfairness and polarization... not meaning that the TS would be anything like that. It's just that I got a second hand light meter recently for about $40 (Sekonic M-398? Old-fashioned model looking) to estimate my pinhole exposures, and it works fine to check how the light is out there. But for a digicam with auto-everything and super-matrix metering and things like that, it would seem that learning to use that metering system would be more worthwile...

Anyway, that meter will keep you busy for a while and longer. It may last a life time. Please post a pic in the critique forum if you get a correct exposure ;-)

cheers,

Elmer

HP: [a href=\"http://erusan.275mb.com]http://erusan.275mb.com[/url]
Jap/Eng photoblog: http://erusanexposed.blog59.fc2.com
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erusan
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Peter Jon White
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« Reply #4 on: April 02, 2006, 01:35:08 AM »
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With most DSLRs, you can fire a test shot, chimp it, and shoot a second shot in the time it takes to use a hand held meter and transfer its setting to the camera. And you're still going to want to fire off a shot and chimp it. So you'll end up spending a lot more time and not actually getting any better results.

With film, you don't get to see your results until you develop it. But now, while you don't know for certain if you've blown a highlight until you open the file in Photoshop, you know just as much without the separate meter as you do with it, so you have to ask yourself, "What's the point?"

Most of the time, I think your answer will be that there is no point. The exception of course is when you have more than one source of light. In a studio or when using multiple flashes, an incident meter that reads flash can help you while setting up a shot. It may be faster than chimping test shots once you're used to working that way.

But if you're out in the field with just you, the subject and that big bright ball in the sky, I'd leave the meter at home.
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BernardLanguillier
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« Reply #5 on: April 02, 2006, 05:26:52 AM »
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Well, there is always the debate if high-amateurs (Jap. kamera-ojisan) are... http://erusanexposed.blog59.fc2.com[/url]
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=61559\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

You probably mean kamera-otaku.

Cheers,
Bernard
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Dale_Cotton
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« Reply #6 on: April 02, 2006, 08:13:02 AM »
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Say I get a reading of shutter 125 and f 5.6.6, if I move the wheel to get a smaller aperture; it moves it to shutter 90 and f 8.0.1.
I too have struggled with the mysteries of handheld light meters. So in the spirit of the blind leading the blind I'll explain how I understand the process (which will almost certainly be wrong but will compel someone with a better head for numbers to respond). f/5.6.6 = 6/10s of the way between the whole stops f/5.6 and f/8.0. The meter is saying that if your shutter is fixed at 1/125th sec, then you need an aperture of f/5.6.6. If you take a new reading of a spot that is just marginally brighter, then you will need a marginally smaller aperture to get the same exposure, so the new reading might be f/5.6.8. An even brighter spot might bump you up to f/8.0.0.

That's the easy part. The hard part is transferring that reading to the camera. If your camera works in half stops, then you would choose the f/stop half way between f/5.6 and f/8.0, which is f/6.7. If your camera works in third stops, then the sequence is f/5.6, f/6.3, f/7.1, f/8.0, so you would choose f/7.1, which is 7/10s of the way between f/5.6 and f/8.0. Your Sekonic gives you the more exact reading; you have to round it off as best your camera will let you.

Similarly, with shutter speeds, if your camera doesn't offer 1/90th, choose the closest setting it does offer.

You probably already have the f/stop and shutter speed sequence memorized in whole steps; you may now want to familiarize yourself with how the half or third stop sequences used by your camera fit into the niches between whole stops - or just carry a crib sheet to speed things up in the field.
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svaughan
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« Reply #7 on: April 02, 2006, 09:35:54 AM »
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Thanks for all the advice. I picked this meter up on ebay auction used, and it was in mint condition minus the price. Knowing that I can bracket, and can even shoot raw, still the closer to the exposure the better regardless what you can do with software. I agree camera's have good metering now. But I would have lost some good shots had I not been on manual exposure, using the meter for my settings.

http://www.myweb.cableone.net/svaughan/Nat...ature%20007.jpg

All said and done, I guess I got my question answered. I don't need to be within 10ths. Dales comments made sense because my camera does go in third stops between 5.6 and 8. I'll use it as a guide.

This link shows a shot where I feel hand metering had it's advantage.

br slv.
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Peter Jon White
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« Reply #8 on: April 02, 2006, 02:43:27 PM »
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This link shows a shot where I feel hand metering had it's advantage.

br slv.
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=61577\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

What was the advantage?

Since the camera has a meter, and since you can check the image on the lcd screen, how did the hand held meter help you?
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svaughan
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« Reply #9 on: April 02, 2006, 03:02:40 PM »
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What was the advantage?

Since the camera has a meter, and since you can check the image on the lcd screen, how did the hand held meter help you?
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=61598\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

When I meter shots like this in the camera, it tends to take the sky in the reading as well, and the result is an under exposure of the squirrel.

I have used AE lock, but I have to keep the shutter half pressed to hold this, it's a hassle. And yes, I have metered another subject and set my camera on manual for the exposure. Same result, but I don't think this little guy was going to allow me to get closer.

I have noticed using incident light vs my camera meter, there are times where my camera will show under or over exposure using the light meter settings. From what I have read, this is the difference between reflected and incident lighting.

I don't know, maybe it's a psychological thing... I am still in the learning stage.  If it doesn’t work out, I can always sell it for more than what I paid, I bought if for a ridiculously low price.
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Peter Jon White
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« Reply #10 on: April 02, 2006, 05:05:09 PM »
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No! Don't sell it! ;-)

After all that, I think you should have a meter. There are situations where it can come in very handy; flash, especially multiple flash, and any multiple light source situation. And as others have said, you can learn a lot just walking around with a meter. ;-)
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svaughan
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« Reply #11 on: April 02, 2006, 09:27:32 PM »
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No! Don't sell it! ;-)

After all that, I think you should have a meter. There are situations where it can come in very handy; flash, especially multiple flash, and any multiple light source situation. And as others have said, you can learn a lot just walking around with a meter. ;-)
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=61612\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

Thanks Peter. I do agree with the learning part. I have a long way to go before I fully understand the best applications for its use. I have been practicing by just taking silly shots of anything to get comfortable with the readings. Reading flash really helps, and when I am able to read incident, they come our really nice.

I won't be selling it any time soon. It took a while to get a good bid on one, so I intend to try and make it work for me.

br  slv.
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ddolde
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« Reply #12 on: April 02, 2006, 10:32:37 PM »
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A meter for a digital camera?

Get a 4x5 dude then you can really appreciate having one !
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Ben Rubinstein
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« Reply #13 on: April 04, 2006, 06:57:09 AM »
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Of course you have to calibrate your meter to your cameras iso settings. My 1Ds overexposed by half a stop with my sekonics reading, my 5D undexposes by 2/3 of a stop.
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svaughan
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« Reply #14 on: April 05, 2006, 06:46:33 PM »
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Of course you have to calibrate your meter to your cameras iso settings. My 1Ds overexposed by half a stop with my sekonics reading, my 5D undexposes by 2/3 of a stop.
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=61743\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]


I haven't yet checked the calibration, but I have read how. Prints come out pretty nice using incident. Havent' done much with the reflective or flash yet.
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williamrohr
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« Reply #15 on: April 11, 2006, 07:56:01 PM »
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I realize that what I am about to say may be heresy in this digital era of shoot, look at the histogram and if you don't like it dump it ..... however there are many times when a handheld light meter is extemely helpful.  First of all, I am unaware of any of the current cameras having incident light meters.  In tricky, high contrast situations an incident meter can be a lifesaver.  A particularly useful feature of some of the digital meters is the ability to take multiple spot readings from throughout the scene, which the meter stores and displays (Rollei 6000 cameras also include this feature).  This gives the best indication I know of the dynamic range of the picture and will indicate the need to either use a graduated neutral density filter or bracket digitally for later blending.  A handheld meter is also very useful when you have carefully composed a picture with the camera mounted on a tripod and the light is changing rapidly such as in a storm, etc.  Since the area of greatest interest is often off center (rule of thirds, etc.) its a real pain to keep moving the camera to get the critical reading.  The other amazing aspect about a light meter is that in this era of rapidly changing technology where we seem to be throwing away a camera ever six months ... it is a very mature technology and will provide years of use for a fairly modest investment (mine is pretty beat up because its always around my neck ... but it keeps going and going and...  ).  Anyway one greying man's perspective.  
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gottahabet
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« Reply #16 on: April 14, 2006, 05:01:47 PM »
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Hi svaughn,

Perhaps you can set the meter to read/display f-stops in different increments, say 1/3 or 1/2 stops?  I'm not familiar with this meter model, but it seems to me that a meter that can decipher differences in exposure of that kind of minute difference could also be set up to read them at different increments of a stop.  To be honest I don't think I could tell the difference between 1/10th and 2/10ths of a stop, looking at a photo!

The flipside is that a handheld meter will read incident light, and the dslr can only read reflective, but then it all depends on what you're shooting.  I've been debating this for myself recently, since I shoot both a Canon DSLR and a Hasselblad with film.  I have a very cheap meter that came with a set of Smith Victor starter lites, that I think reads only flash output on flash sync shutter speed (haven't used it in so long I can't remember how it works).  So I currently use the Canon to read the exposure for the Hassy shots, since it doesn't have a built-in meter.  It's a bit more cumbersome and I'd sometimes like to have a IVF or something to quickly get a reading off a subject's face.

And I agree, it's a great tool for learning.  I imagine eventually you won't need the meter to tell you what exposure range any given situation will produce, you'll already be in the ballpark.
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Phuong
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« Reply #17 on: April 14, 2006, 06:29:43 PM »
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Of course you have to calibrate your meter to your cameras iso settings. My 1Ds overexposed by half a stop with my sekonics reading, my 5D undexposes by 2/3 of a stop.
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=61743\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

pom can you point me to a place where i can learn how to calibrate my metter to my camera iso settings? thanks in advance
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Ben Rubinstein
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« Reply #18 on: April 15, 2006, 04:19:40 PM »
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Um, take a photo in an evenly lit enviroment, such as a studio using an incident meter reading. Put it on your screen and print it. Adjust to taste....

In print I am setting my sekonic to at least iso 80 when shooting at iso 100 on the 5D for accurate results, I'm thinking of lowering that to iso 64.
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