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Author Topic: Recommended lightmeter??  (Read 12826 times)
duraace
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« on: August 20, 2008, 12:24:30 PM »
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I have a Nikon D300 and I'm wanting to know if and what people would recommend as a compliment light meter to the D300 (taking into account what the D300 is good at anyway).  Is the Sekonic C-500 overkill?
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Rob C
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« Reply #1 on: August 21, 2008, 06:33:17 AM »
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I have a Nikon D300 and I'm wanting to know if and what people would recommend as a compliment light meter to the D300 (taking into account what the D300 is good at anyway).  Is the Sekonic C-500 overkill?
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Hi

I have a Minolta Flashmeter which was excellent with transparency film (as were my old Westons, as long as the light was strong enough); with my D200 (not too big a jump from D300) I have stopped using an additional meter at all. The matrix one on the D200 is so accurate - at least in the way I seem to be using it - that nothing else is needed. On the rare occassion that I have used flash, I have used the Minolta, but that is so rare nowadays that it is out of my sphere of interests.

What I did find, however (D200), was that using the spot meter was not the same as using the one on an earlier Nikon F4s that I owned briefly. The same logic of catching a highlight and opening up one-and-a-half stops - more or less - didn´t work as neatly with me. Probably underlines some of the differences between film and sensor.

Go with the matrix meter.

Rob C
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CJL
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« Reply #2 on: August 21, 2008, 07:01:12 AM »
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Don't waste your money... no external meter will give better results than using the camera's internal meter and histogram.
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Dale_Cotton
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« Reply #3 on: August 21, 2008, 07:29:27 AM »
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Duraace: You don't say what type of shooting you're doing or why you are thinking in terms of spot metering, so I'll have to assume it's something along the lines of my own needs, namely existing light and landscape, with plenty of back and side lighting thrown in.

The limitation of an in-camera spot meter is that they are X percent of field (~2% for the D300) instead of the (typically) 1 degree aperture of a handheld spot meter. There are many circumstances, working in sunlight at least, in which the areas with the potentially blown highlights you're trying to prevent are smaller than the spot meter area, as seen through the focal length you have on your camera. In such a case the camera averages the highlight and its surrounds, giving you a lower EV than you would get from just the highlight. In such a case, you can either add a fudge factor based on experience or you can trust to raw format head room or you can chimp and re-shoot.

With a handheld spot meter you're much more likely to get the correct EV off a sufficiently small highlight, and any modern meter with aperture priority read-outs should make it fairly simple to get a shutter/aperture combo to transfer to the camera. So either way - in-camera metering + chimping or handheld + transfer - you've got a two step process; guess it just depends on which you find more comfortable to work with.

Incidentally, if you're shooting expose-to-the-right and/or working in high contrast light, then all you need is a reading off the brightest portion of the scene. Simply subtract the highlight latitude in f/stops of your camera from that and you have your exposure settings for the shot. What this means is that the intelligence of the newer generations of Sekonics to average out high-mid-low readings may be something you don't actually need.

Rob C wrote:
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The same logic of catching a highlight and opening up one-and-a-half stops - more or less
I'm impressed. I hit upon this approach after considerable thought and until now hadn't heard of anyone else using it. Were you aware of some number of other photographers doing this too?

CLJ wrote:
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no external meter will give better results than using the camera's internal meter and histogram.
I certainly wouldn't argue with this appraisal, but I would allow for the (remote?) possibility that someone might find the handheld approach better matched to his working style.
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Hank
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« Reply #4 on: August 21, 2008, 12:15:04 PM »
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I have a Nikon D300 and I'm wanting to know if and what people would recommend as a compliment light meter to the D300 (taking into account what the D300 is good at anyway).  Is the Sekonic C-500 overkill?
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It depends on how and what you shoot.  I have used handhelds for just over 40 years and it's a familiar tool I almost always prefer in lieu of onboard meters on any camera.  That's not saying you can't do the same job with the onboard meter, but for me familiarity makes the handheld a more useful and intuitive tool.  Another story of folks and strokes.

There is a set of situations in which you're dead in the water without the right handheld.  That's when you're working with lighting ratios, whether multiple off camera strobes or when using off camera strobe(s) to balance ambient.

For that set of needs the Sekonic is overkill, but I use mine anyway because I also use the incident and reflective functions.  If I was buying a meter strictly for use in developing lighting ratios with off-camera strobes, I'd only be concerned that it have both cord and cordless functions.  A retractible dome is handy too, but not mandatory.  Both Gossen and Sekonic have models that qualify while costing less than half.
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lovell
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« Reply #5 on: August 26, 2008, 08:59:09 AM »
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External light meters are the buggy whip of modern photography, a piece of equipment there more for those having the "old habit", and need to feel as though since going digital, things have not "changed much".

Better to master raw camera workflow utilizing the camera's internal meter, the histogram, and the application of exposure compensation as required.

Bye bye light meters ;-)
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After composition, everything else is secondary--Alfred Steiglitz, NYC, 1927.

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Hank
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« Reply #6 on: August 26, 2008, 11:01:48 AM »
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External light meters are the buggy whip of modern photography, a piece of equipment there more for those having the "old habit", and need to feel as though since going digital, things have not "changed much".

Better to master raw camera workflow utilizing the camera's internal meter, the histogram, and the application of exposure compensation as required.

Bye bye light meters ;-)
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=217299\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]


Thanks for the laugh.  

Let us know when a camera meter is available to function as a strobe meter and for mixing ambient with multiple strobes and I'll quit smiling at you.

They're extremely useful for mixed lighting sources and controlled lighting, but I'll cede your point that for landscape use they're not necessary.  I already did that in my original post, as a matter of fact, so I guess I don't need to do it again, do I?

But for many professional applications, you're dead in the water without them.
« Last Edit: August 26, 2008, 11:05:46 AM by Hank » Logged
lovell
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« Reply #7 on: August 26, 2008, 11:53:13 AM »
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Thanks for the laugh. 

Let us know when a camera meter is available to function as a strobe meter and for mixing ambient with multiple strobes and I'll quit smiling at you.

They're extremely useful for mixed lighting sources and controlled lighting, but I'll cede your point that for landscape use they're not necessary.  I already did that in my original post, as a matter of fact, so I guess I don't need to do it again, do I?

But for many professional applications, you're dead in the water without them.
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My comments were in the scope of landscapes.  As to studio lighting, and issues of that type of shooting, then I suppose a light meter will be helpful.

As to landscapes I stand by my assertions.

Have a good laugh!  ;-)
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After composition, everything else is secondary--Alfred Steiglitz, NYC, 1927.

I'm not afraid of death.  I just don't want to be there when it happens--Woody Allen, Annie Hall, '70s
Thomas Krüger
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« Reply #8 on: August 27, 2008, 12:55:32 AM »
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You may have a look at the Gossen Spotmaster. I have the older version 1 that I used for the Zone System and studio shots. Works like a charm since 20 years. But the unit is quite big. Still useful under certain circumstances like mixed light situations (flash and ambient light) or measuring the contrast of a scene.

http://www.gossen-photo.de/english/

Digital Exposures - External hand-held Exposure Meters
http://www.gossen-photo.de/pdf/digital_e.pdf
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usathyan
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« Reply #9 on: August 27, 2008, 10:24:39 AM »
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I have an old Minolta IVF and find it very accurate and good. I think the Sekonic 358 is good for what you need as well.

Look for them used and save a few bucks.
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Anthony R
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« Reply #10 on: August 27, 2008, 11:18:11 AM »
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For professional use, a light meter is a must. You can't chimp and hope when there's big money on the line.

I've a Sekonic L-508 that I find to be excellent. I am however looking to replace it as it does not have the pocketwizard module. Probably pick up a 608 or something similar. If you are interested in my 508 send me a pm. It has had limited use as I replaced it not long ago.
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lovell
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« Reply #11 on: August 28, 2008, 04:27:58 PM »
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For professional use, a light meter is a must. You can't chimp and hope when there's big money on the line.

I've a Sekonic L-508 that I find to be excellent. I am however looking to replace it as it does not have the pocketwizard module. Probably pick up a 608 or something similar. If you are interested in my 508 send me a pm. It has had limited use as I replaced it not long ago.
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=217583\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

...not requlred for "big money" landscapes.  To chimp at the image on the back of the camera would be wrong to do anyways.  Far better to look at the histogram...and ignore the image...it lies, and is at the mercy of ambient light, and brightness setting of the LCD screen.  Perhaps the only help the image provides is the blinkies on the blown highlight areas.
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After composition, everything else is secondary--Alfred Steiglitz, NYC, 1927.

I'm not afraid of death.  I just don't want to be there when it happens--Woody Allen, Annie Hall, '70s
Moynihan
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« Reply #12 on: August 29, 2008, 11:31:51 AM »
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I still, at times, use handheld meters.

Part of that is that I still use some film.
When I am intentionally out to do landscapes, I have a Pentax Spotmeter along. My bag carries a D200, a TLR (for B&W), & an F2a (Velvia).

I have started using the spotmeter with the D200 (set to manual), more.

Reasons:
I can, with the camera on a tripod, the scene composed, check where I want to put tonalities etc. in the picture, without moving the camera around. I like doing it that way.
I find the D200's matrix metering to be excellent. But as an "old slide & zone shooter" the more deliberate approach is still useful, to me. Also, in switching between the medium format TLR, and the D200, it "fits" in the flow.

BTW:

I rarely, but on occasion, use an incident meter with my walk-around DSLR, if I also am carrying a film body (and hence, have the meter along). For my shooting style, it can be handy in weird light.

I think, that if shooting digitally, and outside of the question of flash meters; whether or not you use a handheld meter depends upon, your subject matter, whether or not you "previsualize" through the whole PP when you are shooting, etc.
For me it is nice to use when I can. For others, with different styles, it would be a waste of time and an unnecessary expense.
« Last Edit: August 29, 2008, 11:32:17 AM by Moynihan » Logged
lovell
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« Reply #13 on: August 29, 2008, 12:49:32 PM »
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I still, at times, use handheld meters.

Part of that is that I still use some film.
When I am intentionally out to do landscapes, I have a Pentax Spotmeter along. My bag carries a D200, a TLR (for B&W), & an F2a (Velvia).

I have started using the spotmeter with the D200 (set to manual), more.

Reasons:
I can, with the camera on a tripod, the scene composed, check where I want to put tonalities etc. in the picture, without moving the camera around. I like doing it that way.
I find the D200's matrix metering to be excellent. But as an "old slide & zone shooter" the more deliberate approach is still useful, to me. Also, in switching between the medium format TLR, and the D200, it "fits" in the flow.

BTW:

I rarely, but on occasion, use an incident meter with my walk-around DSLR, if I also am carrying a film body (and hence, have the meter along). For my shooting style, it can be handy in weird light.

I think, that if shooting digitally, and outside of the question of flash meters; whether or not you use a handheld meter depends upon, your subject matter, whether or not you "previsualize" through the whole PP when you are shooting, etc.
For me it is nice to use when I can. For others, with different styles, it would be a waste of time and an unnecessary expense.
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=218114\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

I noticed you never mention the histogram.  I can appreciate your need for a meter when shooting film.  But I think your carrying it over to digital landscapes is really something to file in the "old habits hard to break" file.  And exposing for film is not the same as exposing for digital raw.  Are you awear of this fact?  And if so, how can a hand held meter be worked into your raw digital exposing workflow?

Did you know that you could get no less quality or even better quality from digital raw if you were forced to expose without a light meter?
« Last Edit: August 29, 2008, 12:50:55 PM by lovell » Logged

After composition, everything else is secondary--Alfred Steiglitz, NYC, 1927.

I'm not afraid of death.  I just don't want to be there when it happens--Woody Allen, Annie Hall, '70s
Graham Welland
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« Reply #14 on: September 06, 2008, 04:34:57 PM »
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Don't waste your money... no external meter will give better results than using the camera's internal meter and histogram.
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Tough to do incident metering in camera ...  
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Graham
Moynihan
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« Reply #15 on: September 07, 2008, 07:12:25 AM »
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Did you know that you could get no less quality or even better quality from digital raw if you were forced to expose without a light meter?
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=218141\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

Yes, and I would in a general way agree with you, (assuming the word "quality" refers to an average exposure meant to not clip on either end) on the above quoted statement. I use the matrix metering usually.

But, when I want to place the exposure values "exactly", (and the camera is on a tripod). i use the handheld spotmeter. My FN button is set to the in camera spot meter, but if the camera is on the tripod and the scene composed, that will not help me much.

You are also correct, that it is probably a bit old-fashioned.   But since part of my workflow is in my head also, it works for me, better than a histogram (for me at least). Actually, I seldom use the histogram on my DSLR's (as opposed to my bridges with live view and EVF's).
I kind of have the expected latitude range of my DSLR's "in my head" for the different iso settings.
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lovell
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« Reply #16 on: September 16, 2008, 11:42:19 AM »
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Yes, and I would in a general way agree with you, (assuming the word "quality" refers to an average exposure meant to not clip on either end) on the above quoted statement. I use the matrix metering usually.

But, when I want to place the exposure values "exactly", (and the camera is on a tripod). i use the handheld spotmeter. My FN button is set to the in camera spot meter, but if the camera is on the tripod and the scene composed, that will not help me much.

You are also correct, that it is probably a bit old-fashioned.   But since part of my workflow is in my head also, it works for me, better than a histogram (for me at least). Actually, I seldom use the histogram on my DSLR's (as opposed to my bridges with live view and EVF's).
I kind of have the expected latitude range of my DSLR's "in my head" for the different iso settings.
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=219947\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

Can you get your hands on 3 or 4 different models and makes of DSLRs?

If you can, you will be surprised to find that if you used any light meter and then set up all 3 or 4 cameras with it's input, then shot the same exact scene at the same exact time, you will get 3-4 different histograms, and I mean noticably different levels of brightness, etc...too much variations...so then what good are they in the digital age?  Lets be honest guys..they're cool toys and fun to fiddle with...save your money and buy a new lens or something for the wife.
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After composition, everything else is secondary--Alfred Steiglitz, NYC, 1927.

I'm not afraid of death.  I just don't want to be there when it happens--Woody Allen, Annie Hall, '70s
Moynihan
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« Reply #17 on: September 16, 2008, 12:38:52 PM »
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Can you get your hands on 3 or 4 different models and makes of DSLRs?
If you can, you will be surprised to find that if you used any light meter and then set up all 3 or 4 cameras with it's input, then shot the same exact scene at the same exact time, you will get 3-4 different histograms,...[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=221783\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

Wow. That is really interesting.
I am not doubting that (i would not know, myself), but lets keep this quiet, do not want my DSLR's to get any ideas  
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