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Old Aug 7, 2005, 3:45 AM   #1
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Folks, my teacher of photography said one thing a photography must have apart from good lenses is an externallight meter. Why, is it that important to have a light meter? I suppose most camera have a sort of in-built lightmeter, is that not sufficient? Suppose you were doing photography in a studio would you need a light meter. And what type of lightmeter is standard, I mean in its functions. What would you need to as necessary in a light meter.

Will appreciate your responses.

Kind regards.
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Old Aug 7, 2005, 10:01 AM   #2
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You are correct that a hand-held lightmeter has overlapping functionality with the in-camera light meter.

Note, this write up is based more on logic than first hand experience. If someone out there has used them and knows more please add or correct my statements.

There are reasons to use the hand-held, but its very dependent on what type of photography you're doing.

There are two types of light meters. One measures the light directly, one measures the light as it reflects off of things. (They probably have specific names so you can tell them apart in a box, but I don't know it.)

All in-camera meters are of the reflected type. The light strikes the target, reflects off it and bounces back to the camera where it measures it. This type works well because you can stand any where and just point at your subject. They have problems because you're getting more light than just from the subject. These work better outdoors as you can't walk across the water to measure the light on the lillypad & frog, or the landscape.

The ones that measure direct you have to put it up directly by/in front of the subject and it measure the direct light. This is nice because it measures the exact situation and light you want. And nothing else. For studio this would work very well. Set up the lighting and the subject, and put the meter directly in front of them and measure.

Now, as to if you need one. I know some people who swear by them, and others who say they aren't necessary. I don't know who is right. I can say on the higher end cameras the light meters are very advanced multi-segment/matrix metering systems. They can work very well (and are very fast to use.) But if you were in a studio with very controlled lighting conditions, a light meter might be a good way to go.

A really good, very accurate light meter is quite expensive. Easily $100USD or more. So its clear that the ones in all but the highest end DSLR doesn't have a meter that good. That still doesn't say you need one that good, only that the ones in the lower end cameras aren't as good... see what I mean?

That doesn't really answer your questions, but hopefully it helps.

Eric
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Old Aug 7, 2005, 8:57 PM   #3
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To add a little something to that:
I believe a lot of the ultra expensive medium format cameras don't have built in lightmeters at all, on the grounds the people using them wouldn't even consider using anything but another few thousand worth of external equipment to get things perfect.
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Old Aug 7, 2005, 9:56 PM   #4
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Hand held meters have been around forever, and a lot of pros that shoot digital and/or film still use them.
Your camera has a reflected light meter, so called because it measures the light reflected off of the scene in front of it.
Incident light meters measure the direct light falling on the meter. Many photographers use an incident meter to compliment the their built-in meters. Incident meters are not subject to being fooled into over-compensating for things like bright reflections since they don't measure reflections. They can give very accurate results as long as the subject is in the same kind of light as is falling on the meter.
Most incident meters can also measure reflected light and more expensive ones can measure light from flash units also.
Why the big deal about exposure when we have tools like Photoshop to "fix" too bright or too dark images? No software can add image detail where none exists. If you blow out the highlights through overexposure or register only pure black in the shadows of underexposed images, there is no information for the software to work with. That is why getting the exposure right -- or as right as possible -- is still vitally important and why hand-held lightmeters are still selling.
Grant
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Old Aug 11, 2005, 1:33 AM   #5
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Eric,

Very imformative details about the lightmeter and how this facility functions. I have heard and read about the gray card that is used as a sort of light meter. How good is this one? Anyone with input will be appreciated. Just the general details.

Kind regards.
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Old Aug 11, 2005, 1:35 AM   #6
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MrPogo,

That is a good one. Like eric said, some would swear by it others would not but it seems to me its overall place in photography is significant, which is what you underline.

Thanks.


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Old Aug 11, 2005, 1:50 AM   #7
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granthagen wrote:
Quote:
"...Why the big deal about exposure when we have tools like Photoshop to "fix" too bright or too dark images? No software can add image detail where none exists. If you blow out the highlights through overexposure or register only pure black in the shadows of underexposed images, there is no information for the software to work with. That is why getting the exposure right -- or as right as possible -- is still vitally important and why hand-held lightmeters are still selling."
Grant
That is important to note. Sometimes there is the temptation to think that photoshop will do all the tricks. The man/woman behind the camera has simply to get it right assisted by intruments like the light meter.

I have been thinking about the Gossen Digipro F at B&H. It is pricy but seems worthwhile. This is what it can do:

¤ Incident light

¤ Reflected light

¤ Contrast measurements

¤ Flash metering (cord or noncord) with indication of the share of the ambient light

¤ Multiple flash calculation

¤ Pre-programming of exposure corrections



Anyone laid a hand on this one or something similar. More discussion on the gray card.:?

Thanks.

An


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Old Aug 11, 2005, 2:13 AM   #8
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The Gossen Digipro F is a good meter.
It lacks the spot metering capabilty of meters like the 'Konica Minolta Flash Meter 6' and 'Sekonic L-558R', but they cost much more that the Gossen.

Peter.
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Old Aug 11, 2005, 4:38 AM   #9
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The gray card is just a tool to help a meter get a solid reading under unusual lighting conditions. The meter reads the light reflecting off of the neutral gray card instead of off the subject directly.
A gray, or sometimes a white card (depending on how your camera is set up) can also be used to set a camera's white balance under unusual lighting conditions.
Grant
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Old Aug 13, 2005, 1:37 AM   #10
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I haveread about the gray card. As you point out to be used in unsual circumstance to take the light meter reading. Say with the 350D, following the instructions in the manual, shoot the graycard in the same light as the subject of interest and calibrate this into the camera and then use it as the WB for that particular shot. It seem to me that in event that want to shot another picture, I need to repeat the procedure? Am I right?

Kind regards.

Patrick.
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