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01-22-2020, 08:30 AM   #1
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Novice Light Meter Musings Cont'd (when using Live view )

As I had mentioned in an earlier post I tried my friends Sekonic 508 for the first time and it was a great experience. Today we went out and used the light meter while being setup for a scene just using live view. With the camera set up in live view , I could leave it alone take reflective spot measurements and have the meter average them and set up the camera based on that average. While it did not give me the exact exposure I wanted every time it was a lot less trial and error than just using the histogram on the back of the camera.

My friend used a hunting analogy to explain the difference between using the camera's internal meter vs a hand held meter. He claims that using the dslr's meter is like holding a rifle with a very good scope to use a range finder to judge the distance to the target. He states that using a purpose built range finder does the same job, much like a light meter , however, it is faster to use and you don't have to touch the rifle/camera to get the readings.

I have to say in practice I tend to agree with him. Setting the camera up for the composition you want and using the meter to get you in the ball park is very handy. I also tried exposing for the highlights and shadows using the meter and taking 2 exposures for a sort of HDR image and that worked out well .

The light meter is still teaching me the exposure triangle, much like my camera does in manual, those lessons are always welcome.

Mike

01-22-2020, 09:22 AM   #2
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Keep at it, there’s no substitute for knowing the essentials! In time you’ll understand why we use the histogram (when there’s time...) to give an image ready for much post-processing from raw, but learn how to get a good exposure straight off first.
01-22-2020, 09:55 AM   #3
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Some thoughts for the journey:

1) Camera's matrix mode: This setting of the camera's meter has the highest likelihood of getting good exposure settings under a wide range of shooting conditions. However, the complexity of the algorithms the camera uses make it horrible for trying to learn anything.

2) Camera's center-weighted mode: This setting of the camera's meter is closest to what a standalone reflectance light meter produces. The advantage of the camera's meter is that: 1) a glance through the viewfinder provides a good idea of which light and dark areas of the world are being metered; 2) changing lenses automatically changes the area measured by the meter; 3) the meter corrects for the effects of lens filters and the transmittance of the glass.

3) Camera's spot-mode: This setting is the most instructive for: 1) understanding the range of whites, grays, and blacks in a scene; 2) thinking about zones; 3) intentionally exposing for highlights and shadows.

4) Incident light metering: This is where a standalone meter can beat the pants off the in-camera meter. The big failing of the in-camera meter is that the camera meter conflates light level and subject reflectance. A black cat at high noon reflects the same amount of light as white snow at dusk and the camera's meter can't tell the difference. In contrast, an incident meter measures the light and that means that tonalities in the image match the reflectances of the subjects -- black cats are black and white snow is white regardless of whether it is noon or dusk. (Note: you can get special "filters" that go on the end of your lens to take incident readings with the camera's meter but it's a bit of a workflow hassle to put on the filter, take the reading, remove the filter, and then compose and shoot the image. )

5) One giant advantage of digital is that the images are practically free and you immediately check the results. You can spotmeter an object in the scene, take shot, spotmeter another object in the scene, take shot, and do this a dozen times to see how metering different objects creates different images.

6) One challenge for learning about this stuff on modern digital cameras is that the learner is fighting the camera's automagical features that try to force a "good" exposure setting (that's way matrix metering sucks for learning about light metering). And even with a manual setting entered using a standalone light meter, there's still the problem of the camera trying to produce a "good" JPG from the RAW data. Shooting RAW helps although the thumbnail for a RAW file is typically the automagical product of the JPEG engine.


Have fun!!
01-22-2020, 02:46 PM   #4
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The histogram on the camera has no relationship to the way the Sekonic observes the scene (especially a 1 degree spot!), or the way you have 'swept' the scene with it, where experience very much determines the outcome.

Traditionally with a spot meter, one meters a bright area, but not the brightest, then a neutral area (but neither black nor white; often termed the 'middle' grey or infamously displaced "18 grey", for all Sekonics are not even calibrated to 18% grey!) then lastly, a dark area, but again, not the darkest part of the scene. The meter is then made to average these measurements (the next trick is just how it averages!), with shifts input to account for changes in light (which your camera's meter will track, but not the Sekonic!) and any basal exposure shift (plus or minus), usually based on a lot of experience. A filter factor must also be entered into the Sekonic e.g. when using a polariser, the reading must be adjusted somewhere around +1.5 to +2.0 -- again, a shift that is reached through experience.

That said and done, your camera's matrix/evaluative meter will do a stirling job, which makes the Sekonic redundant unless you are getting down and dirty with profiling -- a deep-diving diversion which I view as quite silly in the broader scheme of things. Matrix/evalutive/multipattern meters do not see the scene in the same vein as a narrow-angle spot meter with is used to discern extremely small areas of difference in luminance and tone, while the camera meter operates on a much larger and complex scale, and is faster to boot. I agree it is an interesting experiment to use a spot meter parallel to a camera's own meter(s), but conclusions should not be drawn without intensive trial and error experience.

01-22-2020, 05:11 PM   #5
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It’s a hobby for me Street I am not performing open heart surgery without a license, if you get my meaning.

Mike
01-22-2020, 07:30 PM   #6
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Incident reading for sure, way better, and you should be able to take into consideration the lowlight to highlight measurement if you can walk around in it. Other option is spot. Hand held exposure meters in my book are a must.
I've never liked the in camera matrix for difficult lighting, centre weighted is better, hand held incident being optimal.
01-22-2020, 07:35 PM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by rml63 Quote
Itís a hobby for me Street I am not performing open heart surgery without a license, if you get my meaning.

Mike
No problem!

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