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11-15-2011, 02:46 PM   #16
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Join Date: Jun 2008
Location: Limbo, California
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When is an external light meter useful, and which?

1) A reflected-light meter, if you use a meterless camera. Duh.
2) An incident meter, in certain controlled-light situations.
3) A flash meter, if you're doing tricky flash shots.

I use a little Sekonic Auto-Lumi when I'm shooting with an ancient film cam. I put an incident-reading mask on my (inherited) Minolta Auto-Meter III and take readings when I'm in no especial hurry and want to 'taste' the light. I have no flash meter. But mostly with the K20D, I just shoot and chimp and adjust and re-shoot. I'll glance at the histogram but won't let it force me into anything.

The short answer: With a dSLR, no, we don't *need* handheld meters.

But meters are fun to play with, and can teach something about light. Light is very important. We don't capture subjects; we capture light. Using a handheld meter forces me to think more carefully about light and dark and and transitions. Read up on Zone Systems, and adjusting exposures to bring out the details and tonalities you want. The more you know about light, the better.

Last edited by RioRico; 11-15-2011 at 02:53 PM.

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