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03-11-2010, 08:10 AM   #1
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Light meters

Talk to me about handheld light meters...pros/cons...should I consider getting one if I'm primarily interested in NON studio photography? How much would I expect to pay for one that isn't 'top of the line' but very adequate for the hobbyist?

03-11-2010, 08:39 AM   #2
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Whether you need one or not, I really can't address. However, as for one that would be adaquate - here is a good one.

L358 Sekonic L-358 Flash Master, Digital Incident & Reflected Flash & Ambient Light Meter with Transmitter Module

These are typically the student model.
03-11-2010, 09:24 AM   #3
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why for?

Just out of curiosity, WHY a handheld meter? I'm not opposed to them -- I have an old Sekonic Auto-Lumi with me at all times, because I also have an old Zeiss Ikonta 6x6 with me at all times, and often assorted other folders and meterless cams. I even have an inherited large super-duper Minolta Auto-Meter III in my bag, which I promise myself to use Real Soon Now for both direct and indirect metering. I'm happy I didn't have to justify spending $$$ on a new meter. Are you using old cameras, or just interested in measuring light, tasting and feeling and savouring its qualities?
03-11-2010, 09:32 AM   #4
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There are several semi-vintage light meters available at reasonable cost (i.e. cheap) - while many brands will do the job, the big two are Sekonic and Gossen. When considering an older meter check that it uses a battery that is still available.

I'm assuming you don't need a flash metering capability?

The good meters usually have an incident as well as reflected metering ability. For incident, you put the meter, facing the camera, in the spot you want to meter, or a similarily lit spot. Reflected, you point to where you want, taking to account the meter sees a neutral grey.

If your camera has a meter, you can do the same reflected thing with it - get close to what you want to meter... or use the spot metering function, if there is one.

03-11-2010, 10:16 AM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by RioRico Quote
Just out of curiosity, WHY a handheld meter? I'm not opposed to them -- I have an old Sekonic Auto-Lumi with me at all times, because I also have an old Zeiss Ikonta 6x6 with me at all times, and often assorted other folders and meterless cams. I even have an inherited large super-duper Minolta Auto-Meter III in my bag, which I promise myself to use Real Soon Now for both direct and indirect metering. I'm happy I didn't have to justify spending $$$ on a new meter. Are you using old cameras, or just interested in measuring light, tasting and feeling and savouring its qualities?
I'm just interested in them in general.
03-11-2010, 12:12 PM   #6
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Personally, I don't have a need for one - yet. My daughter is in school studying photography and uses the one I provided the link to in her school work indoors and outdoors. In most cases she is controlling the lighting via lights or reflectors etc. I think for what I recall is your interests a meter is well down the list of things to have and to carry.

I'm not against having one either. I used to use one in my early 35mm range finder days and even with my old film slrs. I just would get more info from a meter than my then in use cameras would provide. For now with my interests in a lot of outdoor photography, I just haven't gotten to the point where I have to have it. Indoors with lighting/flash, yep it would be an essential tool.
03-11-2010, 12:40 PM   #7
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IMHO, for amateurs, light meters have very limited usefulness. In most cases, you can just use the camera's metering, then instantly check the histogram and adjust the exposure if needed. If your camera has live-view, you can check the histogram before actually shooting.

If you want to know the dynamic range of a scene, you can use the camera's spot metering. It's not as good as having a 1 degree light meter, but good enough for practical use.

I have 5 or 6 light meters, among them a Pentax 1 degree spot meter and a Minolta Auto Meter IV F with 5 degree viewfinder. I use them to teach my son about exposure/dynamic range. I also use the Minolta to calibrate old flash guns that I repair. But I don't use them for shooting.

They are sure fun to play with. So if you find them cheap, get them (I just sold my Vivitar 230 LX for $20).

For outdoors, in particular landscape, many times you can't measure incident light so you have to settle for reflected light. A 1 degree meter is best. I paid $50 for my Pentax spot meter.
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