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School me about light/flash meters.

Discussion in 'Through-the-Lens Club' started by Nephilim, Apr 11, 2006.

  1. Nephilim

    Nephilim Baby Face Off Lifetime Member

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    Having recently purchased a set of studio strobes... I am under the impression that for best result I should be using a hand held flash meter.

    Using off camera metering is completely new to me.

    School me in this matter :) I have googled it and tried to read up on it... but I'd love some information that doesn't involve long explainations about calculating F-stops with a slide rule 'n stuff.
     
  2. hwyhobo

    hwyhobo

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    Back in the days when I occasionally worked in a studio, I used an earlier version of the Minolta Flash Meter. They would trigger the strobes and calculate everything. Here is a short article about them.

    Here is a pointer to one at BH PhotoVideo.
     

  3. HalfMoon

    HalfMoon

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  4. Fred

    Fred Lifetime Member Millennium Member

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    I have the same meter as HalfMoon and really like it, especially it's ability to show the percentage of flash versus ambient light. My experience has been that most meters in a given price range are failry close in functionality, and for me it boiled down to ergonomics. I found the Sekonic 358 to be very intuitive for me to use. YMMV
     
  5. spober

    spober

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    i too have a sekonic 358 my wife got me for xmas 04.I still have my GOSSEN LunaPro.im an analog guy born in 1957 so i find it easier to use.the sekonic is sweet though.
     
  6. bwphoto

    bwphoto Lifetime Member

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    Neph-

    Depends. What are you photographing? What sort of meter are you using? The meter gives you an incident reading, which will tell you how much light the strobe is throwing out. (Which kind did you end up getting, by the way?)

    Your on-camera meter operates a little differently. It averages the entire scene and tells you what your camera needs to be set at to make that scene medium-grey.

    So let's say you've got a basketball sitting on a table in regular room light. Your camera tells you that this scene alone is f8 @ 1/60. If you shoot it just like that, it'll look about like you're seeing it.

    But now you want to give the ball a shadow off the side, so you aim your strobe in the right direction. You can set your strobe to f8 and it will match the existing light, but the new direction will give that side of the ball a highlight and toss down a shadow on the other side. If you set it to 5.6, it is a little softer and won't give the ball as bright a highlight but you will probably still get some shadow on the other side.

    It is really odd to make sense of at first, since it's a little reversed from what you originally learn w/ the camera meter.

    To sum things up, the camera meter says "set me to this" and your flash says "I'll make it as bright as you want."

    The best thing would be to just do a lot of tests and take notes on each exposure so you can accurately track your lighting changes and see the final results.

    Good luck!
     
  7. krinkov

    krinkov Shutter Maniac

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    another thing to remember when using "handheld" meters is if they're capable of reading both flash and ambient lighting. i use a Sekonic L-308B meter which reads both. also important to note that you take a reading off a particular strobe with the "dome"(for "incident" readings)facing the camera lens regardless of where the strobe is actually pointed. this is just about the most accurate way to take an exposure reading for off-camera flash(even with multiple lighting set-ups.

    next would be learning about "lighting ratios". this would simply be adjusting individual strobes to throw different amounts of light on your subject for varying effects. what you would do is measure each strobe's output for the desired lighting set-up. here, use the flat diffuser on the meter's sensor to take individual readings then average the values for the best possible exposure.

    even with digital cameras, i believe a handheld meter would still be your best buddy.