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which light meter

Discussion in 'The Lounge' started by Raz, Sep 11, 2000.

  1. Raz

    Raz Well-Known Member

    im buying a new medium format get up.. without a meterd prism.. i had one before but it was so inacurate.. i got really fed up having to carry around my heavy nikon gear just for a meter.
    i dont have much money and need somthing that can do ambiant flash with and without a sync.. and most desperately a spot meter.. id love the sekonic l-508 but its just to much money.
    also can someone elaborate on the grey card technique for spot metering as im never sure what i should read of for an average. mainly i do beaches and water.. so theres no grass and i not sure where abouts sands and grey rocks come in the % of things. my recent slides have nearly completely burnt out highlights even though i used ND grads.
    someone help?

    always looking for new work
    <A HREF="http://www.angelfire.com/on/aroof">http://www.angelfire.com/on/aroof</A>
  2. David Stout

    David Stout Well-Known Member

    I use a Gossen Variosix F and have a spot attachment though I rarely use it. I tend to use incident light metering for both outdoor and studio work with flash. I can understand pointing a TTL SLR at a grey card to get it to meter correctly in scenes where the built-in metering might get it wrong e.g. snow and sand etc. but one of the biggest advantages of a hand-held meter (to me anyway) is the ability to use incident light readings which removes the need to either identify a representative mid-tone or even get near to the subject to get an accurate reflectance reading (hence the need for spot measurements) assuming that the same level of light is falling on the meter as on the subject.

    IMHO, about the only time you would need to take spot readings would be for assessing the highlight and shadow areas when fine-tuning exposure for use with the zone system.

    However, coming back to your original question, I have been very impressed with my Variosix F in terms of accuracy, robustness, reliability, ease-of-use, functionality and simple-to-read display.

    David R Stout
  3. tonymidd

    tonymidd Well-Known Member

    Which meter you use depends upon what you are doing. For trannies I use the SekonicL-308B-2 Very versatile and accurate, Incedent or reflective readings for F stop or EV, flash with or with out a cord good value at about £140.
    For B/W medium format try the Capital spot meter from Warners of wolverhampton, If you want details of how to use it with the zone system look on my site, www.tonymiddphoto.co.uk.
  4. Steve Lewis

    Steve Lewis Member

    I moved up to MF for my landscape photography last year and it's only now that I feel I'm really getting to grips with a hand held meter. I looked at various meters, including the Capitol meter from Warners. At £150 or so it seemed good value. However, I was so impressed when I tried one in the shop that I gritted my teeth and bought the Sekonic L508. It has those little extras which seem to be gimmicks but turn out to be invaluable in the field. Apart from all it's technical features, it's waterproof and the illuminated display is great at dawn and dusk.
    As for actual use, there really is no substitute for practice. I spent ages trying to find a book on the subject which gave real life examples and not a load of technical mumbo jumbo. "Personnal Views" by Lee Frost has some good stuff. It would be nice if along with the actual technical details, photographs in books and magazines came with the details of where the photographer has metered from and how. I keep a note book and this has been invaluable in allowing me to spot mistakes.
    From your e-mail, it sounds like you have taken a reading off too dark a subject. It's more difficult to write down how you go about metering than to actually do it but if I'm on a beach and it's an overcast day, I will take an ambient reading with the meter pointed back at the camera. If the lighting is better, I will try to spot meter a grey rock or a sandstone rock. These tend to be a little light so I then add 1/2 a stop. Failing this, I take a spot reading off my hand and add 1/2 a stop. This is over simplified of course, but it's a good starting point. I use Fuji Provia rated at 100 ASA and bracket my exposures.
    Keep a note book, bracket exposures and PRACTICE. It has taken me 15 months but I feel I've now got to grips with the system.
    Hope this helps.
  5. Raz

    Raz Well-Known Member

    thankyou very much for your advice. could you elaborate on useing a handhold meter to shoot a landscape? surely i cant just hold it where the lens is as the light in the scene could be many stops diffrent between.. e.g a shadowed cliff then the beach and rocks in a warm evening light but the sky being still quite bright?
    thanks again

    always looking for new work
    <A HREF="http://www.angelfire.com/on/aroof">http://www.angelfire.com/on/aroof</A>
  6. Steve Lewis

    Steve Lewis Member


    You need to take a reading using the light your after for your exposure. Standing in shadow and taking an ambient reading will give you a reading for the shadow area, which is fine if it’s the shadowed part of the photo you are after. If it’s the rocks in the warm evening sun you are after, you need to meter from these. This means taking an ambient reading in the same light that is striking the rocks or taking a spot reading off the rocks themselves.

    I have found that when taking an ambient reading, direct sunlight or a bright sky on the meter can give you a false reading. I am fairly new to hand held meters and may be doing something wrong but this is the main reason I use spot readings in strong lighting and only use ambient readings in shadowed or overcast conditions.

    If I want to bring the sky’s exposure value within the latitude of the film, I use graduated neutral density filters. Using slide film means that I use ND filters a lot because the latitude of the film is quite narrow.

    Sorry about the long reply, but it’s not easy putting down in words something that in reality only takes a few seconds and I’m still leaning the ins and outs of hand held meters myself. Hope this helped.


  7. tonymidd

    tonymidd Well-Known Member

    I realise that my previous reply was not full enough. Any meter integrates to 18% grey, fine for colour but not for mono. For colour I prefere to take incedent light readings, especially for trannies. Mono is a totally different ball game. A 1 degree spot meter is the only way if you want consitent negatives and that only works after you have calibrated your meter, camera and processing. Look on my site, www.tonymiddphoto.co.uk, for details of the tests, it will take you no more than two rolls of film and a mornings work but will save you pounds and stop you continually experimenting!
  8. Tref

    Tref Member

    My personal preferences are for the Sekonic 308 (studio) or Gossen LunaPro (anywhere else).

    The LunaPro is simply the most responsive meter i have come across in low light situations, quite up to dark alleyways and exposures of 15min with accuracy. For seascapes, I tend to take the traditional 18% GrassCard <vbg> reading (shading over the top of the meter as for flare) and a reading of the horizon and then average the two, possibly bracketing when unsure. I can see where the spot-on-the-focal-point idea is coming from, but i tend to regard spots as being more relevant to fine monochrome, long tele's and work where absoloute contrast control is required. In all cases it goes without saying that the meter doesn't know what filters you have in front of your lens...
  9. David Stout

    David Stout Well-Known Member

    The Variosix F allows you to take a reading with/without the filter over the sensor and thus work out a correction factor which may then be applied to any subsequent meter reading.


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