How and Why to use a Flash Meter.

Hello everyone, welcome to Pixel Viilage
and I’m Radhakrishnan. In this video we’re gonna talk about a flash meter. What is
a flash meter and how to use it? When we shoot outdoors in available light
situations, we make use of the in-camera exposure meter. With the help of the
histogram, we further assess the exposure. It is true even with a TTL controlled
flash system, but when we move indoors, by moving indoors I mean, when we move into
a studio set up the scenario changes. In the studio, we usually work with a
different set of flashes, different type of flash, which are not usually TTL
flashes. You have to individually set each flash and measure it and expose it
In a studio situation, guess work may not be the right way to go about when you
decide on an exposure. Here, we have a typical Studio setup and we go there and
we set up one by one each light and demonstrate to you how a flash meter is
used and what are the advantages. So, let’s get on with the shoot. Let me
introduce to you the setup: we have three studio flashes here, they are from Godox
the QT600II, there are two soft boxes and one is with a standard
reflector and a grid on it and we have a few reflectors too. Well of
course we have a model, for a change we have a rather obedient one this time,
she’s not going to move till the end of the shoot. This is not a video on the
flash meter and its features but this is a video on how to use the flash meter
and why one should use the flash meter When we use a meter like this to meter
continuous light sunlight any kind of continuous light source, you call this a
light meter. And when we use this meter in a different menu setting to measure a
flash this will be called a flash meter Unlike the in-camera exposure meter that
reads the reflected light a flash meter reads the incident light
and gives you an exposure value which is equivalent to an 18% gray reading. Now
this dome it’s called a 3D dome which sits on top of the exposure meter,
reads the incident light and gives you a corresponding aperture value and all
you need to do, is to set that value in your camera and shoot. There is one more
way of taking reading of using this flash is by retracting this dome inside,
which means it will not take give your three-dimensional reading will give you
reading from only one direction. It will not take into consideration the
reflected light that is this this light is causing. We use this kind of reading
when you are shooting say flat surfaces, products, certain flat products for
example, but when you are shooting let’s say for example in this case our model,
rather obedient model, we keep the dome in this 3D position. Okay now like in the
camera, even in the flash meter there are three major controls, the ISO, the shutter
speed and the aperture control, which is of course an f-stop. Here in the studio
what we are interested is in finding the appropriate or an accurate aperture
value because you’ve already decided to work on a particular ISO. Shutter speed
cannot be changed because you’re going to work with the sync speed or the
synchro speed of your camera, you can’t go above that and all you need to find
is the aperture value. So let’s start with a single light setting first. Nikhil
can you come over and move these two lights and let’s work with only one
light. Okay now, we have our beautiful model. One light. This is an old meter that we had in the studio and we recently acquired a
new one the latest from Sekonic Thank You Nikhil it’s called the L858D
speed master. The advantage with the speed master is that it’s all digital
it’s got touch controls and it’s a latest from sekonic, it’s got tons of
controls on it, lots of features we will go through the features one by one in
another video, but here we will use it for measuring this simple light setup.
Like I mentioned earlier, I’ve set the ISO value 100 and I’m going to take this
flash reading. Okay, I’m gonna face this dome towards the flash and I’m gonna
take a reading here. Yes okay it’s f/11 100 ISO f/11. Now this light like I said is
giving a fill light here though it is about three four five stops under for
this light, I’m still going to switch it off so that you guys can actually see
the way the camera will see Okay Nikhil can you switch off the
working light okay so this is the kind of contrast that we have in our image so
let’s read the shadow okay Flash please. Okay it’s about just over
f/2.8 and give me the background reading fire f/4 one more f/4. Okay, so I’m going to
shoot at f/11 and see what happens and I’m going to use a Nikon D850 with a 50mm lens okay as expected
let me see it in full screen, nice the key light at f/11 has exposed the skin
properly, the shadow is is really deep and the background is gone great
exactly as expected. Now, this is where a professional commercial photographer
make use of this tool very effectively Very unlike, let’s say, a wedding
photographer or an amateur or an enthusiast or a passionate photographer,
his images are used in many, I mean, the commercial advertising photographers
images are used in almost all possible medium, besides that a commercial
photographer is actually translating art director’s or a creative person’s idea
into an image. Now, he has a set of vision, a set ideas that he has briefed before
the shoot and he wants the image to be in a particular way. Now, to achieve that
you need to measure the light you can’t really guess do a guess work. These
images needs to be like I said earlier needs to be reproduced in our possible
medium, so it has to be within a certain range of exposures, so that it can be
reproduced very comfortably everywhere From a newsprint to the best possible
printing medium. He will definitely make use of the dynamic range of the sensor
but he will keep his exposures within a certain range because all print mediums
cannot really reproduce everything that you’ve shot. Okay, so that actually calls
for another video, from an image to a print, we’ll talk about it soon. So here
11 is the key light exposed very well and you have the shadow which is just
under four but still there is some information some area is black but not
completely gone into deep rich black so I’m going to say my shadows are going to
be within three stops, of the key light. So for which
there are two things that I can do I can bring in a reflector or I can bring
another light. I’m going to bring in another light. Nikhil can you come switch
on the second light and start filling the shadow and give me a reading of f/4
we will adjust the brightness in such a way that we get an exposure value of f/4. One thing that you do be careful about taking the second flash reading is
you need to cut the dome from this light otherwise he’ll actually, you know,
complicate the reading. So I’m going to cut it I’m going to read only this.
Fire please. Okay now it is f4. Let’s take a shot. Ready. That’s my second image the
shadow is filled to my satisfaction. Now let’s look at both the images together
So this is the histogram of the 1st image which lots of contrast you can see
the black closer to zero value and here you can see the black slightly shifted
opened up and now I know that my shadow area is well within the range that I
wanted to. It’ll get a little more complicated when I add a third light in
this case I’m going to add a rim light ok Nikhil can you bring in the rim light
ok switch it on. Nice now for that rim light to be a rim light, it has to be
brighter than my key light. Which means I need to meter it and make sure that it
is not more than one-and-a-half – 2 stops of my key light or my camera exposure
setting. So I’m going to take a reading here, I’m going to cut this from all
other lights, I’m going to read only this light. Ok fire. Okay I you need to
increase the power little, go up ok fire again
okay. This is now one-and-a-half stop over. Let’s take a shot when I say
one-and-a-half stop over, it means my key light is f/11
my fill light is f/4 and that is f/16 and half Okay. If you look at the histogram,
nothing is getting overexposed, right? Let’s try and increase the rim light a
little more. Can you increase it by let’s say one stop one more stop? Okay, fire no
it’s too much bring it down, fire again Okay now I have f/22 I’m gonna over expose
the highlights by two stops. Okay we still have information on the skin and
in the highlight area, I still have enough information. if I move my cursor
around I can see the position where the highlight is, which is somewhere here
which is well within the 255 limits Let’s try and push it up by a little
more. Okay Nikhil increase it a little more. Fire, yes f/32. Okay the lights
please. Okay I am looking at the final image, I have not touched the key light
and the fill light. I am interested now in the highlight. Highlight, here at this
point is very close to the 255. Now imagine a condition where I am NOT
metering it, I am going by my eye I’m going by what I am seeing either on the
screen or on the LCD monitor and I am going only by the histogram okay. What
will have happened is that by the time this image goes through first a
processing, second and image retouching and then a digital pre-press processing
and before by the time it reaches a print station, you will have lost
information in the highlight. It would have gone completely cut out. So if you
know where it’s going to be printed, you can select an appropriate proportions
for this exposure, because as a pro photographer, like I said your duty is to
translate someone else’s idea into print or onto a screen and for which you need
to understand and record all the levels in a particular proportion. If you have a
meter, you will be able to do it perfectly well. You can choose the working
aperture, you can choose what the shadow is going to be and you can select what the
highlights going to be. So, if you go back and look at all three images alongside,
you can see the difference. Before you actually get into the shoot itself you
can decide where you want to expose what should be the shadow and what should be
the highlight. If you don’t have a meter you will only keep guessing and putting
a lot of people into a lot of stress. So do you really need a flash meter? I have
this friend who is a very good photographer always wanted to break into
this Pro commercial photographer league He’s really capable he has some of the
best equipment that money can buy. I keep seeing his pictures and I see that he
would become technically perfect if he started metering his image as well. So I
recommended that he should get a flash meter at the earliest opportunity. Note
that a flash meter is a gateway to becoming a professional commercial
photographer, but will bring in certain work discipline that is required to be
qualified in that league I’m not patronizing anyone, here I’m
trying to explain the kind of effort that I’ve took on my way to becoming a
commercial advertising photographer. I met this friend again after six-seven
months I asked him did you buy a flash meter, he showed me his new bike and said
I bought this of course the flash meter doesn’t cost so much, but still he opted
for a bike instead of a flash meter. Now the question is again do you need a
flash meter and you want to get the exact exposure values then this is the
way to go. To the rest there is a motorbike waiting. Bye for now

100 thoughts on “How and Why to use a Flash Meter.

  1. Sir How Much Experience do you Have???? Amazing बहुत अछी जानकारी दे रहे हो.. Thank You..

  2. Sir this video is useful for professional & commercial photographers . pls cover your vast majority of viewers also who lack such equipments & accessories. Give some tips on wildlife & street photography also. Although youtube has all sorts of tutorials on almost every issue. I like your tutorials as they are informative & useful.

  3. Do you need a flash meter? Well the question should be do you need eyes to see? Flash meter is a photographer's eye by which they starts capturing the world as per their visualization. Informative video for those who struggle why their images do not have that punch as compared to selected few whom they idealize.

  4. Useful video!. By the way, which camera did you use to record this video? Skin tone looks very awesome.

  5. Thank You very much sir… for sharing your Knowledge and also most thankfull to the way you are explaining
    sir Please plan to make video about our indian wedding photography, equipment & Lighting setups used in different situations will be most helpfull to us…

  6. Sir , i am your big fan from kerala . I whatch your videos consistently at any time as i love photography well .

  7. Can you tell me how this will be useful in wedding events? One cannot go on metering different situation and lighting condition specially in case of candid shots? Throw some light on this please

  8. Hi sir can u help me, why does my photos sometimes come out underexposed or overexposed, i dont know how to use light meter inside the dslr ? And how to read histogram…

  9. Is it all your work in portrait photography? Nothing about landscape, cityscape or else?
    Thanks for sharing your knowledge sir.

  10. Nice video sir, on app store there are few light meter apps does they give same value like professional light meters can you please check that apps or make a video on that apps with the professional light meters, thanks in advance 🙂

  11. That explains a lot in detail at least for an amateur like me. This is the eye of a photographer. Really informative ! Thanks Pixel village , this is really an eye opener. Keep going !

  12. Hello sir, आदाब, आप की वीडियो मुझे बहुत पसंद आती हैं आपका समझाने का तरीका बहुत अच्छा है । अंग्रजी ना आने पर भी मैं कुछ हत तक समझ लेता हूं ।
    Thanks Sir
    मौला आपको सलामत रखें

  13. Guruji, Simplest explanation by you is a true testimony of how much command and control you possess. You make light obey as you want. I am following your lessons. Thanks.

  14. Every time I need something, You create a video on this exact matter at the same week 🙂 Amazing sir!

  15. Excellent ! For a long time, i haven't find any experts in Nikon like you. Your products are very informative and useful. I have difficulty in filmming because nikon's focus on filming quite bad . Hope someday you will make tutorial making film with Nikon <3 .

  16. Grazie per i tuoi video sono molto educativi, spero tanto di vedere anche un video outdoor con il sole. Un saluto dal Italia

  17. Such great advice! I bought two light meters that I walked around with before I ever got a DSLR, and still have more meters (3) than camera bodies (2).

    When you meter, and therefore know, the ratios between lights and shadows you can begin to collect recipes and then accurately REPEAT them again in the future. It sure beats guessing all over again each and every time.

    I know so many people that want to just look at their LCD screen or tethered screen and then just guess their way to a pleasing picture. What I say is this, lighting ratios do EXIST whether you want to acknowledge their existence or not. It is like gravity. You may not want to acknowledge gravity, but it DOES exist. If you do not think so then just…. jump. And then see what happens.

    So with lighting ratios, they always exist. Why not then make use of instruments to record those ratios so that you know what they are? Why not? They are there. Record them so that you can repeat them.

    Oh, well. Some people are just not interested, I guess.

    If you ever want to send your "old" 758 meter to a good home…. I know an address. 🙂

  18. I have used a meter for 6 years now and it is helpful just to get the understanding of how much light is coming from a certain direction. If you got reflectors which can't be moved, it gives by time a better view of the situation and what to do. Learning by doing is the only way to get the tech in place. Then, you can focus on the real work – the photo.

  19. Really informative…. Big Fan of your Photography….. Please Make a video on film Making with DX Body like D5300 …i am Nikon User and m always facing problem with noise of Focus ring…. Can we Solve it ?

  20. Thank a lot for unreeling the mystery behind this small wonder gadget.
    Have always wondered and was behind to know more about this gadget,
    searching online, but, happy now I am to come across the right content
    which explains what I just needed. Thanks again.
    Eagerly awaiting the next video on features.

    Will have one for the next Wedding Season (August).
    Motorbikes mean nothing for a passionate shooter 😎

  21. Hello sir , i become your fan after watching&listerning your video(about how focal length affects a portrait with diffrent types of lenses…you looks beautiful & seems high experience in photography field..all the best..and please join in "gurushots" (please download it from playstore ) its a great place for photography&fun…also i have to ask a question that ,i am hoping to buy a little camera"sony dsc h400v" is that good for non professional use?? i compared a lot of other bridge&dslr cameras with h400v but…others are too expensive+zoom lens price extra…but the only problem i found in h400v is there no manual focus…iso&shutter speed is enough…i like nature photography it good sir ???

  22. Hello Sir, I've been watching your tutorials for a while. Can you please make a video on Sony Alpha68. Thanking in advance.

  23. Hello sir, while reading the histogram you mentioned a statement " well it's between the 255 limits".. what limits are you referring too…& The while guiding your companion you used words like I'll increase the light by 1.5 stops… I didn't understand it well… it'll be great if you answer it….

  24. A gift is always well accepted.But I am not very lucky and I am not good in write honey words.You already give me a gift with your videos and convincing me to get the AD600PRO and Nikon D850.Watching the videos I saw some gears in the studio like the P90H so I bought that too with no reviews but knowing You have good gears.I wait next lesson more than a gift.I am not Indian Kabir Bedi is my childhood pirate hero.

  25. I am a wedding photographer i want to buy sekonic L308DC is it useful for me for photo & Video? Or you suggest else for beginner at low price and good result

  26. I bought a basic light meter. It helps a lot. I really liked your work discipline phrase. Accomplishing something is not that important, what holds more importance is how you do it, your approach.
    There is so much to learn and learned individuals like you who are ready to share their knowledge and experiences are a blessing.

  27. When are you going to go through the features of the Sekonic L-858D meter? You said in this video that you planned to do so. Thanks.

  28. Than you, very useful. Question; with what power setting do you begin on you flashes/strobes. Full, half, etc.? Thanks again,

  29. Really great video; information presented was clear, production value was high and presentation was enjoyable to watch! .. thank you. 🙂

  30. The good news for me, thanks to this gentleman, is it looks like I only need to trigger one flash at a time with my old flash meter !

  31. Hi do you know if i have to do an updated for my Sekonic L-858D-U ,i was trying with the usb cable but doesn't show me nothing on the computer screen,or maybe my usb cable is not good ? Thanks

  32. Fantastic sir, I had been waiting for years for this kind of well narrated video about using Flash meters, and practically showing how it is used in a studio. Thanks a ton.

  33. Great explanation. The only thing that I'm confused about or at least believe is if your using a different flash (higher or lower strength) won't the readings be off? I'm using a Godox 600TTL and 685 model. I'm assuming the 600 puts out more power. As such Ill need to make adjustments a little differently?

  34. I have the same meter you used, except with the -U at the end, and it has been sitting unused because I have no idea how to use it. This is the first video that offers some insight into it, so thank you.

  35. Hello from land of Yousuf Karsh -Canada. I must compliment on you making these video tutorials, you are indeed a natural teacher and very talented, I admire how you are able to remove the chaff from real stuff. Do you have a photography school ? Anyway you have earned my subscription in no time , look forward to more interesting tutorials.
    I do have a naive question.
    In your given scenario if ISO and Shutter Speed are constant (and so is the distance of Key /Fill light) and if your Key light gives you F11 for proper exposure, then for Fill if the reading is F5.6 ….you have basically opened the aperture 2 stops, which means 4 times more light is being allowed, then wont the Fill side be now overexposed. What am I missing and misunderstanding ? God Bless….Thank You

  36. If you use multiple lights in your portraits then learn to meter and understand the effect each light has on the subject with a light meter. Before your subject even sits for a portrait you can nail the exposure and look you are looking for and you and your subject will be stress free….no fiddling back and forth as you adjust your lights. The only thing I disagree with is the exposure for the accent or kicker light. A light coming from behind the subject is always brighter than the light towards the subject and the great Frank Crichio ( I'm old school) suggested that the exposure for that light be the same as the fill light. Too often I see the kicker light way too bright.

  37. "Food for your thought" how about making a video for wedding/ceremonial functions using umbrella/soft box with the ideal reading for small/medium/large size halls.

  38. Very well done & wonderful INFO – Thank you ; Just one thing can you send my Girlfriend back home with $300 -AUD in her pocket for all the time she was standing there ! > Wink-wink …

  39. Very informative Rad, I use a flash meter but have not been doing it correctly, I have learned the correct way from you.
    Many thank's Tony Leurs.

  40. I've sekonic L758 cine. How can I add wireless trigger module for indian softbox? Where should I purchase that item?

  41. What if some one wants use flash but at the same he want blur the background but the flash meter showing f5.6 in this aperture is not possible to make background blur,then how ?? And what to do? Please reply

  42. All videos are Superb.

    A small Suggestion,
    the second camera (Angle) is disturbing from main thing in your videos, I think the main camera is enough

  43. I was wondering if there is a flash meter that can trigger Godox flashes? I guess you remove the transmitter from the camera and use that until you set up. Can you do an episode on affordable meters that are good quality?

  44. The exposure effects the different skin colours right? Then will it be okay getting exposure from light meter will that be correct for different skin colours ?

  45. I imagine you could also use the light meter to set the key light to what ever aperture you desire? Instead of setting the camera aperture to the first flash burst.

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