Why Use a Light Meter?

Why use a light meter? Out of the gate a dedicated handheld meter
is more accurate than what’s built into your camera. A light meter can even read exposure with
flash. Something no camera can do on its own. Light meters are fast. Saving you time over digital guess and check
methods for proper exposure. Light meters help improve your photographic
technique. Once you have a good sense of how exposure
works, a light meter can help you actualize the image that’s in your head. Unlike internal light meters found in most
cameras, dedicated units allow the user to program their desired shutter speed, aperture
value and ISO setting. The photographer is able to prioritize two
of these variables with third accurately recommended by the meter. These calculations are performed using specialized
measures of reflected or incident light. With reflected metering, illumination bounces
off of the subject and scene and is interpreted from the position of the camera. Landscape and architectural photographers
take readings from the corners and center of the scene, then finalize exposure settings
based on an average. With long exposure work or other applications
that don’t play well with exposure preview. This can produce incredible imagery in a fraction
of the time of digital guess and check. Alright, so I’m going to use reflective
metering to figure out what my shutter speed needs to be. I’ve already selected, ISO 500 as my light
sensitivity. I’m going to shoot everything here at f8
to keep my foreground and background nice and sharp. I’m going to meter from each corner and
the center to get a nice average for the exposure. So, for our shots on the street, we knew we
were going to do ISO 500. I knew I wanted this at f8. Meter was telling us a 1/125th a second. And I’d say, that’s about right. This is a really even, nice neutral exposure. If we want to, we can work with a little bit
in post. No problem. But, bang! Right out of the camera we got proper exposure. We did another option, where we tried something
at a slower exposure. Kept ISO 500, stopped the lens down to f32
and the meter was coming back at about a 1/10th of a second. I was able to hand hold that. Let us create some interesting motion blur. Give a little bit more drama to the shot. Incident metering, probably the most common
mode for studio work is performed at the precise location where the light and subject meet. When photographing a person in a studio or other
controlled light setting, the meter should be placed closest to the subject where proper
exposure is most critical. If the meter has a lumisphere, it should be
properly positioned for incident metering. Whether you use constant lighting or strobes,
incident metering offers a highly accurate, time-saving way to get the right exposure
every time. One of the things that I know, in the studio
I want to make these crisp portraits with Crystal, thank you Crystal for being here. Things I know, like I already know like limitation
of my camera. This camera only syncs at 125th a second. It’s the fastest it goes. To make this is as crisp as possible, I want
to sync there. So that variable is already out. I think I’m going to shoot this it about ISO
500. So, I’m going to use the meter to figure
out what the best aperture is going to be for this setup. So, we’re doing incident metering and how
that works is the incident meter reading is made at the precise location where light and
the subject meet. So, I’m going to flip over the lumisphere
here. Because I don’t want to use the reflector. I’m going to come up to the subject, make
sure that my shutter speed is in the right spot So, I’m setting the time value here or shutter
speed to 125th of a second. I’m doing that because that’s the maximum
sync speed that my camera will do with a strobe or a flash. Then I know I’m going to be at ISO 500. So, the meter is going to help me fill in
what the f-stop should be. I’m bringing this right to Crystal. So, this is coming back at about f4. So, I’m going to stop my lens down to f4 and
then we’ll make our first shot. Now while we have mostly discussed the ways
a handheld light meter can benefit still photography, they are also invaluable tools for filmmakers
and moving image artists. Models like the Sekonic L-308X-U Flashmate,
invite the cinematographer to select shutter speed or shutter angle and have aperture or
ISO recommended. More advanced meters like the
Sekonic Speedmaster L-858D-U. Offer additional functions like internal memory
for repeat set ups, spot metering and high-speed sync support. For more light meters, photography and all
things imaging visit B&H. And if you liked our video, please click and
subscribe! I’m photographer David Flores, see you next

22 thoughts on “Why Use a Light Meter?

  1. Honestly. With digital. Just shoot a couple of pictures to dial it in.

    No need to worry about light meters imho since "lost" shots don't cost anything anymore

  2. Good to see this video. Several years ago I purchased a camera that didn't have a light meter. I got a Sekonic L-758DR and soon learned how liberating a light meter is and how much control it offers. These days, I'm shooting a fair amount of video and I'm amazed at the number of people shooting video who have no idea what a light meter can do for them.

  3. I shoot primarily Rolleiflex TLRs with very slow film. I meter in my head, and the exposure is always good. At 40+ years of doing this, I have no need for any meter.

  4. that money can be spent so much better. Not like I'm wasting film taking extra pictures. When shooting a portrait, you have to take at least two shots to zero in a meter anyhow, so the same two shots with the camera will do the same thing. Maybe a couple seconds longer at most and several hundred dollars saved. They really have no use in the digital world.

  5. The reason to use a light meter is simple. it gives you a reading of the actual light hitting the subject, the camera only sees what is reflected off the subject. This varies greatly depending on the colour of the subject. Black or white for example. If the camera is looking at black, there is not much light reflected so the camera tend to increase the exposure time and overexpose the picture. If the camera is looking at some thing white, there is more light reflected and the camera reduces the exposure time and the photo tends to be under exposed. The light meter tells to camera the actual light present not the perceived light. Anyway, nice video.

  6. i have a sekonic l308s and i cant get the shutter speed above 60 is that normal what if i need to shoot handheld with a 70/200 f2/8 lens that shutter speed just wont work what am i missing here ? please help coz i want to rediscover my light meter its fine for flash at 200 but for outdoor i just cant get that shutter speed up

  7. With mirrorless cameras and constant/LED lighting, WYSIWYG, so metering is not really needed. I haven't used a light meter since film school.

  8. It is not I. S. O. The corporation, ISO, name is “International Organization for Standardization”.


    Scroll down to where it reads:
    It is all in the name
    Because 'International Organization for Standardization' would have different acronyms in different languages (IOS in English, OIN in French for Organisation internationale de normalisation), our founders decided to give it the short form ISO. ISO is derived from the Greek isos, meaning equal. Whatever the country, whatever the language, we are always ISO.

    Thus it is not I.S.O., it is one word, iso

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