AmSnaps - Digital Photography Basics For Amateur Snappers

Learn How A Light Meter Works And The Best Ones To Buy

A hand-held light meter may not seem to be an essential item that you need for digital photography, given that all digital cameras have a built-in light metering system of some kind.

However, built-in meters can only measure ambient light. They cannot measure light produced by a flash or studio lighting kit. You can see a presentation of how this happens in the video below.

In a studio environment, when composing a portrait shot, a camera’s meter measures the light reflected from the subject’s face. A hand-held meter can be used to measure this light as well, but more importantly it also measures the light actually falling onto the subject’s face. This could be from your flashgun, studio lights or ambient light.

By holding the meter alongside the subject and firing off your flash, you can assess the light more accurately.

This type of measurement is called an incidental light reading. With these results you can configure your camera to gain the correct exposure levels during your photographs.

If you missed the first video in the series, you can watch it right now at Digital Flash Photography

Light Meter Buying Guide

You can spend a lot of money on high-spec multifunction equipment, but you don’t have to unless you need the extra functions. As long as you get a meter with the following features, it should meet your requirements.

Purchase a meter that offers flash and ambient light readings. This allows increased control in all conditions.

Get a model with a sliding globe...a hemisphere of white plastic that can hide or reveal the meter’s light sensor. This covers the sensor during incident readings or can be moved aside for reflected readings. A built-in globe is better because you won’t lose it as easy when you are out-and-about shooting.

Look for a compact model. Some meters can be quite bulky, usually larger ones designed for studio use. Buy one that will easily slip into your pocket or camera bag pouch.

You should also consider buying one with a flash sync port. This can be useful if you are using off-camera flash. You can finely tune and control flash exposures, which is ideal for a studio environment.

The Sekonic L-358 and Sekonic L-758 recommended in the video can be purchased at most reputable camera stores.

Didn't find what you're looking for? Search here...
Custom Search

Return from Light Meter to Digital Photography Tutorials

Return from Light Meter to Digital Photography Tricks

Sponsored Links

David Coote
Wedding Photographer
Northern Ireland