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.
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
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.
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