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Usefulness of Hand-held Digital Light Meter?

Bravozulu

Los Angeles, US
762 posts

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Bravozulu Silver Member Nikonian since 04th Jun 2012
Mon 08-Oct-12 10:33 PM

This would be solely for studio portrait lighting with remote flashes. At the moment I have 3 Nikon speedlights, so the CLS system is available to me.

After months of reading, I'm beginning to favor manual settings on the strobes. And am considering future purchase of power heads, particularly the Alien Bees.

Should I hang onto my Minolta Autometer IV? Vintage is 1989. Or to TTl metering with the D7000 outweigh its use?

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PerroneFord

Tallahassee, US
2692 posts

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#1. "RE: Usefulness of Hand-held Digital Light Meter?" | In response to Reply # 0

PerroneFord Silver Member Nikonian since 07th Apr 2011
Tue 09-Oct-12 02:06 PM

THis is a fairly complex and personal issue, and you've left off a very obvious choice in your list as well

Should you choose to go the Alien Bee route how do you plan to trigger the strobes? Once THAT decision is made, things become a bit clearer.

Your list should probably be:

1. Do I keep my Minolta IV
2. Do I use iTTL
3. Do I get a more modern meter


Many people are very content to wing it or use the back of the camera screen to adjust exposure. Some will say the histogram tells you, but the histogram won't tell you ratios, or tell you where your shadows fall or tell you if the light on the hair is 1/2 a stop down from the light on the forehead. And relying on the camera's LCD for critical exposure settings always seemed dubious to me.

But there are MANY successful photographers who don't use a meter. I grew up with them, and prefer them both in the studio and on location. I use Sekonic meters for photography and I bought into the PocketWizard triggering systems. I could not be more pleased. And I have not found anything else that I "wish" I had bought.

-P


>This would be solely for studio portrait lighting with remote
>flashes. At the moment I have 3 Nikon speedlights, so the CLS
>system is available to me.
>
>After months of reading, I'm beginning to favor manual
>settings on the strobes. And am considering future purchase of
>power heads, particularly the Alien Bees.
>
>Should I hang onto my Minolta Autometer IV? Vintage is 1989.
>Or to TTl metering with the D7000 outweigh its use?

------
Webpage: http://www.ptfphoto.com

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gkaiseril

Chicago, US
6739 posts

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#2. "RE: Usefulness of Hand-held Digital Light Meter?" | In response to Reply # 0

gkaiseril Gold Member Nikonian since 28th Oct 2005
Tue 09-Oct-12 02:14 PM

You might want to ask this in the Lighting forum. There are many flash light meters and some will integrate with the PW control system.

George
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Bravozulu

Los Angeles, US
762 posts

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#3. "RE: Usefulness of Hand-held Digital Light Meter?" | In response to Reply # 2

Bravozulu Silver Member Nikonian since 04th Jun 2012
Tue 09-Oct-12 03:24 PM

Thanks for the advice and clear expression of criterion.

A newer meter would cost too much. And selling the one I have would only bring in $125.

Buying Alien Bees or any other power pack type lights is a long way off. At present, I see the value in the meter for setting light ratios for off-camera SB lights. And for measuring highlight and shadow exposures of the multiple flashes. And I must admit to being an amateur with CLS.

I would adjust things using a tape measure and the meter. And possibly by setting power on the SB strobes or in the Bracket/Flash Menu on the D7000.

Thanks for your help. I'm happy.

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gfinlayson

Maidenhead, UK
243 posts

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#4. "RE: Usefulness of Hand-held Digital Light Meter?" | In response to Reply # 3

gfinlayson Silver Member Nikonian since 24th Jan 2011
Tue 09-Oct-12 08:24 PM

I'm not a great fan of using TTL metering with multiple flash preferring to shoot in manual to have precise control over each flash and eliminating any variables. Have you considered shooting tethered? You get instant results on a big screen enabling you to make more informed judgements on exposure adjustment and shadow placement......

benveniste

Boston Area, US
9764 posts

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#5. "RE: Usefulness of Hand-held Digital Light Meter?" | In response to Reply # 0

benveniste Moderator Awarded for is high level skills in various areas, including Macro and Landscape Photography Donor Ribbon. Awarded for his generous suppport to the Fundraising Campaign 2014 Nikonian since 25th Nov 2002
Wed 10-Oct-12 02:20 AM

Should I hang onto my Minolta Autometer IV? Vintage is 1989.

If your Autometer is still accurate, I suggest hanging on to it. I have an Autometer V which I use with a set of Hensel monolights and other manual flashes. I also use it for large format photography and in those increasingly rare circumstances where I want an incident reading.

More modern gear makes it more convenient to trigger and measure flash, but the Minolta is still a solid, entry-level solution. If I was using studio lighting day-in and day-out, I'd probably update my meter and radio triggers, but as a hobbyist, I feel no pressing need to do so.

One of the biggest mistakes a photographer can make is to look at the real world and cling to the vain hope that next time his film will somehow bear a closer resemblance to it. - Galen Rowell

mfphoto1

Cincinnati, US
733 posts

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#6. "RE: Usefulness of Hand-held Digital Light Meter?" | In response to Reply # 0

mfphoto1 Registered since 29th Oct 2005
Wed 10-Oct-12 04:52 AM

As long as it works there is no reason to replace it. I still use the Gossen Luna Pro F that I bought used over 20 years ago.

"Step into my world and see as I see"

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km6xz

St Petersburg, RU
3391 posts

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#7. "RE: Usefulness of Hand-held Digital Light Meter?" | In response to Reply # 0

km6xz Moderator Awarded for his in-depth knowledge in various areas, including Portraits and Urban Photography Nikonian since 22nd Jan 2009
Sat 13-Oct-12 08:41 AM

Keep it. It will be all you need for fully manual strobe work in the studio. Yes, modern fancier dual mode meters are easier in difficult situations but a few AB's and a slave speed light or two with a decent triggering system is, in my opinion, easier to use and get exactly the results you intend in a studio completely manual than CLS TTL.
For remote shooting, CLS and a few SB900's work great but in the studio where you have time to set up a shot and modifiers, and have a known ambient level and color, it is all easier to do it manually.
I do not have commercial strobes but my home designed and built heads (calculated to be 600w/s each) are a snap to work with because there are so few variables that, if desired, can be set and forgotten for a session or all sessions. If you are doing primarily, say, portraits, the shot to shot consistency will be very good with some elements just left in place between sessions, instead of having the camera and CLS recalculating every exposure.
It is fun to get in the studio( in my case, a spare high ceiling bedroom) and play with light, and modifiers when there are fewer variables to worry about as in field shooting with multiple flash.I do not always have a patient model or subject so I got a hairdresser's wig styling head, $4 at a beauty supply house and a clamp to attach it to a chair back, added a long or short wig and have the perfectly content, ultimately patient model for light playing.
Stan
St Petersburg Russia

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chiefmasterjedi

US
313 posts

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#8. "RE: Usefulness of Hand-held Digital Light Meter?" | In response to Reply # 0

chiefmasterjedi Silver Member Nikonian since 26th Feb 2009
Thu 18-Oct-12 06:03 PM

I used speedlights for the last few years and never needed a light meter, although most of my shots were outdoors using 2 lights, so it wasn't too hard to nail the flash exposure in a few shots by looking at the camera's LCD.
This year I bought 2 Einstein lights and 2 AB800's which I trigger using Cybersyncs and the Cybersync commander. The Cyber commander can change the light power of each light and it has a built in light meter which is great for fine tuning each light without having to go back and forth changing the power output on the back of the lights. Having used these for a few months now, I've started to wonder what I would do without it!

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