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Lighting - flash and flood Flash and continuous lighting of all sorts from studio gear to on-camera flash can be discussed here.

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Old 28-03-09
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Flash Meters

A question, why are flash meters so expensive?

Light meters are also relatively expensive, considering one is built in to your camera. Why the difference in price?

Does anyone know a reasonably priced flash meter?

Cheers,
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Old 28-03-09
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Re: Flash Meters

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Originally Posted by coupekid View Post
A question, why are flash meters so expensive?

Light meters are also relatively expensive, considering one is built in to your camera. Why the difference in price?

Does anyone know a reasonably priced flash meter?

Cheers,
Yes they do seem relatively expensive, not sure why if I'm honest. Its my personal opinion though that for studio work and especially if you are using more than one flash head they are essential to balance the output from individual heads.

However if you are using more than one Canon flashgun it is possible to sync them and with the flash on ETTL the camera sorts out the exposure. The Pocket Wizards that Kennykodak has been talking about recently also help in this.

I would say that the entry level Sekonic 308 might be the one to go for, its about 129 I think
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Old 28-03-09
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Re: Flash Meters

I bought a Sekonic L308S a while back:

http://dpnow.pricegrabber.co.uk/sear.../rd=1/st=query

It's compact and light and works well. I mainly use it as an incident light meter for setting up the flood lighting on test targets, not for flash. It's probably the most affordable decent flash meter on the market.

Ian
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Old 28-03-09
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Re: Flash Meters

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Originally Posted by coupekid View Post
A question, why are flash meters so expensive?

Light meters are also relatively expensive, considering one is built in to your camera. Why the difference in price?

Does anyone know a reasonably priced flash meter?

Cheers,
As Stephen pointed out, have you thought about using the camera's own metering. If you are using external flash units, as long as they can sync via E-TTL in your camera, you shouldn't need an external meter. You will need some kind of commander/receiver unit on your camera to control and communicate wiith the remote flash units if you are working wirelessly.

Or are you using a simple studio flash kit?

In the end, simple trial and error to determine correct exposure would also suffice. Once you have the right exposure, you may not need to alter it for a session, or if you do, a simple calculation of the adjustment can be made (if you change your aperture by 1 stop, you will either need to double or halve the flash power, for example).

Ian
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Old 29-03-09
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Re: Flash Meters

metering light:
currently there are two methods, incident and reflective. newer cameras have a reflective meter built into them. it reads the light reflected off what it perceives as the subject and assigns it a value assuming that that subject is 18% reflective (middle grey, 140-180 range in a histogram). now assuming that it is indeed reading the light reflected off the subject then depending on the mode selected on the camera for exposure; the camera will either set it self accordingly or you will be prompted to make the adjustment of shutter speed and aperture. the second method, incident, is where a hand held meter with a 180 degree white done is used. it measures the amount of light falling upon the dome and measures it. the meter is held at the subject's position and pointed back at the camera's location. the dome is round to allow for highlight and shadow at the spot to be compensated for roundness of the subject, a later 101 discussion. once the exposure has been determined with this meter the correct adjustments must be made to the camera. camera's should be set for manual with using an incident meter. also the correct ISO must be set on both. incident meters can meter both ambient and flash exposures. with either method a grey card should be included in the first exposure for white balance correction.

okay let the rubber hit the road.
suppose we go outside and just for the shake of conversation we set out cameras to ISO 100 and a shutter speed of 1/125th of a second. we lay out on the ground two sets of like cards. we have three cards in each set; white, grey and black. looking down you see the six cards in like rows. on the left hand row we are going to use the reflective metering method. remember that your camera is preset on manual. you point the point at the card and adjust only its aperture.

left row - reflective

white card f11 set and take photo
grey card f5.6 set and take photo
black card f2.8 set and take photo

right row - incident
hold meter near the cards, take meter reading. since the light is the same on all three cards we will use the one exposure reading we were given.

white card f5.6 set and take photo
grey card f5.6 take photo
black card f5.6 take photo

does anyone see anything in common here using the the measuring methods? the grey card was 5.6 yes and that's because the meter in either method assumes the 18% grey reflective value for proper exposure. let's review our photos. the "white" from the reflective is dull (because the meter tried adjust it to 18% grey) whereas it's matching white card photograph using the incident setting is truly white. the grey cards from both are EQUAL and the black cards... the one on the left (reflective, is muddy again from the light reflected being value to 18%) and the one on the right (incident) is truly black.

did you know that your skin in most cases is 19%? or that grass and shrubs are 18%? let's take a photo of subject in from of a light background, let's say a white building. the sun is shinning on you and your background. it's a vacation shot and not a close-up, therefore a lot of building will be shown. if you meter in manual off a bush in the same light as our subject, set the camera for it and takes the photo. the exposure value of the white building has no impact on the image. remember, if people are in the image, in most cases their exposure value is more important than the background. if the the background exposure is vital then a reflector or a flash will be required to raise the subject's value but that's a topic for another day.

after thought, you can not accurately meter automatic (TTL) flash with a meter.

ps. i use a Sekonic L-358 meter.

Last edited by kennykodak; 30-03-09 at 12:07 AM.
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Old 30-03-09
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Re: Flash Meters

I bought a very old light meter last year but have never used it. I am aware how metering works up to a point but don't have a lot of confidence in what I'm doing still when it comes to manual exposure. After reading this thread and your article John, I will now be much more aware of what is around me.

I do have two questions ...

you state ...

left row - reflective

white card f11 set and take photo
grey card f5.6 set and take photo
black card f2.8 set and take photo


How do you know what f.stops to use? and
Do you think a grey card is an essential piece of kit?
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Old 30-03-09
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Re: Flash Meters

Gina,
the left row is the row where you would use your camera's meter and adjust the aperture accordingly. the fact that the white card reflects more light than the others would require you to stop down. likewise since the black reflects very little light you would have to open up to obtain what the camera's meter suggests as the correct exposure. since the grey card reflects 18% which the reflective meter in the camera is programed to render as correct, it photographs correctly which is the same as the one setting given by the incident meter for that lighting condition. therefore, if one does not have an incident meter but does have a grey card, it can be used for both white balance and for adjusting the exposure for tricky images.
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