Wednesday, August 23, 2017
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Sekonic Litemaster L-478

Your camera may be the best camera ever designed and have 3D Matrix metering, but absolutely nothing beats using a hand held light meter. The trick is knowing how to use it.

sekonic-478There are many times, that picking the camera up and letting it do it’s thing is the only option you have. But when you can, and for those who want to become better photographers, buying and learning to use a light meter will make you a better photographer and allow you to take better pictures. Full stop.

If you haven’t read the book Light: Science and Magic, then you’re doing yourself an injustice. If you haven’t got a light meter, well, you’ll never reach the next level in photography. You should, as an absolute minimum have a grey card that you can use with your camera. Now that I’ve just upset and annoyed everyone, let’s get stuck into.

I don’t even know if there are other light meters out there anymore other than Sekonic. It’s a standard, you only have to decide which one to get. The one where going to talk about today is the new LiteMaster L-478 with touch screen.

The main issue with metering, no matter how sophisticated it is, is that it’s computed to ensure the subject comes out as an average of the scene it’s measuring. In simplified terms, the scene’s tones are scrambled up inside the camera’s metering cell to calculate a single brightness value, which is then used as the basis for the shutter speed and aperture selected. The camera will ensure this single brightness level is equivalent to a mid grey, which is fine when the subject has a wide variety of tones, or is predominately of a brightness similar to mid grey. But things go wrong if the subject is all white, such as snow or a white car, or all dark, such as a black suited person or black car. In these situations the camera will adjust the exposure to compensate and ensure the snow comes out grey and the black suit comes out grey. If you use a hand-held exposure meter and point its meter sensor at the subject the same thing happens. This type of meter reading is known as a reflected reading, as it measures the light reflected from the subject, but a hand-held meter can be used differently and that’s why they are still very popular, despite the availability of advanced camera metering systems.

Incident light measures the light falling on your subject and how light or dark the subject is has no affect on the exposure reading.

Reflected light measures the light reflecting off your subject, and the color and value (how dark of light your subject is) affects your reading, requiring evaluation and experience to accurately apply this information.

In terms of speed, incident is the faster way to get an accurate, ready-to-shoot exposure of a subject in the same light or shade in which you stand. Reflected readings are very useful when your subject is in shade and you are not, or vice versa – but again, the reading you take with reflected can only be “ready-to-shoot” if you are indeed pointing at something that is “middle gray” in value.

The first time you use an incident meter is one of those “a-ha!” moments. Once you take a reading with the lumisphere, set the camera to same and find that your exposure is right on, we bet you will wonder how you ever lived without it!
Incident light measures the light falling on your subject and how light or dark the subject is has no affect on the exposure reading.

Reflected light measures the light reflecting off your subject, and the color and value (how dark of light your subject is) affects your reading, requiring evaluation and experience to accurately apply this information.

In terms of speed, incident is the faster way to get an accurate, ready-to-shoot exposure of a subject in the same light or shade in which you stand. Reflected readings are very useful when your subject is in shade and you are not, or vice versa – but again, the reading you take with reflected can only be “ready-to-shoot” if you are indeed pointing at something that is “middle gray” in value.

The first time you use an incident meter is one of those “a-ha!” moments. Once you take a reading with the lumisphere, set the camera to same and find that your exposure is right on, we bet you will wonder how you ever lived without it!

By turning the meter around you can use the sensor to measure the light falling onto the subject, so it doesn’t become fooled by the subject’s reflective qualities. This type of metering is called an incident reading and can produce very accurate exposures.

To use it you have to slide a dome over the metering cell, which is usually a 180 degree translucent plastic diffuser. The meter then reads the light falling on the subject from all angles. It still scrambles the reading and adjusts the exposure to produce a mid grey, but this reading hasn’t been affected by reflective or absorbent subject matter and will ensure that the dark subject stays dark and a light one stays light. If you’ve ever seen wedding photographers walking up to the bride and holding a gadget up to her face, now you know what they were doing.

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