Do you use a lightmeter when shooting wedding in film?

Discussion in 'Medium Format Cameras and Accessories' started by haring, Apr 20, 2011.

  1. haring

    haring Member

    Messages:
    138
    Joined:
    Feb 2, 2011
    Shooter:
    35mm
    Do you use a light meter when shooting wedding in film? I mostly shoot with digital (it is easy to check the exposure in digital) and I am just worried that the camera light meter in the film camera won't be accurate. I would use the film cameras for the posed photos so I think I would have time to measure the time with the light meter... what do you think? What do you usually do?
    Or do you think it is possible to meter with the digital camera? Take a digital shoot at the same ISO speed? Then I would adjust aperture, shutter in the film camera according to the results based on the exposure on the digital photos?

    What do you think?
     
  2. MattKing

    MattKing Subscriber

    Messages:
    16,824
    Joined:
    Apr 24, 2005
    Location:
    Delta, BC, Canada
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Yes.

    Most of my wedding work was with cameras that had no meter. I used a hand meter and/or auto flash. Where possible, I used the meter in incident mode. Where that wasn't possible (time exposures during the church ceremony) I used it in reflected mode.

    Light levels don't usually change quickly, and experience is the best metering accessory.

    As for using a digital camera as a separate meter, I would just say that you would need to experiment with that before-hand because like any other meter you need to know how to interpret the results in various circumstances. I find hand meters easier when learning those lessons.
     
  3. Rick A

    Rick A Subscriber

    Messages:
    7,419
    Joined:
    Mar 31, 2009
    Location:
    northern Pa.
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I carry a hand held meter and trust it. Practice with what you have to make sure the in-camera meter is accurate.
     
  4. 2F/2F

    2F/2F Member

    Messages:
    8,003
    Joined:
    Apr 29, 2008
    Location:
    Los Angeles,
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Yes, or I use an educated guess.

    The less time you spend like a zombie with your nose in the LCD, the more you will pay attention to what really matters (potential shots), and the better you will shoot. Get out of that habit now, IMHO.
     
  5. haring

    haring Member

    Messages:
    138
    Joined:
    Feb 2, 2011
    Shooter:
    35mm
    Thanks! Which light meter do yo recommend for wedding? I would like to get a good one which is not expensive (I know the good is not cheap most of the time)....I don't mind picking up a used one on ebay...
     
  6. 2F/2F

    2F/2F Member

    Messages:
    8,003
    Joined:
    Apr 29, 2008
    Location:
    Los Angeles,
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I use a Sekonic incident meter that doesn't read flash, but one does read flash is a good choice.
     
  7. Nikanon

    Nikanon Member

    Messages:
    370
    Joined:
    Jul 11, 2009
    Shooter:
    35mm RF
    I find the best thing to do is meter the important tones, like the dress and the tux, since they are usually the extreme values, and I memorize the EV's so that I can change my exposure based on whats in the scene, but you can usually keep one setting as long as all the tones you pre-metered are in the scene, just remeter if light changes or the tonal make-up changes.
     
  8. mgb74

    mgb74 Subscriber

    Messages:
    2,960
    Joined:
    Jan 24, 2005
    Location:
    Minneapolis,
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    First, why do you think your in camera meter won't be accurate? Is it that it covers too wide an area, that it's inherently inaccurate, or what? I've actually been pretty pleased with my in camera meter once I know it's limitations.

    Second, are you going to need to meter from your camera position or from the subject position?

    Many people use SLRs (digital or otherwise) to meter for another camera. But no meter in and by itself will tell you exactly how the image will be rendered on film (i.e. detail in white gown).
     
  9. 2F/2F

    2F/2F Member

    Messages:
    8,003
    Joined:
    Apr 29, 2008
    Location:
    Los Angeles,
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    In-camera meters will get you roughly in the ballpark a lot of the time, but IMO, if you have the luxury of using a handheld incident meter, you should always do it, because it will give you better exposures with less fiddling and "thinking." Metering the light as opposed to metering the composition is what makes hand held incident meters inherently "better." In-camera meters were designed as a compromise of convenience and quality. Although they have become the norm, they still compromise quality for convenience.

    An alternative that is just as good in terms of results (though less convenient) is to use the in-camera meter in conjunction with a grey card. Just be sure to open up 1/2 to 2/3 stops from what the meter says when reading the card. Or as an alternative, slow down one full shutter speed and stop down 1/3 to 1/2 stop. Use the former when you can spare some D of F, and the latter when you can spare some shutter speed.
     
  10. dpurdy

    dpurdy Member

    Messages:
    2,230
    Joined:
    Jun 24, 2006
    Location:
    Portland OR
    Shooter:
    8x10 Format
    I bought a Nikon F100 specifically to do weddings with because I could put it on Program auto and Matrix metering and forget about it. It does a fantastic job. Get the correct flash and put it on TTL program auto as well. In the rare case that you are inspired to make an art image during a wedding just switch it to manual and make your own decision.
     
  11. pkfarrar

    pkfarrar Member

    Messages:
    1
    Joined:
    Apr 22, 2011
    Location:
    Charlotte NC
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    I would agree with this totally, too many photographers that I teach want to check the back, a true professional wedding or portrait photographer will never check the historgram or the display as your miss a shot of a life time.

    Learn your camera so you can use it blindfolded and know where everything is and use it till its all second nature and you dont even think about mettering as its all second nature.

    I think that describes a pro better than anything, someone that knows and does not check every moment or at all and someone that has the solution to every lighting condition as they have shot it before.

    Thanks and IMHO :smile:
     
  12. TSSPro

    TSSPro Member

    Messages:
    229
    Joined:
    Feb 15, 2010
    Location:
    Carbondale,
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Emphatic YES!

    Meter the areas where you want to photograph before the ceremony even starts with the same lights that will be on during the ceremony. Warning- weddings happen at dusk too! So if you meter at 4 in the afternoon and your wedding isnt until 7, the light inside the church/ceremony area will change.
    Carry a note pad and write these figures down and with time you will be able to recall them without getting confused...its just a matter of practice and force of habit.
    For portraits/formals out of doors an old rule of thumb is meter off of green grass, is supposedly has the same reflectance as generic gray....but if there is ever any doubt, take an indecent reading.
    Receptions take place in dark, photographic black holes! If you dont have a flash with a thyristor in it, learn your guide numbers, zone focus, take a quick quick look at your distance scale, and adjust aperture properly-- stick camera in scene and say cheese...sounds like a long and cumbersome process, but it happens as quickly as you can move your fingers (in moments) if you are are able to manipulate your camera's aperture ring without having to double check every 5 seconds.
    If your flash does have a thyristor circuit in it, your job is made that much easier, point, focus, shoot...again Warning: technology is fallible. My Nikon SB26 has this convenient feature but consistently over exposes most common reception images by 1-1.5 stops due to the black-hole like atmosphere of dark reception halls....a trial run would be best before wasting a client's money.

    Hand held meters- Sekonic all the way- you can get them dirt cheap used, but still its worth spending $133usd for one new if you intend to use it more than once. Granted you could spent $600 and get a mac-daddy sekonic, but you would have to have a legit need for such an investment.

    All the best and good luck with your wedding.
     
  13. Poisson Du Jour

    Poisson Du Jour Member

    Messages:
    4,210
    Joined:
    Jul 1, 2008
    Location:
    Richmond/Geelong, AUS
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Just as a casual observer as a I travel about, it is still common to see wedding preparations and receptions shot entirely on the stalwart Hassalblads with a lightmeter dangling somewhere. Occasionally a common sight is a digital Hassy. That weddings have just about entirely been turned over to digital is a matter of convenience and speed on the photographer's part, rather than any intentional thought of image permanence beyond having the current job put money in the bank. Metering is critical on that all-important day where a lot is resting on your shoulders, quite apart from your style.

    People starting out in weddings with manual gear/meter had best build up a portfolio based entirely on manual and subtractive/additive/spot/incident — the works, all metering skills that demonstrate not just to the client, but possibly somebody in their family who may also be a photographer, you do know how to nail the exposure (if using film); remember what not to do when confronted by a shimmering white bridal gown and a groom clad in black!
    Without proof by way of an impressive portfolio, you could easily be passed on to the next guy blazing away with auto-everything digital. Experience makes the difference, not the camera.