Discussing light meters is valid. Comparing them with a digital camera is not.
I am not interested in the capabilities of a digital camera. It is irrelevant, yet it seems to be the general flavour of this thread.
.::Gary Rowan Higgins
One beautiful image is worth
a thousand hours of therapy.
"It is horrifying that we have to fight our own government
to save the environment."
Why do you need three meters? The other day I went out to shoot a concert. While hitching the main spotmeter to my belt the loop came out and meter crashed to the ground. Thought it worth checking and odd. No spot. Incident was fine but spot was reading UEX. No worries, I'll get out the trusty Spotmeter V. Pulled it out and aimed. No spot. Dead'ern a doorknob. No worries, I've got spare batteries in the ESII... Popped 'em in and nothing.
Well, I'm not about to take the SEI to a concert. So I just went without meter at all.
Came home after and found I'd put the batteries in upside-down in the Spotmeter V... it was fine. The main meter turned out to be easy to fix as well. A circuit board had popped off its socket...
So although you only need one meter. Having three could come in handy some day.
Let me just tell you how I use my light meter. Maybe you can relate to something I do, maybe you can't.
I shoot both digital and film. Most of my camera has a light meter, some very sophisticated ones, some none at all. My light meter is Sekonic 758DR.
If I'm shooting digital or F-100, I mainly rely on in-camera light meter. They are usually set on matrix mode. If I need to, I switch over to spot mode. Rarely I use average. Most scenes do well with in-camera meter. In one case where it doesn't work very well is studio portrait or close head shots. Or, weird cases like backlit or have wildly strange lighting conditions. In those cases, the scene doesn't always average to 18% and in-camera gets confused. So I either take lots of test shots and compensate (digital), or use my light meter and meter incident.(film) Most of the time though, I've done these enough that I can just guess the compensation I need, so I don't meter - unless I want to be very accurate. (which is rare) Basically, if majority of the frame is occupied by something wildly off 18%, in camera metering don't work well and need for a hand-held meter arises.
If I'm using studio flash, I always use hand-held meter in incident-flash mode. There just isn't any other way.
If I'm shooting my RB, I use my meter, although I usually cheat and use spot mode most of the time. Just pick what I want to be 18% and meter that. If I'm feeling weird, I'll do it the right way.
I really don't think you'll need a dedicated meter. Although one can argue, using digital camera as a light meter isn't accurate, it gets close. You say you always carry one digital and you, yourself said (in many ways) you don't have a need for one.
Develop, stop, fix.... wait.... where's my film?
I have somewhere around a dozen meters, not counting meters in cameras. When I started with a spot meter I used it in conjunction with my other meters. In the beginning it seemed complicated and arbitrary, and at best I felt like I was guessing an average, and waffled on continuing to use it when it seemed to be a lot of fiddling, pointing and averaging to arrive at a reading when I could just push a button on an incedent meter and arrive at an exposure.
Luckily, before I could cop to the urge to abandon it, the light came on. My spot meter is now the only meter I use. The ability to exactly interperate where thing fall within an exposure is a level of control I would never give up. Everything else seems sloppy to me now. In my opinion, my ability to make negatives went to the next level when I truly wrapped my head around how to use the spot meter.
It may not be for everyone, but I personally find it one of the sharpest tools available.
To the OP:
There are two things that your 5D Mark II lacks that I find I need in a light meter:
1) a built in incident metering mode; and
2) a flash meter function - particularly one that reads in incident mode.
You can kludge up a pseudo incident mode with a grey card, but it is far from convenient in comparison.
I would think, given the wide variety of cameras you have and use, that it would be advantageous to you to standardize on a single meter, and then calibrate your various cameras and lenses to that meter.
The 5D Mark II is a system, that may involve different lenses, metering patterns that may vary with different modes and other variables.
How well does it serve you if you have to account for those variables?
“Photography is a complex and fluid medium, and its many factors are not applied in simple sequence. Rather, the process may be likened to the art of the juggler in keeping many balls in the air at one time!”
Ansel Adams, from the introduction to The Negative - The New Ansel Adams Photography Series / Book 2
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Thanks again to everyone who is contributing.
To the one person who's dissing the crux of the thread; I don't see how what I'm asking is invalid. One possible function of a digital camera is to use it as a light meter. You cannot dispute this fact. I do not have to depress the shutter button on my 5D; I do not have to take a single digital image. I can still use it "as a light meter" (in this regard, it's no different than, say, a light meter app for a smartphone).
Some of the very strong arguments I'm seeing here is incident metering. Taking a look at a page like this (http://www.sekonic.com/Classroom/Met...Reflected.aspx) has given me a good idea why that is very useful in some scenes. I'd need to learn more about it to get a full grasp on things, but, I guess if that is what persuades me, then the Minolta sounds like the way to go?
Flash is not something that I see myself ever getting into, so while flash metering seems to be another strong area in favor of dedicated meters, for me, it's not so pertinent.
Matt above me I think raised a really good point that I hadn't thought about, which is consistency. Very true, at any given time, I may have a different lens on my 5D (17-40L, TS-E 17, C/Y Distagon 35/1.4, Helios 40-2, etc being some of my favorites). I can see how that could be problematic RE: getting consistent and reliable readings.
I do wonder, though, if much of that could be ameliorated if/when something like the Light Meter app on my iPhone becomes more reliable (I would love to ask people here who use it, along with your other dedicated meters, about the reliability of those things).
Please understand that I'm a variety, if not necessarily of the generation (I will be turning 40 next month), who grew up never needing a light meter, as I've always shot P&S & newer SLRs, and when I got serious about photography and film specifically, just three years ago, I already had these digital tools that not only I'm accustomed to but are really the ONLY tools that I've ever used for metering purposes.
I'm a bit torn about the Pentax, as someone said that's the only "true" spot meter, and I see there are a couple vocal advocates.
Regarding spot metering, one thing I love about the iPhone app is that it allows me to tap on the screen to choose where I want it to meter. I'm assuming this is very close to what spot meters do, albeit perhaps not at that level of precision. Another thing I love about the app (and using digital cameras in general as meter replacements) is that I get a visual feedback of exactly what the scene would look like if shot using the readouts they give me. That's one thing a dedicated meter can't do.
So, my question here to those skilled in the art (and have used them all), are the advantages of higher accuracy and precision so great as to completely nullify the advantage that a digital solution has in that it can rapidly provide a "preview" of the scene for you? I'm sure the answer would be "In certain cases, yes", but then when would they be, if not already stated above? (e.g., flash metering).
My inclination at this point is leaning towards keeping the Minolta and selling the other two, hoping that between the spot attachment, my iPhone, and my two digital cameras, the desire to "spot" can be mostly satiated.
Thanks again for your insights!
Last edited by rawhead; 12-19-2012 at 03:52 AM. Click to view previous post history.
If you do your own printing, then the LunaPro SBC with the LAB attachment is very useful for estimating the initial exposure - since I've started using it I've significantly reduced the number of test strips I use as the meter reading allows me to get close to the correct exposure and also estimate the paper grade and additional exposure required for a burn. I've also used it to measure the reprocity failure curve of Delta 100 (which is quite different from the one published in the datasheet) and plan to measure the HD curve as well.
As well as all this it gives you incident metering, and better low-light sensitivity than most DSLRs (mine will only meter to 0 EV at ISO 100 while the SBC goes to -4). So keep the SBC. (And the spotmeter, for critical exposures).
Last edited by andrew.roos; 12-19-2012 at 03:56 AM. Click to view previous post history.
I've been using the free meter app for my iPhone and while it won't replace my dedicated meters for specific applications (when I need 1-degree spot metering, or incident metering, or flash metering), since I always have my phone with me, it is very convenient for general walkaround shooting. I've found it to be very accurate - all of those recent shots in my gallery of the museums in DC and the DC Metro were metered with my iPhone. Would I use it for a paying gig where critical color rendition was required? No, but for my own purposes, out and about, it's more than good enough. The big downside to it is that it is a battery drain on your iPhone, so it is possible to 'lose' your meter when you need one if your iPhone conks out.
Andrew, OK so now you have to come in favor of the LunaPro (LOL).
That's a cool thing to learn about printing; I would've never thought about using a light meter in the darkroom (ha!!). For better or for worse, I'm of the hybrid type: dev my own film, scan, and digital print, so this is another cool, but moot point for me.
Low light situations is a VERY interesting area for me as I do lot of, and love, (pre)dawn/(post)dusk/night photography (ref:http://www.flickr.com/search/?q=nigh...4%40N00&m=tags).
But so here's a question. You say EV0 is 1 min @ F8. But why meter at F8 when digital sensors have no reciprocity failures? What I always do is meter at whatever F-stop that will give me the maximum exposure time allowed (30 sec on 5Dmk2), and calculate reciprocity from there. As long as I'm shooting digital, that works perfectly. When I transfer those values over to film, I will whip out my exposure compensation app (really a FileMaker database) on my iPhone, select the film I'm using and the exposure time I got from the DSLR reading (plus reciprocity) and voila, I have the exposure time I need.
From my perspective, any advantage you may have from being able to read off very low light situations accurately is, if not nullified, kind of negated or overwhelmed by the idiosyncrasies of shooting film and having to deal with reciprocity failures and compensation values.
Incident metering is on the verge of persuading me.
Size, again, is not an issue. If I do decide to carry around a lightmeter, I'm still going to be carrying around a digital camera :-)
Again, I want to emphasize here that I have NOT made up my mind on this It's not one of THOSE threads, where I pretend to pose a question really with the aim to agitate, and/or to advocate my biased digital choices :-)
The point about draining batteries is very pertinent
It happened to me just a few days ago when I shot this: http://www.flickr.com/photos/rawhead...in/photostream
Where, when i whipped out my iPhone (after a 2~hour or so of shooting, which was presaged by me using the iPhone to navigate me to this spot) it was as dead as a doornail. I was VERY happy I had my 5Dmk2 on me to use as a light meter replacement