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  1. #1

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    How do I use a handheld light meter? I have a Sekonic L-308S and it's confusing

    Hi,

    I bought a Sekonic L-308S to use with vintage/old film cameras that either had broken or unreliable meters (for example: Yashica Mat 124G). Anyway, I realized I don't know how to use it and I certainly am not getting any sort of reliable or predictable results by trial and error. Yes, I do set it in shutter priority mode and have set the ISO (to 400). I know there's an incident mode and reflective mode and I know I can either place the "eye" facing the subject, from the camera's POV or by the subject facing the camera's lens. That gives me four possibilities or modes.

    When how do I know which to use and when? Some situations are helpful such as taking a picture from a subject too far to walk to (like a mountain). In that case, I am forced to use reflected mode (pointing toward subject, eye exposed). What would happen, though, if I was pointing the meter at the subject but had the eye covered by the lumisphere?

    Can anyone help me out with an easy to understand explanation or guide on how to use a light meter?

  2. #2

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    If you point it at the subject with the plastic dome in place, you will severely overexpose. As a general rule of thumb, use reflected light for B&W, and incident for color. I have the same meter. For reflected light readings, point it at the scene you wish to meter, and point slightly downward to exclude an overly bright sky from inflating your reading.

  3. #3
    Sirius Glass's Avatar
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    I do not agree with Tom.

    Reflective
    You can use reflective reading for color print, color slides and black & white film. I have done that for only five decades. Dome off. Aim the light meter at the subject from where you will be taking the photograph. Do not aim it to include the sky [or much of it] because that will cause the light meter to believe that the scene is brighter than it is.

    Incident
    With the dome on, stand at the subject's position and aim the light meter towards the camera. This can be used for color print, color slides and black & white photography.

    I prefer the reflective measurement, but I will use the incident meter for photographic studios, or when the scene is mostly white [snow] or mostly dark since reflective reading are not accurate when the scene is very bright or very dark.

    Do not use the dome for a reflective reading, even though there are some at APUG that believe that is the thing to do. I have thoroughly researched that subject on the internet, at Kodak and at many photographic libraries. There are no articles or books that discuss that method. Period. When I talked to optical engineers, their response is that they would like to know what drugs the people who make such recommendations are on. Again, there is no accepted photographic journals nor any photographic books that discuss such blither. Take the blither of using the dome for reflective reading and flush it down the toilet.
    Warning!! Handling a Hasselblad can be harmful to your financial well being!

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  4. #4
    Rick A's Avatar
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    Incident meters, when used properly, are just as accurate as reflected meters, and easier to use. If possible, stand with the meter in front of the subject and aim it at the camera to take a reading. If that isnt convenient, hold the meter up in the same approximate light as the subject to take the reading. Make sure not to shade the light dome(unless your subject is in the shade).

    http://www.sekonic.com/products/l-308s/overview.aspx
    Rick A
    Argentum aevum
    BTW: the big kid in my avatar is my hero, my son, who proudly serves us in the Navy. "SALUTE"

  5. #5
    MattKing's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sirius Glass View Post
    I do not agree with Tom.

    Reflective
    You can use reflective reading for color print, color slides and black & white film. I have done that for only five decades. Dome off. Aim the light meter at the subject from where you will be taking the photograph. Do not aim it to include the sky [or much of it] because that will cause the light meter to believe that the scene is brighter than it is.

    Incident
    With the dome on, stand at the subject's position and aim the light meter towards the camera. This can be used for color print, color slides and black & white photography.

    I prefer the reflective measurement, but I will use the incident meter for photographic studios, or when the scene is mostly white [snow] or mostly dark since reflective reading are not accurate when the scene is very bright or very dark.

    Do not use the dome for a reflective reading, even though there are some at APUG that believe that is the thing to do. I have thoroughly researched that subject on the internet, at Kodak and at many photographic libraries.
    Mostly, I agree with Sirius on this, although ....

    1) I use incident metering at least half the time, and sometimes all of the time.
    2) You can use incident light measurement if you are able to move the meter to where the light hitting it is the same as the light hitting your subject. So even if you cannot get to the subject, you may still be able to use an incident reading.
    3) To the best of my knowledge, I've never read anywhere on APUG where someone has recommended using an incident dome to take a reflected light reading. Where there is some dispute, however, is whether to use a dome (or something else) when an incident reading is taken, and whether it is better to point the dome at the camera, or at the source of light.

    For someone new to using a hand meter in incident mode, I would recommend using the dome and holding it at the subject's position, pointed toward the camera.
    Matt

    “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

  6. #6

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    My personal preference is to generally use reflected light readings. These DO occasionally require that you understand what you are metering. If the scene doesn't have an "average" sort of reflectance, you should interpret this and make adjustments. For example, consider a backlit person standing in a doorway - do you want the face to have normal brightness (as in a portrait), or do you want the face to be darker to give the sense of being backlit?

    Situations where I tend to use incident metering are limited. They would generally be where a "normal" sort of subject is mostly frontally lit, especially when the subjects are people (such as studio portraits). The incident meter won't be fooled by the color of the subject's clothing. For example, if you are photographing a bride and groom, you may realize that they both should get the same exposure setting. An incident meter gives this desired result. Had you used "average" reflected light readings of them individually, the black tux in one and the white dress in the other would cause the meter readings to vary.

    Many people seem to prefer incident readings the majority of the time.

    BTW, a few months before you joined, Mark Barendt wrote a pretty decent article on incident metering - it can be found here: http://www.apug.org/forums/forum216/...-metering.html

  7. #7
    markbarendt's Avatar
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    Mark Barendt, Ignacio, CO

    "We do not see things the way they are. We see things the way we are." Anaïs Nin

  8. #8
    markbarendt's Avatar
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    Beat me to it Bill.
    Mark Barendt, Ignacio, CO

    "We do not see things the way they are. We see things the way we are." Anaïs Nin

  9. #9
    Poisson Du Jour's Avatar
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    It is not a problem to have the invercone up and take a reflected reading.

    Incident readings are quick and effective, but should not be the only metering method on your repertoire — for now, just startingn out, yes, but in the future, diversifying into spot metering will kit you up to tackle even the most difficult lighting with relative ease where incident or reflective will not work.

    For beginners, the time-honoured approach of measuring the light falling onto the subject by way of aiming it back at the camera, holds well. An extension of this (on meters equipped with memory function, which is very useful) is to use the memory mode: read one side, place it in memory; read the next, place that in memory too, and another, then average. An example is portraiture with mixed ambient lighting where the face is unevenly illuminated — all aspects of light are measured.

    There is no substitute for actively experimenting with metering when you first start out, and taking notes as you go along, which you can reference later when you are viewing the negs. Be sure to set the meter to 1 or half stops (for negs) or 0.3 (third) stops with transparencies. Readings for negs will allow you some leeway for making mistakes, while metering for transparencies will require you to be more discriminating and accurate.

    With whatever film you are using, what faults you see will effectively be a springboard to launch you into getting progressively better results by repeating your work and making variations.
    As you can see, there is some debate here on just what method works best, and that debate will no doubt grow and grow and grow.
    Have a look at Sekonic's own How to video here.
    Last edited by Poisson Du Jour; 05-28-2013 at 07:34 PM. Click to view previous post history.
    .::Gary Rowan Higgins

    A comfort zone is a wonderful place. But nothing ever grows there.
    —Anon.






  10. #10

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    This has been super helpful, fellas. I see now that I really only have two choices and the idea of using the dome for a reflected reading or dome off for an incident reading just DOESN'T MAKE SENSE! I am not sure why I even thought they were valid choices. I feel much more confident now when I go out and shoot. I will try both and see which result in better lit photos. And of course I'll stick to reflected if I can't get near the subject.

    Are there any special situation or caveats I should be aware of, besides the ones mentioned already (ie don't point a reading too much toward the sky)

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