John- I haven't heard anyone in this thread talking about going into a Zone System twilight zone of endless metering before taking an exposure. Three or four readings are all that's needed in a tough situation, one or two in an easy one. Of course, knowing how to read a scene is a big help to know what to point the meter at in the first place. But you can scan a scene, pick out what you want to be the brightest highlight with detail, the darkest shadow with detail, note the range of stops, and calculate your exposure and development scheme based on the range. That's of course assuming you're trying for a 'fine art' landscape shot where that kind of tonal placement is critical. If you're shooting fast moving action, get a good incident reading and play Ron Popeil with the rotisserie oven - set it and forget it. Just keep aware of changing lighting conditions to know when to take another reading.
having a spot meter and an incident meter and camera with a meter, and digital camera with a meter, phone with a meter
metering 3 or 4 times, or whatever, its all the same thing. it is not hard to notice the light, know what shadows or brightness
needs more or less light and using one's head to figure out what to put the camera instead of being oblivious to it ...
equipment is just a distraction.
Heheh, well, I like some semblance of precision (it's an obsessive/compulsive leftover from an engineering career) and I now own three d!git@l cameras as well as a small gaggle of light meters. But here's one consideration, the whiz-bang super cameras will happily choose fractional f-stops and shutter speeds I won't find on my SQ-A or Perkeo II, etc. I suppose on at least one camera that could be partially worked around with aperture or shutter priority, but there's another complication.
I have two meters that I currently use; a Gossen Digisix which does incident and reflected measurements and is less than half the bulk of a typical computer mouse; e.g., a hell of a lot smaller than my EOS40D, even without a lens. You set a ring to the EV reading and can then read a dozen or more speed/aperture combinations at a glance. There is a flash metering version of the Digisix, but I shoot flash about 3 shots a year! I also have a Sekonic L508 which does 1 - 4º spot, incident (and flash), that's more of a handful, although light. I wouldn't give up either of those meters. And I can't recall ever using an alternate technology camera as a meter, I find it too cumbersome waving two cameras around at once! :D (But that's me)
I agree jnanian, at one point it gets silly. You do not need so many options when common (use of vision) sense could do as well. I don't want to detract at all from your valid point that you don't need to use meters... I just like them and will address the idea of using them.
I find using an external meter creates better pictures from any camera. I often leave the battery out of the (e.g., OM-1) camera to keep me from being distracted by a match-needle that is difficult to interpret. I'd rather use a Master II with Zone System sticker, hold my palm in the light and set the pointer at Zone VI... than use a center-weighted measurement.
An evaluative metering system or an automatic camera, even a high-end top-of-the-line one, takes each scene individually. I don't know any that regard the "set" of photographs that you are taking at the same time. Two shots adjacent with slightly different compositions --- SHOULD --- have exactly the same exposure to look good presented next to each other.
You can use Manual.
Make up your mind what that scene exposure should be. Once you make the decision, use the same setting or two (e.g., one for shade - one for sun) for all the shots in the general vicinity.
In reality it can be very fast and simple, I often stick my arm out the door of the car... Hold the incident dome in the direction for a reading and take one reading and use it for the whole shoot. Other times I will use spot, read shadow and take that reading (placed on Zone II). So the choice of Spot and Incident is very practical and gives you two fast options.
But its main goal can also be to reassure the user as the anxiety is no more the practice but the choice of the equipment to use. This thread is a clear example. All meters the OP makes reference to are valid tools but you have first to know what to do with them (i.e., what is their added value). If you can't answer this very question, the best is to get rid of them. No need to post a thread for that, just a little introspection is required.
Originally Posted by jnanian
BTW, I agree on your comment even if a meter (a simple meter, not a spot meter nor a digital camera or a phone as a meter) can be useful, indoor for instance.
The best form of light meter is a digital camera, as it allows you to see pictures instead of numbers.
As I commented above, I *have* been persuaded... for the time being. I'm keeping all three, and actually learning using them before I make my final decision.
Originally Posted by CPorter
There may be some confusion regarding how I use my digital camera as a light meter; I don't look in the view finder (or the top panel LCD) and take the readings I see as gospel. Rather, I have LiveView on so that I can get a pretty good, if not perfect (as was pointed out above by Poisson Du Jour) preview of the scene were I to shoot at those settings.
To me, being able to see the preview, along with, if I so choose, a histogram of the image, *is* a significant advantage of the "DSLR as a light meter" approach. The point of this thread is really about that: if I learn & master the external, dedicated light meter, will I be able to constantly choose the same or better exposures than relying on LiveView/Preview to choose my settings?
Let's say there is someone skilled in the art, who knows lights, shadows, Evs & film latitudes.
One day, he's equipped with a lightmeter (or two). The following day, she's equipped with a mid-to-high end DSLR. In both cases, the final products will be what gets shot on 4x5 Reversal film. Which of the two days will produce more consistent, good results?
Another argument I found intriguing above is the one about learning the skill; i.e., that I would be learning so much more if I used dedicated light meters to "learn about light". Very fair, I can see how that could be, and I'm willing to take that to heart. I'm still wondering, though, once I *have* learned what needs to be learned, is the "DSLR-as-light-meter" approach always, necessarily, the inferior choice?
I use that very technique. I walk out the door with a folding camera and my little Sekonic, slide the dome in place, take my incident reading, and that is the "reading" unless things change drastically. If the subject is in the shade I drop two stops, maybe three if it is real deep shade. If I am out for a long walk I may double check along the way but it rarely changes much. Usually it works great and when I develop my film it all comes out with the same exposure. Of course, if it is wrong...it is all wrong! :laugh:
Originally Posted by Bill Burk
Bill, have you thought about getting out of the car to give you more options in terms of distance, angle and composition?
Originally Posted by Bill Burk
Maybe if I explain my lightmetering evolution. I should make it clear that I don't own a DSLR, and haven't used one enough to say so. I did play with viewing histograms on a Sony digipoint&shoot I had.
Originally Posted by rawhead
I started out using a pre WW2 Weston and a Kodak 35 rf camera, a very very basic camera with a very good f3.5 lens. I used Kodachrome 25 ( about a 5 stop scale) and High-Speed (ASA 160) Ektachrome for existing light, so I had to learn to use the meter properly to get good resuts, (it is a reflected-light only meter).
As time went on I got auto 35mm SLRS and didn't use a handheld meter very much. Then I got an OM-4 and fell in love with the spotmeter.
When I moved into LF cameras aroung 1987 or so, I naturally bought a Pentax spotmeter and learned the zone system. I metered evry scene, placed my mid-tone... and discovered that I could do almost exactly the same things with my ancient Weston and it's calculator dial. What I couldn't do with the Weston was meter inaccesible parts of the scene, and having the spotmeter meant I could do all the metering from one spot.
By now I had a LunaPro and liked it's wide range. I also had a Weston Master III with an Invercone for incident readings and liked the fact that it didn't use batteries. So for the past 20+ years those have been my meters, the Weston mostly unless I forsee having to meter low light values. If I have to take a meter on a trip it's the LunaPro as it's the most versatile. I haven't used a spotmeter in a long time, but that's just my way of working. I'll use one if I think I need it, say if I decide to make some 8x10 chromes again.
Using a meter and having to think about where you want detail in the scene can give you a very good feel for what is the correct exposure. I use 4x5 and 8x10 cameras, and cannot afford to waste film - even black and white film.
One thing I would not do is meter a critical scene with a DSLR. Transparency filn is too precious to waste, and I don't think a DSLR with a meter designed for a sensor is an appropriate tool - I'd use my 75~ year old Weston first, at least I know how that will respond. I use my newer Weston with transparency film regularly, with utterly satisfactory results.