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Studio, studio lighting, and flash meters?

FORUMS General Gear Talk Flash and Studio Lighting
Thread started 04 Dec 2005 (Sunday) 15:55   
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BTBeilke
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Let me start by saying that I've read the FAQ's at the top of the page and still have some questions.

1. How large a room would I need for a home studio that would be used for portraits (individual or small groups/family)? Is an 8' ceiling OK?

2. I am considering starting off with an AlienBees flash unit and Octabox. Would the B800 be a good choice or do I really need the B1600? (IOW, what do I need to consider when making this choice?)

3. How would I use my Canon flash with these lights? From the AlienBees site, it looked like their flash units could be set to fire when another flash fires? Is this recommended?

4. Assuming that more lights will be added later, what do I need to look for in a light meter? Could someone explain how a light meter is used to balance multiple lights? Without a wireless setup, do all lights have to be connected with a sync cord? Would I need a light meter with spot metering capability?

Thanks in advance for your suggestions.

Post #1, Dec 04, 2005 15:55:22


Blane
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tim
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2. An AB800 will be plenty.
3. Your 420EX won't do it, you need a flash with manual mode. Alternately you could get a Wein digital slave and put that on the strobe. Or just use the sync cord that comes with the lights.
4. Get the Sekonic L-358, and the studio lighting book from http://lightingmagic.c​omexternal link . Lights will work fine on optical trigger unless you're using your 420EX to trigger them.

Post #2, Dec 04, 2005 16:20:42


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PacAce
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As far as light meter goes, the only requirement for using it with strobes and flashes is that it has a flashmeter which is basically an incident meter that can meaure the short duration bursts of flashes. Spot metering is not required. AAMOF, if you did have a spot meter, you wouldn't be able to use it for metering a flash.

Post #3, Dec 04, 2005 16:31:37


...Leo

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tim
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Spot metering's for ambient light.

Post #4, Dec 04, 2005 17:18:57


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BTBeilke
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Thanks for the replies.

How does the meter work with multiple lights? If I get the Sekonic L-358 (that is one of them that I was looking at before I posted) and have a couple of B800's and a B400 background light. How do you use the meter to get the right exposure and adjust the output of each of the studio lights if necessary?

Also, I'm confused by the "spot metering's for ambient light" comment. The Sekonic L-358 claims to meter ambient light but it isn't a spot meter.

And, I was looking for a good excuse to upgrade my flash. If I were to get a 580EX, would I be able to use the 420EX for anything, say a background light or something? Or, without a manual mode, is it basically useless in a studio situation?

Post #5, Dec 04, 2005 18:20:51


Blane
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PacAce
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The L-358 does not come with an attachment for doing spot metering. That is an extra cost option. It only does regular reflective metering where you point the meter in the general direction of your subject from the camera location.

To meter several strobes, you have to fire them individually. You then adjust each one so that their output is at the level you want. Let's say you have two strobes. You want one to be the main light and the other to be the fill light. You start with the main light first and adjust it so that it's output is just right for the aperture you want to use. Let's assume that you want to use an aperture of f/8. So you adjust the main light output until the meter reads f/8.

You next meter the fill light which has to be adjusted so that it provides the right amount of fill. Let's say you want the fill to be one stop dimmer than the main light. That means that when you meter the fill light, it has to show an aperture of f/5.6 which indicates that the fill light is one stop weaker than the main at f/8.

And, as a final check, you set both of the lights off together to see what aperture the combo registers at. Depending on how the lights are arranged, the combined output may register at f/8 or a tad smaller. Whatever aperture you get on this final metering is the aperture the camera should be set to.

Unless you are going to operate the 580EX in manual mode, I wouldn't bother using it in combo with the strobes. So that makes the 420EX pretty useless here since it can't be set to manual.

Post #6, Dec 04, 2005 20:54:56


...Leo

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tim
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The book I recommended above explains all of this stuff well, reading it's easier than us trying to teach studio lighting in a few posts.

I never use the L-358 in the same location as the camera - why would I when the camera can do it? I always use it beside the subject. I also leave all my lights turned on when I meter each light, I just block what I don't want the meter to see with my body. It's quicker and easier.

You can meter for ambient light without a spot meter, but a spot meter can only meter ambient light - whether it's natural or hot lighting.

I don't generally use speedlites and studio lights together, it's just a pain.

Hope that helps more than it confuses :)

Post #7, Dec 04, 2005 21:07:19


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SkipD
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PacAce wrote:
The L-358 does not come with an attachment for doing spot metering. That is an extra cost option. It only does regular reflective metering where you point the meter in the general direction of your subject from the camera location.

This could be a bit misleading..... The L-358 comes with two interchangeable attachments. One allows you to do normal (wide view, not spot-metering) reflective readings, and the other is the white dome that lets you do incident metering. The spot-metering attachments, as said above, are extra-cost options. Of them, the 1° attachment is the most useful.

Post #8, Dec 04, 2005 22:25:51 as a reply to PacAce's post 1 hour earlier.


Skip Douglas
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..... but still learning all the time.

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woffles
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Can't you control the power output of the 420EX using the camera settings? I know my G6 will let me drop my Sigma flash down to 1/16 power. Not as many stops as the AB but still useful for fill. Also it can be used this way to set the AB's optical slave to go off. It's not a perfect solution but will work. If you do want to use it with the AB they make umbrella brackets with hotshoe mounts to hold a flash so you can bounce it into an umbrella. Just mount in on a light stand. Only problem here is the Canon Cord 2 is only 2' long and coiled at that. I'm considering cutting mine and making it longer. You can get a hot shoe adapter to plug the AB into your camera to set off the strobe. The AB's use less then 6 volts so should be safe. I use one on my G6 with no problems. My biggest issue is static. I live in Colorado and finally bought a large humidifier to stop setting off my strobe everytime I touched the camera. They're just touchy.

I'd recommend getting one light and a reflector to learn with. Right now I'm using foamcore board from Wal-Mart but would love to have a 5-n-1 reflector set with stand and boom. Would make my life much easier. You'll also need to look into some kind of backdrops to shoot against. I bought some white muslin 10' wide at JoAnns for one. Taking pictures of my 2 yr old grandson it was hard to keep the backdrop behind him cause he was running around so much!! Used a curtain rod to hang it. Wrong. He kept falling back against it and finally bent the pole! Time to make or buy something better.

AB light stands, the cheap ones anyways I've heard are, well, cheap. I bought an Impact 9.5' heavy duty air cushioned light stand from B&H for $38.95. I just bought one AB400 for now. I'm using my living/dining room. It's about 14x16 with a ceiling that goes from 8' to 10'. My diffuser is a Softliter II 48". It's a cross between an umbrella and a softbox. Much better then AB's brolley. I had one and sent it back. The Octabox should put out nice light. The light meter isn't critical but would be nice to have so you don't have to take so many shots to get the exposure right. Do you have a quality tripod? I shelled out about $250 for a Velbon 530.

Off topic. You have a 300. I understand there are hacks on the internet to unlock features that Canon disabled to differentiate between it and more expensive DSLRs. Just wondering if you knew or had done this?

Here is an example of one light using a shoot through umbrella. The Softliter II with the strobe pointed into it and the light going through the umbrella to light up the scene. Just a self portrait I did the other night playing with the new Softliter. Cloned out a fireplace in the background.

IMAGE: http://i19.photobucket.com/albums/b194/woffles/Me-Again3.jpg

Post #9, Dec 04, 2005 23:21:33


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PacAce
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SkipD wrote:
This could be a bit misleading..... The L-358 comes with two interchangeable attachments. One allows you to do normal (wide view, not spot-metering) reflective readings, and the other is the white dome that lets you do incident metering. The spot-metering attachments, as said above, are extra-cost options. Of them, the 1° attachment is the most useful.

Yes, that's what I meant. I wasn't trying to imply that you can't do incident light metering with the L-358. I was only refering to the reflective light metering aspect of it. Thanks for the clarification, Skip.

Post #10, Dec 05, 2005 08:27:45 as a reply to SkipD's post 10 hours earlier.


...Leo

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PacAce
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woffles wrote:
Can't you control the power output of the 420EX using the camera settings? I know my G6 will let me drop my Sigma flash down to 1/16 power.

Ahhh, that's one thing (among a few others) the G-series cameras have over the EOS cameras, the ability to manually control the flash even though the flash does not have a manual mode. DRISLEY even posted a comment about the other week (http://www.photography​-on-the.net ...13587&highlight=g3+​flash). :)

Post #11, Dec 05, 2005 08:51:12 as a reply to woffles's post 9 hours earlier.


...Leo

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Wilt
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>>Spot metering's for ambient light.<<

Spot meter is USUALLY used for ambient light metering, especially by film shooters who practice 'Zone system' of photography. But spot metering is NOT limited to ambient light metering, if the meter has the capability it can meter FLASH as well. My Minolta Spotmeter F provides such capabilities, for example. Very handy for product photo lighting setup and making sure the dynamic range of a photo falls within what printing presses can achieve in reproduction, for example.

Post #12, Dec 05, 2005 10:12:43


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DocFrankenstein
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You beat me to it, Wilt

1) don't know
2) What aperture do you want to achieve, with what diffusion and at what distance?
If we don't know that, we can't answer

Post #13, Dec 05, 2005 11:01:35


National Sarcasm Society. Like we need your support.

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PacAce
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Wilt wrote:
>>Spot metering's for ambient light.<<

Spot meter is USUALLY used for ambient light metering, especially by film shooters who practice 'Zone system' of photography. But spot metering is NOT limited to ambient light metering, if the meter has the capability it can meter FLASH as well. My Minolta Spotmeter F provides such capabilities, for example. Very handy for product photo lighting setup and making sure the dynamic range of a photo falls within what printing presses can achieve in reproduction, for example.

Well, I'll be a son of a gun! You learn something new everyday. I just tried spot metering a flash lit object with my L-558 and, sure enough, it does work. :)

Thanks for that info, Wilt!

Post #14, Dec 05, 2005 18:31:09 as a reply to Wilt's post 8 hours earlier.


...Leo

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tim
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Thanks Wilt! I think we're getting into mildly advanced stuff here!

Post #15, Dec 05, 2005 18:58:40


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