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FORUMS General Gear Talk Flash and Studio Lighting 
Thread started 06 Oct 2012 (Saturday) 10:29
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Am I the only person who believes Lightmeters are obsolete?

 
Wilt
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Oct 06, 2012 14:16 |  #16

Beachcomber Joe wrote in post #15087634 (external link)
A few posters have put forth the proposition that "chimping" is unprofessional looking.

My own comment was that wasting time (especially when a client is paying for my time) was unprofessional


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cdifoto
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Oct 06, 2012 14:39 |  #17

Beachcomber Joe wrote in post #15087634 (external link)
Those doing the shoots are relying on three things rather than a lightmeter: the cameras LCD, the Histogram, and EXPERIENCE. If you lack any one of these then a lightmeter may speed things along.

Back in the film days those using multiple strobes relied on a flashmeter to set exposure level and lighting ratios. You would then often take the shot at multiple exposure levels and ratios, pray, get the film developed and see how close you came. If you were shooting medium format and had the $$, you would slap a Polaroid back on the camera and take a test shot to make sure that the lighting was right. When it was not, adjustments would be made, and another Polaroid taken. In todays environment the metering steps can be skipped. Experience determines the initial setup, the LCD and histogram allow precise fine tuning with instant feedback.

A few posters have put forth the proposition that "chimping" is unprofessional looking. I find carefully examining the LCD or readout on my laptop/tablet and taking another shot far more "professional" appearing and time efficient than running around popping strobes with a lightmeter.

I put forth the proposition that shooting, chimping, adjusting, shooting, chimping, adjusting, shooting, chimping, adjusting ad infinitum ad nauseum is unprofessional looking and a waste of everyone's time compared to metering, adjusting, then proceeding with the session. If you know how to use a handheld the chimping for initial setup purposes is nonexistent.

If you can get set up with one chimp, more power to ya. The more lights you add the more difficult that gets though unless you use the exact same setup over and over.


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Oct 06, 2012 14:49 |  #18

cdifoto wrote in post #15087734 (external link)
I put forth the proposition that shooting, chimping, adjusting, shooting, chimping, adjusting, shooting, chimping, adjusting ad infinitum ad nauseum is unprofessional looking and a waste of everyone's time compared to metering, adjusting, then proceeding with the session. If you know how to use a handheld the chimping for initial setup purposes is nonexistent.

If you can get set up with one chimp, more power to ya. The more lights you add the more difficult that gets though unless you use the exact same setup over and over.

I really wish I could post the video up, but alas it is a pay video over at Kelby. . . .
Frank Doorhof uses a grey background to get both pure, clean white and pure clean black without taking a single test shot. Just Using a handheld light meter and his strobe remote to set the lights. He also pointed out another important issue that light meters benefit; getting skin tones/colors right. Outside of white balance, exposure differences can lead to different tones. If your incident meter gives you a reading of f/22 at the forehead, you know that the skin will be right when you set the camera to f/22. Not too pale or too dark. This saves time in post trying to even things out.


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Oct 06, 2012 16:50 |  #19

Aside from the adding speed of setting up lights, and the professionalism of having the shots look good from the first shot. There is the fact you have greater creative control if you use a properly calibrated meter. You can make sure you retain detail in both you shadows and highlights keeping your subject within the DR of your camera. People seem to forget that the LCD only shows the JPG preview and the histogram is the tonal range of everything in frame not just the subject.


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kawikao
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Oct 06, 2012 17:00 |  #20

The question is are they obsolete, absolutely not. It's a tool. I don't have one yet but I will. The more prepared we are for shoots the better. I mostly do work in my own studio so I know every inch of it and I spend hours with new setups and write them down. The unpredictable nature of on-location shoots demands an understanding of light in general. If that's lacking then I'd rather have as many tools as I can get. Cheers




  
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Oct 06, 2012 17:40 |  #21

Z, your work is outstanding... now question about it. Based on your style, I can tell that you're more of a artist by feel. You know your lights, you know the ambient, and you dial in as you go. Traditionalist follows a precision guideline to control and create the art work.

A good analogy is like golfers. Some play by feel; their game can adapt well to any condition and create some spectacular results. Some golfers are more mechanical. They have been taught and trained to achieve precision like results. Both style have shares of champions. Mechanical method tends to produce more consistent results.

I definitely use a light meter when more than 3 lights and different modifiers are involved.


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Oct 06, 2012 17:41 as a reply to  @ kawikao's post |  #22

I wouldn't necessarily agree that light meters are obsolete, but I do agree that they're not exactly a necessary item. I'm sure that there are plenty of people who benefit from their use.

FWIW, I can't recall the last time I used a light meter.


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Oct 06, 2012 18:37 |  #23

mellofelow wrote in post #15088176 (external link)
Z, your work is outstanding... now question about it. Based on your style, I can tell that you're more of a artist by feel. You know your lights, you know the ambient, and you dial in as you go. Traditionalist follows a precision guideline to control and create the art work.

A good analogy is like golfers. Some play by feel; their game can adapt well to any condition and create some spectacular results. Some golfers are more mechanical. They have been taught and trained to achieve precision like results. Both style have shares of champions. Mechanical method tends to produce more consistent results.

I definitely use a light meter when more than 3 lights and different modifiers are involved.

Thanks for checking out my work :D

And thats a great analogy. And maybe that is why I feel there obsolete. I've always had a pretty good sense of lighting, and how to light things properly. So a light meter has always seemed a bit unneeded for me. In fact, I don't even use one for film work. And certainly they're great for others. I shared studio space with an amazing photographer for a while, and he used a meter for everything. To me, it just felt like wasting time (like a lot of people here have pointed out with chimping).


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Oct 06, 2012 20:02 |  #24

The more your team, your budget, and your setups grow in size and complexity the more useful a light meter is. If you are working alone you can get away chimping and adjusting all day. If you are working with a crew it becomes an essential tool. If I know the stop and ratio I want I can just tell the gaffer and he will set up the lights to the right intensity without ever looking at a monitor.


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SethDuBois
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Oct 06, 2012 20:11 |  #25

I'm glad I stumbled upon this as I've been wondering the same thing. I've actually never used a light meter so my opinion is purely subjective. In terms of setting up my lighting It's almost become intuitive. With a little feedback from the luminosity histogram and red channel, I can usually get dialed in after a shot or two. So, in that sense I've really not seen a need for a light meter.

However, I guess one area where this could be of more use is when you're running a multiple light setup. Histogram readings aren't going to help me much when it comes to measuring rim light, hair light, bg light and I've learned there's no use in chimping for accuracy with the 40D screen. Yes, basic lighting ratios are simple enough, but when you're running a variety of lights sometimes determining said ratio takes more difficulty than it should (ex. running strobes & speedlights together). So, in this aspect I can see a light meter being a bit more helpful if you're focus is efficiency and really dialing in all aspects of exposure.

Like I said though, everything I've done is by feel which isn't always perfect. I primarily shoot location and have just finished editing a photo which was maybe 1/2 stop underexposed (my fault) but made a pretty big difference in the skin tone - to the point where I spent much more time in post than I should have if I had just metered it correctly.

So, I think each situation is different when taking speed/accuracy in to account. I've gotten by fine w/o one, but like I mentioned, taking a quick reading could have saved me some time in the long run on occasion.


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Oct 07, 2012 12:07 |  #26

Looking at your photos I can understand why you don't use one. I don't see you shooting under conditions where you would find one a must have.

They are far from obsolete though. I shoot company directories for companies with 7+ branch offices. I have to shoot pictures of hundreds of employees that look the same when lined up in a directory. I don't have the luxury of working in the same size area each time, so everything must be metered. I'm not going to go through 1000+ photos and make minor tweaks of exposure.

I also didn't see any corporate shots in your portfolio, but I may have missed them.
Set up a big corporate shot in the board room with about two dozen lights and do that without a meter. They're far from obsolete, however, I rarely use one on one or two light setups unless I know I want a specified contrast range, and I don't have to repeat the results.




  
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Oct 07, 2012 13:22 |  #27

Good point bdillon. Similarly a few months ago I had a team shot 4 rows deep but had only a couple of lights. Based on my initial setup, my meter told me the 4th row was more than a stop short of the first... YIKES! A minute or two of rearranging and reading, I was ready to go. Again, precision and consistency is the key in this case.


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Oct 07, 2012 20:47 |  #28

I sold my 758 meter. For two reasons.

1. I never learned how to use it.

2. I like the new touchscreen meter they came out with. But I'll never figure out how to use that either.




  
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Oct 07, 2012 21:01 |  #29

MDJAK wrote in post #15092321 (external link)
I sold my 758 meter. For two reasons.

1. I never learned how to use it.

2. I like the new touchscreen meter they came out with. But I'll never figure out how to use that either.

I agree the 758 is ridiculously hard to use. I have the cheat sheets taped to the back of mine. I don't really understand why they couldn't just add more buttons instead of requiring bizarre button combinations to do simple things.

I have been using my 758 for two years and still need to look at the cheat sheet to change shutter angle. I think it's ISO + Mode + Scroll wheel? Ugh.


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PhilF
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Oct 07, 2012 21:52 |  #30

I use a light meter a lot because I change light setups all the time.


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Am I the only person who believes Lightmeters are obsolete?
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