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Thread: Light meter for landscapes

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    Light meter for landscapes

    Not sure if this is used for landscapes I have read about people using light meters for landscapes without relying on the in camera metering system can anyone tell me if it is a good idea.


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    For landscapes, you'd likely need a reflected light meter, as opposed to an incident light meter, which measures the light falling on the subject matter.

    Camera-based meters measure reflected light.

    I cannot say I've ever found myself wanting a dedicated meter, and I tend to make deliberate decisions to under-expose and/or over-exposed based on the "correct" exposure suggested by the camera after its meter has measured the reflected light.

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    I would've thought your camera's spot meter would be sufficient for landscape work, but having never used a dedicated handheld meter I wouldn't know enough to say.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Xenedis View Post
    For landscapes, you'd likely need a reflected light meter, as opposed to an incident light meter, which measures the light falling on the subject matter.
    Um, why? Reflected light metering fools the camera into thinking, for example, that bright whites are grey and gives you reading usually 1 - 2 stops under exposed if the scene is predominantly white (ie a snow scene). Incident light meters are far and away the best way of measuring light for landscapes, or pretty much any other type of photography. Very useful and far more accurate than the in-camera meter.

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    Don't mind me; I was confused.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jimbo View Post
    I would've thought your camera's spot meter would be sufficient for landscape work, but having never used a dedicated handheld meter I wouldn't know enough to say.
    The in-camera metering is fine except when things start getting over 30" @ ISO 100. At that point you start having to double ISO's, half apertures, etc, etc, to then be able to work out how many stops you need to add to the shutter speed. E.g. if it's 30" @ ISO 1600 then you have to know that that's 4 stops and then add that to your shutter speed once you go back down to ISO 100 (480 seconds). While not hard to do it's cumbersome
    Craig

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    I use my light meter sometimes when taking film landscapes using medium format, especially if the scene has a wide range of brightness. I will take a spot meter from several places and get and average for the shutter speed. Don't use one with the DSLR as I can use the inbuilt metering, in need, or take a couple of 'test shots' (easy to delete, where film costs you, even if you don't expose correctly).
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    Is the Histogram on your camera broken? I have several meters, spot, incidident, colour temp, none of which have seen the light of day when using digital. Use your histogram and bracket. That's far better than anything a meter can do for you.

    If you rely on a meter without using your histogram then you might as well be shooting medium or large format film, IMHO, as you will be wasting the imediate feedback that digital gives you.

    JJ

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    A histogram is only going to give you the average digital information of the digital file. A good histogram means a good file - that I dont doubt. Its not going to give you the information of lets say the light reading of the inside of a barn, whilst checking the exposure reading on the facing wall, and then giving you a reading of the sky is it?


    So I'd certainly support using a light meter, and although I check my histogram its not something I'd recommend relying on.


    And in addition, I tend to think it looks a little bit more polished if you get the shot right the first time as opposed to reading something that can only be checked AFTER the shot is taken, and not before.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Longshots View Post
    A histogram is only going to give you the average digital information of the digital file. A good histogram means a good file - that I dont doubt. Its not going to give you the information of lets say the light reading of the inside of a barn, whilst checking the exposure reading on the facing wall, and then giving you a reading of the sky is it? ...
    No. It's a line graph showing the quantity of each illumination level including 0 and 255 (the points where no further information is recorded) such as your dark barn and sky. It tells you exactly, not approximately, how good/bad or indifferent your exposure is and what you have to play with in post, if that's your thing. It tells you if you have information recorded in very dark or very bright area's. By the way, using a meter is not easy and you do need to know what you are doing too. It takes practice and experience to know what it is telling you and how to expose your film, for example. You can still very easilly make mistakes by simply holding the meter in the wrong direction or too high or low, in the case of incident readings.

    Quote Originally Posted by Longshots View Post
    And in addition, I tend to think it looks a little bit more polished if you get the shot right the first time as opposed to reading something that can only be checked AFTER the shot is taken, and not before.
    Do you suggest bracketing be avoided too?

    JJ

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    No I'm quite happy with bracketing. I do that a great deal of the time, and have done for a good 30 years plus.

    But I can agree to disagree with you over relying purely on the histogram.

    You cannot escape the fact that is gives you the information on an average; exactly as you said from 0 - 255, but it isnt going to help you with a specific light reading on a specific part of an image, which is going to help you understand how you can creatively control your light capture. Everything else you've said I completely agree with - other than dismissing the use of a light meter.

    Both the histogram and light meter can be misused and misunderstood. Nor did I say it was easy to use Its like reading and understanding the histogram, it takes some commitment and some practice Both have their place - which was my point.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Longshots View Post
    A histogram is only going to give you the average digital information of the digital file.
    Something important to note here if you shoot raw-only as I do is that the histogram is based on the low-res JPG the camera produces for the LCD screen, not the raw file itself.

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    in camera light meter can work, and try to use a lens with a similar fov. incident meters can work if you stand in the average light that falls on the average light in your shot. the ideal meter to use is a dedicated spot such as a Pentax Digital spot meter, but they aint cheap, and they don't do everything like the Sekonics (incident, spot, reflect). If you do want an all in one like that then the Sekonic is the only option, but if you only want spot for landscape and nothing else, then the Pentax is a better quality product.

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    The Sekonics are good, mine does incident, reflected, spot and flash. Very handy tool.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Xenedis View Post
    For landscapes, you'd likely need a reflected light meter, as opposed to an incident light meter, which measures the light falling on the subject matter.

    Camera-based meters measure reflected light.

    I cannot say I've ever found myself wanting a dedicated meter, and I tend to make deliberate decisions to under-expose and/or over-exposed based on the "correct" exposure suggested by the camera after its meter has measured the reflected light.
    Do you use exp bracketing for your seascapes?
    Tony

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tonym06 View Post
    Do you use exp bracketing for your seascapes?
    Disregard that question John, I just read your seascape photography piece. Very informative thanks

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    Quote Originally Posted by ricktas View Post
    The Sekonics are good, mine does incident, reflected, spot and flash. Very handy tool.
    Rick I have the same can you tell me where can I find information to use it effectively including how to calculate the expose shutter speed needed ect. I think will be very helpful thanks in advance...

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    Light Meters

    Hi Team

    I have a Sekonic and use it quite regularly as a spot meter when I want very accurate readings and don't have time to reshoot. To use the spot meter it is a good idea to have some knowledge about the zone system.

    The incident meter on a handheld is not that good for landscapes as you need to take the reading in the same light as the subject. A bit difficult if your subject is at infinity or the ocean etct etc

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    Review screen histogram is more than accurate enough for capturing a landscape scene.

    The only issue if you shoot raw and use Auto WB, is that if the camera shoots the scene too blue for the actual conditions at the time, your histogram may tend to look correctly exposed(ie., not blown out if that's what you want).
    But if you load the images onto the PC and 'correct' the WB for the image, which will almost certainly be warmer from my experience), then the red channel may immediately blow out depending on how close to the right you've exposed.

    I have no idea on how good/bad/ugly spot metering is on a Canon 7D, but on a Nikon D300 it's usually spot on

    I take spot meter readings via the camera's metering system at various points, use filters if they're required.
    Metering on the mid to dark tones, I'll shoot a 3shot - 0.7 bracketed burst(ie. 0 -0.7 and -1.3EV) to push the highlights as far as I can with the neutral exposure.
    Almost certainly I'll end up using the -1.3Ev exposure on most of my resultant assessments of my images.

    i've never seen any reason to use a light meter with a digital camera.

    As far as I'm aware anyhow, each camera's sensor seems to have slightly different exposure characteristics anyhow, and the light meter won't take lens characteristics into account either.

    Things like vignetting, contrast colour etc.
    The best light meter for a digital camera is the cameras own sensor!

    You have a tri colour histogram, use that and be mindful of WB warming later on in PP.
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    Quote Originally Posted by arthurking83 View Post
    Review screen histogram is more than accurate enough for capturing a landscape scene.

    The only issue if you shoot raw and use Auto WB, is that if the camera shoots the scene too blue for the actual conditions at the time, your histogram may tend to look correctly exposed(ie., not blown out if that's what you want).
    But if you load the images onto the PC and 'correct' the WB for the image, which will almost certainly be warmer from my experience), then the red channel may immediately blow out depending on how close to the right you've exposed.

    I have no idea on how good/bad/ugly spot metering is on a Canon 7D, but on a Nikon D300 it's usually spot on

    I take spot meter readings via the camera's metering system at various points, use filters if they're required.
    Metering on the mid to dark tones, I'll shoot a 3shot - 0.7 bracketed burst(ie. 0 -0.7 and -1.3EV) to push the highlights as far as I can with the neutral exposure.
    Almost certainly I'll end up using the -1.3Ev exposure on most of my resultant assessments of my images.

    i've never seen any reason to use a light meter with a digital camera.

    As far as I'm aware anyhow, each camera's sensor seems to have slightly different exposure characteristics anyhow, and the light meter won't take lens characteristics into account either.

    Things like vignetting, contrast colour etc.
    The best light meter for a digital camera is the cameras own sensor!

    You have a tri colour histogram, use that and be mindful of WB warming later on in
    PP.
    This is the biggest load of rubbish I've ever read on the subject.

    A light meter is a Grey Card, its that simple. Taking a light reading before you shot is a key part of landscape photography or any kind of photography for that matter weather its digital or film.
    Yes cameras have come a long way in the last 10 years, but they still fall miles behind when it comes to reading the light.

    If you have a light meter you should use it for EVERY shot you take.

    Cameras and it doesn't matter what brand, make or model don't do a good enough job.

    The best way to see this is find a white wall, set the colour space to B&W (colour might also work but B&W is the best).
    Take a reading of the wall, take a shot.
    Take a reading with a Grey card, take the shot.
    Turn both images into B&W images in photoshop and the first will show up as middle grey, the second will show the Grey card as middle Grey, the wall white.

    How are you going to work out studio flashes without one? change the shutter speed? shutter speed means NOTHING with flash photography, your aperture changes the exposure because a flash of light is around 10,000 of a second. in other words you get the same results at 160/s @ ƒ8 than you would at 10/s @ ƒ8.

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