The hand-held gentle meter — ought to I exploit one?
Like many individuals, early in my pictures profession, I had many questions on what tools to purchase. The suggestions that I keep in mind have been to purchase nice lenses, a sturdy tripod and a lightweight meter. So I did, nonetheless, sooner or later in my picture profession the sunshine meter ended up on a shelf as a substitute of a pictures backpack.
On this article, I’ll clarify the distinction between the meter in your digicam and a handheld gentle meter, why I’ve began utilizing one once more and why it needs to be part of any photographer’s digicam bag.
Incident metering versus reflective metering
Publicity in pictures is all about gentle. How a lot there may be, the place it’s coming from, its colour, and so forth. The sunshine meter constructed into cameras that measures this, usually, are of the “reflective” sort. They measure the sunshine being mirrored off of your topic. Whereas they’re refined and sometimes pretty correct, this mirrored gentle could be influenced by the floor materials of your topic.
When gentle hits a floor, three issues can occur. The sunshine is absorbed by the floor (absorption), bounces off the floor (reflection) or transmitted via the floor (transmission). Whereas some supplies will solely do considered one of these, most often, there’s a mixture of all three.
With incident metering, we measure the sunshine falling on an space. Whereas it might have handed via one thing like clouds, that impact is uniform throughout the scene. It isn’t being affected by what it’s bouncing off of, equivalent to shiny metallic which displays gentle, or a mossy log that absorbs gentle. Usually incident metering will probably be extra correct than mirrored metering, though, fact be instructed, typically the variations will not be sufficient for us to note. Nevertheless, in some situations that distinction could be drastic, inflicting you to underexpose or overexpose your photographs.
The 18% grey commonplace
The 18% grey (aka center or impartial grey) commonplace is a continuing that photographers and digicam producers base exposures on. Let’s say we take away the colour from a scene and have a look at solely the tones. All of the brightness values from black (shadows) via white (highlights) in a scene. “18% grey” is strictly midway between black and white. It’s the common brightness between the deepest shadow and the brightest gentle.
(I do know you’re pondering, “Why not 50% grey?” As a result of that is primarily based on an exponential curve, not a straight line. Mathtastic!)
18% grey is used as a normal as a result of it’s the solely brightness the place the tone displays again as a lot gentle because it receives. So, an 18% grey scene will probably be metered identically by both an incident or a reflective meter. Nevertheless, most scenes will not be completely impartial grey in brightness!
Think about a snow scene or a sundown — scenes with plenty of highlights or shadows. The snow scene will replicate much more gentle, the sundown scene far much less. With snow, the digicam’s reflective meter will possible render an publicity that’s too darkish, making the snow look grayish or “muddy.” The meter will let in too little gentle because it assumes the scene needs to be darkened all the way down to a center grey common. Conversely, the sundown scene will seem “washed out,” because the digicam will permit in an excessive amount of gentle to render as center grey.
Each of those points are the results of measuring mirrored gentle out of your topic as a substitute of the particular gentle falling in your scene. The extra the scene diverges from a median of center grey, the extra the calculated exposures will fluctuate between your digicam’s meter and the hand-held incident meter. The incident meter is precisely capturing the sunshine within the scene, whereas the reflective meter is thrown off the reflectivity of the topic.
Ought to I hassle if my digicam has a lightweight meter?
Brief reply, sure. However in a special and fewer managed manner.
Lengthy reply, sure. However in a special and fewer managed manner. The sunshine meter constructed into your digicam is measuring gentle mirrored off your topic, not the sunshine falling in your topic. It’s a delicate however necessary distinction because of the manner gentle interacts with completely different supplies.
Take the waterfall within the above scene. Gentle coming via the tree cover is falling on the moist rocks and water. With the meter, we’re measuring the sunshine falling on the scene, earlier than it has been affected by what’s it falling on. A moist rock displays gentle otherwise than a dry one. Water depth, completely different vegetation and whether or not the water is evident or murky, all can have an effect on the mirrored gentle values.
If making an attempt for particular results just like the basic “dreamy water” look widespread in waterfall pictures, it is a pretty exact shutter pace, usually within the 1-second vary. A reasonably small aperture can also be used (f/10-16 often) to realize a big depth of discipline throughout the scene. Little modifications in gentle ranges on this setting can play havoc together with your publicity, with out you realizing it.
Utilizing any of the “inventive” modes like Aperture or Shutter Precedence, and not using a exact measuring of sunshine, will surrender management over what your remaining picture seems to be like. Aperture Precedence offers up management of the shutter pace, so your water blur is out of your management. Shutter Precedence offers up management of your aperture, or what’s in focus all through your picture. Is the digicam fairly good at this? Type of, largely, form of, however not at all times. Utilizing Handbook mode with constant metering out of your gentle meter offers you probably the most accuracy in a state of affairs like this, so you’ll be able to hold your inventive decisions if the sunshine falling on the scene modifications.
Whereas we are able to repair a lot after the very fact, the place constant exposures are important it’s at all times higher to get it proper within the discipline than need to guess later and repair all of your exposures in post-processing.
Talking of inventive management, one of many greatest drawbacks of any in-camera meter is its incapacity to measure flash. Our best inventive management comes once we add or subtract gentle from a scene to realize our imaginative and prescient. Since your flash doesn’t hearth till you journey the shutter, your metered studying to calculate the publicity will probably be wildly completely different out of your precise publicity with flash. A lightweight meter can measure flash throughout a take a look at shot, supplying you with a constant and correct publicity to your pictures.
What I exploit
Over the previous yr, I used to be lucky to obtain the Illuminati incident gentle and colour temperature ambient and flash meter to guage. It rapidly earned a spot in my gear bag, a spot not many objects can declare! It’s a fairly progressive product that mixes a lightweight meter and a colour meter that connects to your smartphone.
Whereas there are gentle meters that additionally measure white stability, they’re often on the excessive finish of the value vary. This can be a a lot lower-cost merchandise, easy to make use of, for photographers or videographers, and is concerning the measurement of a thick triangular drink coaster. It’s small, sturdy and light-weight, taking the place in my pack of a lightweight meter, colour meter, grey card and drink coaster.
Making life simpler
My pack is already stuffed with devices, gear, and different photographic sundries. I’m a “multigenre” photographer, so at any second I may leap from a black and white panorama to photographs of a bear, to a trend shoot. Normally not on the similar location, however you by no means know. Having the ability to have one system that gives extremely constant outcomes, and is dependable is of nice worth to me.