Is it worth to invest on a Sekonic meter

Discussion in 'Accessories' started by HK71, Mar 1, 2017.

  1. Is it worth to invest on a Sekonic meter L-558/L-758 with my canon EOS 5D Mark3. Although I am an experienced one, I am still an amateur photographer. So for the possible question; the answer is "no I do not take photos for living, it's still a hobby". I shoot outdoors generally. I like portraits and I am sure it will be effective during portrait shoots. Do you have any experience with 5DMark3 and Sekonic meters together. How does the Mark3' metering cope with Sekonic L-558. (ıN Spot, Avarage etc readings)Do you think in spite of technological improvements of Mark3'S advance metering do I still need a seperate light meter? Thanks in advance for the comments, especially experinced user with the above mentioned duo. Cheers; Hakan Karademir
    Moderator Note: Image removed - you may only post only images that you made yourself
  2. Dustin McAmera

    Dustin McAmera Yorkshire, mostly on film.

    However good the camera's metering is, it can't do incident-light (surely?). I don't know the meters you mentioned, but I have a little Sekonic L308 (seems to cost about a quarter of the price of a 758). It has made me a big fan of incident metering, and it's tiny, so I rarely go out without it.
  3. AJG


    I'm not a Canon user, so I can't speak to the metering in your camera, but I regularly use Sekonic flash meters for studio work with AC flash units. Camera meters simply don't work with most of these, so if you plan on using flash other than Canon or Canon compatible flash units for lighting then get the Sekonic. +1 for the 308 for someone in your situation--it is a good meter, compact and relatively inexpensive for what it does. It won't do spot metering, but your camera should provide that for continuous lighting and I rarely use the spot attachment for my flash meters.
  4. Thoughts.
    • A good meter is much more important with a film camera than a DSLR, where you have immediate feedback of your shot. With a DSLR, you can immediately adjust the exposure for a 2nd shot. With film you have to wait till the film gets back from the lab (days or weeks later) to see if you got the exposure correct.
    • If you are going to use a hand meter, then you need to be able to run your DSLR in full manual mode, to control aperture and shutter speed.
    Get a paper and write down what the Sekonic can do that you can't do with your cameras meter. Then evaluate each item critically.
    • Flash metering. With a DSLR, you can evaluate the shot and make adjustments immediately. So it does not have the importance that it did with film.
    • Lighting ratios. Yes, IMHO much easier with a hand meter than trying to do that with a camera.
    • Incident metering. Do you have a need or desire for it. I used incident extensively when I shot slide film. Not used it with my DSLR ... yet.
    • ???
    If you shoot FILM, especially MF non-metered camera or LF, then definitely. <br>
    Digital, much less so. <br><br>

    Personally, my decision would be NO. <br>
    But if you just want a new toy (like we all do) go ahead and get it. I would. It is GAS (Gear Acquisition Syndrome) in action. And I won't tell you what "gear" I have accumulated, just that it is MORE than I need.
    HK71 likes this.
  5. SCL


    I think Gary niled it. I've had handheld/off camera meters forr over 50 years, and occasionally use them even in the digital. built in DSLR age....typically only for incident readings, but even then not often (maybe 1-2 times/month). The in-camera meters do such a good job, and often I go meterless with my classic cameras and known emulsion/developer combos. So I agree , unless you are doing a lot of incident metering, there really isn't a benefit with your camera; but it is always nice to have another gaget to play around with if the price is right.
  6. I have used a Sekonic 508 since about 2000. It was an essential tool for my Hasselblad kit, including digital, but not so much with other cameras. I still do use studio flash for large groups and portraits, and the 508's flash capability is essential for a quick, accurate setup. DSLRs rarely have an incident light system, which works better than reflected light for closeups in nature and in the studio, and especially when clothing or backgrounds have an undue influence on exposure. These situations include formal wedding groups. Spot readings are helpful for architecture and landscape photos, where lighting may be uneven. Now that cameras have a 13+ stop dynamic range, about the only thing to worry about is blown highlights.

    <br><br>My 508 now resides in a largely unused bag full of Hasselblad gear, or in a bag with radio triggers and miscellaneous flash support items. If I ever have the time or need to do more tabletop photography, I'm sure it will be put to good use.
  7. YEARS ago, in the TTL metering days, but pre-automatic, I remember seeing an incident dome that you could put on the font of your lens to take an incident reading. It looked interesting but seemed more clumsy to use than a handheld meter. And it only fit that one lens, because of the filter size. This was OK with Nikon and its standard 52mm filters, but not the other brands which had 2,3 or 4 different filter sizes for the different lenses, example 49,55 and 58mm. Then what, you need a dome for each filter size?
  8. William Michael

    William Michael Moderator Staff Member

    I have a Sekonic L758D and I use EOS 5D series Cameras. <br><br>

    The Sekonic, for my uses is: <br><br>

    > invaluable for Studio Flash work; <br>

    > useful for outdoors Flash as Fill; <br>

    > handy for incident Light Meter Readings, (this can be equally achieved using a Photographic Grey Card and the TTL Meter on a 5D – which is a technique I also use). <br><br>

    For me -the other invaluable use of the Sekonic is the Spot Meter: a 5DMkIII has a Spot Meter Mode – but note that is NOT “Spot Metering” firstly it is ‘weighted’ and secondly it a percentage area of the viewfinder – hence lens’s Focal Length dependent: all EOS Cameras’ Spot Metering is the same except for the fact that the percentage area of the viewfinder might be different. <br><br>

    I do use Spot Metering (both the Canon TTL and the Sekonic) quite often especially for static scenes such as Architectural Interiors and Landscapes; the benefit of the Sekonic is its known accuracy and that the reading is non-dependent on the lens that I have mounted on the camera. <br><br>

    I certainly think that an Hand Held Meter is NOT a necessity for general Photography and with the computing power and excellence of TTL Meters nowadays and the availability of AEB (Auto Exposure Bracketing), I could just as easily do away with my Spot metering techniques and manual computation technique – but I have the gear and I like doing it that way, sometimes. <br><br>

    I think that you should give serious thought to the money that you would spend on a Sekonic and whether you would get value out of the uses that I mentioned – from a purely practical value for money point of view I think that one would not consider buying any Sekonic unless one was doing a lot of Studio Flash work – and then buy a really good Sekonic with hi-tech and comprehensive Flash Metering Functionality.<br><br>

    HK71 likes this.
  9. david_henderson


    There's no right or wrong answer. Just the way different people decide they want to use their equipment. As a person who never uses flash , doesn't feel the need for incident metering with his 5DMkiii and rarely switches metering away from the Evaluative setting , then for me it would be just something else to carry, with no expectation that my photography would improve as a result. I think William above is right- if you have a specialist need then buy it, but for general photography there's really no need. And it will slow you down. I used a Sekonic 508 (predecessor of the models you mention) for more than 10 years with slide film and medium format . Indeed I had two in case one broke! But then the in-camera meters were nowhere near what we now have available. Further the slide film has a dynamic range of 5 stops max and I found that spot metering was necessary to determine where important features in my pictures were going to lie at my chosen settings. I don't really have to do that any more with much greater dynamic range and (as others point out) the ability to assess each shot and take a better version if the histogram isn't what you want.

    But if you decide to work with a hand-held meter, I'd support the brand and model choice you're considering. Far, far better than the cheaper meters that don't show you where they're drawing their readings from.
    HK71 likes this.
  10. Silent Street

    Silent Street Silent Street Photography AUS

    Speaking from long professional experience and multiple meters, the Sekonic L758 is a multispot/incident/averaging/flash exposure meter (and how it averages can also be varied e.g. mean-weighted, average or additive/subtractive, in addition to a swag of additional tweaks), worth its weight in gold if you are an analogue (film) photographer and proficient in Zone exposure or "sweeping" a scene's contrast in difficult lighting, very especially using transparency film for print reproduction where exposure must be tightly controlled. There is only very limited value in applying these meters to your own 5D MkIII camera's onboard meter, be it evaluative, spot/avg, CWA or partial (and variants thereof) — any one of which is more than capable in experienced, proficient hands. Exposure profiling is one potential (and sometimes, useful) application with the Sekonics, but many amateur photographers give up on it and eventually fall back to the camera's capability.
  11. Dear William;
    First of all, thanks for your comments about the matter. I really find them useful. Since I am really considering to improve and evaluate my flash photograpghy, I think a proper lightmeter would help me in most of the future cases with a flashgun. Since I do not like post processing so much and.keen of "as it is photography" -as an analogue/old school amateur- I rather would like to focus on preparation of a proper shot than post processing of it. I would like to take the advantage of incident reading of light meter for fill in flash photography, such as the one I attached here.


  12. I don't own Sekonic. - A buddy had one of those meters you are pondering and called it a battery eater. While non rechargeable AAAs seem wildly available buying them would annoy me. (<-personal quirk.) I'm aware that they must be the best on the current market but I don't feel a real need for them. In the studio there is my Gossen Variosix F, a nice meter for incident flash and continuous readings. for spot metering it would need an attachment for direct readings you have to remove and store one, not great. - I am doing digital tabletop product shots and consider a flash meter pretty handy and nice to have.
    With my film cameras I used to carry Gossen Lunasix F or Mastersix. Those don't demand me to remove and store a diffusor, I can slide it away. The Mastersix (AKA Lunapro in the US) takes a zooming spot attachment and becomes big & bulky with it. It was worth carrying that monster to concerts I wanted to shoot. Otherwise it is more like a shelf queen, next to the attachment to take even flash spot TTL meterings in front of my viewcameras' ground glasses.

    Your 5D is admittedly fancier than what I have. My Pentax & Samsung DSLRs have all the modern metering modes and do pretty fine with them. For indoors use I have 1.75 system flashes capable of wireless TTL. They work quite well for me and histogram chimping combined with dialing in correction factors seems to cut my cake.

    OTOH I am also shooting Leica M. those cameras don't have top LCDs for meter read outs without rising them to my eye and unlike DSLRs they don't prompt complete information into the viewfinder. - They work (almost?) well enough with their 1980 style center weighted metering in aperture priority and auto ISO mode. But sometimes I have to switch to manual where I can't feel the set shutter speed while looking through the view finder. I recently figured out that I am missing my incident readings before I am raising my camera to have a rough idea in what kind of light I might be, like in the old days when one scouted venues meter in hand or only had to do focusing and composing after setting a camera in advance, so yes with the leicas I am warming up with my meters again.

    Whatever you'll do: Plan wisely. The Seconics seem expensive! If I'll end buying a 5D, I'd rather stick to what I have or buy another used Lunasix F and invest the remaining cash into dedicated wireless TTL flashes, maybe even by Yongnuo. - They seem really nicely priced. The big question with your outdoor photography: How much convenience will popping about 3 flashes to read spot meterings from their face give you and your semi-posing but not yet smiling subject compared to 1.5 test shots with histogram chimping? The latter seems much easier to do to me than to sweep subjects in advance with a spot meter. (I have another one by Soligor that would, unlike the Gossen, allow that technique.) With 35mm /MF film I was usually content withincident or unaimed direct meter readings. Spotmetering on skin tone seems handy if you have stage lights or the sun / sky in your pictures but I guess that could be done in camera too? For portraits I usually had my subject read me the fstop of an incident flash metering.

    A big issue to keep in mind: Digital cameras tend to show ISO inconsitence; i.e. some manufacturers can't resist the urge to call ISO 6200 something way higher and more impressive. So a meter reading would be more useful on film than with an unknown digital camera. Also there is the difference between f-stops & t-stops. - If you want to expose JPEGs properly you'd better know how much light all the elements in your lens eat. So even a $500 meter doesn't necessarrily make your exposure spot on. - If you want such, shoot an iPhone or keep your camera on auto in matrix metering mode. <- I have no intention to sound rude. I simply don't know you. While some folks might have fun getting to know their camera better by figuring out how to compensate metering for it, others might be disappointed or feeling ripped off. All I can say: I haven't entirely relearned handheld metering for digital yet.
    Last edited: Mar 2, 2017
  13. The "problem" with any reflective meter, either spot or wide area, is: Where do you point it? This decision is always down to human judgement, and therefore open to human error. Now the eye is very poor at judging absolute brightness, which is why we rely on meters in the first place. So you have a catch 22 situation where the meter accurately measures what it's pointed at, but aiming the meter is done by something entirely fallible - you!<p><br>
    In short, any reflective reading is pretty unreliable and error prone. Whereas incident reading removes the variability of subject reflectivity, and of where to point the meter.<p><br>
    So by all means buy an incident meter. But do you need to spend hundreds of dollars on a meter? Definitely not! I doubt there's any photographically significant difference between incident readings taken by the cheapest and most expensive meters on the market. Certainly all the meters that I have (and I have quite a collection) agree with each other within very close limits. When they don't agree it's generally because of my human error in not pointing them accurately.
    Last edited: Mar 2, 2017
  14. Silent Street

    Silent Street Silent Street Photography AUS

    I do not agree nor see it as a problem. And "any reflective reading is pretty unreliable and error prone" is a funny sort of statement. Even in the context of the rather trivial difference in spot coverage (typically 1% vs 5%) is relatively very, very reliable and error-free in skilled hands.

    Would you say the same thing about error prone readings with the multispot / averaging of the Olympus OM4? If so, why?

    Where to point the meter? Well, where do you point your car??
    Like anything in life, it is easy once you have been taught and know what to do, when and why and the reasoning behind it. I have met plenty of amateur photographers who have started absolutely clueness with a multispot meter and mastered the basics in under 4 days, applying the methodology to the unforgiving medium of transparency film (within 0.3 stop).

    With a spot meter sweeping the scene, your readings will be of a bright area of the scene, but not the brightest; then another area of the scene will be darker, but not the darkest. You can finished there and average all readings taken, together with more ("doubling spots") or continue with a mid-tone reference reading, either in the scene or with a grey card. The big trouble with incident meters is that they assume the scene is average, when it obviously is not! Incident does have its valued uses, especially in strong backlit compositions (e.g. portraiture), but in the landscape it have limited accurate, interpretive application.

    Be aware that incident and spot meters do not necessarily, nor strictly, accord to the 18% grey measurement; variations between incident and spot are widespread (especially with Sekonics; it is not a fault, but the fact that incident [12.6%] and spot [16.2%] are different systems) and it is incumbent upon any photographer to understand these differences and how they can impact critical work situations.
  15. "The big trouble with incident meters is that they assume the scene is average..." -
    No, they don't. Meters assume nothing, they're dumb machines. But an incident meter tells you exactly how much light is falling on the subject. It's area reflective meters that "assume" some average reflectivity. And if you use a grey card, then that gives you almost exactly the same reading as an incident meter.<p><br>

    Taking multiple spot readings only gives you an idea of the SBR of the scene. It still doesn't tell you the "best" exposure. Say you get readings between 1EV and 13 EV - then what do you do with them? You know your film (Huh! You're still using that old stuff?) won't cope with that brightness range; so you have to decide whether to sacrifice shadows or highlights. That's a human decision, and therefore error-prone. Let's remember - you can only set one exposure. No matter how many meter readings you take.<p><br>The best exposure is the one that gives you the result you want or visulised, and no meter can do that for you automatically.<p>By the time you've taken a whole range of meter readings and averaged them - BTW I thought you said average readings were bad? You might as well chimp the scene with a digital camera and make adjustments according to a real result, and not a load of spurious meter readings.
  16. david_henderson


    Think there's more than one way of skinning this particular cat, but I much preferred multiple spot readings with a 1 degree meter such as a Sekonic to incident readings. You can see what you're metering and if you know your medium its not hard to turn a series of spot readings into an exposure. I've got ten years or more of taking landscapes with contrasty slide film that proves to me that I could get good exposures reliably . But if you can make a method work for you, with your equipment and your subjects , then it works. I do think though that there's a lot of photographers who used wide-receptor reflective metering who were rescued by wide dynamic range neg film and darkroom work.
    William Michael likes this.
  17. William Michael

    William Michael Moderator Staff Member


    If I didn’t articulate it clearly before, that is exactly how I reckon (‘reckon’ = ‘take a few Spot meters and manually compute the exposure’) the exposure of an interior Architecture or complex Landscape Scene: I do many more of the former than the latter.


    Yes. I think there is more to that line of thought.

    I think there are many Digital Photographers who are ‘rescued’ by “post production” – I think that many ‘digital photographers’ start from the premise of computer talents and skills and become content with ‘close enough is good enough in camera’ and they fix it in post production.

    However, it occurs to me that Hakan tends to be a ‘purist’ in his pursuit of The Craft - he stated as much here, in Post #11:

    I think that for Hakan, the ‘process’ of making the shot gives him much satisfaction and joy.

    Indeed, there are many ways to skin this cat. Each of us is different.

  18. FWIW, that expensive Sekonic has a major flaw. In that a shaded (dropped) dome is not the same as a flat sensor. To get accurate lighting ratio measurements the meter should reject light from directions other than where it's pointed. A dome obviously can't do this properly.<p>Sekonic's solution to this (apart from partially shading the incident hemisphere) is to advise turning off all lights apart from the one being measured, and to do this in turn for all lights. Time-consuming or what!<p>
    I'm not sure why Sekomic didn't do the right thing and supply an interchangeable flat diffuser like Minolta did with their meters, or as Sekonic themselves did with the old Studio L398.<p>I'd also question the accuracy of the spot metering, especially for very dark areas of a scene. It's notoriously difficult to limit a sensor's field of view completely from adjacent bright areas, and from stray light entering a reflex viewing system. Even dedicated spotmeters such as the Pentax aren't immune in this respect. The Pentax meter is also inaccurate at close distances unless a CU dioptre is fitted. As far as I can see the Sekonic has no such distance compensation. So it's all very well having amazing computing power and a fancy LCD readout, but Sekonic appear to have cheaped out on the basics.
  19. david_henderson


    As far as I'm concerned, Rodeo Joe, the proof of the pudding lies in the eating, and IMO the Sekonic 508 and successors spot-meter just fine.
  20. William Michael

    William Michael Moderator Staff Member

    Like David, I have never had any miscalculation of exposure using the Spot Metering Mode in my Sekonic.<br><br>

    Apropos the technique of metering one light (or Flash) individually, that's not been an issue for me either: that's the method I was taught and that's the method I have always used - in my mind there's a procedural logic to that process as one is able to calculate the ratios as one builds the Lighting Set. <br><br>

    My experience is that mostly all Stage Lighting Managers set their Lighting Rig/Set separately and the same procedure is generally used for Film and Television: that is the Lighting Rig/Set is built (and metered/measured) in individual stages.<br><br>

    For me, the procedure of metering each light (or Flash) individually for a Stills Lighting Set, is both logical and accurate and doesn't take a lot of extra time. <br><br>


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