Light metering

Discussion in 'Medium Format' started by lee_bown, Jul 8, 2009.

  1. Hello all,
    I've recently bought a second-hand Mamiya RZ67 Pro II with the 110mm Sekor lens, WLF and 120 film and Polaroid backs. It's all in lovely condition and am very pleased.
    However, being a relative newcomer to photography and having previously only used a Canon EOS 450D, i'm finding that calculating exposure for the Portra 160NC film i'm using is quite difficult. My DSLR certainly doesn't seem to be giving me readings i can use on the Mamiya.
    As a result, i'm thinking about investing in a light meter? Possibly the Sekonic L-358 on the basis that it's the most reasonably priced model that provides aperture priority mode.
    I mainly shoot landscapes and this a hobby rather than profession so it's unlikely it will ever be used in a studio set-up.
    Any advice on whether the light meter (and specifically the L-358) is the right way to go would be much appreciated.
     
  2. I see no reason that your DSLR is not giving readings that you can use on your MF camera. Metering is metering, whether it's hand held or in-camera.
     
  3. Well, do you shoot with flash as well as ambient light? This meter is a flash meter and although it will work perfectly well with natural light, there might still be some less expensive or better alternatives. I will say that sekonic meters are very good and long lasting. I have one that is over 20 years old and works as good now as the day I got it.
    But if you are going to shoot in existing light conditions for the most part and in the landscape, I think that a good spot meter, one degree type, is really the best. Your camera will slow you down from what you might be used to with a 35mm and the spot meter just adds to the thoughtfulness, and success, with larger formats. An incident meter, like the 358, reads light falling on a subject and to get the best reading, you should read at the subject. If the scene is far off and lit differently than where you are standing, it is pretty useless. A spot meter reads the light reflected from the object being photographed, like your 450D, except that it reads very specific light--a small section. Understanding the zone system and the spot meter will insure that you get the best exposures in any given situation. It might take some time to master, but once you do it is really easy, quick and satisfying.
     
  4. Lee:
    When I started shooting MF, I had what sounds like a similar experience, and wound up with one of Sekonic's big meters via the same reasoning - I was used to shooting aperture priority on electronic cameras. What I soon learned is that the reason users of MF mechanical cameras use EV and/or shutter priority is that you can't set intermediate shutter speeds on these cameras. So you quickly learn to meter in a new way based on non-AP shooting, or you are forever fiddling with the meter readings to find a setting that can work with your mechanical shutter. I thought I would need spot metering too, but soon found it be be overkill for 99% of my shooting, and rather tedious.
    I moved down to the L-308 and found everything much simpler, faster and more accurate after a little practice. Cheaper, too.
     
  5. Lee:
    In rereading your post I noticed you also shoot with Portra, a relatively exposure-tolerant film, which is all the more reason why a simple setup with a pocket-sized L-308 like I described should give excellent results. I shoot landscapes on slide film almost exclusively which is much less forgiving of exposure errors, and it works beautifully with incident/relected readings once you get the hang of measuring correctly.
     
  6. Hi Lee -
    I hope I'm understanding your question correctly.
    Set your l-358 to ASA 160 and get an incident reading. Set the shutter speed and f/stop reading on your Mamiya. Shoot.
    Or....
    Set your Canon to manual
    Set it to the the same film speed as NC160 which is 160
    Set it to desired shutter speed.
    Set the f/stop to the shutter speed per L358.
    Start taking pictures with each shot going up and down the f/stop scale
    Set the Mamiya to whatever looks best to you on the Nikon.
    Hope this works.
    Carlos
     
  7. Get the Sekonic 358 or the smaller, cheaper 308 but get meter, OK? You need incident/flash metering for productive/satisfying MF shooting and your film SLR or DSLR's reflective metering isn't going to cut it. There's a semi-pricey 5 degree spot attachment for the 358. You don't need a spot meter for many kinds of landscape shooting if the light hitting your(and your meter) and the subject are the same--funny but the sun tends to work that way. Incident metering is what you need. Having flash metering capability baked into the same meter is a huge plus if and when you try controlled lighting. Your keeper quotient will be much higher with incident metering--this matters a great deal with 10 shots/120 roll.
     
  8. It's impossible to meter sky, clouds at sunset, reflections in the water with incident metering. It's hard to measure the range between shadows and highlights with an incident meter. It's inconvenient to swim across the stream, take a reading, and swim back (and gives the wrong answer if there's morning fog between you and the subject). Which is why spot metering is the standard technique for landscape work.
     
  9. Thanks for the all the responses.
    The Sekonic spot meters look like they are a little out of my price range, at the moment.
    Rick Donnelly makes good points about my camera and selected film. Looking at my Mamiya's shutter settings i certainly don't have the same flexibility as the 450D, however i can select half half-stop shutter speed increments.
    I'm thinking i might go for the Sekonic L-308 as he suggests and see how i get on.
     
  10. Lee, just a note regarding the RZ's, if you haven't discovered this already. I found that they were very prone to burning batteries pretty quickly. Be sure to turn off the camera when you aren't using it. Those little batteries are expensive!
     
  11. Thanks John. I don't think the Pro II has an "off" button as such, but locking the shutter prevents it from being depressed accidentally and draining the battery?
     
  12. I've bought Kenko 2100 (a rebranding of Minolta Flash Meter VI) for my Rz Pro II and it works like a charm. Provides incident, spot and flash metering and is very easy to use. Also a bit more compact than Sekonic 758.
     
  13. Lee, I sold the RZ bodies a long time ago, but I do seem to remember that the shutter lock was essentially the off button. I used them commercially and would always leave them on, probably because I replaced my RB bodies with the RZ's and RB's don't have batteries. Since I shot mostly large format, it might be several days or weeks and I would go back to them and the batteries were gone. I kept the RB lenses, so I could still set my shutter speeds and aperture without batteries, in fact, I am trying to remember what the battery did for me anyway? It's been awhile!
     
  14. John, from what i can gather the only operation the battery's power is the firing of the shutter.
     
  15. Hi Lee. Here is a different view. I have been using an RZ for more than a decade for landscape work with Velvia 50 and 100. I always use a metered finder. It is much faster and simpler to work with. I set it on CW most of the time. If you use split ND filters properly all the highlights and shadows will be well within the latitude of the film and center weighted metering works very well. The metering finder had 1/3 stop compensation so bracketing your shots is straightforward as well. I will also use a spotmeter to analyze a scene to figure how much light to hold back the the split nd's. When the magic hour comes which is usually more like half that or less and you want to get multiple compositions quickly the metering finder takes care of much work for you. When the finder is "on" it will be drawing power from that little battery but I have turned off the power on the finder and left it in that state for days and have not experienced battery drain as long as the shutter button is not being partially depressed.
    00TtJL-152889584.jpg
     
  16. Mark, thanks for that. I have looked at the AE finder but the one's that seem to fit the Pro II are still very expensive. Additionally, i've heard mutterings about how difficult it is to compose shots when compared to the WLF? Light lost in the prism?
     
  17. My finder is every bit as bright as my DSLR finder and seems to present a bigger view. It is also latterally corrected. Years ago before I could afford the AE prism I just used my handheld spot meter and later when I could afford it got the prism. I found my shots were just as well exposed with the prism and it was quicker to use. In the shot above I took a spot meter reading on the grayish rocks. The read the sky and it was about 3-4 stops brighter. I put on my polarizer and a 2 stop split nd over the upper half. I bracketed +2/3 and -2/3 stop and the best one was the first shot with no exposure compensation. If you want the very best color and finest grain use Velvia or comparable slide film. This shot above enlarged to 30x36 has more detail by magnitudes than any I have taken with a 16 mp digital. That is why I still use my RZ.
     
  18. Hi Lee

    I don't know the 450D but I expect you are being confused by the odd ball part f stop labeling where the stops marked on your Mamiya lens donโ€™t have the numbers shown in the 450D, you could research this and find a log calculation which will give you the information but it is much simpler to buy a meter which will have the MF standard stops. Now having said that be aware that meters vary and you will need to take notes until have you can learnt the best way of using your meter.

    The Pro 11 has half stops on time.


    David Littleboy is on to it. An incident light meter is of very limited value as a general purpose instrument. Spot metering and learning the Zone system is good or a wide angle ( 30 deg. ) meter such as a Gossen with 9 volt battery ( Lunasix, Profisix etc ) as you can check the range of the scene by lifting and lowering the meter and choosing the mid point, very simple, cheap and works well with C41 film.


    Best Regards

    Rob.
     
  19. Make sure you get the RIGHT prism finder for your ProII, the one with the knobs on the top. It seems there is a lot of Mamiya equipment being dumped right now so you should be able to pick one up pretty reasonably on the big auction site.
     
  20. God, to think I've gotten great exposures with an incident meter whose "very limited value as a general purpose instrument" should have worked against me. I'm truly blessed, I guess!
     
  21. david_henderson

    david_henderson www.photography001.com

    I have considerable sympathy with a view that "an incident light meter is of very limited use as a general purpose instrument" when applied to landscape photography which is what this thread's about. But if you're using film that has a whole lot of latitude, then just about any form of metering that isn't downright broken or hopelessly applied will get you a result except where conditions are extreme. Techniques that are sub-optimal for this application ( though not so for others) seem to be great for much of the time because they aren't really being tested too hard with colour neg films.
    There are a large number of circumstances where I wouldn't choose to meter a landscape using an incident meter, but then I use much more critical media. I prefer to use multiple spot readings to arrive at my exposures and have come across very few circumstances indeed when that approach doesn't get a result. I prefer to use one process that is universally applicable than constantly have to assess whether the method I'm using is appropriate to the circumstances.
    But I have to keep coming back to the fact that with wide latitude colour neg film all sorts of techniques from incident to wide angle reflective, to plain informed guesswork have their adherents and are able to deliver decent results much of the time. Its even hard to beat the drum about spotmetering too hard since
    • Most people I've seen using spotmeters aim at what they think is a mid-tone and apply that single reading to their photograph- which isn't even close to the best way IMO. The best metering tool in the world can give dreadful results if not used right.
    • There's no getting round the fact that using a spotmeter properly involves taking at least a few readings and a certain amount of mental arithmetic and judgment. Many people just don't want to go through that or believe that they will be continuingly slow should they do so.
     
  22. Actually no. An incident light meter is about the best you can get. Reflective light meters can easily be fooled by scenes with a high brightness range. An incident light meter is not subject to this effect. As long as the dome of the meter is in the same light as the subject, you almost can't miss. With a little practice, and some help in the form a guide which you can find here , it's almost too easy. There are big differences in the way a digital sensor and a piece of film record light, and the metering systems in the cameras are designed accordingly. It is not always very good to rely on readings taken from a digital camera to work optimally on film and vice versa, until you've calibrated one to the other.
     
  23. "As long as the dome of the meter is in the same light as the subject, you almost can't miss."
    This is a condition that, as I pointed out above, is often difficult to meet when doing landscape photography, since the subject is way over there in different light (see Mark's image above). And incident metering simply doesn't apply when there are light sources (like sunsets) in the image. And what happens when you don't want the technically accurate product catalog metering? The human eye is easily fooled as to what the intensities actually are, but the artistic eye knows how they want the subject rendered. Spot metering takes the easily fooled part out, and lets you put the artistic part in. Sure, you can take an incident reading and say "well, I want to render this a bit brighter", but it doesn't give you a way to quantify the meaning of "a bit brighter", whereas zone-system-informed spot metering does.
    And a spot meter can't be "fooled": it gives you an actual reading of the intensity that the film is going to see. (If you don't know how to use that reading to get to a desired density on the film, that's not the meter's fault.)
    I've not used an RZ67 or it's metering prisms, but the metering prism on the 645 ProTL worked well. The spot is a bit fat, so you have to find large areas to meter from, though. I'd avoid the metered prisms on the RB67 because of the weight and because I like waist level viewfinders.
     
  24. "And incident metering simply doesn't apply when there are light sources (like sunsets) in the image."
    Unless you want the light source itself to be exposed 'correctly' (the rest not), it works great then too.
    "And what happens when you don't want the technically accurate product catalog metering? The human eye is easily fooled as to what the intensities actually are, but the artistic eye knows how they want the subject rendered. Spot metering takes the easily fooled part out, and lets you put the artistic part in."
    That is not true at all.
    Spot metering, in fact, adds the "easily fooled" bit in light metering that is completely absent in incident light metering.
    Incident light metering meters light. Use it, and you always - without any chance of being fooled - get the "technically correct" result.
    You have to use your 'technical' judgement when using a spot meter, guessing how the refective properties of what you point the meter at affect the reading, and thus the exposure.
    Very easy to get fooled.
    Want to let loose your artistic judgement?
    You then need to be able to recognize how things will be put on film, and what you need to do to change that.
    Something you always have (!) to do when using a spot meter.
    Something you can quite easily do when using an incident light meter.
    "Sure, you can take an incident reading and say "well, I want to render this a bit brighter", but it doesn't give you a way to quantify the meaning of "a bit brighter", whereas zone-system-informed spot metering does."
    So that too is not true.
    The spot meter will not tell you at all how bright the thing you point it at is. It only tells you how to expose the film to make (!) that bit you point the meter at a middle grey.
    That's it. It can and will do no more.
    If you want it brighter, you just adjust exposure so it appears brighter (by the amount you adjust exposure by).
    But where incident light metering makes it as bright as it needs to be to be "technically accurate" without further ado, so the adjustment is based on that, the spot meter first has you guessing (and it cannot be anything but that - pure guessing. There is no way the spot meter will help you) how to adjust the exposure to make it technically accurate first. So first guess, then let your artistic eye loose at it.
    So if you want things go wrong very easily, or want to get things right with the greatest possible difficulty, use a spot meter.
    Else, use an incident light meter.
     
  25. "it works great then too."
    You can't be that wrong, can you? Really, tell me how to use an incident meter to expose a sunset sky.
    "You have to use your 'technical' judgement when using a spot meter"
    No, you have to use your artistic judgement. The spot meter tells you how to place the metered subject at zone V, you then decide what zone you want it placed. Do you really not understand that? Go read Adams again. Sheesh.
    "So that too is not true"
    Nope, I'm correct here as well. The incident meter doesn't tell you how to place a particular section of the subject at a particular zone. Your eye is easily fooled about absolute brightnesses, but is just fine for artistic decisions about how you want things rendered. Incident metering doesn't give you the information you need to make those decisions. You should get out of the studio more often, QG.
    "So if you want things go wrong..."
    If you want things to go wrong, just be QG. Then you'll not know how to use a spot meter. For those of us who do, it's a far more powerful tool when the light isn't perfectly even boring studio lighting.
     
  26. david_henderson

    david_henderson www.photography001.com

    David Littleboy is of course right.
    The difficulty of interpreting information from a spotmeter and the ease of using incident are being vastly overstated in Mr de Bakkers post, to the point that irrespective of the capability of the incident metering, he's making black look like white.
    All an incident reading for a distant subject can do is give you a single value that you can use as a mid tone. That's all. No indication of the brightness range within your composition, so no help on issues like "do I need a grad and if so which one?" With incident you have to do all that sort of thing by eye- guesswork if you like. With incident you have to judge (not measure)whether the light striking your subject is the same as that striking the meter which might be fine in the desert with clear skies and no shade, but is much less good when you're taking a photograph of a sunlit subject from shade- which I do very often to avoid flare, or in part sunny conditions. And then there are the nuances of how best to use an incident meter in backlighting, in strong cross-lighting and whatever. Plenty of debates in the Photo.net archives on that one, and a small movement in meter position often results in a big movement in reading.
    All these weaknesses go away when you use incident readings to assess a subject that is close to you, since then you can hold the meter close to the subject and be sure that it captures the light falling on it, and indeed take readings of how much light is falling on shaded and lit elements of your composition. In short, close by you can use incident metering much as one uses spotmetering for more distant compositions like landscapes. But for distant scenes Incident is an easy but sometimes inappropriate technique that gets rescued by the forgiving nature of the colour neg medium. I've certainly spent enough time taking incident readings to fill time till my compositions are lit as I want, to understand that had I followed those readings I would have exposed slide film badly, and certainly I'd have needed to bracket, which at best part of $1 per frame over several thousand frames a year I'd prefer not to get into.
    Oh and QG, where's your pictures so we can see how good your metering technique can be on landscapes in tough circumstances ? For all we know you're sitting there with a pile of textbooks and a set of studio lights!
     
  27. I was walking in the park here last fall, and there was a Japanese maple with the sunlight off to the front left such that what you saw from the path was the back of the leaves glowing red from the sunlight hitting their front framed in some very dark everrgeen foliage and the sky. Real pretty. Some bloke runs up with an RB67, pulls out an incident meter, _aims it at the leaves (from a position fully shaded from the sun)_, sets his camera, and shoots. I guess that must have been QG's Japanese cousin. ROFL.
     
  28. that does sound ridiculous, but: the sekonic l-358 has an attachment that turns the incident metering into reflective; perhaps the "incident meter" of this photographer was similarly setup.
     
  29. "that turns the incident metering into reflective"
    That's a possibility: he was aiming a dome at the trees, but the dome could have been slid out of the way and it only looked odd.
     
  30. "Really, tell me how to use an incident meter to expose a sunset sky."​
    There are two ways. If you want the landscape exposed normally, point the meter away from the sun.
    If you want to expose for the sunset, point the thing towards the sun.
    "It works great then too."
    Why don't you try it, before you comment?
    "You have to use your 'technical' judgement when using a spot meter"
    No, you have to use your artistic judgement. The spot meter tells you how to place the metered subject at zone V, you then decide what zone you want it placed. Do you really not understand that? Go read Adams again. Sheesh.​
    Yes. "Sheesh"
    You miss the point about the spot meter metering whatever it is you point the thing at. Whether that is pitch black or glaringly white.
    So your judgment has to be about twofold: a) what was it that i pointed the meter at, and how does that affect the reading (the "technical judgement"), b) how would i want that to look (your "artistic judgement").
    Do the same thing with an incident meter, and there is only b) to deal with.
    "So that too is not true"
    Nope, I'm correct here as well. The incident meter doesn't tell you how to place a particular section of the subject at a particular zone. Your eye is easily fooled about absolute brightnesses, but is just fine for artistic decisions about how you want things rendered. Incident metering doesn't give you the information you need to make those decisions. You should get out of the studio more often, QG.​
    Yes, you're quite wrong. Still.
    The incident meter tells you exactly (!) where a particular bit in your scene will be placed. Things that are middle grey will be in the middle, things that are one stop lighter will be one zone higher, things that are two stops [etc.]
    Use a spot meter, and you first have to find out (and you can't using the meter alone, You at least need a reference, a grey card.) how the entire scene has shifted upwards or downwards, depending on what you pinted the meter at.
    "So if you want things go wrong..."
    If you want things to go wrong, just be QG. Then you'll not know how to use a spot meter. For those of us who do, it's a far more powerful tool when the light isn't perfectly even boring studio lighting.​
    If you want things to go wrong, be as clueless about metering as you quite apparently want us to think you are, and that will do the trick.
    I know you can do better than that! ;-)
     
  31. All an incident reading for a distant subject can do is give you a single value that you can use as a mid tone. That's all. No indication of the brightness range within your composition,​
    So how do you decide what to point your spot meter at?
    That same skill gives you the "mid tone" when using the incident meter.
    The difference between a spot meter and an incident meter is that you have to know how to interpret a scene when using a spot meter, or else get things wrong.
    While using an incident light meter you get things rght whether you know anything about light or not.
    Complaining about not knowing what will be a mid tone is saying you do not know what to point a spot meter at.
    It (really) is as simple as that.
    so no help on issues like "do I need a grad and if so which one?"​
    That is the only (!) thing a spot meter does better than an incident light meter. It can tell you the contrast range in the scene. An incident light meter can not.
    Unless you slide the dome to one side ...
    ;-)
     
  32. I was walking in the park here last fall, and there was a Japanese maple with the sunlight off to the front left such that what you saw from the path was the back of the leaves glowing red from the sunlight hitting their front framed in some very dark everrgeen foliage and the sky. Real pretty. Some bloke runs up with an RB67, pulls out an incident meter, _aims it at the leaves (from a position fully shaded from the sun)_, sets his camera, and shoots. I guess that must have been QG's Japanese cousin. ROFL.​
    Well, to you perhaps. ;-)
    But even you know that you can get excellent results very easily, and quickly, in such a situation using an incident meter too.
    Else you would not have made sure you added that "a position fully shaded from the sun" bit.
     
  33. That's a possibility: he was aiming a dome at the trees, but the dome could have been slid out of the way and it only looked odd.​
    Another possibilty is to point the dome to the sun, "from a position" not "fully shaded from the sun".
     
  34. For sunsets "If you want to expose for the sunset, point the thing towards the sun."
    That doesn't work QG. The sun's in the scene. That'll tell you how to expose a catalog shot of your camera, and blow out the sunset every time.
    For backlit: "Another possibilty is to point the dome to the sun, "from a position" not "fully shaded from the sun"."
    Wrong, again. There isn't any way to get a sensible reading for a backlit subject from an incident reading. This is exactly the situation you need to stop, spot meter, and think. The scene here had sky, vegetation in open shade, and backlit leaves in direct sun. Three independent light sources, none of which can be metered with incident metering.
    "While using an incident light meter you get things rght whether you know anything about light or not."
    But incident metering gets the wrong answer for every example presented here: sunsets, backlit subjects, any situation where the light source does anything other than diffuse reflection from a non-reflective subject.
    Really, you need to get out more. There simply aren't a lot of cases outside the studio were incident metering works.
     
  35. Quite a lengthy and interesting debate here.
    But, in a nutshell. Given i shoot a lot of landscape and non-studio portrait am i wasting my time getting an incident meter like the L-308?
    Would i be better off trying to spot meter with the 450D?
     
  36. Terrific arguments going on here. Lee, as you can read, applying accurate metering...spot or incident, is an art in itself. It will become clearer to you when your proofs are read ...provided you've bracketed, studied, and learned from each mistake. Herein lies the popularity of digital, your mistakes for the most part, are free. That said, nothing like MF's $ per shot and a true meter study to slow you down to a deeper appreciation for what you are doing. You're going to want both incident and spot capability eventually.
     
  37. Sorry, David, but it seems you're using the exception(s) to prove the rule? The argument that (all?)back-lit subjects defy incident metering is baffling. That's why even matrixed-to-death reflective metering typically gets fooled and delivers massive under-exposure. But again, as I said above, perhaps the properties of light behave very differently in my town and allow me to use incident metering successfully. Reciting the catechisms of the zone system and the inherent superiority of spot-metering supposes that Lee has no options and shouldn't consider any other metering techniques? I don't get the foaming-at the-mouth insistence.
     
  38. Let's continue the debate a bit. ;-)
    That doesn't work QG. The sun's in the scene. That'll tell you how to expose a catalog shot of your camera, and blow out the sunset every time.​
    No, David. It will not.
    The sun itself will be overexposed, appear as a featureless coloured ball.
    But i'll let you try to expose that so you get details on the sun's surface too. Specially if you want to get there using a spot meter. ;-)
    It works great. Now what did you say about getting out of the studio? Give it a try, David. ;-)
    Wrong, again. There isn't any way to get a sensible reading for a backlit subject from an incident reading. This is exactly the situation you need to stop, spot meter, and think. The scene here had sky, vegetation in open shade, and backlit leaves in direct sun. Three independent light sources, none of which can be metered with incident metering.​
    Yes. Wrong again. You're wrong again.
    It isn't difficult to get a back lit shot metered properly using an incident light meter at all.
    Think about it, man!
    First, three light sources? Three bits in the scene that differ in brightness, you mean. Not different from any other scene.
    Then, what is it you want to expose for, and how is it lit in a back lit scene? How would that be hard to meter???
    The bright edges of your leaves are hit by direct sunlight. Meter the (incident) sun light. As simple as that.
    Want another bit to be exposed for? Meter that light!
    I can't imagine why you think there might be a problem at all. There isn't! You do not need a spot meter for that.
    But incident metering gets the wrong answer for every example presented here: sunsets, backlit subjects, any situation where the light source does anything other than diffuse reflection from a non-reflective subject.​
    Only in your understanding of matters.
    There's a clue... ;-)
    You mentioning reflections too show that you haven't thought about it at all. Reflections, diffuse or other wise, reflective properties in general, are a problem for reflective (wow! if that isn't a clue, i do not know what is!) metering
    Really, you need to get out more. There simply aren't a lot of cases outside the studio were incident metering works.​
    You obviously (i'm sorry, but it is) haven't tried any of it, nor thought about it.
    So why not get in touch with that bit of you that makes you come up with that advice and finally give in to it!
    Get out and use a meter!
    ;-)
     
  39. Lee,
    An incident meter is by far the best choice. For any (!) type of photography.
    The only limitation it has is that incident light metering cannot tell you the contrast range in a subject.
    But most if not all incident light meters can do reflective metering as well. So problem solved.
    Spot meters do only one thing, and that is provide info about a contrast range. Apart from that, they put themselves between you and a good exposure far more than need be.
    So don't get one.
     
  40. Incident meters are the meters of choice for color photography. Since, color films don't have the exposure range of color. That makes it great for B&W, too. The incident meter with the half dome gives a good average reading of the highlights and shadows. You can use the flat dome to help get a contrast range of the subject. Have used an incident meter and a 1 degree spot meter. The spot meter, take a reading of the shadow area with detail, then do the same for the highlight. Then, it will give you a good reading to put them in their proper places. (As, long as the contrast range is normal) If, not, it will let you know if you need to develope the film longer or not. I prefer a handheld spot meter such as the L-508 than a camera meter. The main point is that they are both great. Learn how to use what you have. A reflective reading is more prone for error than an incident. The light off a white wall is different than the light off a black one. The incident doesn't care what color the wall is. If, I didn't have the spot meter, then I would alway use the incident. Backlit scenes, you can direct the flat disc at the light source, then at the camera. Go from there. The flat disc on the incident meter can be used as a spot meter.
     
  41. I prefer a spot meter in most situations. You could get a used sekonic L-508, which does both incident and spot metering, on an auction site for less than 200$.
    As to the battery life for RZ, I've yet to replace mine in over 2 years of low to moderate usage.
     
  42. david_henderson

    david_henderson www.photography001.com

    I think I need to enter this debate again, but its going to have to wait a little while. Meantime I want to respond purely to the OP's last post. In an ideal world you would have a meter that offers you incident and spot in one. Spot as the primary (only) thing you'll need for landscapes and incident as arguably the best solution for for your outdoor portraits - for as I indicated (much) earlier
    All these weaknesses go away when you use incident readings to assess a subject that is close to you, since then you can hold the meter close to the subject and be sure that it captures the light falling on it, and indeed take readings of how much light is falling on shaded and lit elements of your composition. In short, close by you can use incident metering much as one uses spotmetering for more distant compositions like landscapes.​
    The type of meter I wouldn't buy personally is those which combine wide angle reflective and incident- not because I don't value the incident but because I don't value the wide angle reflective at all. I have had a Sekonic 358, used it on a trip and sold it within the month.
    These combined spot and incident meters have been around a while as the Sekonic 508/608/558 and more recently the 758. There are other brands too. They are available new and used. If they are a bit expensive short term then my advice would be to use your dslr in the meantime, so long as that is resulting in good exposures on that camera and there's not any huge errors in the shutter speeds of apertures on your Mamiya.
     
  43. It seems you don't understand the definition of incident metering, QG. It assumes a diffuse reflective subject under even direct illumination. That isn't the case in either backlit leaves (where there's no sunlight in reach to incident meter even if you wanted to (and would be irrelevent anyway, since you don't know the transparency of the leaves; again, incident meters are calibrated for diffuse reflection, not translucent transmission)), nor is it the case in a sunset, where what light makes it through the clouds to you is unrelated to the light that is backlighting the clouds and illuminating the sunset in a manner that's completely unrelated to what incident metering at the camera location is doing. If you think you can incident meter a sunset, it would seem you've never seen a sunset. Really: it can be quite dark at the camera's location and quite bright in the clouds.
    Gary, back-lit subjects fool matrix metering because lots of things fool matrix metering. But zone-system-based spot metering is _never_ fooled. You look at the scene, decide how you want it rendered, measure the luminance values in the scene, and set the exposure to place those values in the desired zones. As long as the scene can be captured on the film in your camera, spot metering can get the desired rendering.
    "You're using the exception(s) to prove the rule?"
    I don't think so. I don't take a lot of photos of subjects standing in the bright full sun. It seems that anything interesting enough to bother photographing is going to have difficult lighting. At which point, incident metering just doesn't work.
    "I don't get the foaming-at the-mouth insistence."
    Uh, I'm being technically correct here, it's QG who is technically wrong and foaming at the mouth. Incident metering is useful for studio work, portraits, simple lighting situations. On a bright sunny day, it's equivalent to Sunny 16 with all the clauses for the time of day, season, and longitude. When the sun's on the subject. Take the sun off the subject, and it doesn't make sense any more.
    Again, incident metering gives the technically correct exposure for diffuse reflective subjects under even direct illumination. When there are two rather different light sources in your scene (sunlight and open shade) and you need to come up with a compromise exposure that favors one or the other, incident metering breaks down. When the light source in your scene is doing different things at the subject position than at the camera position, incident metering breaks down.
    But zone-system-based spot metering gives you a general tool for determining an artistically/subjectively correct exposure for your subjective view of the scene. For any scene that can be photographed.
    "Would i be better off trying to spot meter with the 450D?"
    The problem with spot metering with the 450D is that Canon only gives you +/- 2 stops from a fixed exposure, or a wide range but expressed not as EV numbers but as the actual f stop or shutter speed. So it's inadequate or confusing.
    Still, I'd recommend making the 450D fly as a meter. Learn how to get an exposure from any scene using spot metering. For example: shoot the scene in digital with matrix meter. Look at the histogram and diddle the EV compensation until it's right. Now ask how would you spot meter the scene to get that exposure. (Answer: decide which zones various things will fall on, and then meter one such thing and set the exposure so it's on the desired zone.)
    Note another advantage of spot metering: it forces you to look at and think about your subject.
    A Sekonic model that does both incident and spot would be a bit lighter than the the 450D. But probably almost as expensive. (My favorite meter, the Pentax Digital only does spot, but a gray card or the palm of your hand gives you incident metering should you need it. Funny thing, though. I find the actually luminances in my scenes a heck of a lot more interesting than attempting to find the same light as that hitting the subject to incident meter.
     
  44. David,
    Incident light metering does not assume "a diffuse refective subject" at all.
    Nor does it assume even, direct illumination.
    You're not "technically correct" at all.
    Etc. etc.
    You clearly either do not understand, or do not want to.
    So stop digging.
    ;-)
     
  45. "You mentioning reflections too show that you haven't thought about it at all. Reflections, diffuse or other wise, reflective properties in general, are a problem for reflective (wow! if that isn't a clue, i do not know what is!) metering"
    well, reflections are not a problem for reflective light meters--that's exclusively what they look at. consider we meter a scene outside under sunlight with an incident meter and determine some EV. if we shot, say, an apple, it might look quite nice; however, if we shot a mirror angled to reflect the sun right into our camera lens, the incident meter would still give you the same readout. therefore, yes, reflections are very, very important when using incident metering. You can find this when you get direct reflections from your strobe on someone's forehead and find, to your chagrin, that their face is blown out despite your sekonic l-358 and PW transmitter chip (which i own and love) so yes, reflections can be tragic to incident. and there's the point, that the meter does give exposure for a diffuse reflective object, NOT for direct reflection; so one could say the meter assumes that the object, subject, whatever, will give diffuse reflections.
    An incident meter is by far the best choice. For any (!) type of photography.
    The only limitation it has is that incident light metering cannot tell you the contrast range in a subject.
    sorta, an incident meter can tell you the contrast range of your light, natural or otherwise, and that in itself can be quite nice. and then knowing the zone system, you can figure out to some degree your contrast range.
    "It isn't difficult to get a back lit shot metered properly using an incident light meter at all. "
    that's true, but because it is impossible.the incident meter will not be facing the light source behind and thus will not see the light and completely ignores it. i've taken an example and will post it this evening when i get back from work. stand with your back against a window and put your incident meter right infront of your face facing into the room where the camera will be. take a measurement. i got 1/60 f/4 at ISO 6400. would make a lovely portrait. now, take the picture at those settings facing into the window. your face will be quite nicely exposed, except for on the sides where the backlight spills on and blows out; further, the window will be a white blow killing your shot and even better, as in my case just here, i got flare so that the whole scene, including my well exposed face, is completely sapped of contrast.
     
  46. i'll be late for work. here's the picture. this was shot inside, so i have a significant amount of the backlighting bouncig off of the wall infront of me and back onto my face, which the incident meter can measure. otherwise it would be even worse exposure (with teh blinds closed it measured 1/10 f/4 6400... 2 and a half stops lighter!! all that from a wall. nice) anyways, here you go.
    00TtvA-153277584.JPG
     
  47. Get the 358. It will serve you well outside as well as in the studio if you need it later.
     
  48. well, reflections are not a problem for reflective light meters--that's exclusively what they look at.​
    Indeed. Keep that always in mind, and you've come most of the way towards understanding why incident light metering is so much easier.
    consider we meter a scene outside under sunlight with an incident meter and determine some EV. if we shot, say, an apple, it might look quite nice; however, if we shot a mirror angled to reflect the sun right into our camera lens, the incident meter would still give you the same readout. therefore, yes, reflections are very, very important when using incident metering.​
    Nope. When taking pictures.
    Time for Photography 1.0.1. again, i see.
    If you want the scene the mirror is in to be exposed properly, you only need to meter the light illuminating the scene. Using an incident light meter. And all and everything in that scene will be exposed correctly. Even the sun in the mirror; bright specular reflections will be rendered as just that
    If you point a reflected light meter towards the same scene, the reading will vary depending on what it is it happened to be pointed at.
    You either have to rely on luck to hit the thing that reflects just the riht amount of light to et the proper exposure for that scene, or you need your judgement and study the scene to ientify what to meter off, or use a reference object of known reflectivity, like a grey card.
    If by chance the meter sees the reflection of the sun in the mirror, you'll end up with a completely underexposed scene, with at best a middle grey reflection of the sun in the mirror.
    If you think that that would be the prefered result, fine. ;-)
    Reflections are a problem for reflected light meters, because all meter are reflections. Photographers usually are interested in scenes, which include many things that all reflect differently.
    The two do not go together very well. Luckily it is not that difficult (despite your misconceptions), and we can learn to deal with that.
    Doesn't change the fact that it is much easier, i.e. far less opportunity to mess things up, using an incident light meter.
    And your picture?
    It shows how incident light metering dealt very well with a back-lit subject.
    I can see your face. Properly exposed. And had you not held a meter in front of it, see who you are. ;-)
    And had you not used a very bad lens, we wouldn't get such terrible flare.
    You apear completely confused about what you want to achieve.
    If you want to expose for your face, why worry bout th emeter only measuring the light that is falling onto your face???
    If you had wanted a silhouet, with the things outside the window properly exposed, all you needed to do was put the meter the other way round, and meter the back light.
    As simple as that.
     
  49. "If you had wanted a silhouet, with the things outside the window properly exposed, all you needed to do was put the meter the other way round, and meter the back light."
    Sorry, QG. That doesn't work. Your suggestion as stated is simply dizzy, since the light coming through the window isn't illuminating anything in the scene. (Why is it that you keep suggesting metering methods that give the correct exposure for taking a picture of the camera?) Thus that reading is simply irrelevant. If you meant to put the meter in the outside scene and measure the incident light out there, then that doesn't really work, either. 'm not outside, and I can't measure the light out there. I'm in the room at the camera, and my subject isn't going to wait for me to go outside and take a reading. And, of course, if what is outside is a blue sky (say I'm using a 'blad and looking up at the subject), there's no way to meter that with an incident meter, even if I take a plane up to 30,000 feet. And maybe the window has a screen or is tinted. Oops. Incident metering no longer works.
    "I can see your face. Properly exposed. "
    But it's not properly exposed at all. It's exposed to appear as though the subject's face were in full light, and that's not what the scene looks like to someone actually looking at said scene: the backlit person's face will appear to be in shadow (since it is, Doh!). Again, you really need to get out of the studio and look around at the world as a human being instead of a catalog illustration photographer.
    And, by the way, what I meant by reflections was, say, reflections of a skyline in water. Very easy to meter with a spot meter, but impossible with incident meter since even if I could get to the buldings to measure the light over there, I don't know how much the water has attenuated the reflected image.
     
  50. "If you had wanted a silhouet, with the things outside the window properly exposed, all you needed to do was put the meter the other way round, and meter the back light."
    Sorry, QG. That doesn't work. Your suggestion as stated is simply dizzy, since the light coming through the window isn't illuminating anything in the scene. (Why is it that you keep suggesting metering methods that give the correct exposure for taking a picture of the camera?) Thus that reading is simply irrelevant. If you meant to put the meter in the outside scene and measure the incident light out there, then that doesn't really work, either. 'm not outside, and I can't measure the light out there. I'm in the room at the camera, and my subject isn't going to wait for me to go outside and take a reading. And, of course, if what is outside is a blue sky (say I'm using a 'blad and looking up at the subject), there's no way to meter that with an incident meter, even if I take a plane up to 30,000 feet. And maybe the window has a screen or is tinted. Oops. Incident metering no longer works.
    "I can see your face. Properly exposed. "
    But it's not properly exposed at all. It's exposed to appear as though the subject's face were in full light, and that's not what the scene looks like to someone actually looking at said scene: the backlit person's face will appear to be in shadow (since it is, Doh!). Again, you really need to get out of the studio and look around at the world as a human being instead of a catalog illustration photographer.
    And, by the way, what I meant by reflections was, say, reflections of a skyline in water. Very easy to meter with a spot meter, but impossible with incident meter since even if I could get to the buldings to measure the light over there, I don't know how much the water has attenuated the reflected image.
     
  51. All an incident meter does is measure the light falling on a subject. In a front lit scene, it measures the subject in the light, On a side lit scene, the half dome picks up the light in the light and shadows. The flat disc, is used to measure the contrast. The biggest confusion people have about incident meters is that you don't always have to be close to the subject. If, you photograph a mountain 20 miles away. You don't have to drive 20 miles to get close to it. As long as the meter is in the same lighting conditions, then you're set. If the mountain is in some fog conditions. Then, you will photograph the mountain showing those conditions. With a backlit scene, point the meter at the camera first. You can use the flat disc for that. Then, you can point the disc at the light source. Since this will probablt show that the scene has too much contrast. Place a reflector to direct some of the light on the subject. Then, take a reading again. If you can get a L-508 for under $200.00, then get it. Mine cost $500.00. I would rather sell a camera than the 508.
     
  52. "As long as the meter is in the same lighting conditions, then you're set."
    Sure. But since in landscape work you often can't find the same light (as in the first image in this thread where what's happening on the mountain is very different from what's happening at the camera location), you aren't set. And you also aren't set because in the late afternoon, the mountain looks really bright when you are standing in the shadows, since your eyes adjust to the shadows. But the incident reading of the mountain would place it quite a bit darker than its subjective appearance. The geologist may find it a more useful shot, but it isn't what the landscape photographer wanted.
    And a lot of time for landscapes/cityscapes, on a nice day with a dramatic sky, the interesting thing is to place the sky so the blue is rendered best for the (slide) film being used, and to let everything else fall as it falls. Can't do that with incident metering.
    "All an incident meter does is measure the light falling on a subject."
    Sure. But in a lot of situations, that's simply not enough, or not the right, information. The backlit portrait is simple with zone-informed spotmetering: decide what density of shadow the subject's face _appears to be subjectively_, and then place the (measured) luminance of the face at that zone. (To get to a zone from an incident reading, you need to know the reflectance of the subject; you don't need to know that for spotmetering.) And if you have a wide latitude film, the spotmeter then lets you ask how to compromise the zone placement of the subject to get the background under control.
    Spotmetering lets you ask the questions you need to be asking, namely how do I get my subjective impression of the scene onto the film.
     
  53. Lee get a spotmeter, the simpler the better. I've used a Minolta Spotmatic V and an old Soligor spotmeter. I liked the Soligor better. Pentax made a similar one. They are both cheap on the used market (hint Bozeman Camera has one in stock right now...).
    The trick is to understand what the spot meter is telling you. You have to remember that the reading tells you what exposure to use to put the area you are metering to an 18% grey equivalent. You need to adjust the exposure up or down depending on how you want the metered area to appear in your final print. For film remember that you need to retain shadow detail (expose to the left in digital lingo) rather than expose for highlights (expose to the right). Using a spotmeter is a bit of an art and it takes some thinking to visualize where you want tones to end up in your final image. Practice, practice, practice. Working with MF is great though -- you can get huge prints with little grain and wonderful smooth tonality. Once you get the hang of it, you'll think you are a photo god.
     
  54. Spot metering does allow you to place the shadows in zone III and the Highlights in Zone VII, etc. It's fine for those who want to use the zone system type of photography. Even, if it's just to place the key element in a certain zone. But, with incident metering for those who don't want to invest in a good spot meter. Then, incident will do fine. Any reflective meter can be fooled by the subject. Take a reading of a white wall, then a black one. The readings are different. It will show them both as a middle grey. The reflective meter reads everything as a middle grey. That's why when I take a reading of a shadow,I have to stop the lens down by 2 stops.The incident just measures the light falling on the wall. So,the reading is the same. A person can do very well of a backlit scene with the incident. He just as to know what the meter is telling him,(or, her!)
    To photograph the mountain when I am in a shadow,then, I would move just enough to put the meter in the same lighting conditions. The point is that anyone can do well with either one. Years ago, I used my Studio Deluxe in incident mode only. Now, with the 508, I use either spot or incident. Both modes work fine.If, a person wants to photograph so the sky is rendered best with a spot meter. Then, he has to take a reading of the sky and know how to interpet it to place it in the proper zone. If, I wanted to photograph so the sky looks normal with an incident meter. Then, I would simply place the meter in the sun. The sky will fall in the proper zone. Since the sky is also lit by the sun.
     
  55. David (L),
    I see that this will never end.
    I'll be even more patronizing than i usually am, and give you a pice of (very good - yes, i'm modest too) advice:
    Take some time to think about what light is, how it behaves.
    Long enough to not come up with such beauties like "the light coming through the window isn't illuminating anything in the scene" as why you don't get a silhouette. Or that classic walk-over-to thingy.
    But certainly long enough to understand where in the process of metering what a meter does ends, and where you take over.
    Next do what you keep telling other people to do, and get out and try! Do something you have obviously so little first hand knowledge of (either that, or you are the greatest imposter of all times).
    Then you will soon be singing a different song. (And, for instance, never worry about skies anymore. You'll know that skies are not a problem when using incident metering. Thinking that they are is clear evidence that you have no experience worth mentioning with an incident meter whatsoever.)
    The final (perhaps unrelated, perhaps not) thing is to stop using Zone Jargon.
    All it shows is that you are confused, or hope to confuse. In this entire thread, not a single time has anything the zone system is concerned with been mentioned.
     
  56. To the original question for what to get in a meter. I'd get ( and did) one of the good Sekonic, if you can afford it the model that combines incident, spot and flash metering. It's the last meter you'll probably need, though the spot meter isn't as good (IMO) as the Pentax Spot meter. But its a good accurate meter and will handle your immediate needs as well as future needs.
     
  57. This is the first time I've seen a metering version of the digital-vs-film wars. Amazing.
    Rather than offer more opinion, let me submit the following fact for consideration in support of the keep-it-simple approach:
    Galen Rowell never used a spot meter. He rarely used anything but the internal meter on his camera, and his own experience. Anyone looked at his color landscape photographs recently?
     
  58. Lee,
    If you're getting only one meter...get a spot meter. You can always use it as an incident meter by keeping a small piece of a photo grey card in your pocket and (by taking the card out of your pocket) taking a reading off the card with the grey card aimed toward the camera.
    Amazing, two meters for the price of one. My favorite spot meter is the Pentax digital model, but I don't think it's manufactured anymore so you'll need to buy used.
    For landscapes, an incident meter is certainly not ideal, though you could get by with one 80% of the time maybe. Though to be fair, a spot meter will require some learning to use correctly itself.
    BTW, I really like the Portra 160nc for landscapes...
     
  59. Lee, I have the Sekonic L-358. I love it. I got because I have old manual focus Nikon lenes that would mount but not meter on my D70s. I also have an old Nikon F, with all of the view finders. The FTn was designed for old mercury containing button batteries that cannot be sold in the USA, and the substitutes do not do that well for me. So, the Sekonic filled in beautifully. So, I wanted an external meter for shooting film with it. When used in incident mode, it nails the exposure better, in my opinion, than an in camera meter will do. It does reflective metering too. In the latter mode, it can do to take a reading right off the subject or, if the light is generally the same where you and the subject are, off your own palm. It's not as expensive as some others, but it is full featured enough that you can take it into the flash realm if you want.
    For spot metering, my wish list would be for something like the old Pentax hand held spot meter or a more modern equivalent.
    Dave Ralph
     
  60. Perhaps we are getting dangerously near to expecting our equipment to do everything perfectly for us on every occasion, and excluding skill, knowledge and expertise on the part of the user. The truth is that you still have to learn your trade.
    I started "serious" photography in the late 1950s. I couldn't afford a photo-electric meter, but my 35mm camera had a small extinction one built in. I only used transparency film. It was very expensive, and money was very tight. It meant that I couldn't press the shutter in the hope that the exposure would be good. I took landscapes, seascapes, sunsets, portraits, etc, etc. Only in very low light did the extinction meter fail to do its job. That said, it took a little time for your eye to adjust to the light when you looked through the meter eyepiece, and, to that extent, it was a pain. You also had to make sense of what you were about to take, but shouldn't you always do that? I might get two or three poorly exposed frames per film, but it was rarely more than that. Perhaps it was a bit like a backwoodsman of old: you made sure you shot your prey or you starved!
    One day, I fell into conversation with another photographer: he was sporting the latest Weston Master with his posh camera. He was rather dismissive when I said I was using the small extinction meter.
    We were sitting on a wooded bank overlooking a lake. He challenged me to meter several views - sunshine and shade - and compare them with his Weston. It took me longer to take my readings, but all were within half a stop of his. He was obviously surprised. Mine might have been more accurate............
    I saved my money, and a year or two later I bought a Weston with an invercone, but I only occasionally used the latter. At that time, I still used only transparency film, and my photography remained quite catholic. There were, perhaps, even fewer poorly exposed frames: I continued to concentrate on using the meter properly, ie not just simply waving it in the general direction of the subject matter, and have regard to lighting conditions, especially remembering the relevance of highlights on transparency film.
    However, perhaps I fell into "bad" ways when I bought my first Nikon - an f301. At first, I was inclined to assume it would meter perfectly everytime, but I think it got over that quite quickly!
    Amongst others, I presently use a Nikon f90x, a D70s, and Bronica Etrsi. I recently bought a second Gossen Lunasix F, as a "spare" for use with the Bronica. I thought it would be interesting to test several cameras and meters in different conditions and see how they compared. There was the f90x, an 801s, the D70s, three Westons and the two Gossens.
    Two of the Westons were obviously miles out, and discarded. Of the others, in a variety of conditions, they were within half a stop or so of each other. That said, I didn't simply point the camera or meter and assume the reading would inevitably be right. Perhaps going back to my days with the extinction meter, I really tried to concentrate on what I was doing. It is not a matter of mistrusting the meter: it is a matter of appreciating properly that the meter is a tool, and you should be in control of it, not the other way round!
    Some people who take photographs, look, but they don't see. It can be the same when metering....
    Mervyn
    .
     
  61. Well, light meter discussions are so little fun ...and taken so needlessly seriously.
    I just went MF and bought the Gossen Digisix meter for it. I like to compare (for landscapes) the incidence reading (with dome on, pointing to the sky/sun) with semi-spot metering (dome off, 25 degrees) and moving the meter's aim about the subject to get EV differences. Then I decide.
    Correct exposure is a function of one's brain, memory, experience, desire to depict what one wants and how one wants the pic to look. NOT of the method used to obtain these readings!
    Fortunately one cannot buy experience, nor brains. One has to train oneself and then - even after 35 years with TTL metering in my case - one will get perfect exposures 99 % of the time. No matter which meter, which method of metering.
    Good luck then and perseverance and a bit of understanding of the simplest physics of light and darkness to all the posters here!
     
  62. Agree entirely. Frank. Thanks for those comments.
     
  63. Don't forget to compensate for lens extension.
     
  64. The OP stated he was using Portra 160, one of the most forgiving in exposure latitude print films ever coated.
    If he's within a couple of stops, he's probably golden. Reading the box and applying Sunny-16 guestimation will likely be close enough from dusk to dawn for getting results in one shot. Critical shots can backed up by bracketing a stop over and a stop under the guestimate. If he's got a working shutter, he just nailed it.
    So the point of this gratuitous incident v. spot argument is...?
     
  65. "So the point of this gratuitous incident v. spot argument is...?"​
    Perhaps that the sun isn't always shining? Skies are not always blue?
    ;-)
     
  66. You do realize that Sunny 16 doesn't mean the same exposure throughout the whole day, right? Last I looked Kodak was still printing instructions inside the box for sunny, cloudy bright, cloudy, open shade, dimly lit, so on and so forth.
    Color negative film is pretty advanced stuff, but exposing it for good results sure doesn't require much rocket science at all.
     
  67. Geez, the OP must be sorry he posted his question now, not even a troll, yet look at the war he precipitated! Hah. On the old argument re spot v incident, the best technique, I believe, is spot metering. Incident simply won't work sometimes , and will prove sub-optimal perhaps even most of the time - as you cannot be in the light most of the scene is lit by in some circumstances; and one needs to know the dynamic range of the intended composition.
    And incident will not give you any clue about the things you most need to know:
    . the dynamic range of the scene;
    . the LV (or EV in adjusted terms) of the brightest component of the scene and similarly for the bottom of the light scale;
    . the LV relative to your chosen exposure of the components in which you want detail;
    . how each part of the composition will express its tonality relative to mid-tone.
    I want a dollar for every scene for which I had to forego a shot due to excessive DR!
    And I defy anyone still on this mortal coil to consistently derive correct exposure for Velvia 50 without blocking either shadows or highlights a fair proportion of the time.
    The Pentax digital spotmeter goes literally everywhere with me and gets way more use than any of my cameras.
    Interestingly in this saturation digital age, they still fetch excellent prices.
    PS You can get away with plenty if you shoot C41 with a little nominal over-exposure; E6, forget about it.
    regards all.
     

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