use of light meters?

Discussion in 'Medium Format' started by bb_13, Dec 5, 2009.

  1. Hi All,
    I am hoping for some responses from the hasselblad 501 & 503 users, I am a new experience 503cw myself.
    Do you guys (501 & 503 users) use external light meters(like the Sekonic) when photographing? or purely relaying on your gut instinct & experience?
    I am an enthusiastic hobbyist, so not every photo is a life or death matter but I still hate to find badly exposure shots (especially after vacations/ trips). This really makes me wonder should I start using light meters for fool-proof shots. Or am I just not skillful enough to make every shot perfect...
    So wondering from people who use the same machines, what's going on with you guys? Are you guys -light meters with all perfect shots? -no light meters with all perfect shots? or same thing with me, occasionally bad exposures? or....?
    thanks for answering
  2. I never had any poor exposures when using a Gossen light meter with my Hasselblad. It's highly recommended to have something like this and it doesn't take much room.,picts/navi_foto_sub_01_sixtoflash.gif
  3. bb, I use a 503cw but never without a lightmeter. Sure, if the light and the subject are not changing I may take a reading then fire off a few shots without checking the meter reading each time.
    All of my shots are for fun (i.e. I dont have to use the income from them to pay the bills) but if you have paid many thousands of pounds because you wanted a fine camera with excellent lenses, why then guess on the exposure?
    I use a sekonic L-508 for the more serious stuff but have also used a very basic (but callibrated) Weston Euro meter.
    PS using a light meter still doesnt mean all my shots have "perfect" exposure.
  4. I do not think judging the "perfect exposure" can be an easy task for a "hobbyist" especially for high contrast scenes.
    You can also use a common garden digital camera (even without manual modes) to have an educated guess for the suitable exposure. This may be a cheaper alternative to having a proper light meter. And, if you already have one, it is free!
    I guess, a light meter will be most helpful for example, in a carefully controlled (read, professional) setting where recording the skin tones of a group of people "correctly" is of utmost imporance.
    I am not trying to say that you should forget about the light meter; I am just trying to say that solutions do exist for less critical work.
  5. What's with this "You GUYS " bulls**t ....
    get a grip ... Jerk
  6. david_henderson


    I can't understand why the answer to this question should be different for Hasselblads as against any camera without a useable built-in meter.
    Unless you are working in pretty much the same conditions all the time, using a hand-held meter can significantly improve the quality of your exposures and reduce markedly the number of unusable exposures. I say "can" rather than "will" because it depends on choosing the right type of meter for the sort of work you do and learning how to use it well; and thats a whole different subject depending on what you want to shoot and on what film types.
    There are people who, for various reasons prefer to estimate their exposures by using their experience in combination perhaps with "rules of thumb" such as "sunny 16". That will clearly do for some people. It would not be good enough or secure enough for me, especially since I use transparency film, but it does have speed (maybe), convenience and cost advantages that weigh heavily with some. I get around 95% of exposures on colour slide material right within a half stop with the benefit of hindsight and nearly always without bracketing.
    But there are two fault modes for me even with a meter. The first and less likely is that I become distracted somewhere along the process and omit to put the reading I've decided on into the camera. The second is that although I have got exactly the result I decided I wanted, that hindsight tells me that I now wish I'd done things a little differently. Its a bit like buying a sweater. You choose a colour you like and then when you get it home although the colour is exactly what you bought, you'd now prefer the darker one. A meter isn't going to stop you from changing your mind afterwards.
  7. I use a 500C/M with the meterless NC2 finder. I carry a Sekonic flash meter and Pentax 1ยบ Spotmeter with me everywhere I go. I also faithfully use it with both my F2's and my D700 (which I use basically as my "digital F2")
  8. I sometimes take photos with my ancient 500c/m without metering--"sunny 16" actually works pretty well in a lot of situations--but it it is a photo I want, I always meter, and when I do, I'm often surprised at how off my initial guess was. I use an ambient handheld (a Weston that's older than my camera) and sometimes I carry a Nikon AF 35mm camera I'm not using for anything else these days; it's internal spotmetering is quite accurate, and it lets me keep using the 35mm for something. :)
  9. Hi All,
    Thanks for the responses,
    Jenny, I can't believe my casual writing caused offense and confusion, next time I will be more mindful in this matter and it will be great to hear your comments too ( same to all female users)
    D.Henderson, you're definitely correct, this question is no different for Hasselblads "as against any camera without a useable built-in meter." The question was in a way intended for my personal reference, I really wanted to know if under the same circumstances (using similar cameras 501/503) that the users out there get perfect exposures all the time even without meters.
    If there are many, then that must mean 'I still really suck at photography' and it will definitely tell me to investigate more on my exposure skills(btw, I live by sunny16 rule, and constantly 'ill-expose' 1-2 shots per 12 shots). However, if the results were meters were mostly used to achieve constant perfect exposures, then I guess is time a started learning external meterings.
  10. Learning to use any meter correctly is a skill worth learning. Obviously, you'll get a higher percentage of "keepers" once you learn to do it right. After a while, you'll not even need the meter all that much. Experience will tell you what to do. Take a look at this page from Sekonic about metering techniques. There's a lot to be learned there.
  11. bb, don't worry about jenny. most people realize "guys" is a gender-neutral term like the more colloquial "y'all" meant to refer to an unspecified group of people.
    also i use a gossen digisix light meter, which is a pretty basic incident/reflective light meter for my MF/lf work. it doesn't have a spot meter but hasn't let me down either. JR
  12. bb,
    I think it all depends on the FILM you're using. I use a Sekonic 558 meter with 2 different MF cameras/Leica M2, especially with slide film. But as I've gotten familiar with film and local lighting conditions, I tend to leave the meter at home with B&W films. It's difficult to mess up Tri-X, for instance, if I err on the side of overexposing. Especially true for sunny days. I also have a Pentax spotmeter, but be aware that they are not as simple to use as you'd think. In fact, a very narrow spot can make things harder: what exactly does one meter on? What really constitutes a middle gray when there are lots of colors? BTW--I live by sunny 11, not 16, especially for color negative/B&W.
    Too bad someone took your post the wrong way. Get a grip yourself, Jenny.
  13. I seldom take a meter reading outside with a landscape. I also use the Sunny 11 rule, and adjust from there based on overcast, snow, etc. But for close up work, in the shade, etc., I always have a meter handy. I like both Sekonic and Gossen meters. I use mostly Sekonic incident meters, and I often have a Gossen Digisix that goes with me when shooting Leica. I also have a Honeywell spot meter for tricker lighting, where I want to know the range of values involved.
  14. I'm on the "it's silly not to meter" side.
    Guessing may be fun, and have a reasonable success rate (has it?).
    But why? Using a meter yields a much higher success rate. And you can't always have a guess at it, so must have a meter anyway.
  15. I use the PME readings on my 503 CX. I follow Wilde's 5th Edition recommendations for fog, snow, sand and overcast skies. If I have a large SBR, I will use my Nikon F100 in the spotmeter mode as a spot meter for the Hasselblad. I have not had the PME ever disagree with a handheld meeting.
  16. Jenny, err, "pot, kettle, black"?
    I held a door open for a lady earlier today. Do I deserve a slaging off too?
  17. Jim, that was horribly inconsiderate of her gender autonomy. Please flog yourself accordingly. JR
  18. I use a little Sekonic Twinmate L-208 for everything and I love it. It is a great meter for an awesome price. I highly reccomend it!
  19. Jenny, I enjoyed reading your useful comment. Thanks for enriching the experience for us all. I love you guys!
  20. Arguing about using/or not of light meters delays the decision to use one only for so long and gets you so many wrong exposures. A complete waste
    So, get a light meter, meter, learn to read film and see where you err. The meter is always right in what it does. The shooter, though, has to interpret the result and to be able do so intelligently and successfully, that takes time, experience, misses and successes to finally get it 99 % right.
    Do not fear learning. we all have to, had to and now you must learn, too.
    And when you have metered (in or out of camera) for a few years, decades, you will be able maybe to guess the perfect setting of f stop and speed ... and I still check with the meter.
    So, learnt hard!
  21. thanks for the replies, it definitely seems metering is the next step to my photographic skills. Like Frank said, better to start learning rather than delaying over my own comtemplations.
    There are lots of meter suggestions that sounds pretty good in the replies, which I also have no idea about, so I'ill have to do some research and digest the info before asking more about the meters, thanks
  22. Jenny,
    This forum has people posting from all over the world. So if its NOT okay for someone to use the word "guys" to refer to Hasselblad users in your country/community/culture/cranium, then perhaps you should consider that there are people posting from different countries with different languages and different cultures with different ways of speaking. I've traveled all over the world and i've found over the years that the word "guys" is more readily accepted when referring to men and women than the word "bulls**t" and even "jerk".
    perhaps you should consider that your language is more inappropriate no matter what gender involved. (just some helpful advice from an English teacher whose first, second, and third language is not English.)
    NOW... to answer the question.
    I second the use of a Gossen Digisix. It doesn't matter which camera you use it with. I've photographed in a crowd of photographers each with different cameras that didn't have a hand held meter and i was often asked the reading from the digisix.
    its a great little meter. its about the shape and size of an egg. just a bit flatter.
  23. a vote here for hand held lightmeter....i have the sekonic 308, but previously i had the minolta IVf. the IVf is a great meter.
  24. I use either a Gossen Vario F for such as portraits or still life shots, where I can approach the subject, or a Minolta Spotmeter F for landscape.
  25. I like my Sekonic 308 meter. There are important skills to be gained with a light meter, including understanding contrast. Once you learn, you will be better able to guess exposures, especially in tricky light. Understanding the use of a light meter to begin with is a reversal of your initial assumption.
  26. I use a Sekonic 408 or a Pentax Spotmeter. With all my cameras, not just the H'blad.
  27. mizore

    mizore A Gringa in Nicaragua

    Jim, I always hold the door for the person behind me, regardless of gender. Opening doors for the person behind you and thanking the person in front of you hold the door for you is the new manners. Also, helping people who look like they might need assistance, like people with strollers, infants in arms, and packages, or lots of camera equipment.
    Another vote for a light meter. I tend to use my Sekonic Flashmate L-308S most of the three meters I have.
    The other thing is to make sure the shutter and the light meter play nice together. Sometimes the shutters in the lenses are a bit off on timing and could use cleaning, lubricating and adjusting.
    One of the things I've noticed is that there aren't all that many women posting to, and I like seeing others of us around. If the groups were one third women, then perhaps some of us might be less touchy.
    And Jenny, that was a bit touchy.
  28. I use a Sekonic L-308S and a Pentax spotmeter. Since the cost of film, developing and prints can get to be expensive I like to be as sure as I can that the exposure will be correct. So far, both meters have served me well.
    In response to Jenny's "you guys" comment, I think she needs to lighten up. I don't particularly care for the use of "guys" as a generic term for men and women, but the word has evolved to include both genders. I see no harm in using the term, "guys and gals". If I may be permitted to go off topic for a moment, why is it that both males and females in the acting profession now like to refer to themselves as "actors" (which used to refer to male thespians) until it comes to the Academy Awards where there are separate but equal awards for actors and actresses? I noticed that Jenny referred to the originator of a post in another thread as a "moron". I guess it's just her style to be confrontational.

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