Welcome to the forum!

As an adjunct to the Tangents blog, the intention with this forum is to answer any questions, and allow a diverse discussion of topics related photography. With that, see it as an open invitation to just climb in and start threads and to respond to any threads.

Flash meter : any advice ?

CedCed Member
edited December 2013 in flash & lighting
Hello,

following advise on this forum, I recently tried shooting with off camera flash in manual mode, and I loved it, as I was told it gave me really consistent exposure during the shooting and I am really happy with the result.

What I did not like, is that the posing is much less flexible than in TTL, and it took me quite some time to find the proper setting, something like 10 shots. I kept it simple as this was first time, started with a single light source, and keeping same posing during the whole shooting.

I'd like to have feedback on the use of a flashmeter:
- does it give first time right correct exposure ?
- How to use it with multiple flash ?
_ any affordable model, below 200$ ?

Comments

  • ZenonZenon Member
    edited December 2013
    A flash meter is can be invaluable. The Sekonic L-358 is a nice unit but they stopped making it. Perhaps you can find a used one. Fred Miranda has a good buy and sell selection. POTN is good too.

    http://photography-on-the.net/forum/forumdisplay.php?f=88

    There are several types out there. Sekonic is a reputable company.
    This Sekonic L-308s unit is about $30 over your budget. A life long investment.

  • Neil vNNeil vN Administrator
    edited December 2013
    Ced .. you can also consider buying a used Sekonic 358.
    There are always one or two being sold on the Fred Miranda forums.
  • TrevTrev Moderator
    edited December 2013
    Agree with Zenon.

    I have the L358 and it's still available at stores (did not know they stopped making it, it is an incredibly accurate mid-price meter) but you will pay over double your budget.

    Expect to pay $240-$299 for a decent meter.

    Some links for you

    http://neilvn.com/tangents/index/flash-photography/

    (Writing this and talking on phone but in meantime Neil had posted, and I agree totally, get a used L358, they are superb)
  • While a Sekonic L-358 is nice to have there are also other affordable options you can also consider. I currently own a Sekonic L-558R and a Gossen Luna Pro F; invariably I find myself reaching for the "old school" analog Luna Pro F over digital Sekonic meter.

    You can find lots of flash meters at stores like KEH.com or on auction sites for approx $60; I even just saw a Gossen Luna Pro F listed for $49 on Ebay: Gossen Luna Pro F

    The analog meters work a bit different from the newer digital meters but they are just as accurate and reliable. With a bit of mental arithmetic you can figure out multiple light setups and ambient/flash blended exposures just as with a digital meter. The Gossen is built like a tank and I've never had a problem with it that a quick trip to Quality Light Metric Co. in Hollywood didn't solve. By comparison, the L-558R developed an E6 error code and the MAC Group, the US distributor for Sekonic products, wanted over $200 just to diagnose the fault.

    BTW, Minolta flash meters like the III or IV work very well too. Which ever way you decide to go just make sure you're getting a flash meter and not just an ambient light meter (flash meters generally have an F in their name) and that it doesn't use mercury batteries which are banned in most of the world.
  • CedCed Member
    edited December 2013
    lucky me, I can't find a second hand L-358 here in France :). There are few second hand on ebay coming from US for about 250 $, how much was the price in store for it ?

    However the sekonic 308S is available new for 200$, but now that all of you mentioned the 358...and there are a lot of second hand 308S for sale, not a good sign !

    jan1215 I really like the look of the Gossen Luna Pro F, it does look a bit complex though but I will look more into it and try to find a demo video.

    I also find good offers for the sekonic L508, but maybe it is too old ?
  • jan1215jan1215 Member
    edited December 2013
    Sekonic no longer makes the L-358 which probably explains why they are hard to find. A used L-358 sells for between $200 - $225 depending on condition so you'd have to decide if $250 is a fair price given the shipping cost and general hassle of sending it overseas.

    Have you looked at Gossen meters? Gossen is a German brand so conceivably they would be more available in Europe. The Gossen Digipro F or F2 has the same functionality as the Sekonic L-358. See Gossen's website here: http://www.gossen-photo.de/english/foto_p_digisky.php

    I've owned a Sekonic 308s in the past and in my experience it is rather limited and you will outgrow it quickly. I wouldn't recommend it when you can get a better meter for not much more. The advantage of the 308s is that it is very small; most photos you see of it are deceptive...they are smaller than a deck of cards in real life.

    The Gossen Luna Pro F isn't complicated, just different. You take a reading of the ambient light or flash, then calculate the appropriate aperture by turning the large dial until the red needle is null or centered on 0.

    image

    The aperture setting is indicated by the red flash or "lightning bolt" symbol at approx the 1 o'clock position on this photo; but you can use another other combination as suggested by the dial.

    image

    The Sekonic L-508 is still an excellent meter although its no longer manufactured. If you can get one at a good price you should do so. The difference between the L-508 and the L-558 is that the L-508 does not display the readings in the eyepiece when using the spot meter. So you have to remove the meter from your eye to look at the front to get the suggested settings. The L-558 superimposes a display of the settings right in the spot meter. If spot metering isn't important to you I'd suggest the L-508. Also, the L-508 spot meter reads in a 5 degree spread while the L-558 is restricted to 1 degree.

    To me the advantages of a digital meter are (1) the displays are easier to read especially if you have aging eyes like mine and (2) the better digital meters are more precise in that they can display the suggested aperture in 1/10 stop increments (although this is of limited usefulness since most cameras can only be set in 1/2 or 1/3 stop increments).
  • I think you convinced me about the Gossen Luna Pro F... :) I have found it is called Gossen Lunasix F in europe, I found few offers, I'll see what I can get :), will also watch the offers for the Sekonic 358 and 508.
  • Just one more question, is a spot meter useful in Flash meter mode ?
  • Neil vNNeil vN Administrator
    I don't think the Spot-Meter works for Incident metering, which is what you'd be doing with flash.
    With flash, you're measuring the light falling onto the subject (not reflected), and this is what makes the metering of flash so accurate.

    Spot-metering is for reflected light.

    (I hope this makes sense.)
  • Neil vNNeil vN Administrator
    My favorite flash-meter was the Mintolta Flashmeter III
    But they don't support it at all, and therefore aren't repairable.
  • Just to add spot metering flash with my camera system (Canon) can be obtained using Flash Exposure Lock (FEL). It meters the circle area in the viewfinder. Neil mentioned that it is reflected light which like your cameras light meter may require compensation (FEC or flash exposure compensation) depending on the surface area what you are metering off. Think of your cameras light meter when shooting snow or black tar. Same thing happens when metering reflected light using a flash - when in TTL.

    I also have never heard of spot metering for incident meters and I can't see where there would be any purpose for one. Not sure if that could even be done. Come to think about it you can pretend you are spot metering. When using one they recommend to hold it just below the chin and point it towards the light source, thus achieving an accurate exposure of the face. And yes incident meters are very accurate.
  • Yep, understood !
    I went for the gossen lunapro F, I have found a reasonable offer, let's see :) !
  • Cool; it will take some time to get the hang of the Luna Pro F but its worth it. Just ask if you have any questions on how to use it.
  • Neil,
    This the Minolta one you were referring too?image

    or this one:

    image
  • Neil vNNeil vN Administrator
    The top one … Minolta Flashmeter 3
    The other is the Auto-Meter (I think)
  • Thanks Neil, much appreciated.
  • Can I ask, for those who use Seconic, what is NP Finder 5 Degree for? In simple words....

    Can seconic 358 can be used without or not?

    Thanks
  • Neil,

    Picked up one of those older Minolta Flashmeter 3's you mentioned. Should be at my house any day now. Just have to learn how to use it. Downloaded the manual for it. Be my first time using an external meter...I always use the camera's meter and adjust flash/strobes manually as needed. Thanks again.
  • sasko1sasko1 Member
    edited January 2014
    Does anyone use Sekonic L 358 with Phottix Odin system? I wonder if those systems are compatible?

    Thanks in advance
  • Neil vNNeil vN Administrator
    In manual flash, it should be. (Or what am I missing?)
  • TrevTrev Moderator

    Sasko,

    I've used my L358 on all sorts of 'triggers' but always in manual (as Neil said) and works on anything.

    A flash meter will only ever work with flash in manual, so it does not measure any kind of pre-flash causing a wrong reading which, if you followed would drastically over-expose your image since pre-flash is very weak.
  • Yes, I mean in manual of course. :)

    I've read that you need RT-32 sekonic module for use with Phottix Odin. But maybe it was yust old forums I've read and today things are compatible.
    I am waiting flash meter to arrive and will test it. But would like to have some official word on this before it arrives
  • TrevTrev Moderator
    edited January 2014
    ahhh, I see what you want, you want the L358 to actually trigger the flash when you push the button instead of just pushing, getting the L358 in 'ready mode' then manually triggering the flash by other means to take a reading.

    I have not used any module, since I carry my camera with me and the trigger is on the camera, so I just push the L358 to get ready, position the L358 and just push the 'test' button on the trigger to fire the flash.

    But if the RT-32 Module fires the Photixx Odin then great. Of course the module is extra and make sure it's of the same compatibility in the country you are in with both L358 and the RT Module.
  • Hello and thank you for this valuable resource. I recently purchased the sekonic L -478D (the unit without the trigging module). I was trying to meter my Nikon system (off camera SB-910) while in TTL mode and now understand that I need to set the flash to manual in order to receive a proper reading. When I use the CLS feature to trigger the flash unit the light meter reads the scene as under exposed, even at full power. Is this because of the pre flash that is used to trigger the flash unit?
  • TrevTrev Moderator
    Russ,

    Yes, that is correct. No sort of pre-flash can be used in metering with a hand-held meter.

    You will have to find another way to trigger the flash, PocketWizards, other trigger which are radio-triggers and not pre-flash.
  • Trev, exactly... I want to trigger the flash when I push the Sekonic to take reading.

    But as you said that you can put the L358 in "ready mode" and than push the test button on Phottix master would do the trick? Or if I even make blank test shot with camera in hand and L358 in "ready mode"?

    How does L358 in that case knows, when exactly to read the amount of light?

    Thanks in advance
  • Thanks Trev for the fast response. I thought the unit was defective, was thinking about returning it will give it another try.
  • TrevTrev Moderator
    edited January 2014
    Sasko,

    To trigger the flash with the L358 you need the RT-Module (making sure it will set off the particular type of trigger, you will need to check)

    Now, if there is no module in the L358, you still set the ISO, Shutter and make sure the Flash Mode is selected on the meter, (cordless it will be, the middle 'flash' symbol).

    Top left 3 symbols, a 'Sun' which is ambient only, the middle 'Flash' which is cordless - trigger, and last symbol is the Flash with a 'C' beside it, meaning Flash/with Cord.

    Now push the black button on side, the symbol you selected will start flashing, that's in the 'ready mode' and it will continue to flash for around 60-90 seconds, I forget, but you have plenty of time to actually fire the flash.

    Then hold up the meter near the subject, making sure the white dome on flash has been extended out as that will read Ambient/Flash, and that the white dome is pointing back to where you are shooting from, then with the other free hand already on the trigger's test button, just push that.

    OR, just click the shutter button (test shot like you said) which will fire the flash (does not matter where the lens is of course, probably pointing at the ground) and you will get your f-stop reading.

    Once it fires and you get the f-stop, you will need to match that f-stop with the camera's f-stop you set prior for the ambient.

    Then you just merely adjust the flash power until the f-stop corresponds with the ambient you may have set on camera.

    eg: Say you set the ambient for background @ ISO 400, Shutter 200th and f8.0 to get a nice ambient, but you need flash to light up the subject, you will set on the Flash Meter the ISO to 400, Shutter (T) value to 200th, then fire the flash and adjust the flash power until it then reads f8.0.

    Now, once flash has fired, and you get that f8.0 Aperture reading to match the camera's chosen Aperture, just up a little near the aperture setting in the same 'panel' on the meter you will see a % symbol, which will give you a ratio of Ambient to Flash.

    That may read 30% meaning ambient is 70% and flash is 30%.

  • TrevTrev Moderator
    edited January 2014
    Here I found an image.

    image

    One other thing, I don't remember precisely, but I think by default the meter 'may' come set in full stop increments, to change to 1/3rd stop values, take off the battery compartment lid and you will see four white 'dip' switches.

    I set the first 2 in the down position and the last 2 in the up position which will give me 1/3rd stop values, read the manual as to what they do.

    That image also shows a fourth symbol coming up which I don't see on mine, but it may have something to do with how I set the dip switches.
  • sasko1sasko1 Member
    edited January 2014
    Hello, Trev.

    Hope, you can help me with this thing a bit more.

    I tried Sekonic today and I don't get something. Or maybe not doing something right.

    I set up everything for studio shot, set my Phottix Odin triggers to trigger flash manually. I put it to 1/4 for a test.
    Than, I turned on Sekonic and set it to cordless option (second one, with thunderbolt sign), sit my ISO 1 to 200 and my shutter to 250. And then I pushed the test button and after that I fired my camera, so the flash under umbrella fired too.

    Now, the problem is that Sekonic did not read that light. It gives me 0% of Flash light... but I am sure it is enough light from it.

    Somehow as it is not detected. Any help aprishiated.
  • After a lot of reading on the internet, i think I found a solution. :) So maybe it helps some other member:

    Phottix Odin use pre-flash to trigger units, so light meter takes note of that pre-flash as main light to measure. New firmware 1.06 for Phottix Odin solves that, since after you push test button, in 2,5 sec flashes fire. So you have 2,5 seconds to hit test button on Sekonic.
    Tested and works. Ufff... :)
  • TrevTrev Moderator
    edited January 2014
    Sasko1,

    Wow, it takes 2.5 seconds for flash to fire after pushing 'test button' using the Photttix Odins?

    Let's forget about the triggers for a minute.

    Did you get an RT Module for the Sekonic? ~ If so, did you find out what it triggers?

    Not that that will help with Phottix pre-flash, as I merely wanted to know and to tell you how to test the Sekonic totally manually for your own piece of mind.

    Set the Sekonic up to anything you like (forget about the trigger/camera, you won't be using either of them, this is ONLY to test the meter)

    Now, NO triggers, holding the Sekonic in one hand, and just the flash (turned on obviously) in the other, no trigger, not on camera, push the black button on the Sekonic to start its 'reading period', now merely point the meter at the flash and push the flash's 'test button' to fire it totally manually.

    Check the meter, see what it reads. That's only to test the meter, play around different settings, flash power etc.

    Now also, once you fire the flash, and have a reading showing on the meter, I would like you to change the Sekonic's ISO, and you should then note that the f0.0 values will change on the meter as you rotate the ISO settings.

    That's to show you that if you wanted to change the ISO on camera, merely dial in the same ISO on the Sekonic Meter and it will automatically adjust the current f0.0 values to the 'new' settings and you don't even have to 'test fire' and take a new reading.

    Why do this?

    eg: Say your ambient settings are in the order of Shutter 200th, ISO 800, Aperture f5.6.
    Then you set the Meter to 200th/ISO 800 and test/adjust flash output until you are reading f5.6 on the meter.

    But, you then decide you wanted a shallower depth of field of f2.8.

    You merely rotate the ISO down, and the meter will then accordingly open the aperture up in the same ratio.

    With f5.6 to f2.8 being two full stops, if you rotate the ISO on meter down from 800 to 200 (2 full stops) your f0.0 value on the flash should read f2.8. Merely adjust your camera to match the meter's readings you are good to go.

    Obviously you could have worked this out in your head and just do it on camera, but if you have 1/3rd stop values much easier to rotate settings on meter once initial test is correct and change values on camera body to suit.

    or count the clicks you adjusted ISO on body to then go the opposite direction on the aperture with same amount of clicks.

    Vice-versa, if you wanted more depth of field, make the ISO higher, and change the aperture to suit.

  • sasko1sasko1 Member
    edited January 2014
    Hello, Trev!

    I did not get the RT module for Sekonic, since I am satisfied with cordless settings. I was only frustrated, since I did not know, that Phottix has preflash, tiny one, but still, enough to mess with light meter. But I like this test button and 2,5 sec delay, since I can now measure light. I just wait for test preflash to fire and than run test button on light meter. It works as charm.
    I know that I would do better with RT module, but currently I am out of budget. If I could find some good one and reasonable price... I'll take it.

    I will use it today again, and will try without Phottix. But I think it will work fine. I am just glad, I found out about this preflash. Although I don't understand why radio trigger needs preflash. In that case, it is the same if I'd use Nikon CLS system. (not counting easy menu of Phottix, of course)

    Will report further.
    Thanks for reply, Trev

    Oh...since we are here...I'd like to ask something:
    which RT-32 module should I buy.... Sekonic RT-32 or Sekonic RT-32N or Sekonic RT-32CTL or Phottix RT-32? Will both work for Phottix Odin? I guess Sekonic RT-32N or 32CTL should be the right one, or the Phottix.?
  • TrevTrev Moderator
    Re the RT-32 Module, sorry, I don't have a clue, don't own or need one honestly.

    Since I have to walk up to the subject to take a reading with meter anyway and since I have the camera slung over my shoulder, it's just a matter of pressing the test button on my trigger [for Cheetah Lights] and get the reading.

Sign In or Register to comment.