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Light meters: which one to get?
Old 09-10-2005, 01:41 PM   #1 (permalink)
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What could a Sekonic L-508 possibly do that I need to pay so much more for than a Sekonic L-358?

I can read the specs, but I guess I'm asking what are the real world benefits?

Is it because o the sopt meter? I've never used a spot meter. How can it benefit me? I have an L-508 that I borrowed from someone today, but I don't really know how/why to use the spot meter. [img]/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/confused.gif[/img]
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Re: Light meters: which one to get?
Old 09-10-2005, 02:09 PM   #2 (permalink)
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The spot meter allows you to meter different spots of the subject you wish to photograph and then set your camera to the averaged out setting of all the meter spots. if you mainly shoot in the studio then the spot meter is not needed. I have the Sekonic L-358 and have had no trouble with it and have not found any reason to have the spot meter feature and if I ever did, I could buy the spot meter add on.
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Re: Light meters: which one to get?
Old 09-10-2005, 02:11 PM   #3 (permalink)
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I have no use for the spot meter. You don't need it in the studio, and outdoors I can use the spot meter built into my camera. Go with the 358; you'll like it.
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Re: Light meters: which one to get?
Old 09-10-2005, 02:29 PM   #4 (permalink)
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The two meters are VERY similar. The biggest difference between the two (as you know) is that the 508 has a built-in 1 degree spot meter. You can purchase a 1 degree spot meter for the 358, but by the time you purchase the 358 and the 1 degree meter, you're approaching the cost of a 558R, and the R has a Pocket Wizard transmitter built into it. That is a $50 option on the 358. Add it all up and the price difference is miniscule. Also, the 1 degree spot meter on the 358 only measures down to EV5, you have to set it on F8 in order to get a reading. The spot meter on the 508/558 measures down to EV1, so it's much more sensitive.

Ok, so what can a 1 degree spot meter do for you? A whole lot if you know how to use it (in conjunction with the zone system). For one, you can measure very specific parts of your composition. This information can tell you where your highlights and shadows are in relation to your basic exposure. For chromes and digital you want to keep all of the important parts of your scene within a 5 stop range. So if your base flash exposure is, say, f8 but your shadows measure f4 and your highlights measure f22, something's got to give 'cause you're either gonna blow out the highlights or have mud for shadow detail.

A spot meter is also good for measuring backgrounds and making sure they're evenly lit. You can stand at the camera position and take measurements from various background locations to check it. It can help you raise or lower the background value. If you take a basic Thunder Gray background, you can over or underlight it to make it appear anywhere from pure white to pure black. For white, set the power of your background light so that the background reflects 3 stops more light than your main subject light. For black, reduce the power of your background light so that the background reflects 3 stops less light than the main. (You can actually do this with any color background, but Thunder Gray is easier to work with).

If you want to rim-light a model from behind, you can make sure that the exposure is even by measuring his/her outline. I could go on and on, but you get the idea. Once you start using one, you'll wonder how you ever got along without one. I consider it an indispensible tool.

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Re: Light meters: which one to get?
Old 09-11-2005, 01:49 AM   #5 (permalink)
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I have the L-558 because it was in stock at the store when I was just looking for a L-358. I didn't think I would ever use the spot meter, but I spent the extra money because I needed a meter that day. Now that I have used the spot meter, I find it to be a indispensible feature.

The spot meter comes in very handy for all the reasons that Chip mentioned, and it is far better than an in camera spot. In camera spots are not as specific as the L-558, and change with your lens focal length. For example, the area metered with an in-camera spot is substantially larger when using a 28mm than a 200mm lens, even though the metering angle hasn't changed. With the L-558 you know that you are always working with 1 degree.

The biggest difference is that you can't use an in-camera spot with a flash, but the L-558 is designed for it. You probably won't use the spot meter every day, but it is invaluable when you need it. When working with a subject that has extremes in lighting, you'll be glad you spent the extra money on it.

I don't use the Pocket Wizard feature because I don't have any Wizards. Its nice to know that the feature is there if I want it though.
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Re: Light meters: which one to get?
Old 09-11-2005, 01:16 PM   #6 (permalink)
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[ QUOTE ]
Ok, so what can a 1 degree spot meter do for you? A whole lot if you know how to use it (in conjunction with the zone system).

[/ QUOTE ]

I spent a good portion of the day just wandering around taking light readings and figuring out the "zone system" After a while, I got the camera out and started experimenting. I see how valuable the spot can be as a tool.

I think I'll go with the 558R.





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