Anyone using a Sekonic light meter?

Discussion in 'Open Discussion' started by Wasabi Bob, Dec 14, 2012.

  1. Wasabi Bob

    Wasabi Bob Mu-43 Top Veteran

    I've been thinking about buying a Sekonic light meter and I've got a few questions.

    1. Do you feel it's made a cost justifiable difference in your photography?

    2. I'm wondering how it deals with that fact that a given ISO differs from one camera to another?

    3. All the on line references always show it set at ISO 100. Just curious why this might be?

    4. I'd be using it primarily for outdoor work. Most of the references seem to suggest it's a more valuable tool for studio / flash photography. Is this true?

    I'd appreciate any suggestions, comments and references to on line resources.

    Many thanks & Happy Holidays!
  2. Zariell

    Zariell Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Sep 28, 2012
    Bountiful, UT
    I have a sekonic L-358, and love the hell out of it, that being said the only time I use it is for flash, I've found I trust my camera's meter, I have checked the camera's light meter vs the Sekonic and found them very close.

    Hope that helps some :p
  3. Zariell

    Zariell Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Sep 28, 2012
    Bountiful, UT
    To give my answers to your specific questions.

    1. For work with studio flash yes, for ambient light, not so much.

    2. On the higher models of Sekonic meters you can get a kit and calibrate the light meter to your specific model camera, on the 358 I check the meter against the camera, then you can get a feel for how much different the meter is and figure out what you need to add to the "standard" exposure of the meter

    3. The 358 has can change the ISO from from 3 to 8000 the 358 also has two ISO settings, so you could have one at say ISO 100, and the second iso to 400, to quick check between different settings.

    4. See number 1.

    The 358 is mostly ambient light, although it does come with an attachment that allows for spot readings, and you can get other attachments, honestly though it makes you look all retro and cool, I barely use it at all for anything except studio lighting, and honestly I've used my studio lights so many times, I rarely use it for that, mostly I just check on occasion. I have to say though I think the new Sekonic L-748D with touch screen controls is dead sexy, but I would rather spend my money on glass :p

    This link is pretty decent on explaining why you would want a lightmeter, and what kinds you can use for.
    Metering 101: How to Choose a Light Meter and Why You Need One | Sekonic Classroom Articles - Basics About Light Meters
    • Like Like x 1
  4. speedandstyle

    speedandstyle Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    I had an L-358 and it worked well. I used it for my old Nikomat when the meter went out. I only used it for ambient and it worked fine, never gave me a false reading. I sold it since I don't shoot film anymore. I am looking at getting an L-795cine for spot metering for video - I was happy enough with my old meter that Sekonic is the brand I will get next time!
    • Like Like x 1
  5. b_rubenstein

    b_rubenstein Mu-43 All-Pro

    Mar 20, 2012
    Melbourne, FL
    They actually don't vary much. There's a great deal of confusion and misunderstanding regarding ISO ratings.

    When every I am checking something with a camera, like shots of resolution charts or WB, I use a Sekonic L-358 to take an incident meter read and manual exposure on the camera. The exposures, based on the histogram, are almost always spot on.

    While incident light meter is most reliable, because the amount of light is the important thing and not the reflectance of the subject, it's not always practical. Honestly, with digital most people shoot, chimp and tweak, or shoot RAW and fix it later, or shoot JPG and hope for the best. If you know how to use the metering tools in digital cameras (histograms and flashing high lights) you can get by with out an external meter.
  6. Warren T.

    Warren T. Mu-43 Veteran

    Mar 10, 2010
    San Francisco
    I use the tiny Sekonic L-208 Twinmate with my meterless film cameras to supplement my internal (eyeball to brain) exposure estimates.

    Your cameras' meters are pretty accurate. I don't feel a need to use an external meter if there is already one in the camera. Learn how to use the built-in meter, and how to compensate for different lighting situations.

    Yes, a meter can be very useful in flash metering mode, and also in challenging indoor situations.

  7. Wasabi Bob

    Wasabi Bob Mu-43 Top Veteran

    I appreciate all the honest feedback. I think I'll try to find someone who has one locally and try it. All the claims seemed to good to be true! For whatever error may be attributed to the camera's meter, I can probably adjust that with the adjustment RAW provides.

    Thanks to all & Happy Holidays!
  8. Zariell

    Zariell Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Sep 28, 2012
    Bountiful, UT
    I have to disagree with you on this one, digital ISO can vary to a large degree, in fact two model cameras can vary to quite a degree, due to different lot of sensors.

    The fix for this is A. Buying a meter that can tailor the meter to a specific camera, or B. seeing how the meter differs from the exposure on the camera and doing a bit of math.

    Example my 358 meters reading is about 1/2 a stop under exposed based next to the E-M5, and 1 1/2 stop under exposed to my E-P3, which might not be much, can still cause problems.

    If you are buying a meter I highly recommend playing with it before you trust it completely. Just my opinion and YMMV.
  9. Biggstr

    Biggstr Mu-43 Regular

    Mar 2, 2012
    Ashburn, VA
    Hand Held Light Meters Need Calibration

    I've used hand-held light meters for 40 years. I currently use the classic Sekonic L-398A and a Gossen DigiproF in incident mode. There is no question that I get better balanced exposures using the hand-held light meters, by which I mean there is almost perfect balance between the highlights and shadows. But for this to work, the meters need to be calibrated. Light meter manufacturers have different mathematical formulas for calculating correct exposures (discussions on this available on the Internet). I calibrate my meters by adjusting the declared ISO on the meters, which is not necessarily the same as that selected for the camera.

    I use hand-held light meters less since transitioning to MFT over a year ago. Live view works wonders with respect to anticipating exposures as well as being able to play with highlights and shadows BEFORE pressing the shutter. But for me photography is all about playing with light so hand-held light meters still have a place when I can take the time to use them.
    • Like Like x 1
  10. IcemanYVR

    IcemanYVR Mu-43 Regular

    Nov 16, 2012
    Vancouver, BC
    Real Name:
    I used to use one all the time. I had a Sekonic L-358 w/Pocket Wizard. I mainly used in the studio and arenas.

    1) Yes, it was very helpful for the type of photography I was doing at the time. For studio and arena sports it was very cost effective.

    2) I never noticed a difference between the many cameras I used with it, including different manufacturers. I personally think it's just hype. In fact, until now, I never even thought about it.

    3) You mean the advertising images? I don't know, probably the same reason watches are always shot at 10:10. It goes higher. But in a studio, where they are used most, the majority of photographers shoot at ISO 160 or 100.

    4) I think it's most useless for outdoors. It's an incident light meter, not reflective. So it measures the light falling on the meter. Image an expansive scene covering a few miles or hundred yards and trying to place your meter in the middle of the scene to measure the light. It is the opposite of a spot meter. You can buy a very expensive attachment, but the spot meter on your camera is probably more effective, and cheaper.

    I sold mine, I still have another one but I never use it anymore. Even in my own studio I know my settings down pat. I wouldn't recommend one for outdoors these days unless you're doing multi-strobe commercial photography.
  11. rboate

    rboate Mu-43 Rookie

    Nov 6, 2012
    I too had the Sekonic L-358. I ended up selling it as I rarely used it for my style of shooting. I recently attended a trade show and sat in on a seminar on the new Sekonic D series meters for digital, the rep was very persuasive and I almost bought one.
  12. PeterB666

    PeterB666 Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Jan 14, 2010
    Tura Beach, Australia
    Real Name:
    I have a Sekonic L-308 which I originally used for studio flash work. Don't do this sort of thing any more so rarely used. Good unit and easy to adjust ISO.

    Sent from my GT-I9100 using Tapatalk 2