It's not worth it IMO. Too much to learn all at once..
I was just curious... I'm having trouble understanding the use of alight meter. I know my Nikon D200 has it's own built in light meterwith the three different modes. With such a built in meter, is alight meter somewhat obsolete? I've been reading articles about thisand it seems like the use of a $20 grey card and using custom whitebalance setting could do the same job for a lot less. I do want tolearn to use my manual settings more often with more confidence.Would a light meter be helpful for this? I'm just wondering if thisis a worthwhile investment as a learning tool or if there are betteroptions out there. My rationale has me thinking that using mycameras own light meter to make adjustments while in manual and usinga grey card/custom WB (for those tricky exposure situations) woulddo the job.
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There is nothing like a good hand meter to learn the basics about light ratios..
If used correctly, your camera can be digital preview screen and yo can set and adjust your lights much easier once you understand how to use a meter..
Almost every photographer who shot professionally prior to digital learned with a meter..
It wasn't to much to learn then, it's not to much to learn now..
A good meter will cost you $200 and will teach you more than I can explain with out showing you. (My private lessons would cost more......)Jim Bianchihttp://www.thephotoop.comDigital guru in the making...
You'd be better off learning when to use the 3 different metering patterns for a better exposure.....
I use the Center-Weighted average over the multi-segmented type, most of the time.. When I focus, I want my meter to lock on that composition of the subject I Focus on., not the re-composition after focusing were the main subject may not be centered..
I use the Multi-Segmented for Landscapes that don't have to much sky in them. For example...I may use partial metering to make sure the Main object is exposed correctly in very high Dynamic Range scenes. (Very Bright to Very Dark).
Master the On Board Metering...It is very good, and can handle a ton of lighting variables..
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It is not needed..
1. The camera's reflective meter is all you usually need..
2. A grey card (or anything else that's the right darkness) works for incident metering..
3. The camera's histogram display is the definitive test of exposure. This is more accurate than any meter since meters predict what the correct exposure will be and the histogram tells you whether it was actually correct. It also makes overexposure (very bad) easy to spot in any part of the image..
Aside from film, about the only thing people use them for any more is studio flash, and even that is done just as well with the histogram..
I wouldn't go so far as to say no professional would ever need one, but it's way, way, way down the list..
More useful accessories would include a carbon fiber tripod or multiple flashes...
A dslr has a lightmeter that can be used in four different ways:spot, center average, average, and matrix. however these 4 ways are all based on a reflective meter tht happens to be in the camera. the meter is mesasuring the amount of light that is being reflected from the subject to the camera. the basic assumption with this type of meter is that all subjects are the same reflectance, namely 18%(the standard). the photographer has to intervien with the meter when the subject does not reflect the 18%. such as a black cat sitting on top of a coal pile, this is black subject and would reflect far less than 18%.
Or mix the above situations: have the black cat as the subject but sitting on snow field; or the girl in a white skim outfit standing on a coal pile. in the last 2 situations the subject is against a contrasting color background and will fool the camera's meter; thus requiring user intervention via the exposure compensation..
Now the 4 above situations can be metered but not by the reflective meter in the camera. you now breakout your handheld incident light meter which meters the light falling on the subject not the reflective light from the subject. an incident meter does not care about black cats or girls in white clothes; it is measuring the light that is falling on a subject and the exposure can be set from the incident meters scale directly no compensation is necessary for the color of the subject...
Learn to use the meter in the D200 first, I have only used my hand spot meter when shooting 4x5 film, the rest of the time, use the camera TTL meter. Also learn to use the camera histogram, look here: http://www.bythom.com/histogram.htm.
Or even better buy his e-book on the D200, it is great, http://www.bythom.com/d200guide.htm.
I got his book for my d-100, then a new book for my D-200..
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I'm interested in what others have to say on this but assuming that your DLSR has a decent set of metering capabilities including spot, an secondary external light meter seems to have no practical purpose. In fact, it's potentially a liability because it might produce a result slightly different than your camera. Kind of like the guy who has two watches and isn't quite sure what time it is ..