How to use a light meter?

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Kho King

Senior Member
Jan 20, 2002
Have not own any before...thought mostly Medium Format users need it. Interested in the Sekonic 508L CINE (how much is it?)...but definitely not buying any soon.

Wonder what the white ball on top of the light meter for? How to use the light meter? View through the finder or have to go close to the subject?

SLR 35mm users, do they need a light meter?

Anybody can teach here? Thanks.

The one with the white dome is for measuring incident light. Hold it very close to your subject, with the dome facing the light source, then press the "Meter" button.

Incident light meters are not fooled by things like backlight, different coloured subjects etc. as they measure the amount of light falling on it.

Camera meters are reflected-light meters. They are easily affected by the above.


I have here with me a book by John Shaw titled "Landscape photography" where there is a very useful chart. He says not to bother much about how your matrix/evaluative/whatever meter sees the subject. Look at the subject and decide how you want to expose for it - do you want that wall to be dark, light or medium toned? For slide film, he gives a useful table:

Meter reading +2.5 stops : textureless white
+2 stops : extremely light
+1.5 stops : light light
+1 stop : light
+0.5 stops : dark light
Meter reading : medium
-0.5 stops : light dark
-1 stop : dark
-1.5 stops : dark dark
-2 stops : extremely dark
-2.5 stops : detailless black

Your handheld meter or even your in camera spot/partial meter will come in useful here.

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