How to use a Light Meter
Do you know how to use a light meter? Perhaps you’re not even sure why you would need one? If you want to be able to take full control over your studio lights then it is important that you know how to operate them manually. Manual mode might frighten people initially, but once you get used to it you will find it very helpful. Yes, TTL is fantastic. It can enable you to work quickly and in many situations is all you will need. However, sometimes you want to change things for creative reasons. In order to avoid guesswork and get correct exposures, it is important to measure the light from your flash. To do this, you need to learn how to use a light meter. This is again not that difficult, especially once you have practised a few times. Just break it down into a few simple steps as we do in the video. You will then be able to adjust the power of each light in your studio (and on location as well) to achieve the creative effect you are after. Sometimes you may deliberately want one light to be several stops brighter or darker than another. Your flash meter can help you to set this up accurately.
This video tutorial shows you how to use a light meter one step at a time. You will learn how it relates to the exposure choices you make for your camera settings. You will also learn where to put the light meter to get the best results. The video explains what adjustments you will need to make depending on the reading you get.
Here’s the link to our post about photography jargon – What is a Stop?
- Use the “Mode” button (or equivalent) to select the right type of light to measure
- Set the shutter speed using the up/down buttons
- Hold down the ISO button and use the up/down buttons to set the ISO
- Remember that the readings on your light meter will match how you set up your camera
- Press the test button while holding the light meter by your nose and press the flash test button
- The f number should be the same as what you have chosen for your camera
- If the f number is too high then the light is too bright
- If the f number is too low (wider aperture) then the light is too dim
- Adjust your settings on your light, or move it to adjust the power
With a bit of practise you should find that you very quickly become familiar with how to use a light meter. It is a useful skill to have.
© Joe Lenton, December 2015