Understanding Exposure Meters – Photography Tutorial DSLR

Exposure Meters – Take Their Readings as a Reference And Understand Their Use

Exposure Meters – An exposure meter or light meter is used to determine the quantity of light. This is used in photography to get proper exposure for a snapshot. The light meter calculates the shutter speed and aperture values for optimum exposure for a given lighting situation. Accurate exposure is the secret of high-quality photographs. Even for a large variety of lighting conditions, with the aid of light or exposure meter, you can produce good results consistently.

Exposure meters sense light and depending on the amount of light reflected from subject to the camera or amount of light that illuminates the subject, get the value of aperture and shutter speeds of the camera. In most of modern cameras, exposure meters are in-built. In SLR camera there is an in-built photocell that measures the amount of light that passes through the lens. In non-SLR camera, a photocell is kept in front of the lens or camera body. In order to have greater flexibility and control, some photographers prefer to use handheld separate meter.

Exposure Meters – Options

Depending on the type of light measured by the light meter, Light meters basically are of two types. One is reflected light meter which measures light reflected from the subject and another is an incident light meter which measures the light falling on the subject. Reflected light meters that are capable of reading a wide-angle of view are termed as averaging meters and are mostly used including the built-in cameras. The spot meter is another type of reflected light meter which is able to take readings from a small section of the scene. Photographers generally prefer reflected light meters as they can have light readings from the camera position.

In case of handheld reflected light meter you have to use that standing near the camera and direct the meter towards the subject. While in incident light meter you have to place the meter as near as possible to the subject. A spot meter measures brightness of a limited spot within the scene, generally in the middle and gives the reading. Many advanced technology cameras are using a mode in which scene is divided into several parts and spot readings of each part are taken to integrate all the readings for getting optimum exposure.

Exposure Meters – Setting the Scene

If in a scene light and dark subjects are evenly distributed then whatever the light meter gives the reading can be used without any change. But practically that is not always possible. In case you come across a subject that is too dark or light, the readings in meter if used will make the output picture medium toned. It is here your judgment plays a very important role. The reading of the meter should be taken as a guideline not as a correct exposure all the time.

It is all about understanding how your meter works to get perfect results consistently. The instructions in the manual will provide you with the situations where you don’t have to solely depend on the light meter’s readings. The readings of reflected light depending on the available light on the scene and the amount of light that the subject may be able to reflect. The design of light meters is such that they suggest settings that will make subjects appear average in terms of brightness. The suggested settings for the camera are so that it overexposes a dark subject and underexposes a light subject.

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Dave P
Dave P
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