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Metering studio flash

Measuring the light from electronic flash


You are completely in control of the light in a studio. A flash meter accurately measured the light striking this spacecraft model and also the diminished light behind it.
You are completely in control of the light in a studio. A flash meter accurately measured the light striking this spacecraft model and also the diminished light behind it.

You must have a special light meter that is capable of measuring the brief light from electronic flash. Not all light meters have this capability.

A special exposure meter is used to measure studio flash, appropriately called a
A special exposure meter is used to measure studio flash, appropriately called a "flash meter."

There are two methods of metering light from a flash: with and without a sync cord (a cord that connects the light meter with the flash unit - you can see one near the bottom of the image above, held beneath the photographer's thumb).

MEASURING FLASH LIGHT WITH A SYNC CORD

  • Connect the cord to the proper terminals in the flash unit and the light meter.
  • Press the power button to turn the light meter on.
  • Set the film speed for the speed of the film you are using or the ISO sensitivity set in your digital camera
  • If the meter has various modes, ensure it is set to the Sync cord mode. This is usually done by simply pressing the Mode button until you see the word “Cord”.
  • Select your camera’s X-sync speed on the meter, i.e the shutter speed at which your camera synchronizes with electronic flash. This is usually done via an up/down button or toggle switch on the meter.
  • Turn on the flash. If you have not connected your sync cord yet, and you do so now, the flash may fire when you attach the cord. This is perfectly normal.
  • Position the meter close to your subject to take a flash light reading so that the translucent dome is facing the camera from the position.
  • Press the light measuring button.
  • This will cause the flash to fire and the meter reading to be taken.
  • Look at the meter’s display and you will see the correct aperture to use for proper exposure.
  • If the reading is over or under the meter’s display or its measuring range, the meter will indicate it with a symbol or letter like an “O” or “U”that may even blink.

MEASURING FLASH WITHOUT A SYNC CORD

  • Turn the light meter on.
  • Set the film speed for the speed of the film you are using or the ISO sensitivity set in your digital camera .
  • Using the Mode button, set the meter to the non-cord mode, usually shown by the letters “Non.C” or a similar designation.
  • Select your camera’s X-sync shutter speed on the meter.
  • Press the light measuring button.
  • "Non.C" or a similar symbol will begin to blink, indicating that the meter is standing by, just waiting for the flash to fire. It will usually remain on stand-by for a given period of time, generally around a minute.
  • Turn on the flash unit.
  • Position the meter close to your subject to take a flash light reading so that the translucent dome is facing the camera from the position.
  • Fire the flash to enable the meter to take a reading.
  • Look at the meter’s display and you will see the correct aperture to use for proper exposure.
  • If the reading is over or under the meter’s display or its measuring range, the meter will indicate it with a symbol or letter like an “O” or “U” that may even blink.