Equipment: Light Meters

The last piece of equipment you need is an external light meter.

Next to your camera, this is the most important piece of equipment a film photographer can have.  Proper metering can make or break an image.

I use a Sekonic L-358.

Every light meter is slightly different, but the basics are the same.

To use your meter with strobes you must be in flash mode.

To get into flash mode on the Sekonic, press the mode buttom and then use the toggle on the side to select the little lightning bolt icon on the display.  (If you do not have a Sekonic, check out owner’s manual, or do a You-Tube search to find out how to get into flash mode on your meter)

Next you’ll want to set the ISO to the box speed of whatever film you are using and set the shutter speed to whatever your camera’s sync speed is.


Now that you are in flash mode the meter will pause when triggered and wait for the strobe to fire before giving a reading.

You can fire the strobe by hitting the test button on your trigger.

What I love about using strobes with film is once I’ve metered for a certain film, I don’t have to meter again. In a controlled environment like my studio, the light is always the same, therefore my meter reading is always the same! That consistency really helps my workflow and makes every shoot run smoother!

A quick note on light meter apps.

A good light meter can be expensive, and many photographers choose to use the Light Meter app instead.

The Light Meter app can be really handy when you are in a pinch, but there are a few things about it you should know.  

  • It tends to underexpose, so if you are using it with color film, but sure to meter for the darkest shadow you can find.
  • It will give you a reflective reading rather than an incident reading.
  • It is not compatible with strobes or OCF the way a real light meter is.

I recommend investing in a good meter.  You’ll be so glad you did!!

Are you interested in seeing exactly what I use in my studio?

Follow this link for my shopping list!          

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