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I want to learn more about light and I think finally getting a light meter will help do the trick. I'd like to see the amount of light coming from different light bulbs and the differences in the sun as it sets/rises. I don't feel like my camera's light meter is that helpful with this, I can figure a different in stops but I don't have a clear amount of actual light and how it falls off a subject. I'm using a panasonic Gh1 and a canon 600d as my cameras, and I'd like to use the meter for stills and video. A few years ago when I first looked into light meters it seemed like for all the features (such as 1 degree spot) you needed a $600 + meter, but I recently read this thread where a much cheaper $230 Sekonic version was mentioned and the person who answered the question actually used the cheap meter.

So I'm wondering what you guys think, and would if a $600+ meter would be future proof? Because that could possibly effect my decision if I'm going be looking to upgrade in a year. Thanks guys!

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for ambient light IMO you only need an inexpensive meter. The more expensive meters integrate with wireless transmitters and have more options with studio flash (calculating lighting ratios and so forth). For things like sunrise/sunset you can use the spot meter in your camera, it should be accurate enough for that. – MikeW Jan 22 '12 at 3:06
up vote 1 down vote accepted

The 308 is a good incident light/flash meter, and it's about all you need for that (unless you need a built-in PocketWizard transmitter and/or need the meter to do simple lighting ratio calculations for you). It's only a slight pain to exchange the Lumidisc (flat for measuring individual lights) and Lumisphere (a hemisphere for the overall exposure reading). There are parts you can lose -- the 358 and 758 both use a retractable sphere instead of changing parts.

The reflected light reading is about the same as you'd get from your camera set to center-weighted with a normal lens, so its utility as a reflected light meter really depends on whether your camera has a meter at all. With a DSLR, you'd be better off going TTL, but if you ever decide to use a medium format film camera or a press/view camera, it may come in handy.

The only real shortcoming is spot metering. If you can find the spot metering attachment (I don't know if it's currently offered, but the one for the discontinued 328 should fit since they use the same sphere/disc), it's a five degree spot (not one) and there is viewfinder parallax to deal with -- I found it was very difficult to get a reading off of a specific part of a scene with the 328 and wound up using a Pentax Spotmeter 5 instead.

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