I don’t know if this is a good thing or a bad thing, but I have never used a light meter in my decade long photographic journey. Over the years I sort of figured out how to eyeball the atmosphere and dial in the settings or I simply used my go-to flash snapshot aesthetic to get the shot. Lately I’ve really been trying to elevate my style, especially when it comes to film, so I figured it was time to invest in a light meter. I’ve always wanted the Sekonic™ L-358 because I thought it looked cool and it has a radio transmitter add-on option that allows you to fire your strobes to get a reading. Now, I’m not a tech guy in the slightest and was a bit worried I wouldn’t be able to figure out how to turn it on, let alone make it magically give me the missing number to my exposure triangle. Upon receiving it in the mail yesterday, I couldn’t believe how easy this thing was to use. I honestly had it spitting out numbers in the first ten minutes like I was a trained interrogation specialist. Instructions you say? For peasants. I never even opened up the booklet. As you can see from the photos above, it allows you to dial in the correct exposure then you can take your own creative liberties from there. It’s a lot better than guessing a starting point or even worse, trying to get the right exposure from your DSLR screen, which is almost never accurate.
Would I recommend getting a meter? From where I am now and for what I’m trying to achieve, I would say yes. Especially if you’re investing a lot of your time and money in film. I wouldn’t say it’s an absolute necessity when it comes to digital, especially if you dig the snapshot vibe and are rarely using strobes. Also, from what I gather, I would only buy a Sekonic™ meter but that doesn’t mean you have to buy the top of the line unit. I got mine brand new with the radio transmitter for $250 shipped. I’ve seen some other cool ones like the Sekinic™ L-308x for less and is pretty much the standard for many notable film photographers. Then there’s some fully digital units that look like an iPhone 40 that range well into the over $600 area, which to me, has major “tiny weener” vibes written all over it. Just get one that’s in your budget because ultimately they all do the same thing.