Consider the following scenario.... what looks better to a client: taking out a fancy, mysterious and formidable looking gadget, metering their face, dialing your settings, and taking the perfect snap... or taking a snap, looking at the back of your camera, fiddling with the settings, taking another snap, staring at the back of your camera, and fiddling with the settings. Looks a little different from the client's perspective, doesn't it.
But a light meter can do more than that. You don't need to pull it out for every shoot, but here are some times when I think it holds an advantage:
- High contrast locations
- Shooting when there are 2 or 3 major light zones (for example, a portrait in the shade with the combined sunny and shadow background-- trees beneath the sky)
- When you want to set up your lights before the shoot
- When you want specific light ratios between your flashes
Are there other times when it's better to use a light meter than your camera's meter? You tell me.
That's my old light meter above. You don't need to drop $300 on a fancy meter, but you'll probably spend a $100 on a used one that can do both flash and ambient light. My opinion: it's worth it.