I’ve just picked up a used Calumet DFM3 meter, cheap. (The DFM3 was Calumet’s house brand clone of the Gossen Digipro F). At Fetishcon last year, I found that I could really use a flash meter – or something – to balance my strobe ratios. One or two strobes I can set by chimping, and more or less get away with it. Three strobes was giving me problems.
But putting the meter through its paces, I’m finding that the ambient readings seem OK while the flash readings need a +1 stop compensation put in. Shooting a white/gray/black target with the lighting set so that the middle spike is centered at f/8, I get a meter reading of f/5.6 without the compensation, and f/8 with a +1.
I think this sort of thing is normal and not too unexpected, based on what I’ve read on the ‘net, but I’d like to ask the wiser heads here (Hywel?) what their experience is.
I also find that I can eyeball one or two flash units, but three or more and I reach for the meter.
And similarly I find that to get what the meter reads isn’t necessarily what the camera sees. I’ve found setting my meter at ISO 64 gives me more like the exposure the camera needs when the camera is set at ISO 100.
Could be several reasons for that but it doesn’t really matter so long as it is consistent from shot to shot and across the exposure range you use. So I just leave my meter set to ISO 80 and set the lights accordingly.
If you test and you find that the offset is reasonably consistent from f/2.8 to f/11 or whatever range you use, just dial in compensation or set a different ISO and you’re good to go.
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