Gossen Digipro F
Thinking about buying a flash meter? Meters are an important tool for the film or digital photographer. They can save time and money and can help the photographer set up precise lighting ratios quickly and efficiently. I always use a meter whatever I’m doing, especially shooting people as the reflection of light from different skin colours and tones can vary greatly. I have been using the Gossen Digipro F for the last few weeks and it has proved to be a good all round flash meter.
Gossen of Nuremburg is a respected German company that has been producing light meters of high quality for over 70 years. It’s always nice to know the manufacturer has a good reputation for making high quality products, it gives you a reassuring feel when you choose to buy any product from their range.
The Digipro F is a light meter for both flash and ambient light, it is a good size, about the same a small calculator, lightweight with a simple layout. It has a swivel head with a white dome to take readings, a standard sync socket on the side, and a good size display screen, about 5cm. x 2.5cm. The buttons for adjustment and function are well designed and all have a good feel to them. On the back of the meter there is a battery compartment that takes 1 x MN1500 battery. It also comes with a small black case and a neck strap.
The digital display on the Gossen Digipro F covers a wide measuring range and uses microprocessor technology. Some of the many features (like me I expect that you will only use a few of these) include:
- Flash measurement with or without a lead
- Incident or reflected light measurement
- LCD display in tenths of a stop
- Analog contrast display in half stops
- Storage of settings and readings
- Programmable exposure corrections
- Display recall of shutter speeds/aperture combinations
- Aperture or shutter priority selection
- Warning when measurement range is exceeded
- Auto battery check
- Auto off
As you can see from the specification the Digipro F will do anything that is required inside or outside the studio. As we are only interested in flash readings here, I will focus on those particular functions.
Using the gossen Digipro F
To set up the meter is for flash readings are easy, first we turn on the meter and select ISO with the function button. We can then programme the meter with the correct ISO speed we are using. We then select Flash with the function button and programme in the shutter speed, (it will measure from 1sec to 1000sec) usually 90 th or 125 th of a second for most studio work.
The meter can be used with or without a sync lead, yes you will need an assistant to fire the lights if you use it without one. Not having an assistant I used it with a standard sync lead plugging it in to the side the meter, we can then use the meter to fire the lights and take a measurement. When we fire the flash, via the M button on the meter the measured aperture appears in the left digital display, and as a flashing mark on the analog aperture scale.
It really is that simple to use, the skill comes with knowing how to take readings from the subject. I have already written a short piece about metering but it’s worth going over a few basics again. It’s also worth mentioning that the meter will take incident readings with the standard white dome left on the swivel head. Or when the dome is removed, the meter will then take reflected readings. Measurements taken via the incident method are far more accurate and reliable than the reflected method. This is because we want to measure the light that is actually falling onto subject.
I used the meter with a sync lead all the time taking incident readings taken from the subject back to the light or camera. The swivel head was useful to get the correct angle so that the meter can take readings from any position.
On a portrait shoot using a standard two head studio set up I found the meter to be very accurate. For some basic shots I wanted to set one of the lights at f11, and the other at f8 a one stop difference. I took incident meter readings from the subjects face, pointing the meter back at the lights, turning each light up or down in power until they were exactly at f11 and f8. I then took some shots with f11 set on my Nikon digital camera and they were spot on. I repeated this process changing one of the lights up by half a stop and again when I changed the aperture on the camera half a stop the pictures were perfectly exposed. Throughout the session the meter gave consistently good results at different ISO settings and using different shutter speeds as well as using a range of small and large accessories on the lights, reflectors and softboxes.
For those of you who want to use multiple flashes to build up the exposure this meter can help you. The Digipro F will calculate up to a maximum of 10 flash sequences, enough for even the most discerning photographer.
The meter will also work in either shutter priority or aperture priority. This can be useful for the studio photographer despite only being able to work from about a 60 th of a second up to a 250 th of a second. If we need to work at a certain aperture, say to capture either maximum or minimum depth of field the meter can help calculate these readings.
To sum up the Gossen Digipro F meter is a superb tool and a sound investment for any studio photographer. As you would expect from a company like Gossen the Digipro F is very well designed and simple to use for the beginner. The display is large and very easy to read. The functions are clearly marked and simple to understand. Even the instruction book (yes I did read it) is well laid out and gives the information in a clear and concise way. There is no doubt that using the Digipro F will save the photographer time and money. Baring in mind the Digipro F is one of their less expensive models and only costs about £155.00 I really think it is superb value for money.
But before you make a decision to buy a Gossen meter, check their section of the web and get details of all of the range.
Steve AvesBack to top