Over the last few months, I've been receiving emails asking questions about general light measurement and light balance. I have reviewed several light meters for measurement, but so far nothing to assist in getting the light / contrast balance right. I do use a couple of things myself in the studio to assist with white balance etc.
I use the Lastolite Ezybalance reflector, an inexpensive accessory (around £30 for the 50cm version) that really helps achieve the correct white balance and contrast measurement inside or outside the studio. As it's based on the Lastolite 'pop up' design, it really is small and portable.
The Ezybalance is a double sided reflector, white one side and grey the other. The grey side is an 18% grey, meaning that it reflects 18% of the light that falls on it. This can be used as a reference in terms of metering and light balance. I use the grey card in the studio, taking a picture of the card in front of the subject, making sure the same amount of light falls on both. When I review the image on my computer screen, by looking closely at the grey card, I can easily see if any changes in lighting, colour temperature or exposure need to be made. I always use the grey card for product shots and it's also invaluable for shooting flat art copy work, when trying to reproduce specific colours. Grey cards can also be used to assist in setting lighting ratios in the studio. By taking meter readings via the grey card for main lights and fill lights, the power of each light can be set to give a 2:1 or 3:1 ratio.
Similarly, shooting with the white side of the Ezybalance does the same thing to assist in getting the white balance right. This white side can be used as a reference for stills or video work.
Recently Lastolite have also brought out the Xpo Balance at only around £35. Either of these accessories will be a good long term buy and really help you getting that colour balance and contrast right.Back to top