I have been following a discusion on Frank Doorhof’s blog about metering in the studio, and whether a handheld meter is necessary, if we should just use the histogram, or even if there is a correct exposure and that it is subjective.
Here is my view, so feel free to disagree.
When in the studio using studio strobe, a hand held meter that can take an incident meter reading is essential. Why?
Well for one thing, to produce an accurate, repeatable and true to life as possible rendering of the the final image. If your employed to take photographs of some clothes, then the fashion designer would not be happy if you changed the look of his clothes to suit your own artistic designs. What the customer would want is an accurate rendition of his clothes.
By metering accurately with a meter calibrated to your work flow you will get accurate results and it is repeatable. If you asked to reshoot some parts, even if you tore your studio lighting setup down, you can quickly set it back up again and get it right with the meter.
When out shooting landscapes then I also often use a handheld meter, essential when I shoot medium format, as my medium format camera has no meter!
But when shooting landscape, I am less interested in an accurate exposure, more on an exposure that will give the picture the mood that I feel fits. If the dynamic range of the view exceeds that of your camera then often its less about exposing correctly and more about choosing an exposure that will capture the detail you are most interested in.
Though here a neutral density filter or two can really help, or resort to HDR or digital blending by bracketing your shots.