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Advanced Questions
by Chuck McKern

With over 12 years of retail and professional experience Chuck thought he'd heard it all - until he took this job.

Send us your questions for either the Beginner or Advanced columns by clicking HERE.  Please include as much detail about the technique, camera, lens, or film as you can so Chuck can answer your questions.

Hi! I want to know how to use a flash meter in measuring Studio Lights. I just bought a Visatec 1600 and a softbox and reflector. How do I measure it's light using a flash meter? Say for instance, using a Sekonic Model 508?

Dennis Pilapil

Using a flash meter is relatively easy. Generally speaking you would want to set the meter with the correct ISO for the film you are using. Then place your meter over the subject or part of the subject that you want to take a reading of. When doing this, take care to make sure that you are not blocking any light from the strobe. After triggering the strobe from the meter, the meter will read the aperture that will give you the correct exposure for your subject. 

If your subject is large you may want to take multiple readings to either determine that your lights are causing an even light pattern or the correct ratio that you would want between two or more lights. For more information on using handheld light meters, see my article on Close-Up Photography at

How long does a photo last on cd-r or cd-rw media? How about a Kodak PhotoCD?

William Koehler

This is a question that I expect to get more and more and the answer may change over time.

Kodak states that their Photo CD Ultima media will survive over 100 years. The Ultima CD media can be purchased for use at home has the same 100 year life expectancy. Other manufactures of CD-R media specify archival ranges from 70-200 years.

As far as CD-RW, most people I have talked to rate the CD-RW at about five years. This type of CD is only recommended for short term or temporary storage.

But the real question is will there be any hardware to read these disks even 20 years from now?

Dear Sir ,

I would like your opinion on a lense which I am thinking of buying, if you could let me know what you think of it and what your opinion is on a choice between a Nikon SB28 or a Metz 54MZ-3 flash light

The lens is as follows:
Sigma 28-70mm 2.8 EX DF for a Nikon.

If you could give me your thoughts I would be most grateful

Yours faithfully,
Stephen Kenaghan

We reviewed the Sigma 28-70 f2.8 EX lens in our July issue at  We found that this lens produced high quality sharp images in our testing.

As far as the flash units go, we have not evaluated the Metz 54MZ-3 as of yet. Looking at the specs, I noticed the Metz has a longer auto zoom head, going to 105mm. The Nikon SB-28 goes to 85mm. The Nikon also states the SB-28 has a slightly faster recycle time with fresh batteries. It does appear that the Metz will couple to the 3-D metering that Nikon has in their cameras.

My experience is that the 3rd party flashes do not always give the same quality exposure as the brand name flash units - however it is hard to distinguish the difference and most people would not be able to see it.

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