In this paper, we present a theoretical and experimental study of pulse laser ablation of metals and ceramics. We develop a model to calculate the energy deposited in the generated shock wave. This model is limited to the regime of low irradiance in which the vapor remains transparent to the laser light. Calculations are based on classical models of vaporization and lead to the evaluation of the mass of ablated material and vapor kinetic energy. Experimental investigation of the generated shock wave has been made using KrF excimer and Q- switched Nd:YAG lasers. We show that it is possible to use an opto-acoustical deflection technique of a probe laser beam to obtain shock wave energy. For the 2 classes of irradiated samples, the same profile for the dependence of shock wave energy versus laser irradiance is observed. A good correlation between calculated values and experimental data is obtained for shock wave energy and ablation rate variation with laser irradiance.