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Old December 13th, 2011, 04:10 PM   #1
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Budget Light Meter

Hey all,

I am after a budget light meter,

any advice/?? the old style Minolta looks great for me.

Thanks

O :)
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Old December 13th, 2011, 05:24 PM   #2
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Re: Budget Light Meter

How about this:
http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B000JWUT6O?&tag=din0a-20?&tag=din0a-20
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Old December 13th, 2011, 08:26 PM   #3
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Re: Budget Light Meter

Ollie,

I just found an absolutely mint Sekonic 398M on ebay for $50.00. They are manual but they work great and don't need batteries. Plus, they look way cooler than the digitals.
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Old December 14th, 2011, 12:43 PM   #4
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Re: Budget Light Meter

I like the old Weston light meters. If you can find one with an invercone it will do both incident reflected light. The Mk V is the most recent version, 1963 onwards. Can be picked up very cheaply, not sophisticated but easily re-calibrated and then good and accurate. The nice thing with the old style meters is it's really easy to read off different shutter speeds against aperture or add compensation. Not so good in very low light, the Westons use an opening mask over the sensor to give a high and low light range.
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Old December 21st, 2011, 06:34 PM   #5
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Re: Budget Light Meter

Thanks for the replies

mainly looking for budget meter so minolta does sound good. Just need to build up and get a sekonic when i am ready :)
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Old December 22nd, 2011, 03:18 AM   #6
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Re: Budget Light Meter

I have several vintage meters including sekonics and westons, I also have a digital sekonic that does flash as well.

I find for video work that the EV reading can be the most useful as it gives you a quick way of measuring the difference between light sources so for example you can see that your key light is one stop greater than the fill etc.

The EV reading is easier as setting the ISO and shutter speed can be irrelevant to video cameras and as the f-stop tends to be constantly variable meters are seldom used to find exposure settings as you do with stills cameras.
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Old March 15th, 2012, 05:54 PM   #7
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Re: Budget Light Meter

Hello:

I am wondering is anyone can point me in the right direction. I just picked up a Sekonic l-308DC DigiCinemate light meter to help me do lighting design for some studio shoots. However, while I understand DSLR video cameras think in terms of iso/fstop/shutter speed/frame rate, video cameras do not. (I have a Sony cx550v, ax2000 & a65 cameras )

The L-308DC is sold as a photo/video light meter. But the documentation on how to use it with video cameras is non-existent. So, are there any online tutorials that explain how to use light meters with any video camera that thinks in terms of camcorder exposure controls? I want to use it so I can properly light a studio set where I can manually set iris / shutter speed / fps & gain.

Thanks
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Old March 15th, 2012, 06:45 PM   #8
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Re: Budget Light Meter

Hi Ray I have the sekonic too as well a numerous older meters.

As a general rule it is not advisable to use meters such as the sekonic to set exposure as the one that is built into the camera is far more accurate and relative to the video operation of the camera.

What you can do is use the EV setting to check the intensity of light sources and therefore balance out available lighting and any added lighting, for example you can check that a key source is one or two stops greater than the other sources.

You can in time relate things more to the meter but as most video cameras have constantly variable apertures it tends not to be practical top set f-stop, shutter speed and iso in the same manner as a stills camera.

Think of your meter as an additional tool that may be useful in setting up lighting and exposure contrast ratios for lighting sources, I tend to use mine more for testing and initial set-ups so that I know what each light source is doing but then set exposure on the camera by looking at the viewfinder.

Scene files on certain cameras can also affect the contrast ratios but I suppose that is more a modern equivalent of knowing your film stock and how it reacts to light.
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Old March 15th, 2012, 11:22 PM   #9
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Re: Budget Light Meter

If you run across a Spectra Combi II, it reads foot-candles, ev, etc. and can integrate incident and reflected light to give you an accurate reading corrected for subject failure. This was my go-to meter as a studio photographer, but it has all the capabilities for a good video meter, I think.

But avoid the used Gossen Lunasix and Lunapro meters that you see on EBay all the time, they used a long-discontinued mercury battery and calibrated on it's voltage. Non-mercury substitutes are a different voltage and give inaccurate readings...
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Old March 16th, 2012, 12:50 AM   #10
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Re: Budget Light Meter

Interesting answers

Question:

How do large production houses, that have dedicated lighting departments, do lighting set design? I'm a 1 man operation that is looking at how to light my shoots in in a smarter way so that the amateur look is gone....

If you watch Sekonic's web advertizement here Sekonic L-308DC: Compact Light Meter Made for Videographers - YouTube it clearly states exactly why I bought it and how I wish to use it.

Yet Sekonic provides zero instruction on how to use it with camcorders. Or any other video equipment. The included instruction manual is so poorly written that I am tempted to return it for that reason alone. (I just got the meter yesterday)

While I could change the meter to readout EV and do extensive test shots with all of my cameras to map EV settings to my camera settings (in ball park terms), that is not why I bought the Sekonic L-308DC in the 1st place. And that endeavor would be waste of time

It there are any good web tutorials on how to use light meters in video production?

I am all eyes. Thanks!
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Old March 16th, 2012, 03:53 AM   #11
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Re: Budget Light Meter

I don't think the light meter on its own will raise your lighting game. I'd do a lot of studying of lighting and how different DPs use lighting to create their images. Looking at paintings and photograph also helps.

A light meter is just a tool to measure the light levels, it doesn't tell you where to place the lights, the contrast levels, etc , for that you need to train your eyes. I wouldn't expect the instruction book to tell you more than the basic stuff on operating the meter, there are whole books around on the subject of exposure.

Lighting gaffers can use a meter to set the lights. Traditionally they used foot candles or lux, the DP knowing the how many foot candles they need for the f stop they're using.
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Old March 16th, 2012, 04:40 AM   #12
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Re: Budget Light Meter

As the guys have said a light meter is just a tool and you actually already have a very accurate one in your camera, a book such as this one will teach you more about lighting than a meter will: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Motion-Picture-Video-Lighting-Blain/dp/0240807634

I watched the video and the meter you got is the DC version which may have more relevant video related settings but as you see on the video the guy is just using it as I have described to check the values of his lighting within a set.

Do you have the full manual as the quick guide may be the only one provided with it, the download is here: http://www.sekonic.com/downloads/L-3...Manual_Eng.pdf

The DC version allows frame rate and cine mode to be selected which is not available on mine the S version, as said though once you have settings for your frame rate you then use it to check your lighting so that you get the effect you want but that may be more advanced skills and that is where you need to learn more from books and tutorials.

To assist a little you will have to select the meter to cine mode and set the frame rate and the shutter which are normally both fixed for video (on my PAL cameras this would be 25fps with a 180 degree shutter of 1/50th) , you also have to find out how the ISO (film speed) relates to your camera ( e.g on my P2 cameras -3db gain equals iso 320), you can then get readings from the meter such as EV and foot candles but how those relate to your camera may not be hugely relevant and more just an indication of the contrast between different light sources (e.g. the key and fill).

It's a good meter but please don't get too set in mindset that it will instantly make you a better DOP, as others have said it is a tool and therefore you need to understand how to use it to get the best from it.
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Old March 16th, 2012, 07:56 AM   #13
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Re: Budget Light Meter

Ok & thanks for the terrific answers.

I'm just trying to learn how to best use available technology and the expertise of this board to better my own skills, and this discussion has done that.

I was approaching the issue from a [naive] directors point of view where if iwish a certain camera lens/fstop/exposure setting, how much light is required to light it or how much needs to be taken away? I see now that is something gained only via experience.

And so I'll change my thinking....

For example moving shots where the lighting varies considerably...I can expose the primary shot through the camera and then meter it and do a walk through with the meter to check and adjust as needed.

Thanks again
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Old March 16th, 2012, 09:47 AM   #14
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Re: Budget Light Meter

Good we have been able to help in some way, i would be interested to know what the DC version of this meter is like so I would suggest you set it as follows to start with and see how it compares to your camera.

frame rate: 30fps
shutter: 1/60th (180 degrees)
ISO: 320

That should give you the NTSC equivalent of what I would do for PAL, as said I tend to just look at the EV settings on mine for a shutter of 1/50th and ISO of 320.
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Old March 16th, 2012, 11:26 AM   #15
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Re: Budget Light Meter

If you have a smart phone of some sort, there are light meter apps that are free and work pretty well. They use the camera on your phone and will give you exposure settings for the part of the image you tap.
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