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Old January 27th, 2016, 12:38 AM   #1
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Light meter advice

Excuse what is certainly a newbie question but does anyone in the video world still use light meters?--I need advice...

I'm shooting with a Sony AX-100 which has zebras, which I use, but I still feel I'm flying a little blind. Much of what I shoot is in bright daylight, often on windy conditions. I can barely make out the flip-out screen in these conditions--and it needs to be closed anyway to avoid catching the wind. The EVF is a little better perhaps, but with my eyes adjusted for the bright sun it is still very dark.

I'm an experienced still photographer and am very comfortable with light meters in that use.

Do people use or recommend spot meters for video? Any primers on how to use them in the video context?

I'm mainly interested to know what is going on in the shadows in more detail--I can see the zebras at the highlights. For example, things that look black as soot in the viewfinder (on bright days) is coming out washed out a bit. I could have backed off the exposure a bit in these cases rather than risking highlights blowing out, had I known.

I can fix what I am getting now in post but I want to see if it is worth refining things a bit, to get more control of the exposure.


P.S. I'm shooting alone--no need to communicate lighting info to others, etc., if that matters.
Darin Boville
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Old January 27th, 2016, 08:19 AM   #2
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Re: Light meter advice

Incident meters are the standard ones used for film and video shooting.

The viewfinders found on lower budget video cameras tend not to be that great for judging shadow details etc A quality separate monitor is better for that.
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Old February 8th, 2016, 11:26 AM   #3
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Re: Light meter advice

Another possibility would be a 5" or 7" on-camera monitor with a False Colors feature. False Colors uses color to indicate what brightness will be recorded. With my Marshall 5" monitor, that part of the image shown in medium blue indicates dark but easily visible, dark blue indicates very dark and barely visible, and fuchsia indicates too dark to see anything.
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Old February 13th, 2016, 05:56 PM   #4
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Re: Light meter advice

Don't count on always being able to fix crushed blacks and blown out highlights in post. Video is not as forgiving as film in this regard. (The 8-bit quantization commonly used for digital video is a limitation to fixing this.)

And outdoor shoots, especially in bright sun generally have too much contrast, the shaded side will need supplemental light (fill light or reflectors) to give a good image.

A light meter can be useful for lighting sets and the like in advance of a shoot. But video is motion and that makes use of a meter on a consistent basis problematic except for set-up shots. On the other hand a good monitor can tell you what you have in real time - no need to soup the film first. It can help you evaluate the tradeoff between highlights and blacks. Add a waveform monitor to judge levels more precisely.

Some camcorders (I don't know about the AX100) also let you adjust parameters such as gamma, knee, and black to better address difficult lighting.

And be sure you have a hood/shade (e.g., Hoodman or ) for your LED display/monitor to make it more viewable in bright light.
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