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Old May 29th, 2007, 04:33 PM   #1
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Which light meter is best?

Hey Everyone,

I'm getting more into lighting indoor shorts and was wondering which type/model light meter are most of you guys are using? Is there really a need to get a 758 Sekonic or is the 308 good enough? I know you get what you pay for, and the benefits of having a spot meter. I'd like to make a "Smart" purchase. Thanks.
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Old May 29th, 2007, 05:35 PM   #2
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Unfortuantely (or maybe fortuantely), there is no best light meter. There isn't even an industry standard light meter :) Mostly, I think it comes down to the ergonomics of the individual meters, or maybe what you have grown acustom to using. I'd say that it depends on what you plan to do with the meter. And, btw, if you shoot mostly video, you might consider whether what you really need is a waveform monitor.
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Old May 29th, 2007, 05:42 PM   #3
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Good point Ralph (re: waveform monitor) something I contemplated, but as they are expensive and mobility is paramount, I thought a small hand-held device is more practical. Yes, your right about no "Standard" meter (hence my asking what most people are using), I'd like to just have one in the bag for those "What if moments". (Maybe I'm just dating myself when these were a necessity)
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Old May 29th, 2007, 07:46 PM   #4
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Gary,

A light meter will allow you to get precise lighting ratios which a waveform monitor will not be able to. I use a Minolta Spot Meter F for my still photography and it has worked flawlessly (it went into a river once). A Sekonic with a spot-reading fucntion is the way to go now. They are extremely durable and well-received these days.

Cheers

WeeHan
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Old May 29th, 2007, 08:55 PM   #5
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Can someone give an example of how you use a light meter on a set?

Thanks
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Old May 29th, 2007, 09:58 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Paul Cascio View Post
Can someone give an example of how you use a light meter on a set?

Thanks
Well, since you asked... I don't and wouldn't.

IMO, light meters are critical when you're shooting FILM and have no other way to determine exposure values on the set.

But think about it. A properly setup pro camera with zebras IS a light meter. It will give you an excellent, objective exposure baseliine. And the huge benefit is that you've ALREADY PAID FOR IT!

From there, a properly setup MONITOR will tell you EVERYTHING you need to know about your picture/exposure/lighting setup. Period.

Why spend time taking readings ABOUT a scene - when you can just LOOK at the ACTUAL scene on your monitor and judge not only the exposure values of various aspects of the scene but tons of other useful information as well? Like colorometry? Something a lightmeter totally ignores.

Your MONITOR won't fool you into thinking that fabulous 1.5 stop difference between the forground and background is just peachy, when in fact the background is all gooey orange sodium vapor light and looks like crap.

OK, if you're gonna LD for four setups have only a single camera - drop the coin.

But if you're using a light meter in conjunction with your camera and monitor, sorry, you're studying for a film future that will probably be gone by the time you learn how to really use it.

My two cents anyway.

I'm sure others will disagree.
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Old May 30th, 2007, 02:09 AM   #7
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I use a Polaris light meter. It goes from 3-8000 ISO and 0.5-90 f-stops. Has reflected and incident light readings and EV. Easy to use. Paid $50.

If you want "best", expect to spend around $550.
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Old May 30th, 2007, 04:06 AM   #8
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With video you'd tend to use a light meter when lighting a larger set, especially if its spread over a number of rooms. You can then use it for setting the light level on each lamp and ensure a balance.

You could use a light meter to set the exposure if you've found the speed (or ASA) of the video camera with the menu set up you're using. However, it's usually better to use the zebras or a waveform monitors to set the final exposure, because you can then see more precisely how the highlights are being handled.

An incident light meter is best for lighting.
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Old May 30th, 2007, 04:58 AM   #9
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All good/great points. Although I haven't used one in recent years (I did film long ago) I worry at using a monitor only as it "may" be out of an accurate calibration. I've been involved in projects where a incident only (versus spot) meter was used, and I sure liked the results (the monitor just verified it was going to look right, but it was properly calibrated). Also, when doing multi-day shoots, with a meter you can be assured the lighting matches the previous days shots as opposeed to guessing or eye-balling the monitor. With a spot meter, it will do a more accurate job. Agree?

I think I may save up a few more bucks to get the Sekonic 758 as I see it on-line for around $450. This way I know I'm getting a top notch meter that I won't out grow. And if I feel it doesn't work out for me, I can always re-sell it without loosing too much $$$. Then I'll know for sure it was right/wrong for my type of shooting.

(I however do respect all the insightful responses - very interesting)
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Old May 30th, 2007, 12:09 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by Gary Siu View Post
I worry at using a monitor only as it "may" be out of an accurate calibration... Also, when doing multi-day shoots, with a meter you can be assured the lighting matches the previous days shots as opposeed to guessing or eye-balling the monitor.
All good reasons to be using a professional monitor that will hold its calibration and can be easily calibrated a couple times a day, and a waveform monitor.

A light meter may tell you that you've lit something about the same way for the next shoot, but it won't tell you if your cam is set up differently. And these cams have way more controls than iris, shutter angle and focus.

I agree with Mr. Drysdale that a light meter can be super handy for going room-to-room, it will save you time. But, if you're not comfortable using reference monitors and waveform monitors the solution is to learn more about them, not substitute with an inferior tool. A light meter has its uses in video, but it is *not* the reference tool that it is in film. If you want to use the real reference tools, you need a pro monitor and waveform monitor.

Use and understanding of these tools will also give you a much better idea of how to use the camera monitor and zebras.
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Old May 30th, 2007, 02:53 PM   #11
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Hi Seth. i should have mentioned, I do have and use my Sony PVM-8044. I can read a WF & VS monitor, and maybe will purchase one too? (Like we don't carry enough gear to a shoot! HAHA) A light meter.......stick it in my pocket....

Does anyone use/have the Sekonic L-758Cine? If so, can you provide it's usefullness/performance/applications. Thanks.

Oh, by the way Paul, you should go to the Sekonic web site. they are pretty good at explaining the how's and why's of using a light meter.
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Old May 30th, 2007, 04:28 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by Seth Bloombaum View Post
All good reasons to be using a professional monitor that will hold its calibration and can be easily calibrated a couple times a day, and a waveform monitor.

A light meter may tell you that you've lit something about the same way for the next shoot, but it won't tell you if your cam is set up differently. And these cams have way more controls than iris, shutter angle and focus.

I agree with Mr. Drysdale that a light meter can be super handy for going room-to-room, it will save you time. But, if you're not comfortable using reference monitors and waveform monitors the solution is to learn more about them, not substitute with an inferior tool. A light meter has its uses in video, but it is *not* the reference tool that it is in film. If you want to use the real reference tools, you need a pro monitor and waveform monitor.

Use and understanding of these tools will also give you a much better idea of how to use the camera monitor and zebras.
The light meter will only help you with your lighting set up. You still need a correctly set up quality monitor and some means of checking your video levels. The final adjustments should be done using a monitor and how your eye sees your scene, in conjunction with the zebra/waveform to set your exposure.
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