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Just Can't Get an Accurate Light Reading

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Tony Laudati
Just Can't Get an Accurate Light Reading
on Sep 17, 2018 at 2:43:50 pm

I have three Canon T4i cameras. I am a one-man production crew and normally have the three cameras on tripods recording the subject in wide shot, medium and close-up.

I shoot manually and just roughly try to gauge the exposure by looking at camera's LCD monitor. Often times, shots are too bright or too dark.

So I've tried using two types of Sekonic light meters.

One is an old Sekonic meter like the one I used to use in film school. I set the ASA setting for ISO. The meter kept giving me a reading that would overexpose my shots by at least two stops.

So I splurged and got a new, digital Sekonic light meter. Same problem. I am confident I had the ISO (400) and shutter speed (50) set correctly. But the damn thing kept telling me F4 or lower, when clearly the correct exposure was around 5.6 or 8.

I know how to take incident light readings. I am finding the histogram display to be more helpful. When you're a one-man crew and you're on set with a bunch of restless, testy actors, you have to move fast. So taking time out for light readings isn't always possible.

But what is it with these damn meters?


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Blaise Douros
Re: Just Can't Get an Accurate Light Reading
on Sep 17, 2018 at 8:46:49 pm

Remember that F-stops are not the same as T-stops, and there are a lot of factors in lens design that will change how much light is getting in. Your light meter can't take into account the focal length, physical size of the lens (and other factors affecting the actual T-stop value of the lens), camera sensor sensitivity (ISO 100 means two different things to two different manufacturers), sensor size...the list goes on. Your histogram, or better yet, a waveform monitor, will be the best tools for you on-set.


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