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Does anyone still use a light meter?

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Scott Bunkelmann
Does anyone still use a light meter?
on Jan 26, 2013 at 6:28:44 pm

The other day I found an old Sekonic analog light meter. We have not used this in years. Does anyone still use a light meter for shooting video? If so, for what applications and will this old Sekonic analog which displays only footcandles suffice?


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Rick Wise
Re: Does anyone still use a light meter?
on Jan 26, 2013 at 6:54:14 pm

If that Sekonic is the L39, it includes a dial calculator to show f/stops. One use with video: when lighting a complex set, use it to make sure the key areas have the same light intensity.

After that, it's often difficult to set iris with a meter. You have to determine the true sensitivity of your camera, and many of them have different sensitivities depending on the type of light as well as whether you are working in low-light or lots of light.

If you are looking to expand your lighting control, you may find one of these has a use. Otherwise, enjoy it as a relic of a not-so-distant past when we shot true film negatives.

Rick Wise
Cinematographer
San Francisco Bay Area
http://www.RickWiseDP.com


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Todd Terry
Re: Does anyone still use a light meter?
on Jan 26, 2013 at 7:10:19 pm

I haven't used a light meter since the last time I shot real film, a couple of years ago.

I've been slowly getting rid of film gear over the last few years, and finally sold my last 35mm camera a couple of months ago. I let my favorite light meter go with it... because I just honestly never ever use meters any more. I still have three or four lying around somewhere, but doubt they will ever see use again.

Big-time DPs probably still find them of use (I bet John and Dennis still use them, and I kinda thought Rick would have)... but not for me.

T2

__________________________________
Todd Terry
Creative Director
Fantastic Plastic Entertainment, Inc.
fantasticplastic.com



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Mark Suszko
Re: Does anyone still use a light meter?
on Jan 28, 2013 at 3:03:24 am

My old friend Adam Wilt has built an App for this

http://www.fdtimes.com/2013/01/17/adam-wilts-cine-meter-for-iphone/

You coud buy an old iPhone on ebay and just use it as your meter, using this app.l


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Dennis Size
Re: Does anyone still use a light meter?
on Jan 30, 2013 at 3:34:27 am

Sorry Todd ..... I don't even own a light meter.
I did rent one a few years ago for a large virtual reality (greenscreen) studio I was doing, and wanted to be sure I was being consistent with my footcandle level across the studio.
Dennis



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Craig Seeman
Re: Does anyone still use a light meter?
on Jan 28, 2013 at 1:31:28 am

The esteemed Adam Wilt of ProVideo Coalition amongst other places just released

Cine Meter for the iPhone
http://www.adamwilt.com/cinemeter/

in the iTunes store
https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/cine-meter/id590364679?mt=8



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Scott Sheriff
Re: Does anyone still use a light meter?
on Feb 16, 2013 at 2:17:37 am

[Scott Bunkelmann] "Does anyone still use a light meter for shooting video?"

Hell ya I do. I use my 398 all the time. Here's a few off the top of my head:
It's great for site surveys, and fits easily in my briefcase. Lets say your in an office where a CEO is at his desk in a hi-rise office and it's really backlit. Now you can measure how much light your going to need to bring in order to get the shot.

Once you get a handle on how the sensor in your camera compares to the ASA rating you can use it to set exposures if you like.

I use the foot candle scale to light in the studio. It gives me a level on each light, and makes it easy-scmeasy to find the hot center of the light beam for perfect aiming.

Since the sensor in DSLR's only measures reflected light, and is easily fooled by unusual lighting situations or unusually bright or dark subjects, I use the meter and measure incident light to measure exposure and avoid all the drama.

Your on the set, and want more or less f-stop, or more or less shadow density. It's much easier (and quicker) to make changes when you know how much each light is actually adding to the overall level.

Trying to get a greenscreen lit even without a meter is a PIA if there's no scope on the camera. And even then it's easier to use the meter right there at the wall, than it is to constantly be running back to look at a waveform monitor. You can't tell by just looking, since your eye adapts. The meter never lies. If there is a hot, or cold spot it will find it.

I think a meter is an essential tool like a set of sticks, or a basic selection of mics. Sure you can do without it, but the real pro's know that the eye gets tired, or is fooled by bright or dark surroundings, and adapts to lighting after a while. The this never happens to the meter, and it will give the same result all day, everyday.

Scott Sheriff
SST Digital Media
Multi-Camera Director, VFX and Post Production

The Affordable Camera Dolly is your just right solution!


"If you think it's expensive to hire a professional to do the job, wait until you hire an amateur." ---Red Adair


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Rick Wise
Re: Does anyone still use a light meter?
on Feb 16, 2013 at 3:46:55 am

Scott, you warm my heart!

Zone systems are I. Can't live without my Pentax Digital Spot and the Zone overlay.

Rick Wise
Cinematographer
San Francisco Bay Area
http://www.RickWiseDP.com


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