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Light Meter Use - a poll

Light meter use among digital film makers   18 votes

  1. 1. Do you tend to use a separate light meter when working with digital video cameras?

    • Yes - From very often to all of the time
    • Yes - but it's more of an occasional thing
    • No - I never use a light meter

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24 posts in this topic

Posted · Report post

Simply put, I'm interested in the lighting and exposure practices of those using digital video cameras, specifically the use of seperate dedicated light metering.

 

If you could take a moment to answer my poll I'd be very grateful, I'm interested to see how those of differing age, generation, experience and practice work with metering, or if indeed they do at all.

 

I know some who swear by it, some who would never use it and some who change depending on shot and situation, so I'm interested to see the spread of opinion with the user base here on EOSHD

 

Many thanks,

 

JG

BydrodoFieddy likes this

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Posted · Report post

No, never. Why would you when you have a histogram?

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Posted · Report post

I'm going to say most responses will be no because they're not professionals who need them.

zaz likes this

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Posted · Report post

That's the debate I'm interested in! :)

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Posted · Report post

I just use the live histogram.. 

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Posted · Report post

I do expect people to say no, but i'm interested in why so,

 

So why is it you would you say a professional would need one but most would not?

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Posted · Report post

Because they're expensive, cumbersome and unnecessary to almost everyone but perfectionists and professionals.

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Posted · Report post

So why is it you would you say a professional would need one but most would not?

 

Maybe those professionals are just old fashioned? :) or they are shooting film...

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Posted · Report post

Generally Light Meters are used because misjudging an exposure on film would be very costly. When you're shooting with a bunch of friends or on a low budget set with a prosumer digital camera it's not such a big deal. No need to waste hours during a shoot checking those values. I'm not saying it's a bad thing, but a lot of DP's don't use Light Meters because they aren't always necessary, especially when you know your camera well enough.

nahua likes this

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Posted · Report post

Having a little hand held meter which you can use to check every element in frame while the camera is locked down I imagine would be really nice.  I don't own a light meter but am planning a purchase for use in a film I am writing.  when using a camera with limited dynamic range that needs scenes lit properly I think it will be an invaluable addition when lighting a scene. 

zaz and nahua like this

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Posted · Report post

Funny to see this post as I placed an order for a Gossen Digisix 2 last week. Up until now I have only been using a waveform to monitor exposure, but the ability to light a scene before the camera even shows up is invaluable to me. Also, I can match contrast ratios for consistency across a project. I'm really looking forward to getting it.

nahua likes this

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Posted · Report post

That's a good point you raise. Being able to light a scene preemptively. If you're lighting within your cameras latitude however wouldn't the contrast ratios stay the same anyway? Or at least be very close.

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Posted · Report post

That's a good point you raise. Being able to light a scene preemptively. If you're lighting within your cameras latitude however wouldn't the contrast ratios stay the same anyway? Or at least be very close.

 

I am thinking more along the lines of key : fill : background exposure.

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Posted · Report post

My Sekonic 308 hardly gets used now - shot film for 20 years so it was essential

but seeing as you can now see the image you are shooting instantly its not used much now

I now work on the notion of

'if it looks good..it is good'

richg101 and Zach like this

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Posted · Report post

My Sekonic 308 hardly gets used now - shot film for 20 years so it was essential

but seeing as you can now see the image you are shooting instantly its not used much now

I now work on the notion of

'if it looks good..it is good'

 

very true.  once used to shooting on a flat profile and judging by what you see on the evf/monitor, if it looks good on the monitor/evf. when the contrast is brought back in post it always seems to work, 

andy lee likes this

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Posted · Report post

I still take my Sekonic on every single shoot.  I don't use it as much anymore, but it's great to have around.

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Posted · Report post

That's a good point you raise. Being able to light a scene preemptively. If you're lighting within your cameras latitude however wouldn't the contrast ratios stay the same anyway? Or at least be very close.

 

Sometimes you'll have different types of camera, in this case something like the Sekonic 758, for example, allows you to store multiple dynamic range profiles for different cameras to ensure consistency.

 

The consensus seems to be that lighting before cameras arrive can be more easily achieved using a good light meter.

 

Also, in a situation where on-set monitoring is not of the highest quality, one might benefit from the second opinion of a light meter so as to be sure of no nasty surprises in post..

 

Though good WYSIWYG monitoring and the decent (if not always film-like) latitude of modern digital inspires us with a lot of confidence that things can be rescued in post, total consistency can be achieved by checking the light in reality, so to speak.

 

Thinking about it, metering is not so useful (in the rawest sense) with Red, Alexa or F65 as the latitude is enormous, and preview monitors using a higher contrast profile can be used to show a rough final result.

 

However, when recording to a lower dynamic range 4:2:0 8 bit profile, it's arguable that many would benefit from using such metering on set, it's often the case that protecting the highlights from digital clipping will crush the blacks, and It's probably easier to have a meter tell you the range of a scene and how much fill light is appropriate, than it is to guess with the WYSIWYG.

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Posted · Report post

... a lot of DP's don't use Light Meters because they aren't always necessary, especially when you know your camera well enough.

 

I had a Bolex 16mm with spring mechanism, very dark reflex viewfinder and an additional parallax viewfinder (being just what the term implies, a viewfinder). You could use film with different speeds. Quite impossible. There was no actual WYSIWYG. Yet, it was a 'run&gun' camera, a reporter's camera. I had the background and experience to judge the exposure (which only meant the aperture, because shutter angle and Iso were fixed). It's not as hard as it sounds.

 

Today, with our digital cameras, the preview we get during recording may not be perfect, but compared to the guessing of those analog-mechanic times, it is close to perfect. Does the doctor still use the stethoscope when the patient is monitored by the computer already?

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Posted · Report post

I have an old swivel head light meter and a hand grip type spot meter somewhere. I haven't needed to use them in some 13 years now. The only reason I ever had to in the first place was when doing 'stop math'. That's what I called it back then. You know, when you have a bunch of light on a set and you need to meter each one separate to figure out what light it throwing you over the top of whatever. You meter each one individually and add up the number using some equation I can't even remember and all that. But honestly, this was all because I was working on tiny little stop motion sets and shooting on film. Now a days I don't do that at all. I suppose if I was working on a set then yes, I would most likely need to pull one out now and then to check levels and what-not. But just going outside and shooting videos of my cats... not so much. ;-) 

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Posted · Report post

i still use one, cos the chicks dig it :P 

 

its one of those old analog sekonic ones from when i was shooting film,....

 

i still use it because i like to have a base reading off of which i can fiddle with, and when i find what i want to expose for, i dont have to faff about with the trial and error to get what i want, even though it doesnt cost anything on digital.

 

i find i work faster if i meter, then decide if i want to go up or down, then set and shoot, as opposed to shoot, nah a bit more , shoot, nah a bit more , shoot , ah ok.

 

i:m probably wrong and it's actually more time consuming, but i like not having to rely on the camera,..

 

this is probably me being old fashioned, but i once read someone say that photography is everything that happens before the shutter opens, and i'm inclined to agree.

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Posted · Report post

I may not use one if it's a simple set up like an interview, but if I'm lighting a set or location with blocking through a space, an incident light meter is absolutely critical, especially when trimming the lights or changing angle where there is some change in the lighting set up.  I don't set the aperture with one, but rely on one of the newer electronic gismos available today.  I love my spot meter, but don't use it on electronic shoots, however, knowing the zone system helps me a great deal in understanding exposure and the various gammas available in some cameras.

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Posted · Report post

Interesting results so far, 7 yes and 10 no, with quite an even split between the "all the time" and the "occasionally".

 

Personally, it all depends on the project. Last thing I shot was in Monaco, I was running and gunning as they say, just using histogram and protecting highlights and trying to fill the range evenly. I had no time to meter or double check.

 

BUT for setups I think it's useful. Someone else can be fooling with cameras, or you can not even have it set yet, and wandering around putting up lights and metering you can know, before you switch the thing on, that it looks good, as well as the difference in stops between to parts of a frame

 

No running back and forth between a camera and a light! Pretty handy in the right situation... but it all depends on the project for me.

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Posted · Report post

So I pulled out my trusty Sekonic Studio Deluxe on a shoot the other day & I'm glad I did. I was able to expose for the "hot spots" and got some amazing results. I had my laptop on hand & double checked some test shots on scopes & the highlights were exactly at the 80 mark. Perfect. Why haven't I been using this thing more often?
The histogram on the Gh2 is nice, but an incident meter is superior. They go for around $50 on ebay & are worth thier weight in gold. There shouldn't even be a debate on this subject. Go get one.

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