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Light meter for video

  • My friend was taking strobist shots without a light meter. It was... like finding a needle in a haystack. Countless number of shots... until he got it right. I wonder if a light meter is useful for speeding up adjusting video lighting.
  • 34 Replies sorted by
  • Yes, look in Jems video blog -
  • One advantage of using a light meter on a video shoot is that you can measure the light close to the instrument instead of being stuck behind the camera. You can take a reading on the set, reach out and adjust a light, then take another reading. Much faster.

    Also, one person can adjust the lights while someone else is moving the camera, or changing a lens.

    I'm looking at the L-308DC DigiCineMate, which is designed for DSLR shooters.
  • I always use a light meter. I come from a film background and it carried over to video.
  • Increasingly in a DSLR environment, you shd use a light meter cos you are shooting video with, well, a stills camera!

    ENG cams tend to electronically correct many things, so a light meter is lost on them anyway.
  • -1. You heard the man from the film era. Nothing to do with DSLR.
  • It does actually. It's a bit of a discipline, but once you are used to using it, the light meter is invaluable. Being able to walk around set testing and tweaking lights without constantly checking the monitor and knowing exactly how it'll look as if you were looking at the monitor is priceless. The light meter is one of the best investments I've made in this industry next to my senior Magliner :)
  • @Brian202020

    Btw, wireless HDMI monitors are quite cheap already :-)
  • @Vitaliy_Kiselev
    Not as cheap as a light meter :)
  • >Not as cheap as a light meter

    It depends. As light meters are not cheap.
  • Used to be you'd never trust a monitor for lighting at all because they were utter crap. They were just used for camera- composition/framing. Now, of course, monitors are great but if you want to pre-light, for example, you have to be able to measure how much light is here and there, etc. And on set as well when the camera guys are setting up their dolly move or whatever we're busy lighting…and not waiting to see what's on the monitor. And an incident reading is really what you need to good on…unless you've got a great DPs eye that just squints to see the contrast and modelling and hair light, etc… and then just uses the meter to get the F stop for camera. But still…we don't rely on a monitor for it
  • Wireless HDMI must be the ticket. GH2 has many ways to measure exposure, spot meter, highlight clip, histogram.
  • Other important thing to remember is that monitors are, essentially, computers.
    And progress here will be fast. Various stuff now considered high end (like color waveforms, vectorscopes, etc) will be in cheapest stuff with time.
  • Wireless monitors are great for the director but when it comes to exposure…I don't know. A meter read and a squint may sound old fashioned but waveforms and vectorscopes and histograms and whatnot…can be helpful or just get in the way. Depends on what works for you…and that depends on how you've worked and what tools you're comfortable with
  • @davhar

    If you are skilled with light meter, it works perfect.
    It is very useful stuff.
  • I guess a same light meter can be used for both photo and video.
  • I trust my lightmeter with film because I know in which zone I stand and how will the film react constantly. Video doesn't respond the same in every situation. Normaly i trust the camera's histogram way more than anything else there I see if I can over expose and then bring down in post.
    I could use a lightmeter only after a lot of testing with one camera, if I change the camera then I could not trust it any more.
  • @ andres

    My confession is that I'm new to this digital way of shooting and right now I just use my internal spot meter and histogram as I learn to make sense of what my eyes are seeing on the LCD…which is way too small but seems to be pretty accurate as to what I get. I am just shooting exterior stuff in the harbour, right now, daylight vistas, birdies on the balcony and the like. When I get to shooting stuff 'on set' as such then I'll do as DPs and gaffers always do in every situation on every set -use a meter. Yes the DIT dude is doing his thing if you can afford him and his gear, but if you (I mean me) can't then say yes to the histogram and check the meters you've got as well
  • I had a lightmeter but never used it...
    The histogram and highlight peaking is your friend !
  • New Sekonic meters

  • That looks very interesting considering what @shian says about exposing in zones. The software included determines the DR of your cam and safes it for later use so you can measure your scene and check if it is within that range. I like!

  • This guys really need to start selling software for smartphone and small hardware addon. :-)

  • A light meter is an invaluable tool on a digital set when you try to keep a constant ratio between key/fill/background etc. Having a monitor doesn't help you too much in that case. If you shoot the reverse shot to another shot you have taken a couple hours earlier, you probably won't be able to recreate the same ratios just by looking at your monitor.... A light meeter helps you to keep everything consistent from one shot to the next, even if many hours or even days passed in-between filming the shots...