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#1 bigal

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Posted 20 November 2005 - 07:31 PM

i've done lighting in a small high school theatre for about 3 years but have been doing film for about a year. my question is, what is a good, yet cheap/inexpensive, light meter to get that will handle my needs as i do amature films and projects? also, is going with a used one a good idea or bad?
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#2 Brian Drysdale

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Posted 21 November 2005 - 11:44 AM

i've done lighting in a small high school theatre for about 3 years but have been doing film for about a year. my question is, what is a good, yet cheap/inexpensive, light meter to get that will handle my needs as i do amature films and projects? also, is going with a used one a good idea or bad?


For doing serious lighting work you really need an incident light meter, unfortunately many of them now have flash metering which increases the price. Most of the cheaper meters take only reflected readings, which are fiddly to use when adjusting lighting, because you'd need use a 18% grey card for accurate readings. An incident meter is much easier when tweeking lights.

A used meter will enable your money go a lot further. A good basic meter for film work would be a Sekonic L-398M Studio Deluxe II, it's a needle job, but they've been around for years, doesn't need batteries and you should be able to buy a used one. I've got a couple of Minolta Autometer III meters, which they don't make anymore, but again you should be able to buy used. One of mine is covered in gaffer tape, but still gives accurate readings.

One of cheapest new incident meters seem to be Sekonic L-208, but it would depend if you regard its price as cheap. Check out the local photographic shops for used meters and check them against a known meter before buying. The analog meters may need to have their needles zeroed before they'll give an accurate reading.
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#3 bigal

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Posted 24 November 2005 - 11:19 AM

Now would an analouge meter be easier to operate and understand, therefore a better buy, or would a digital one be better since i've never used one before? I appreciate the help.
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#4 Brian Drysdale

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Posted 24 November 2005 - 12:37 PM

Now would an analouge meter be easier to operate and understand, therefore a better buy, or would a digital one be better since i've never used one before? I appreciate the help.


Very often analogue light meters have a rotating calculator in which you set the film speed and by setting the calculator you can read off the f stop for each shutter speed. With the Sekonic L-398M you can get disks that you insert into the meter that allow you to read off the f stop directly.

The digital meters, once you've set the film speed and shutter speed, usually read out in f stops. These are extremely easy to use.
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#5 bigal

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Posted 24 November 2005 - 04:11 PM

Well, with that, what company makes the best digital light meter(s) for under $250? Or that I can find used for a good price?
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#6 Stuart Brereton

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Posted 24 November 2005 - 05:53 PM

I've had a Minolta Autometer IV F for about 10 years now and never had any problems with it. It's simple to use and read. They have now been replaced by the Autometer V F , so you should have no problems picking one up cheaply on ebay.
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#7 Brian Drysdale

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Posted 25 November 2005 - 09:17 AM

Well, with that, what company makes the best digital light meter(s) for under $250? Or that I can find used for a good price?


You'll find light meter reviews and some prices at http://www.photograp...LS_3115CRX.ASPX

Not many new digital meters under $250, so a good condition used one would be the way to go.
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#8 bigal

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Posted 25 December 2005 - 04:57 PM

I have found three light meters on ebay and need an opinion. I've found a Minolta Auto IV F digital light meter(used) with 12 bids going for over $71.00, a Gossen Luna-Pro digital F light meter w/case(used) with no bids as of now, and a DVM 1300 digital light meter-lux meter-(don't know what brand or if the DVM is the brand) its new and i can either bid or buy straight up for $60.00. Both used seem to be in very good condition but come with the manuels.
Now out of the three which would be better to get, or try to get? Also the camera that I will be shooting things on is a consumer Panasonic hand-held miniDV 3CCD. I also have access to lager, professional Panasonic cameras from my former high school(in which case they have no light meter though). And also would buying a meter work with my camera(i believe i have shutter and f/stop control but unsure about aperature/ISO control)?
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#9 Brian Drysdale

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Posted 25 December 2005 - 06:17 PM

I have found three light meters on ebay and need an opinion. I've found a Minolta Auto IV F digital light meter(used) with 12 bids going for over $71.00, a Gossen Luna-Pro digital F light meter w/case(used) with no bids as of now, and a DVM 1300 digital light meter-lux meter-(don't know what brand or if the DVM is the brand) its new and i can either bid or buy straight up for $60.00. Both used seem to be in very good condition but come with the manuels.
Now out of the three which would be better to get, or try to get? Also the camera that I will be shooting things on is a consumer Panasonic hand-held miniDV 3CCD. I also have access to lager, professional Panasonic cameras from my former high school(in which case they have no light meter though). And also would buying a meter work with my camera(i believe i have shutter and f/stop control but unsure about aperature/ISO control)?


Personally I'd go for the Minolta. Although, I suspect you'd get the Gossen for much less.

You don't normally need a light meter on a video shoot unless it's a big lighting rig. The professional cameras have zebras that are used for setting exposure. Commonly these are set for 70% or 100%. The 70% level is roughly that for caucasian skin.

However, you'll need to work out the ASA of the video camera if you want to use the meter. Ideally you'd use a waveform monitor, but if you have a evenly illuminated gray scale with the zebras set at 100% just coming on in the white bar you can read off the f stop from the camera lens and work out the ASA. You need to make sure that the DCC or auto knee is switched off. Also, if the camera has a knee programmed into its setup menus, this method doesn't work. I'd also check with a 70% zebra against caucasian skin.

It would be safer to use the zebras and get a good monitor.
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#10 bigal

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Posted 31 December 2005 - 07:35 PM

can someone explain to me the pros and cons of a digital meter against an analoge meter? i can get a new sekonic analoge meter cheaper than a digital but without knowing the good and bad i can't make a definate choice. thanks for all the help.
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#11 Brian Drysdale

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Posted 31 December 2005 - 08:28 PM

can someone explain to me the pros and cons of a digital meter against an analoge meter? i can get a new sekonic analoge meter cheaper than a digital but without knowing the good and bad i can't make a definate choice. thanks for all the help.


The Sekonic is a good first meter. However, it isn't as robust as the digital meter, which (unless you've got the slides for the Sekonic) will also give you a direct reading of the stop. Having said that, the Sekonic will take a lot of hard use.

You don't need a battery for the Sekonic. If you don't have the slides you'll have to use the calculator, which makes it slower to get your exposure setting.

Edited by Brian Drysdale, 31 December 2005 - 08:29 PM.

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