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#1 axela dardan

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Posted 05 September 2007 - 09:08 AM

Hello,
I'm a third year stuent in cinematography and would like to buy a light meter for my own. I've been using the classical l398 sekonic for school projects and kind of got used to this one. But now I was thinking of buying something better, digital, with maybe a spot meter also.

I am quite confused of the products available. I was pondering between a Spectra IV (for smth like $370) and Sekonic's L758CINE($700), or L758DR($500). I will be working both on film (35, 16) and video (hvx200) and photography as well.

What would you recommend, and what characteristics should I pay attention to? Is spotmetering really a necessity? From what Ive heard from my teachers, not really. Is it worth the money to have a special function for different shutter angles? etc.

Thanks,
Diana.
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#2 axela dardan

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Posted 05 September 2007 - 09:33 AM

I have an additional question. Being used to switch between the lumisphere, lumidisc and lumigrid on sekonic, I am quite surprised that none of the light meters mentioned above don't have such accesories.
If, for example, I go with the spectra, and its lumisphere doesn't come off and has no down position either, how do you actually measure reflected light? And is it not less accurate without the lumigrid?

Thanks again.
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#3 Jonathan Bowerbank

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Posted 05 September 2007 - 11:52 AM

I go with the spectra, and its lumisphere doesn't come off and has no down position either, how do you actually measure reflected light? And is it not less accurate without the lumigrid?


You CAN remove the sphere on a Spectra, but I think it becomes like a 40 degree spot meter effectively...hardly useful. Spectra makes an attachment, though, that turns it into a 1 degree spot. But brand new, it's way more expensive than a Sekonic combo meter.

You can save money (as usual) on eBay. If it's in good condition, all you'll have to worry about is getting it calibrated if you question the readouts it gives you, which is a cheap bit of maintenance.
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#4 Chris Keth

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Posted 05 September 2007 - 01:36 PM

My opinion is to find a used Sekonic L558 cine. Best meter I ever bought. It's essentially a 758 without some of the crazy techie stuff you'll never use.
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#5 axela dardan

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Posted 05 September 2007 - 03:05 PM

Thing is Im from Romania and its quite expensive for me to get stuff shipped to my home, even SH from ebay. So an american friend, who will soon come here, will buy this for me. But its quite of a headache to make him bill for me, or buy a meter and then calibrate into godknows what other european country that has sekonic service, so my first option is B&H Photo, new products...

Now from what you're telling me Spectra doesn't sound so good anymore, unless its upgraded to its spot metering $1100 system. Then I will choose between Sekonic's L758DR and well... the others that cost well under $500 (thats my budget).

What's your advice? Is the 758DR worth the money? Is it harder to work with in film, if it doesn't have all the $200 plus functions of the CINE version? And does it become an advantage the fact that you can load digital camera profiles, if I have an HVX200? Am I able to load such a camera's profile to this meter?

Many thanks,
Diana.
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#6 Kieran Scannell

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Posted 05 September 2007 - 03:09 PM

Got to agree with Chris, but then again we do use the same meter! As to the need of a spot meter it's debatable, it depends on how you work, and how much you want to know what's happening in the frame. When shooting SD video i generally just go with the incident, but on HD or film i want know what the highlights and contrast ratio's are reading, especially in wide interior shots.

But that's just me!

Kieran.
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#7 e gustavo petersen

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Posted 05 September 2007 - 03:15 PM

I would agree with the others that you might be better off with a Sekonic 558 - both for price and for practical reason. If you're just starting out, all the additional "techie stuff" might not be as useful to you and will likely slow you down. As multi-functioned meters go, it is a very good one.

As to the your question about using the sphere or disc, it's a question of preference. Personally, I use the sphere most of the time, but when working with tabletop shots or when a more precise accounting of my exposure is required, I go to the disc.

You also asked about the usefulness of the spot meter and I would say you'll find having one very useful, especially if you find yourself without a waveform monitor on a video shoot or testing the evenness of the lighting on a large green/blue screen, etc.

If you do decide to spend the money and go with the 758 (or even on the 558), try looking on eBay. I found a vendor in China (I know that can be scary) and got my 758Cine for about $500. I've had it for three months, shooting no less than 10 projects and I have to say I love it. I've also found the additional features very useful and use them with great regularity.
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#8 Kieran Scannell

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Posted 05 September 2007 - 03:30 PM

Just want to add, try and not and get caught up in the gimmicks and just learn how to take measurements that you understand and can use!
A light meter for me is an instrument that confirms what i already suspected and if it doesn't i adjust accordingly what I'm trying to say is a light meter with a million variations on filter factors, shutter angles, exposure averaging etc. is not really necessary, just expensive!

Kieran.
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#9 e gustavo petersen

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Posted 05 September 2007 - 04:23 PM

Just want to add, try and not and get caught up in the gimmicks and just learn how to take measurements that you understand and can use!
A light meter for me is an instrument that confirms what i already suspected and if it doesn't i adjust accordingly what I'm trying to say is a light meter with a million variations on filter factors, shutter angles, exposure averaging etc. is not really necessary, just expensive!



I can appreciate the spirit of what you and the others have said and I do agree completely to trust your eyes more than your meter, but that trust only comes with time and experience. Kieran, you strike me as someone who's done this for a while and can use you experience to lessen your reliance on the meter to make exposure judgments. But for someone who's starting out like Diana, that's not an option. One doesn't necessarily need a $700 meter to get that experience, true, many great films have been shot with the Spectra Studio analog meter. But I think while a person is starting out, they need to be a bit of a slave to the meter to see how, for example, a 1 stop difference looks like or how much light falls on an object from a particular instrument at a particular distance. Once that understanding becomes second nature, then the weaning away from the meter can happen.

I'm also a bit perplexed by the constant use of terms like "techie stuff" and "gimmicks" on this and other posts. Personally, I use all the features that my meters offers and I use them with great results. They are features that have been asked for by professional photographer and cinematographers alike and I'm pleased that a vendor has made these functions available. We praise camera and film manufacturers for improving their products and adding additional features, why is the light meter any different? I think it's only a gimmick if you buy the meter with no intention of using these features.
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#10 Dan Salzmann

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Posted 05 September 2007 - 05:55 PM

One advantage of having a seperate spotmeter is that if the incident meter konks out you have a back-up meter. My Sekonic 508C is still going strong as is my Pentax Digital spotmeter.
I have used all the features on the Sekonic except auto exposure averaging but that is just personal choice.
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#11 Jonathan Bowerbank

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Posted 05 September 2007 - 06:06 PM

...what I'm trying to say is a light meter with a million variations on filter factors, shutter angles, exposure averaging etc. is not really necessary, just expensive!


Storaro still uses the classic Spectra Professional meter, and I always think "awesome" whenever I'm watching behind the scenes footage of the films he's shot.
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#12 Dan Salzmann

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Posted 05 September 2007 - 06:30 PM

Storaro has quite a bit more experience than a third year cinematography student. He probably uses that meter because he is comfortable with it. Perhaps if he had started with a later model Sekonic he would be using that.
There is so much more to cinematography than gear.
Your film won't look like Storaro if you use a Spectra meter.
What's so "awesome" about using that meter?
What I find awesome is Billy Bitzer's work on "Birth of a Nation" and countless German Expressionist films with NO light meter. And that was with ASA's in the teens.
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#13 Jonathan Bowerbank

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Posted 05 September 2007 - 07:04 PM

There is so much more to cinematography than gear.


That was my point. And it's "awesome" in accordance with the discussion, that having a meter with all the bells & whistles doesn't matter if you can't light.
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#14 Chris Keth

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Posted 05 September 2007 - 08:26 PM

That was my point. And it's "awesome" in accordance with the discussion, that having a meter with all the bells & whistles doesn't matter if you can't light.


I had one with all the bells and whistles and I found that I never used them. I keep track of most things in my head. In fact about half the time I use that same old analog meter as Storaro. I bought it in high school as a novelty and it turned out that I really like it. I'd like to have a few more slides made for it. I have the full stock set of slides; they go from 8 to 400.
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#15 David Auner aac

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Posted 06 September 2007 - 02:03 AM

What would you recommend, and what characteristics should I pay attention to? Is spotmetering really a necessity? From what Ive heard from my teachers, not really. Is it worth the money to have a special function for different shutter angles? etc.


Hi Diana,

you should also consider a Minolta Flash Meter. Minolta doesn't make them any more but a place called Kenko, some subfirm of Tokina, does. You might more easily be able to find a place that does Minolta meters in our part of the world. AFAIK, they are much more common here in Europe than Sekonic or Spectra.

Cheers, Dave
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#16 axela dardan

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Posted 06 September 2007 - 04:12 AM

Then what would be you choice between the KFM-2100 and KFM-1100, these being a little cheaper? Has anyone actually worked with one of these?
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#17 David Auner aac

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Posted 06 September 2007 - 06:06 AM

Then what would be you choice between the KFM-2100 and KFM-1100, these being a little cheaper? Has anyone actually worked with one of these?


I have an original Minolta Flash Meter VI which is now sold as the KFM-2100. It's a combined incident/1° spot meter. It has cine functions as well, overall it's a very good meter. I have also used older Minoltas, I liked them all.
The KFM-1100 seems to lack the spot function of the 2100. You could also look for a used meter on ebay. I got mine from a swiss guy who bought it as backup and never used it for 370 euro.

Cheers, Dave
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#18 Kieran Scannell

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Posted 06 September 2007 - 12:10 PM

Tavo,

I guess i did sound a bit like an old f*rt! What i was trying to convey ( hideously inadequately it seems ) was that if your on a budget, which I presumed a 3d year cinematography student from Romania would be, then the "special features" on the more expensive meters shouldn't be
a priority, a good meter is one that tells you accurately what your basic stop should be for your lighting set-up, the rest is convenience in my
humble opinion.

But i do agree with all you said Tavo, and i apologize to Diana if i sounded superior in anyway that wasn't my intention and i'm not!!

Kieran.
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Visual Products

Gamma Ray Digital Inc

Metropolis Post

Rig Wheels Passport

FJS International, LLC

Ritter Battery

The Slider

Glidecam

Aerial Filmworks

rebotnix Technologies

CineLab

Opal

Paralinx LLC

Willys Widgets

Technodolly

CineTape

Tai Audio

Media Blackout - Custom Cables and AKS

Wooden Camera

Abel Cine

Broadcast Solutions Inc