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Trying to choose my first meter. Sekonic, Spectra?


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#1 Hendrikus De Vaan

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Posted 09 August 2010 - 05:13 AM

Hey guys,

I have recently been asked to DOP a short film which will most likely be shot on a red. So I thought it is probably a good time for me to purchase my first light meter as that will allow me some time to practice with it prior to the shoot which will be late this year or early next (finance dependent).

There seems to be a fair number of meters to choose from and I'm a little stuck to be honest. I dont have huge amounts to spend as I have taken (another) year of work to study cgi and my income is substantially low at the moment.

I have been looking at both the Sekonic L-398 studio 3 meter (which Ive heard has some issues in low light?) and the Spectra cine 4-a (about twice the price), are there any other options I have overlooked? Also can I go without a spot meter? Or are these essential to have also?

Ultimately I want to buy a meter for the long run, for both digital and celluloid, but I dont want to have to save up for six months to buy it.

Any advice would be hugely appreciated.


Cheers,
Harrie.
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#2 Hendrikus De Vaan

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Posted 09 August 2010 - 07:30 AM

Theres also some Minolta Auto Meter III's floating around on ebay.com which I heard somewhere were very popular some time ago.
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#3 Adrian Sierkowski

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Posted 09 August 2010 - 07:59 AM

Minoltas were very very nice. I used to have one (the IVF). I don't like the Spectra, I'm a Sekonic guy. I started with this meter :
http://www.sekonic.c...LASH MASTER.asp

then I gave it to someone when I moved up to the 758. I don't think you'll need a spot meter right out of the gate. Sure it's very nice to have, but you can certainly get away w/o it.
Now, the 398 is a great great meter. I in fact have one in my bag for a back up in case my batts ever take a crap; and it's nice to be able to check your meter against another one. Plus, it's very cool in a steampunk kind of way ;)
That all being said, when you first start out I'd stick to a digital meter, only so as to keep things nice and simple (no abacus to worry about screwing up, or high slides to loose).
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#4 Hal Smith

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Posted 09 August 2010 - 08:23 AM

I have recently been asked to DOP a short film which will most likely be shot on a red. So I thought it is probably a good time for me to purchase my first light meter as that will allow me some time to practice with it prior to the shoot which will be late this year or early next Harrie.


Calibration is vitally important with lightmeters, it's usually recommended to get them calibrated yearly. If you buy a used one, get it calibrated before you use it on a critical job.

Ask around and see if there's a good calibration lab in NZ or Oz and what they're used to working on.
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#5 Brian Rose

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Posted 09 August 2010 - 11:12 AM

I swear by my Spectra Pro. Used it for six years now, and while I subsequently got a spot meter, I always keep my spectra on hand.

BR
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#6 Brandon Del Nero

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Posted 09 August 2010 - 04:24 PM

I like my Sekonic 758C, and if you get it through Mole Richardson and you're a film student, you get a substantial discount (at least I did when I was a student)
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#7 Brian Rose

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Posted 10 August 2010 - 03:45 PM

Calibration is vitally important with lightmeters, it's usually recommended to get them calibrated yearly. If you buy a used one, get it calibrated before you use it on a critical job.

Ask around and see if there's a good calibration lab in NZ or Oz and what they're used to working on.


Ditto on what he said. Generally, don't buy on ebay, especially if you're getting one with analog (i.e. moving parts) like a Spectra or Sekonic. Pay a little extra if need be, to get a nice meter from a reputable dealer.

Meters are like health insurance coverage...it's easy to get one very cheap...but those savings are quickly lost when something goes wrong.

In your case, the few bucks saved on a meter could translate into hundreds for reshoots, and thousands for lost work, when that director never hires you again, and tells his friends not to hire you (okay, this is all a bit extreme, but it's not unrealistic, in this biz where EVERYTHING is word of mouth).

Good Luck!

BR
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#8 Hendrikus De Vaan

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Posted 10 August 2010 - 04:14 PM

Thanks heaps for your help guys, hugely appreciated.

It still leaves me a little torn for decision. From my understanding there is nowhere in NZ that will calibrate a light meter so I would have to send it overseas to get that done, so that rules out second hand meters. Also Ive heard that analogue meters go out of calibration if you look at them wrong so maybe best to go with the digital as Adrian said.

The 758 is a vary nice meter, Ive used one before, but I think it is a little out of my price range.

At the current exchange rate I can save about $35 US a week, which of I have about $115 us saved. So I wonder if the sectra digital (375usd + 50usd shipping) would still be the way to go, or if its worth the extra wait for the 758, which I could potentially parallel import from hong kong via ebay: here

thanks again,
Harrie.
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