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#1 Reggie A Brown

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Posted 16 March 2017 - 01:22 AM

How many of you guys actually use light meters? And if you don't mind, can you share with us what light meter you use and why you chose that specific light meter?

I'm interested in purchasing one so I can keep my lighting ratios consistent on my wide, mid and close up shots. I'm considering the sekonic L-758 cine. Is there a different one I should consider? Should I consider purchasing a light meter at all?

Thanks for any feedback this post may get.
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#2 Mark Kenfield

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Posted 16 March 2017 - 02:18 AM

I never leave home without mine (or my spectrometer most days, thanks LEDs!). I'm utterly reliant on it for my lighting and ratios. I have the L-758 Cine, but wouldn't personally recommend it, as I find the user-interface utterly incomprehensible, baffling in it's complexity and far slower to work with than it should be - it's possibly the most unintuitively designed piece of equipment I've ever owned.

 

But I do like the simplicity of having both my incident and spot meters combined.

Possibly Sekonic's latest one (I think it's called a 'L858' or something like that) will be more intuitive with it's LCD screen (though I suspect battery life will become a much bigger consideration. 


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#3 Alexandros Angelopoulos Apostolos

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Posted 16 March 2017 - 04:08 AM

(though I suspect battery life will become a much bigger consideration. 

 

Can you charge it using a power bank?


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#4 Michael Rodin

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Posted 16 March 2017 - 05:20 AM

Light meter ergonomics is a personal thing. For me the 758 is very easy and comfortable to use. The EI/fps/T-stop readout in the viewfinder is brilliant (not all the meters have it), makes spot metering much easier. That "delta-EV" function also helps to work faster.

 

I won't ever buy a meter with a backlit a-la smartphone LCD - harder to read outdoors and power hungry.


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#5 John E Clark

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Posted 16 March 2017 - 10:38 AM

I've used a light meter for years, mostly a spotmeter. However, when I moved into making moving pictures many of the descriptions for lighting and proper exposure, were in terms of footcandles, I bought a 'cheap' Sekonic incident meter, L-308 DC, which had 'cine' features and footcandle readings.

 

For 'ratios' I use the spotmeter, for basic light levels I use the the Sekonic.

 

I believe the 758 has a 'spot' and 'incident/reflective' modes. And had I the bux, probably would have bought that.


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#6 Adrian Sierkowski

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Posted 16 March 2017 - 01:34 PM

I have a 758C and a Studio Deluxe iiA as a backup (no batteries woot!) and I"d never leave home without it. I used to carry a Minolta Color Meter but not useful anymore with LEDs really, so I have to upgrade. I also used to love my Minolta IvF meter back in the day but it gave that away to a buddy of mine.

 

 

And yes i still use them. Maybe not as much since I can see whats going on with my eyes most of the time; but still useful.


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#7 Satsuki Murashige

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Posted 16 March 2017 - 01:49 PM

I still shoot on film (stills and motion), so I own several light meters. It would be difficult to shoot without one. For still photography, I normally use the spot meter function when the subject is distant and it is essentially two-dimensional as far as the camera is concerned (landscapes, still lifes, architecture, abstracts). For cine work, I usually use incident metering, where people moving through the light and subjects near the lens are more important. Incident also works better for pre-lighting and adjusting lamps to the same intensity.

I use my meters for digital shoots rarely, and almost exclusively to read footcandles when lighting a set. So if I were to buy one now, it would have to include that function. The digital camera you are shooting with is usually a better reflective meter than the spot meter since you can immediately see how dark or bright certain areas are on the monitor and adjust accordingly.

My meters are:

1. Sekonic L-508 - my first meter. It has served me well for about 17 years and still works fine. Combined spot and incident, runs on a single AA, no footcandle readout. I really wanted the L-508C (Cine) model but couldn't afford it as a student at the time. It's really just a backup now, as it's getting old and sometimes doesn't power on.

2. Spectra Cine IV-A - the industry standard incident meter which reads in both stops and footcandles. I got this maybe 5 years ago when I moved on from AC work to shooting full time and started pre-lighting sets more. There's no spot meter function (unless you buy an expensive attachment), but it is very accurate, small, and very lightweight. This is the meter that is always in my bag. Takes an oddball PX28 lithium battery, so I also keep a spare in the meter case.

3. Sekonic L-558C. The previous model to the L-758C. I just got this recently as I was debating whether to get a dedicated spot meter or not. This one ended up being more sensitive and more accurate than the other models, and I was able to get it for a steal on ebay. The spot meter function is much improved over my L-508, being a true 1 degree spot, less prone to flare, and with a digital readout in the eyepiece. The meter also reads footcandles, so I have a backup for that too now. My only issue with it is the size - it's much bigger and more awkward to use than the older meters. So it generally stays at home unless I need it. Takes a lithium CR123 battery.
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#8 Jay Young

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Posted 16 March 2017 - 02:53 PM

No love for the L-398a  Studio Delux III ?  

 

I've had a Minolta IV for about a thousand years.  I use it all the time. However recently, I got an L-398a and have been using it on just about every shoot I do.  I like the footcandle readout, and the easy to see number sweep... No buttons to press up and down. No batteries... 

 

Love it. 


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#9 Satsuki Murashige

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Posted 16 March 2017 - 03:32 PM

Don't those go out of calibration quite easily? I haven't used one of those analog Sekonic meters since film school, but I seem to recall my cinematography professor mentioning that we had to check them frequently for this reason. I always just ended up using my L-508 instead...
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#10 Adrian Sierkowski

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Posted 16 March 2017 - 03:51 PM

Depends how abused it is. My 398a (thanks for reminding me the name) is always just about dead on with every other meter i've tested it on, and i've had it maybe 6 years. I don't pull it out too often, of course, because it's a backup; but ill often give it to a gaffer if he hasn't got his for whatever reason, and provided he knows how to use the damned thing.

I also often take it out on location scouts, since it's smaller.


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#11 Reggie A Brown

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Posted 16 March 2017 - 06:55 PM

Thanks for the feedback guys! I'm considering the L-758 cine or the new L-858d. People buy light meters and keep them for 10+ years, so my only issue is how well will the touch-screen on the 858 hold up.? It seems to be a more light sensitive meter and was designed with digital cinema cameras in mind, and it's a little cheaper. But will it hold up for the long haul? Or what if it's accidentally dropped, will the screen crack easily? Will the screen touch sensitivity die out over time? These are the questions I'm asking myself. When I buy a light meter I want one that I can learn the ins and outs of, and it becomes second nature for me to use. And I want one that I can get 17 years out of like Satsuki Murashige.

Sekonic just release the promo video for the 585d the other day and it looks promising...But long term use is what's questionable. Do you guys think it will hold up for the long haul? And the new video is below.


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#12 Satsuki Murashige

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Posted 16 March 2017 - 07:07 PM

It looks like the touch screen is basically the same as the incident meter-only L-478 which has been out for a few years now. I haven't heard of any issues with it, so I'm guessing it's fine?

My concern would be the backlit touch screen messing with the incident exposure readings in extreme low light situations. 13 million ISO?? I dunno, seems to me that a calibrated monitor would be a better tool at that point.
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#13 Adrian Sierkowski

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Posted 16 March 2017 - 07:10 PM

I haven't ever used the whiz-bang features in my meters. I just need to know what my ratio is, and how much light there is here or there.

Looks cool, sure, but yeah, Don't really see how this is soo much better than whats around now and I don't want more LCD screens around (plus won't work in gloves to touch the thing and might not be as responsive in cold).


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#14 Mark Kenfield

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Posted 16 March 2017 - 10:10 PM

That 858 does look like it has a much more intuitive interface. I'd have serious concerns about the impact of the LCD screen on measurements though, especially since the meter is so sensitive.

For me, the big question is how much easier it is to dial in exposure compensation compared to the 758c. If it's as comparatively easy as the rest of the interface is, that could actually inspire me to swap over.

Also, how quickly does the thing boot up? My C700 takes a painfully long time to boot, and gets used less because of that. A wait time is basically unacceptable for a lightmeter though.

Edited by Mark Kenfield, 16 March 2017 - 10:12 PM.

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#15 Reggie A Brown

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Posted 17 March 2017 - 02:23 PM

Any ideas why the price point of the 858 would be lower than the 758? It's newer technology and supposedly more sophisticated, but why the lower cost? Sorry I'm asking all these questions, but I'm not familiar with light meters and I don't understand or know where they cut cost so they can charge a lower price.
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#16 Reggie A Brown

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Posted 17 March 2017 - 02:25 PM

And Mark, I downloaded the user manual for the 858 and it says there's a 1 second boot up time.
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#17 Satsuki Murashige

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Posted 17 March 2017 - 02:37 PM

Maybe fewer people are buying light meters these days, and they need to drop the price to sell them in the same quantity? They also probably save some money on components like dials and switches by having everything on a touch screen.
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#18 Adrian Sierkowski

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Posted 17 March 2017 - 02:37 PM

that's 1 second too long.


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#19 Satsuki Murashige

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Posted 17 March 2017 - 03:21 PM

Honestly, I don't see the point of using a light meter for shooting digital in such extreme low-light situations as shown in the Sekonic demo video.

Since light intensity is logarithmic, the difference of 1 stop under/overexposed at 1 footcandle is 0.5 and 2fc. If you angle the dome on the meter a few degrees one way or another, you'll get a bigger range of readings than that. So you're much better off just checking the monitor and a waveform to see what you're actually getting on camera.

It makes a lot more sense to use a meter when you're working around 10-100fc, where the chance for error from measuring off-axis is less likely.
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#20 Igor Trajkovski

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Posted 24 March 2017 - 05:55 PM

I have a Minolta Autometer VF.  Great incident meter. 1 AA battery.
Today's reincarnation is the Kenko KFM-1100.

As for combined meters i like the Minolta VI, Kenko KFM-2100 and the update KFM-2200.
All running on 1 AA battery.

The 2200 has some extra functions, slight change in analog scale and illuminated screen.
 

The one thing i miss on these combined meters is the absence of dedicated EV button.
I still find convenient from analogue meters reading the light in EV values and determining the difference.

Here is EV12 there is EV9.  12-9 = 3 stops difference. :)

 

They have EV reading option but is in the ALT menu. 
(POWER ON + ALT button , change to EV, POWER OFF to register change, then POWER on to do the EV reading... )

...

As of the L-398A, i had a fetish for it a loong time.
As time passed and all cameras are now highly sensitive,
i find it's usability quite limited.

Alexa with 800ISO, 25fps, and T2.0 is ~7 foot candles.
The needle would be near the bottom of the meter scale.
And where is my latitude to go down and meter ratios, say -3 stops? :)
 

 

Best

Igor.

 

 

PS:  The "fetish" still creeps in sometimes when the item is mentioned... :)

 

 

 


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