Cine VS regular lightmeter

Discussion in 'Video' started by proy, Feb 17, 2014.

  1. Hello.
    My question I straightforward. Being a student in cinema, I'm currenly thinking of purchasing a lightmeter.
    I'd like to know one thing which isn't quite clear to me : is there an actual use to buying a so called "cinema" lightmeter? I mean, besides the fact (and correct me if I'm wrong) that I can be as lazy as just telling it what is my frame per second, and it will figure out what shutter I am using (defaulting to 180 degrees).
    Is there ANY other reasons to buy a cine lightmeter? They seem to cost a lot more than regular lightmeter, and in turn wonder if I can't just use a regular one, specify my shutter say to 1/60s and that's it. Even if I do slow motions, such as 60, 100fps and more... that won't be a problem with a standard lightmeter, right?
    The only factors that matter are my ISO, Shutter and Aperture... the FPS DOES NOT affect my exposure... Am I correct in thinking this?
    I am shopping quite a lot for this at the moment, and want to make sure I invest in the right tool. I want it to last me and not have to change not long after I'm in the field of work.
    I need this meter to work as well as in photos (strobes) as cinema, have both incident and spot reading (1 degree).
    Any advice would be much appreciated!
    Thank you,
  2. Patrick, I've found that the sophisticated metering in modern cameras have rendered standalone meters pretty much redundant.
    If you haven't already tried this, smartphones contain light sensors which you can obtain apps for Android or iOS which do the calculations for you displayed in camera settings or other measurement units. Many are free and worth having a look before spending money on a hardware equivalent that essentially does the same thing.
  3. You are not saying whether you'll be strictly operating film camera or video rig. Sure, the more the meter is capable of doing (particularly if it's quality), the more expensive it's going to be. You could get older Spectra meter and use slides for particular ASA....those meters have been in use for they are highly reliable. But, in order to figure out specific shutter speeds or FPS coordination, you may have to cross-check the back of the meter for more info. The large sphere gives you a very accurate readout.
    Digital type may be more precise, though much will depend on the lighting you'll be using. Again, the price goes up with precision. Yet, the most seasoned cinematographers used the analog meters....and with v. high degree of accuracy.....they could read the nuances of it even if they were reading a faux moonlight :>).
    You could determine the light setting, WB, etc with a lowly DSLR, as long the light quality can be consistently crosschecked.
    Most pro's have several meters such as incident, spot or one that determines color temp.
    It's much easier to determine color temp by playing back test shots done with a video rig. The spot metering is used primarily in doc situations or when it's impractical to check the incident lighting.
    The only factors that matter are my ISO, Shutter and Aperture... the FPS DOES NOT affect my exposure.
    You must also consider the shutter angle. For instance, if you use 144 deg shutter for doing TV screen, it will effect effect the exposure (vs 180 deg type)....and so on.....
    If it was me, I'd pick up one quality incident meter (even used one for 120-150 bucks) plus Pentax Digital Spot.
  4. Thanks for your replies, although I still don't have a clear answer: is there any reasons why one would buy a cine lightmeter over a regular lightmeter? Will I be stuck at some point in video by strictly having a regular light meter?
    Leszek, to answer you, I don't plan on shooting film, but rather digital videos and photos. By the way, isn't the shutter angle the same thing as shutter speed? From what I understood, they kept called it shutter angle for older cinematographers out there... because shutter used to be well a circle that spinned around with part of it opened (the angle). At least, that's what I understood from my classes recently. In other terms, an angle of 180d (half circle) is equiv to half the speed of the fps, so 1/60s if shooting at 30fps. 270 degrees would be an equiv to 1/90s if shooting at 30fps, etc etc.
    It's just another way of calling the shutter speed. And that's why I even wonder about the idea of having a "shutter angle" functionality in the meter.
    Micheal, I'll agree that I could use the spot meter of my camera or DSLR, but I really don't see myself going around a set with my camera to take readings... That would be a pain! And you guys truly believe in lightmeter apps for smartphones?
    I wouldn't trust it. They remain phones for me. Not a lightmeter, not a camera... but that is my choice.
    Thanks again for any input :)
  5. I studied 16mm film production at NYU years ago, so this brings back many memories.

    I would say yes you do need a meter to shoot film but not necessarily a cine meter. Once you calculate the shutter speed, that's all you really need.

    The degrees in a shutter is not the shutter speed but your formula of shutter angle and fps is basically correct -- a 180 degree shutter at 24 fps should be 1/48 of a second.

    The problem with cine meters marked in fps is that they assume a certain shutter angle while different cameras have different angles. Even earlier and later versions of the same model from the same manufacturer (earlier and newer CP-16s, for example) can be different. Some cameras might be 135 degrees. Some are 180. On Super 8 "XL" cameras, 270 was popular since it helped with low-light shooting. Also, some cameras have a beamsplitter mirror (Bolex) instead of a mirror shutter, so you have to compensate for that. I've seen a Bolex manual with "equivalent" shutter speeds listed.

    One thing I've seen more often in cine meters that I haven't seen on still meters is a readout in footcandles. Some DPs like to measure footcandles, and that's probably useful in video as well.

    I would not try to get by with an iPhone app.
  6. Thanks for your answer Craig. I think I'll find myself a decent still meter that will allow a good variety of shutter speed, allowing me to "emulate" different angles 1/48s, 1/50s, 1/60s being my main ones (for 180 degrees depending on what fps I'm using. And I'll go from those with different popular angles to use and see if I can match up the equivalent shutter on the meter based on other popular angles...
    Spending 800$ on a "cine sekonic" lightmeter is just too damn expensive.. especially as a student.
    Thanks again for your inputs :)
  7. A meter that reads foot candles has advantages for film making-- especially for lighting.

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