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How do you tell if you are over of under without a meter

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  • How do you tell if you are over of under without a meter

    Question for you guys... With zebras... Waveform... False colour and other newer exposure guides... How do you guys know how much to compesate lighting? I dont have a blackmagic cam as yet but, Im used to my 7d's meter so i have a good idea of how much id tell my gaffer to cut a light or my AC to drop in some ND on the lens. So without a meter (on cam or actual light meter) how do u guys know precisely how to direct your crew and not be guessing. (False colour is prob my favourite exposure tool. )
    Darren Scott
    Freelance Director/Director of Photography


    https://vimeo.com/jambredzvisions/videos

  • #2
    Originally posted by jambredz View Post
    Question for you guys... With zebras... Waveform... False colour and other newer exposure guides... How do you guys know how much to compesate lighting? Im used to my 7d's meter so i had a good idea of how much id tell my gaffer to cut a light or my AC to drop in some ND on the lens. So without a meter how do u guys know precisely how to direct your crew and not be guessing. (False colour is prob my favourite exposure tool. )
    I know that this is not the answer you're after but... Call me an old guy if you want but I continue to rely on my meter no matter what. I like to move around the set and find where and how the light is falling. You can't really do that with false color, zebras and so on because you are stuck to a monitor.

    As a confirmation rule and just to sleep better at night I find monitor confirmation a great help compared to shooting film but no way it's replacing my meter. With it I can evaluate each light separately or in conjunction and set lighting ratios more effectively. Besides that, with a modern meter you can calibrate it to your camera and see immediately if you are crushing blacks or clipping whites within your camera's dynamic range.

    7D's meter is a reflected one. I just use reflected metering for highlights in some circumstances. Even if 7D's use a spot metering (I don't know the camera), I find it odd that you can rely on a meter with those characteristics for most common situations.
    Last edited by naavt; 11-14-2013, 08:48 AM.

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    • #3
      Hey naavt no probs man lol i dont think its old fashioned at all. And thanks for taking the time to respond. l use the 7d's meter to kind of rough it. As it generally gets me where i need to be. I know the camera so well that i can afford to do that. I really asked because im shooting more stuff on different cameras these days... Cameras the production provides... Fs700...red scarlet ect and while i do have these tools available and the resulting images i yeild are good .... I do find myself estimating more... Which i do not want to do. I want to be more precise. So i may invest in a light meter very soon.
      Darren Scott
      Freelance Director/Director of Photography


      https://vimeo.com/jambredzvisions/videos

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      • #4
        The camera has no such tools, thats why I have stopped using it, RED tells you where middle grey, clipping and the noise floor are, sony tells you how many stops each gamma curve has for highlight retention and where middle grey should fall within the included waveform, canon has a waveform vector scope too. For a fast moving production, having no exposure features is not the best way to go, at least a histogram jesh. My last couple productions have not had time for meters, exposure tools and calibrated monitors can be faster.

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        • #5
          Originally posted by rze View Post
          The camera has no such tools, thats why I have stopped using it, RED tells you where middle grey, clipping and the noise floor are, sony tells you how many stops each gamma curve has for highlight retention and where middle grey should fall within the included waveform, canon has a waveform vector scope too. For a fast moving production, having no exposure features is not the best way to go, at least a histogram jesh. My last couple productions have not had time for meters, exposure tools and calibrated monitors can be faster.
          But those cameras are more expensive than a BMCC so you can afford a monitor with waveforms or whatever your heart desires.
          fluoro.com

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          • #6
            I get a horrible feeling down in my gut these days if my camera package doesn't include false colour monitoring - it's become my go-to method for exposure, and is faster and more reassuring than anything else I know.

            That said, ALWAYS bring your DSLR on set. In a bind you can just bust out your 7D, set it to ISO800 1/50 shutter and take a snap at your chosen aperture to judge exposure that way. It's quick, painless, and let's you see how the exposure will read with considerable accuracy.

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            • #7
              Originally posted by Grug View Post
              That said, ALWAYS bring your DSLR on set. In a bind you can just bust out your 7D, set it to ISO800 1/50 shutter and take a snap at your chosen aperture to judge exposure that way. It's quick, painless, and let's you see how the exposure will read with considerable accuracy.
              THIS......

              On my last shoot with the BMCC I used a Dslr to setup the exact iso, shutter f/stop etc. While not perfect I felt this was a great point so I can judge exposure better. Since then I bought a monitor that gives me great exposure toold (ikan d5w) but the metering on say a Panasonic GH3 is very good and my footage came out awesome with the Blackmagic.

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              • #8
                100% zebras (and keeping things a hair below) to prevent clipping and false color for ratios is what I use.
                Never messed up a single shot that way.

                After a while you develop a feeling for it anyway. It becomes second nature like shifting gears.
                Blog: http://frankglencairn.wordpress.com/

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                • #9
                  I learned to light with meters and strobes. Often mixed daylight & strobes, gelling strobes to match daylight, or shade, or tungsten... we used meters and polaroid backs. The one "easier" thing about that was professional packs usually have an incredible output power range compared to a dimmer on a lamp (which often meant swapping heads, throwing switches, and doing some basic math very quickly). Other than that, it could be hard work and you never really knew what you had til the film came from the lab. Different times indeed.

                  But I'll agree with Frank - with enough experience, you can be happy lighting with false color, zebras, or (my usual choice) WFM. I still have my Sekonic, but I just rarely get it out and try to check the battery every month or so to make sure it's not leaking. I may take it location scouting, but even then, a DSLR gives me about 20 times more info...

                  My hat's off to those who meter sets, keep charts of lumen output for various fixtures, and can order up the exact lighting package for a set. To each their own.

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                  • #10
                    I use an incident meter to measure light and ratios directly, whatever the shooting space or whether it is available or controlled lighting. Used to shoot events and gallery openings for an art museum. Once I know the light in a space, zebras are enough to avoid hot spots and I know what my exposure range is for the space in both direct and ambient light compositions.
                    One does have to know intimately the exposure characteristics of your camera at all settings for this to work intuitively.
                    Recently shot a show opening for the Appalachian Pastel Society with Suzy's Nikon D40x. ( She is president of the society). Would have much preferred fully manual lenses, these electronic cameras and lenses may have manual control capabilities, but sometimes it is not nearly as easy or quick to access as simple aperture rings and shutter speed dials when you want to make fast changes on the fly.

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                    • #11
                      So from the feedback then most of u do what im doing now.... Roughing exposure instructions to your gaffer (or team) till u get it right. As i mention false color is my most favourite method but ill just estimate how much i need a light cut and tell my gaffer to hold it in front of the light till it reads where i want in the false colour spectrum.
                      Darren Scott
                      Freelance Director/Director of Photography


                      https://vimeo.com/jambredzvisions/videos

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Grug View Post
                        I get a horrible feeling down in my gut these days if my camera package doesn't include false colour monitoring - it's become my go-to method for exposure, and is faster and more reassuring than anything else I know.

                        That said, ALWAYS bring your DSLR on set. In a bind you can just bust out your 7D, set it to ISO800 1/50 shutter and take a snap at your chosen aperture to judge exposure that way. It's quick, painless, and let's you see how the exposure will read with considerable accuracy.
                        Exactly why I keep my 6D around. Also great for location scouting and getting a full color image for reference in grading.
                        instagram
                        my work

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                        • #13
                          Sorry but a light meter is the fastest way to expose a scene. You don't even need a camera to do it either so you can be lighting before the camera is even dressed and the shot is lined up.

                          A stills camera is also a great way to previsualise lighting and exposure and after a while you get to understand the translation (depending on the camera being compared to)


                          JB.

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                          • #14
                            This is actually a good video describing why a light meter can be the a great tool when lighting with ratios and consistency and learning what those ratios will look and feel like.

                            It's got a lot of the basics too for beginners but you get the idea.

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by nickjbedford View Post
                              This is actually a good video describing why a light meter can be the a great tool when lighting with ratios and consistency and learning what those ratios will look and feel like.

                              It's got a lot of the basics too for beginners but you get the idea.
                              Nick - Thanks. This was a good find. For others that might watch it, don't tune out if you already know the basics in the first 4 minutes (e.g., what a stop of light is). It gets better toward the end.

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