Do you need a Light Meter when you can just look at the monitor and gauge the exposure? Ryan Walters outlines some key ways a light meter can make your work more efficient and consistent.
With the proliferation of digital cinema cameras these days, I often get asked, “Do you really need to use a light meter? After all, isn’t the whole point of working with digital- ‘What You See, Is What You Get?’” While a case can be made for that perspective, I believe that by doing so you miss out on the power, efficiencies, and knowledge that working with a meter adds to your skill set. Here is why I think the light meter is a critical tool to use with digital cinema cameras.
Using A Meter Gives You Power-
Precisely control the look of your images
Great lighting doesn’t just happen by accident, or by blasting light everywhere on set and recording it. Great lighting happens through control and precision. If you want your images to stand out from the crowd, I would suggest that you need to be purposeful and intentional with your lighting. That means you need to know how your camera responds to light, and then you need to precisely place those values where you want them in the frame through careful lighting. The only way to know precisely where those values fall is through the use of a meter. A waveform or histogram can give you a good overview of a scene, but it can’t tell you that you need 10 more foot candles of light, or that you need a half stop less of light to get to where you want to be. It only tells you you need more or less light.
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