Light meters are devices used for the sake of light measurement. To be more specific, they're the gadgets capable of measuring the amount of light in a scene before providing exposure information that helps photographers or cinematographers recalibrate their camera settings. This is the perfect machine for photography in order to get the proper exposure for a photograph or cinematography to know how much light is needed for a given scene or set.
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The light meter can either include an analog or digital electronic circuit that allows the photographer to know which f-number and shutter speed is needed to get the best amount of exposure. However, in regards to cinematography and scenic design, it's the device that determines how much lighting or floodlights required to set up the lighting design of a set.
Reviews of The Best Light Meters for Cinematography
Here are the The Best inexpensive (budget, cheap) Light Meters for Cinematography or Video or Photo or Film Photography available on Amazon.com.
What to Look for in a Light Meter
Instead of manipulating waveforms on a monitor that's showcasing video editing software, it's better to get a decent light meter on hand to prepare your shot beforehand. External light meters are capable of things these new editing techniques couldn't do. In fact, these video editing methods work better on well-shot footage with an already high-quality lighting setup.
- Simple versus Complicated: There are certain light meters that have so many modes (spot and incident modes, to be exact) and measurements that they're only usable by professional photographers or cinematographers. Other light meters are appealing because of their simplicity, which allows them to do things like retain calibration longer than most. The light meter that allows you to get the right readings for calibration are the best for quick shots but more advanced meters might be called for when setting up a more involved scene with loads f light sources.
- Spot versus Incident: These are two methods of light metering. Incident meters read the light that fall unto your subject or focal point. This involves measuring the subject's point of view back to your camera. Meanwhile, spot meters read the exposure on a narrow spot, usually 1 percent of the shot. It measures light based on the light reflecting off of the subject. It's the most accurate way to get an exposure reading, but only when you're measuring a middle grey or mid-tone. Some meters can use both methods as its modes.
- Digital versus Analog: Digital light meters gave you instant results with precise digits. Analog ones are more "nostalgic" to photographers who experienced the photo film days of photography and made use of gauges with watch-like displays on them. Which one is better? Digital is more precise but is easier to accidentally damage. Analog is hardier, cheaper, and long-lasting but it's missing several more advanced features of its digital counterpart. It's like the difference between a digital weight scale that gets errors easily by wear and tear versus the more accurate but primitive "analog" weight scale.
Hours of research on editing, cinematography, and videography has been spent in order to get a shortlist of dependable light readers. As a rule of thumb, a light meter that's good enough for photography recalibration is also good enough to help improve the cinematography of your home videos or professional movie scenes.
This is especially true when it comes to the Dr. Meter LX1330B Digital Illuminance/Light Meter. It has beaten the rest of the light meters here by its sheer number of modes and features like auto zeroing functions and rapid response. Only the Sekonic L-308S Flashmate Meter comes close with its incident, reflected, and flash light meter modes.