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Lightmeters with Modern Cameras

The Kind of Camera You Should Buy 2
What digital video camera should I buy?

Contributed by Glen Berry

I read in a book that you should always use a light meter when shooting video. I asked a guy at the local photography store and he said I didn't have to worry about it. Which one is right?

That would depend on you, really. There is a light meter built into your video camera that will read the amount of light in the frame of your camera. But what part of the frame? Most cameras don't allow "spot metering", which gives you the ability to measure different sections of the frame for differences between light and dark.

The most important thing to remember here is that your camera can only handle so much contrast between light and dark. It’s your job as the DP (director of photography) to control and mold that light to your purposes. The purpose of the light meter is to tell you what kind of lighting conditions you are dealing with. A handheld light meter that is separate from the camera will provide you with a tool that will allow you to get accurate readings from anywhere in the frame and let you make decisions about how you want to handle those conditions.

Berry started his career as an editor and post production supervisor, having worked on documentaries for PBS and The Discovery Channel. Berry’s award-winning short fiction, documentary and experimental films have screened at festivals around the world. His first feature film secured a rare worldwide distribution deal and received a limited theatrical release.

The publisher of Film Underground and founder of Northwest Film School, Berry has taught production at Western Washington University and Whatcom Community College. Berry was awarded a Master of Arts in Production and Direction from the National University of Ireland and holds a Bachelor of Arts in Media and Theatre Arts from Montana State University.

Berry’s academic work has been published in scholarly journals as well as trade publications such as MovieMaker Magazine, and as well as The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Filmmaking. He is the publisher of Film Underground and has served as an expert source for international newspaper and radio media outlets. Berry twice served as the Director of the Northwest Projections Film Festival and as a panel judge on numerous festivals and competitions.

Glen Berry is the Director of the Northwest Film School where he teaches directing, producing and editing. He has specialized in creative editing and post production techniques with independent film. His interests include the cognitive functions of the mind as it applies to motion picture editing as well as new forms of communications in the visual arts.

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