Informative Tutorial on the Types of Light Meters and How to Properly Use Them

Mark Vargo is a big time cinematographer who has worked on too many well-known movies to list. He’s credited as a second unit director of photography on everything from Deep Impact and The Green Mile to Rise of the Planet of the Apes and Ted. In other words, knows what he’s doing, and now he’s chosen to share some of that knowledge with his fellow photographers and videographers.

The video above is the first in an informative series Vargo is putting together that will help you better understand certain photographic concepts and, in his words, “unleash your creative potential.”


This particular episode focuses on the two common types of light meters, how to use them, when to use which, and some tricks that have helped Vargo get the best results when shooting certain tricky situations. Of course, being a cinematographer by trade, his advice is aimed primarily at shooting video, but the same rules and tips apply to photography.

The tutorial is aimed at intermediate photographers, so beginners beware: it does get a bit technical. But the ability to understand and properly use a light meter — and not just the one built into your camera — can make a huge impact on your ability to properly expose certain scenes.

As we said before, this episode was the first in the series, so follow Vargo on Vimeo if you want to keep up with episodes as they air. This one was posted about a month ago, so the next episode on properly lighting actors — or in our case models — shouldn’t be too far off.

(via Reddit)

  • Ralph Hightower

    Very informative video! I know Ansel Adam’s Zone System.
    I want to add a multi-purpose meter, spot, ambient, and flash, to my toolkit since my 30+ year old camera does center-weighted averaging.
    At a yearly festival, I encounter backlit situations under a catering sized tent. Last year, I tried exposure lock, but that didn’t work great. This year, I’ll either use flash or +1.5 or +2 exposure compensation.

    I figure with a spot meter, I could get the readings for the performers as they roamed the performance area.

  • Miamor

    he tells the story so slow I almost fell to sleep three times and still didn’t watch the whole video.

  • Peter Dylag

    Very good info, get it right in camera and TEST your stuff. Remember the camera in never wrong, it just dose what you tell it to do!! Looking forward to your next vid, Thanks Mark Vargo for your knowledge and DL Cade for posting.

  • holger feroudj

    Is there a 2nd part?

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