Best color meter?

Started Dec 9, 2009 | Discussions
HDR_guy
Regular MemberPosts: 199
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Best color meter?
Dec 9, 2009

I don't know if this is the right forum for this but I need a color meter for analyzing interior light where there is mostly a mixed color temperature environment. Some incandescent, some flourescent, some sunlight streaming through windows. The combination varies from room to room.

Ebay has some old Minolta Color Meter IIIF's that a lot of people like but color meters are expensive and I only want to buy it once!

Any suggestions?

Ellis Vener
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Re: Best color meter?
In reply to HDR_guy, Dec 9, 2009

The Minolta Color Meter 3F is a great meter but do you need a color meter for your photography or for another purpose? There are specialized color meters for analysiung lighting in a non photographic context.

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Gary J Jensen
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Re: Best color meter?
In reply to HDR_guy, Dec 9, 2009

HDR_guy wrote:

I don't know if this is the right forum for this but I need a color meter for analyzing interior light where there is mostly a mixed color temperature environment. Some incandescent, some flourescent, some sunlight streaming through windows. The combination varies from room to room.

Ebay has some old Minolta Color Meter IIIF's that a lot of people like but color meters are expensive and I only want to buy it once!

Any suggestions?

The Minolta Color Meter IIIF is, of course, quite good [by reputation, I've never used one].

I have a Gossen Color-Pro 3F that's worked well for me. That one uses a 9V battery and seems to need a new one every couple of weeks if you leave the battery in the meter.

The latest one I have is the Sekonic C-500R which is quite good; the C-500 costs a little less, but lacks the PocketWizard transmitter that the C-500R has. The C-500R uses a pair of AA alkaline batteries; and the battery life is quite long [I only had to replace the first set after about 1yr of occassional use].

The C-500/C-500R also has settings optimized for digital and for film; you just select your choice [digital/film] in one of the setup menus.

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kb2zuz
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Spectrophotometer > Color Meter
In reply to Gary J Jensen, Dec 9, 2009

A color meter is nice if you just need to know the color temperature at a given point. And the Minolta Color Meters do a good job, however they aren't much better than using a camera with an Expo Disk over the lens and using custom white balance.

If you really want to use this for color matching, I prefer to use a spectrophotometer with an ambient light cap. The XRite i1 Pro kit is very nice (just make sure the kit you get is able to do ambient readings.) It will not just let you compare the color temperature, but it will give you the CRI between the two light sources. You could have two lights that are the same color temperature but have different spectral power distributions so that certain colors may appear different under the different lights. You can also read in specific colors and light sources and see if and how much different colors will shift under different light sources.. It's a much more useful tool.
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Doug MacMillan
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A Question
In reply to HDR_guy, Dec 10, 2009

When I was a profesisonal commercial photographer, shooting a lot of transparency work in less than ideal circumstances, I used the Minolta Color meter. It did a fine job and certainly improved my transparencies.

Based on my experience, I'm wondering how you intend to use a color meter in the scenario you provided. What do you intend to do with the information from the meter?

In this digital age, a set of 3 or 4 WhiBal cards would be a lot cheaper and IMO just as useful. Place them in the scene each in an area lit predominately from one of your sources (daylight, tungsten, etc.). Use the WhiBal info in photoshop.

Again, what is your intent? You'll never get a good "average" WB. Are you thinking of layers in PS with spot corrections? How far to you intend to correct? For instance, if you've got ambient sources in your photo, we expect to see some warmth.

An example photo of the problem you're trying to solve would be hellpful. Sometimes if a room is primarily lit by sunlight, the judicious use of a barebulb flash can significantly improve the image. Not everything can be fixed with ambient light and HDR.

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kb2zuz
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Re: A Question
In reply to Doug MacMillan, Dec 10, 2009

The most common used for color meters in the digital era are for filtering the light sources, not the camera or for white balance. And of course there are still some people shooting color transparency.
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