What Exposure Meters Tell You: Histogram, Waveform, Zebra, False Color (Camera Lesson 26)

Summary: Ryan explains the four most popular in camera exposure meters, and when you should use them: waveform, zebras, false color and histogram.

Length: 5:09 minutes

Video Lesson

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If all of the in-camera menus haven’t driven you crazy yet, chances are the in-camera meters have. In this video I’ll help you understand what the exposure meters are trying to tell you.


Histogram: Blacks to Whites (Camera Lesson 26)

Histogram: Pixel Frequency (Camera Lesson 26)

The histogram is the most popular in-camera meter; you can find it on both low-end and high-end cameras. It displays the distribution of the luminance values of the shot the camera is recording. On the x-axis black is represented on the left hand side and white is on the right. Different values of gray are in-between. On the y-axis is frequency, or the amount of pixels. The bottom represents few pixels and the top represents a lot of pixels. So a dark image will show a graph that is stacked high and to the left, and a light image will be high and stacked to the right. While an average image will create a mountain in the center of the graph.

Histogram: Examples (Camera Lesson 26)

Histogram Terms: ETTR and ETTL (Camera Lesson 26)

The histogram is where we get the terms Expose to the Right (ETTR) and Expose to the left (ETTL). ETTR means making it so that the exposure is biased to the right, and ETTL is exposure biased towards the left. You may have also seen…

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Depth of Field, Part 1: How Aperture and ISO Affect Focus
Your Guide To High Speed, Part 6: Five Tips For A Successful Shoot
Your Guide To High Speed, Part 5: Lighting Six High Speed Sets
Your Guide To High Speed, Part 4: Common Lighting Problems
Your Guide To High Speed, Part 3: Camera Operation & Workflow
Your Guide To High Speed, Part 2: Frame Rate
Your Guide To High Speed, Part 1: Introduction
12 Crucial Questions Before Lighting Your Set (Cinematic Lighting Lesson 15)
Negative Fill: The Best Kept Secret (Cinematic Lighting Lesson 08)
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