Light metering apps and accessories have been around for years, but color metering has remained elusive in the realm of smart phones. Until now.
Traditionally, dedicated color meters are incredibly expensive, with higher-end models from Sekonic coming in at upwards of $1700. Our friend Adam Wilt, designer of the popular Cine Meter II iPhone app, recently rolled out a massive update to his already-stellar app, and it includes powerful new color metering features that are surprisingly accurate.
Here's what Adam has to say about how the new 1.6 update works, and how accurate it is compared to traditional color meters.
Cine Meter II continuously reports the correlated color temperature and green/magenta tint of the light, and tapping the temperature and tint readouts calls up a color correction panel suggesting the gels needed to match the lighting to your camera's target white balance.
Cine Meter II closely matches other color meters on full-spectrum lights such as tungsten or sunlight. For lights with "spiky spectra" such as fluorescents, LEDs, and HMIs, no two color meters seem to agree with each other, but Cine Meter II is usually no worse at reporting temperature and tint than "real" meters under the same conditions.
I've posted test results showing how Cine Meter II's readings compare with those of color meters from Minolta, Sekonic, and Asensetek. Two months of beta-testing by cinematographers worldwide confirmed that Cine Meter II's color measurement was good enough for production use, so now it's available to all.
Color metering, even more so than light metering, is becoming a vestige of the days of celluloid production, an art that is disappearing as digital cameras and on-set monitoring become ubiquitous. However, much like metering light, color metering can provide really helpful and actionable information about how to handle and manipulate the color in your scene. Where color meters become extremely helpful is when you're dealing with mixed sources of light, many of which have different color temperatures that may or may not work well together in the final image. And now, the barrier for professional color metering is lower than it has ever been with this update to Cine Meter II.
Though Cine Meter II works as a standalone metering app, the color metering and incident metering require a Luxi photosphere attachment. Cine Meter II is currently available through the App Store for $25. If you purchased an earlier version of Cine Meter II, the upgrade is free.