The art of photography lies on two pillars: Lightning and the photographer’s skills.
Without one of these two pillars, the photograph or video will fall flat. Therefore, light meters are the most valuable and necessary tools for photographers since the beginning. This helpful device is a trusty gadget that helps photographers and videographers shoot high-quality images without flaws.
You will never find a professional artist without a light meter. A great quality light meter will help you read the ambient light in a scene and calculate the accurate shutter speed and aperture values required to capture a correct exposure.
This device is essential for beginners as humans have the flaw of adjusting their eyes to the environment; this makes it hard for novice photographers to analyze the scene. In such times, having a light meter will give you a correct and reliable reading.
With time your expert eyes will get attuned to the lightning requirements, but you will still have these meters by your side as an extra assurance. Make use of your full potential with lightning meters for a flawless piece that captures the viewer’s attention.
Are you ready to finesse your photography skills? Let us start with our winner on this list.
Best Light Meter in 2021
Winner: Sekonic Speedmaster L-858D-U Light Meter
Sekonic Speedmaster L-858D-U Light Meter is the best light meter for digital photography available in the market. This power-packed system is your solution to all the lightning assessing needs. This meter will stay with your photography and videography gizmos forever. Let us read the features and disadvantages that the product offers for understanding this light meter even better.
- Manufacturer: MacGroup
- Item dimension: 10.04 x 6.42 x 3.58 inches
- Weight: 8.8 ounces
- Battery: 2 AA batteries
- Warranty: 3 years US
- Sekonic Speedmaster L-858D-U Light Meter has thirteen special modes displayed on the screen for a hassle-free user experience.
- Under the Ambient usage, the product has T- priority, F- priority, T+F priority, HD Cine, Cine, Illuminance, and Luminance. Under the Flash, the screen display houses Cordless, Cordless multi-flash, Cord, Cord multi-flash, HSS cordless, Flash duration analysis cordless, and Flash duration analysis cordless modes.
- The device offers a helpful feature of screen lock mode, so your custom settings won’t get disturbed unless you manually switch off the lock mode.
- The device is built for user-friendly maneuvering. For updating the light meter, one can easily connect this device with an internet-enabled laptop through a USB cord. The light meter offers three radio trigger measuring systems like Pocketwizard, Phottix, and Elinchrom Skyport.
- The device offers an incident extended mode for 3D subjects, and an incident retracted mode for flat subjects. The light measurement swivels to position the hemisphere for accurate light sensing.
- The lightmeter can capture the dimmest settings with its three stops of light sensitivity. You can click and shoot crisp, high-quality images and video recordings with this.
- The Sekonic Speedmaster L-858D-U Light Meter lets you measure the stroboscopic pulses with ease. This feature helps the photographers in measuring their lights when they wish to overpower the sun or achieve a picture of a very shallow depth.
- This light meter even comes with a tripod socket for a more stable and quickly accessible gadget.
- As the device has a screen touch operation, it sometimes tends to lag while adjusting the settings. This frequent lagging can be frustrating as the videography and photography can sometimes be time-sensitive.
- The professionals have a hard time reading the device under bright conditions. They have to run and find the nearest shade to read the readings with ease.
- The built-in transmitter makes the device more functional and lets this particular model stand out from the rest of the gadgets.
- The touchscreen is a very HI-FI feature that lets the users update, change and operate the device without any issues.
If you wish to own a sturdy digital light meter packed with features, this is your device. This light meter is excellent for ambient and flash photography. Some people have a love-hate relationship with the touchscreen as they like the button’s feel, but we recommend buying this product if you love touchscreens.
Runner-up: Sekonic L-308X-U Flashmate Light Meter
Sekonic L-308X-U Flashmate Light Meter can be a great buy if you are looking for the best budget light meter. This compact meter will give you great-looking pictures and videos, especially when you wish to shoot a two-person interview setting. Let us look at this product’s specs, benefits, and drawbacks to help you make the right buying decision.
- Manufacturer: Sekonic
- Item dimension: 0.35 x 0.98 x 1.69 inches
- Weight: 3.52 ounces
- Battery: 1 AA batteries required
- Warranty: 3 year U.S
- This Sekonic light meter is the most portable device to get your hands on. The small size and light weight make it easy to carry without any hassle.
- The sliding hemisphere of this meter measures incident or reflection of light via a lens with a 40֯ reception angle,
- The device’s wide metering range is perfect for clicking pictures with low exposure time.
- This Sekonic L-308X-U Flashmate Light Meter lets you customize the backlit LED display. The intelligent sensors embedded into the device automatically turn on the backlight.
- The company sends a deluxe soft protection cover for this light’s safety.
- This compact, robust device blends the most popular features of the 30 AS and 30ADC in one meter.
- This gadget has three modes in the settings, namely, Photo with ambient, Cordless Flash, and Corded Flash for versatile uses.
- The device has a flash range of F11.0 to F190.9.
- This light meter doesn’t have the functionality to measure color temperature in Kelvin.
- The Sekonic L-308X-U Flashmate Light Meter does not offer certain exposure times at the highest settings.
This light meter’s compact shape and size are the most prominent extra feature that we could find. It is hard to find a power-packed device but is exceptionally light on your pockets.
This Sekonic L-308X-U is a perfect device if you want to include an additional light meter in your photography tool kit. You can purchase this device to share it with your assistant. The travel-friendly quality makes this device a great choice to take on a location scouting errand.
Alternative: Dr.Meter 1330B-V Digital Illuminance
Dr.Meter 1330B-V Digital Illuminance is a standard lightning tool. If you aren’t looking for a complex device but a minor support system to check the LUX, consider going for this product. Let us read the benefits, drawbacks, and the intended use of this high-quality light meter.
- Manufacturer: Dr.meter
- Item dimension: 4 x 1 x 8 inches
- Weight: 1 pound
- Battery: 1- 9V batteries required
- Warranty: 1-year warranty
- This high-quality light meter has four settings for a dynamic metering ability.
- The device can give you high accuracy with its auto zeroing capabilities.
- You will have better control over the readings than other light devices as this meter has data hold and peak data hold functions for readings.
- The device is portable and lightweight so carrying it is not a big hassle.
- Dr.Meter 1330B-V Digital Illuminance’s photosensor has a flexible coil cable attached to the meter. This separate telephonic coil will help you position the device at a perfect angle to get the correct measurements.
- The light meter comes with an ultra-sturdy detachable cover case for protection. The case makes this device easy to handle and minimizes slipping from the hands.
- This device’s primary function is not photography; it is a general light meter for other uses. However, you can use this device to measure the LUX of the surroundings or check the room’s foot-candle measurements.
- Some people have received a scratched device that looked as if used before the delivery.
Unfortunately, we weren’t able to point out any extra striking feature worth mentioning.
If you are looking for a device with many features and is primarily built for photography assistance, then we recommend that you sit this one out. The gadget is handy for lighting engineers and general checks of workplace safety environment. Homeowners can check whether their property is well lit under the ‘minimum required light’ rules.
Alternative: Sekonic 401-208 Twin Mate Light Meter
Sekonic 401-208 Twin Mate Light Meter is the best light meter for film and photography capturing. This lightweight device is exceptionally tiny but ensures that it gives the most accurate ratings. This machine works like a dream under various harsh conditions. Let us look at some of the benefits, drawbacks, and our buying advice to learn more about this mini light meter.
- Manufacturer: Sekonic Corporation
- Item dimension: 2.6 x 1.8 x 1 inches
- Weight: 1.6 ounces
- Battery: 1 Lithium Metal battery required.
- Warranty: 3 years US
- This Sekonic 401-208 Twin Mate Light Meter is considered the best photography light meter for a portable device.
- This compact tool is a perfect starting device for beginners. The light meter is not complex and does not require a lot of time for setting.
- This device can work great as a compact ambient backup meter.
- The hold and read mode locks the readings for 15 seconds so the user can easily monitor, record, and read the digits without any issue.
- This compact device is an ideal gadget for measuring incident and reflected light readings. The sliding hemisphere helps accurate measurements of incident lighting. For measuring reflected light, simply retract the hemisphere without any extra force.
- The device has a cold shoe attachment to help the device stay secure on your DSLR.
- Few people aren’t thrilled with the built quality; they expect a little better from such a trusty brand.
- The cold shoe attachment isn’t the most snug-fitting attachment. The device wobbles and shakes giving incorrect readings, and the users always fear the meter falling from the mound.
The device is exceptionally lightweight and compact. This light meter can easily fit your palm and won’t take a lot of space in your equipment bag.
This Sekonic 401-208 is a must-have device for people who wish to own an analog meter in the world of digital meters. The readings are always accurate, and the machine works perfectly fine. People love to use this device when using an old lens that does not communicate to the camera.
Alternatives: Gossen Digisix 2 Exposure Meter
Gossen Digisix 2 Exposure Meter is a great mini device to carry on shoots. This trusty meter is made by Gossen that makes one of the best gadgets in the industry. Let’s learn a few benefits and features to understand why this product is on our list of best light meters on the market.
- Manufacturer: Gossen
- Item dimension: 0.91 x 1.97 x 2.95 inches
- Weight: 1.28 ounces
- Battery: 1 Lithium Metal batteries required
- Warranty: 3 years
- Gossen is a very celebrated brand in the photography field, so you are bound to get high-quality products every time.
- This heavy-duty Gossen Digisix 2 Exposure Meter is made in Germany under rigorous testing standards.
- The device gives the features of time exposure which is adjustable from 1 second to 30 minutes. Few devices provide these features, and our last alternative winner proudly houses his benefit.
- The company provides a sturdy attachment to fit on your camera.
- The subject contrast control shows a contrast display in 1/3 f-stop increments.
- One of the main drawbacks of this product is that it doesn’t have a backlight.
- Few customers have found that the mount is not the best for attachment. The device shakes and moves a lot upon installation.
We couldn’t find any extra features of this device.
This Tamagochi shaped device is the best cheap light meter available on the market. The device is well made and will offer you accurate light measurements with an analog device’s easy handling benefits.
Best Light Meter Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Are light meters obsolete?
The idea of holding and carrying a handheld light meter might not entice all photographers, but the usefulness of these light meters depends on what you are shooting and the way you are shooting.
Many entertainment industry professionals prefer having an independent light meter because of their heavy camera setups. Interrupting their ACs while they swing the lens, balance the fluid head, and run the monitor cables can be highly inefficient. Instead, just walking around and manually checking the scene becomes very easy and practical.
Many seasoned photographers feel the contribution of light meters in the studio is invaluable. The photographers can measure and keep the entire set ready before the client arrives; this reduces the client’s anxiety of being 100% prim and proper; thus, the shoot goes a lot smoother. The incident light reading and spot metering become very useful when shooting outdoors. Some photographers use these independent light meters to check whether the green screen is adequately lit or not.
People who wish to shoot a twilight scene have to be very particular with the timing and the window of opportunity to shoot in that light. For that, the team usually goes one day prior and measures the light and the proper minutes till it goes dark to shoot within that period on the next day. Therefore, we do not think light meters have gone obsolete or have a chance of being so. Its usage depends on the users’ creativity and expertise.
What does a light meter do?
A light meter or handheld light device is used to ‘meter’ light or measure it. This light meter can easily read the ambient light present in the scene, calculate the aperture values and shutter speed required to capture an accurate exposure, and check a direct light source.
As the technology moves with lightning speed (pun intended), new digital cameras have a built-in light meter.
Many people do not love this feature, and they feel the best way to measure light is through an independent light meter. These light meters are perfect companions for old-school camera units. Few lighting meters can also calculate accurate flashlights along with the regular features. Following are the two main things that a light meter is efficient for:
- Reflective reading
These reflective readings on your light meter will give you the most accurate results in most circumstances. It also closely resembles a camera’s meter. These gadgets measure light reflected from the subject.
- Incident readings
Under and over adjustment compensation can be quickly taken care of with an incident light reading. The meter will directly measure the light falling onto the subject and not get confused by its reflective qualities.
Why do photographers use light meters?
Photographers use a light meter to have clean and crisp pictures that are not overexposed or underexposed. As mentioned in the earlier answers, these light meters do not have one specific intended use. The meter comes in handy to serve different purposes, from measuring the green screen light to set a studio light fixture.
Most photographers use these light meters to shoot portraits. The act of balancing light when done right gives a powerful image that is hard to resist looking at.
Most serious professional photographers use these light meters for various reasons. A photographer is an artist, and an artist does not use something for its intended use only; they go above and beyond to use a specific product creatively.
How do I know if my light meter is working?
- One easy way to test your new light meter is to shoot a few pictures using the meter and trust its results. After clicking, have it printed or projected on your setup to see the actual image. If you are a seasoned photographer, it should be effortless for you to identify if the device is working correctly or not. Sly tip: If the neutrals and shadows fall in the right spot, then it is safe to assume that your light meter is working fine.
- Another great way to check your light meter is to test the meter in question against your old or reliable trusty meters that indicate extremely accurate exposure if you do not have any previous meters feel free to borrow someones’ that show correct readings.
- Set your device’s ASA at 125. On a pleasant sunny day, try pointing the meter at an 18% grey card or a green grass field. A working meter should always read F/16 at 1/125seconds. Any white skin should read F/22 at 1/25 seconds on a warm sunny day. If the device passes that test and gives accurate ratings, expose a neat roll of 35mm color transparency film using the device ratings, bracketing your exposures by 1/3 and 2/3, and recording your meter readings and settings. This method should give you a perfectly working light meter.
- Never leave your digital meter in the glove compartment of a hot car or on the window sill for a long time. Excessive heat and direct sun rays can permanently damage it.
- It would be best if you were more cautious when your light meter is screen touch; the sun rays can make the Liquid Crystal Display window turn black.
- Keep a spare battery handy for your meter. Battery failure can knock on your door anytime; therefore, having an extra set of batteries won’t all of a sudden ruin your shoot.
- Avoid storing your device in a damp or wet place, and always put on a cover to keep it protected from the elements.
We highly recommend that you buy a light meter and make it a permanent part of your rig. The scope of using an independent handheld light meter is a lot than you might imagine.
This light can be a perfect instrument for newbie photography enthusiasts too. The key to using these meters is in the fine-tuning of the device. Ensure that you check whether the device is properly working or not before clicking pictures.