Light meters are used mainly in the fields of cinematography and scenic design. The light meter determines the optimum light level for a scene, object or subject being captured. In the general lighting field, light meters are used to help reduce the amount of waste light in a home, light pollution outdoors and ensure optimum light levels for the growth of plants. The use of light meters in the photography industry is imperative. Ensuring that photographs are taken in the correct lighting reduces the editing time involved in getting perfectly looking images with as little editing as possible.
Types of Light Meters
Incident light meters measure the amount of light an object or subject is exposed to as opposed to reflective light meters that measure the amount of light reflected from it. Incident light meters are viewed as providing more accurate measures in comparison to reflective light meters as a result of producing more accurate exposure measurements. The downfall of incident light meters is that if objects or subjects are too far away or move too fast, readings provided in these situations can be inaccurate.
Reflective light meters are most times used in cameras themselves and are also more commonly used in comparison to incident light meters. They work by measuring the average light range between various levels of a scene providing you with average readings of the various levels measured. They are also faster to use in comparison to incident light meters however this could result in areas of measurement with large amounts of contrast lighting affecting the quality of the images or video produced.
Spot meters are like reflective meters that read a narrow section of the area being tested. This allows users to specifically light meter objects or subjects without extremely dark or bright light affecting the measurements produced. There are a variety of light meters that can be fitted with a spot meter for more accurate readings as well as light meters that are available for purchase with the functionality of being able spot meter.
Flash meters require additional connections to devices being used in order to provide accurate readings. This is mainly due to the short duration of a flash and its functionality of exposing objects or subjects to additional light.
Analog vs Digital Light Meters
Analog light meters have been around far longer than digital light meters. Both work on the same method only differing in the way the results are displayed when reading measurements. The analog light meter displays a combination of measurements simultaneously, whereas when using a digital meter the required measurement needs to be selected before use. Analog meters also require no external power source in comparison to digital meters which are battery operated.
Top 5 light meters reviewed
Check out our top five review of light meters in order to make an informed purchase. The selection of light meters available for purchase in this technologically savvy world has a brand suitable for anyone. Prices differ depending on the brand you select but making the correct purchase choice will ensure that you save valuable time in your line of work.
Dr. Meter Digital Illuminance Light Meter LX1330B is perfect for use in the cinematography and scenic design industry.
Dr. Meter Digital Illuminance Light Meter LX1330B is an auto-zeroing, high accuracy and rapid response light meter. It is designed with a unit display indicator for easy reading as well as providing over-range indications. This low power consumption light meter has data holding functionality as well as peak data hold switches with a short rise and fall time.
- Easy to read display
- High accuracy
- Rapid response light meter
- Data holding functionality
- Lower power consumption
- Provides over-range indications
- Battery powered
- Language is fixed depending on where the product is bought
Extech LT300 Light Meter is capable of measuring light levels in five ranges in poorly lit areas.
The Extech LT300 Light Meter measures light levels in five ranges. This compactly designed meter has a large LCD display fitted with a backlight for easy use in areas that are poorly lit. Its data hold function allows for keeping track of readings in addition to allowing the user to interpret the data on the meter. This light meter is ideal for indoor light tests, security illumination tests in areas where ATM’s are installed, stairwells and hallways. Measurements are interchangeable between LUX and foot candles providing accurate measurements.
- Light level measure in five ranges
- Designed for use in poorly lit areas
- Data hold function in order to keep track of readings
- Backlit large LCD display
- Compact design
- Provides accurate measurements
- An understanding of analog barograph reading required
The newly designed pocket sized light meter New Sekonic L-308S-U Flashmate comes with an exclusive 3 year warranty!
The New Sekonic L-308S-U Flashmate light meter is used for incident, reflected light and ambient light readings. This pocket sized digital meter is the smallest of its kind with the ability to display shutter-speeds and apertures in minimal increments which aid in mirroring exposure settings on your camera. This device is easy to store along with all the other equipment you would need at a shoot or on set making it perfect for those who travel between locations and sets..
- Pocket sized light meter
- Used for incident, reflected and ambient light reading
- Suitable for those who travel frequently to various locations
- Accurate mirroring of exposure settings on camera
- Small, compact design
- Easy to travel around with
- Warranty extended to 3 years in the USA only
Simple and easy to use Leaton Digital Luxmeter is a 4 range light meter prided on its precision.
The Leaton Digital Luxmeter is a low power detecting light meter with an auto-power off function to save on battery life when not in use. This simple and easy to operate light meter is compact and portable making it convenient for use in an array of settings and locations. It has auto and manual range functions with a large LCD display.
- Auto and manual range functionality
- Auto-power off functionality after 15 minutes of non-use
- Portable and compact
- Low power detecting functionality
- Battery operated
- No backlight for use in low lit areas
Data hold and backlight functionality comes in the form of the Holdpeak 881C Digital Illuminance Light Meter
Perfect for use in cinematic and scenic design situations, the Holdpeak 881C Digital Illuminance is a high accuracy, rapid response light meter with auto-zeroing capabilities. The light meter has over-range indication functionality with units and signs easy to understand and read. Fitted with data-hold and peak-data switches, this is a low power consumption light meter with short rise and fall time.
- Rapid response and high accuracy measurements
- Auto-zeroing capabilities
- Designed with over-range indication functionality
- Data-hold and peak-data switches
- Low power consumption
- Battery operated
- No low power detecting functionality
Choosing a light meter is highly dependent on its most common use for you. When purchasing a light meter you are investing money into saving time. Ensuring that your object, subject or area has the correct light exposure and that your camera is set optimally ensures that you get the job done right the first time. Whether you are an amatuer photgrapher or professional in your field – optimal lighting conditions makes it easier for you complete work without hassle or worry. It is highly unlikely that you would like to find yourself in a situation where you have sown a batch of seeds only to find that the end result is dismal due to incorrect light exposure right? Make an informed decision by reviewing the top five purchases listed above to make your choice easier.
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