The importance of lighting in photography cannot be overemphasized. For amateur photographers who don’t care too much about the quality of their results, any level of lighting can do. For professionals who need to produce top quality photos and videos, lighting is the very first thing to consider. It is not enough to have a reliable light source; it is important that the photographer measures the level of luminance and determine the proper level of exposure. This is where the light meter comes in.
Light meters are used to measure the level of luminance in an area. It is an important instrument that will help a professional photographer determine if an environment is properly lit for shooting and also set up other parameters. The use of a dedicated light meter will help the photographer directly or indirectly to get the right spot, flash, and ambient lighting levels and color temperature. To get all these things right, you will need a very good light meter.
In this article, we will review the top 10 best light meters and discuss other important factors that will help you pick the perfect one for you.
Top 10 Best Light Meters
This is another inexpensive light meter that will give you all you need in certain situations. It allows photographers of all levels to quickly measure lighting to ascertain the ideal environment for shooting. It is a convenient instrument to use. It consumes very little power, meaning you can use it for so long before thinking of charging the batteries. It also features over-range indication as well as Unit and Sign display for easy reading.
One of the most remarkable things about this little affordable instrument is the high level of accuracy it offers. You will be able to measure luminance easily and determine the optimum light level for a particular video or photo shoot. The package comes with 9V battery, user manual and a carrying case.
Sekonic produces some of the most advanced light meters for photography and filmmaking. This is unarguably one of their best products in this category. For a start, it has all the important features to significantly enhance your shooting experience. One such feature is the flash duration measurement that helps in the freezing of fast-moving subjects.
Some other impressive features of the Sekonic Speedmaster L-858D-U Light Meter include flash analysis function, HSS flash measurement, and increased light sensitivity. The light meter also features radio control modules for wireless triggering, making it the world’s first multi-function wireless triggering light meter. Considering all the features it offers, this device is modestly priced.
This is an affordable light meter on the market. It is a good option for a photographer who is on a tight budget. It is also a reasonable backup light meter for professionals who just need to determine shutter speed and ISO. The most remarkable things about this light meter include measuring range up to 200,000 lux, high response rate, and fast and quality readings.
The URCER Light Meter is a budget light meter that you will find very interesting. It features over-range indication and 4 digial color LCD display that makes working with it anytime of the day easy. The auto power off function will automatically turn off the device when not in used after 15 minutes.
4. Extech LT45
This is one of the most versatile light meters on the market. While it is an excellent instrument for photographers and filmmakers, it is used in a wide range of environments including office buildings, manufacturing plants and warehouses, schools, hospitals and other such places where illumination has to be monitored for safety reasons. It can measure white and color LED lighting as well as standard light sources like fluorescent, metal halide, high pressure sodium and incandescent up to 400,000 lux.
In photography, the Extech LT45 LED Light Meter will help the user determine if the environment is ideal for shooting and make necessary adjustments. It also comes with a tripod mount that facilitates convenient hands-free operation. It is also a very accurate light meter.
This is one of the most affordable light meters on the market. It is a good option for a photographer who is on a tight budget. It is also a reasonable backup light meter for professionals who just need to determine shutter speed and f-number. The most remarkable things about this light meter include high accuracy up to 50,000 lux, rapid response, and auto zeroing.
The HDE Digital Luxmeter is a budget light meter that you will find very interesting. It features over-range indication and an LCD display that makes working with it easy. The detachable light sensor will also allow you to take measurement in any position or space.
This is a German made light meter that is considered one of the most reliable instrument for photographers and filmmakers who want the perfect environment for shooting top-quality photos and/or videos. This is actually an updated model that is lighter but offer more features for the minimalistic but demanding professionals.
The Goshen Digisix 2 Exposure Meter offers comprehensive metering methods, subject contrast display, individualized adaptation and more. It also has integrated clock with alarm functions. Last measured value and functions are also retained for comparison and easy adjustments. It is moderately priced too.
This is another wonderful light meter from Sekonic. Unlike the one above, this is a relatively affordable light meter that anyone can grab straightaway and enjoy the value it offers. It is one of the smallest light meters but offers so much value for different kind of users. It can be used as the primary meter in beginning as well as in advanced photography. It can also be a perfect backup meter for a professional photographer.
The Sekonic 401-208 Twin Mate Light Meter is a compact and lightweight instrument. It is easy to carry and can even fit into your pocket. It is ideal for one-handed operation too. It can also be attached to most cameras’ hot-shoe or bracket: there is an included shoe adapter for that. Other accessories you will find in the package include strap, CR2032 Lithium Battery, accessory mounting shoe, and a carrying case.
This is one of the most valuable spectrometers for professional photography. It is the first in the series to measure every light source incuding LED, HMI, Fluorescent, and the natural light spectrum. It is among the best light meters to use when you are working across a variety of lighting types. It is a highly accurate device that will ensure that you are working with the right parameters that will guarantee the best result.
Using the Sekonic C-700-U can be fun and fulfilling. It measures luminance and temperature accurately and displays the result on the touchscreen as a zoomable color spectrum graph. The results are also provided in CRI, Kelvin, and illuminance values so that the photographer understands what he/she is dealing with at all times. It is a professional light meter that may be considered by some as expensive. If you can afford the device, it is the perfect light meter for professional photography.
This is more of a mid-range light meter that offers simplicity and excellent performance. It is an ergonomically designed light meter that is ideal for reading both flash and ambient light. This is also a reasonably priced instrument that will improve the quality of your photography without any fuss. A very sensitive light meter, it has a shutter speed range of 1/8000 second to 30 minutes.
Besides the reasonable price tag, this is a light meter many will dream to have if they have idea of how easy it is to use and how well it can improve the works. It will even analyze both flash and ambient light to determine the lighting ratio of any scene. The meter can also do measurements and retrieve them when needed for reference or for averaging.
10. Lumu Power 2
In terms of design, this is one of the most impressive light meters on the market. The way it works is also a lot different from what is obtainable with the regular light meter used by most photographers. It works by transforming your iPhone into an accurate light meter that can measure illuminance, color temperature, spot, ambient and flash exposure. It is a convenient accessory that is powerful in its own right.
The Lumu Power 2 is for individuals who don’t mind turning their iOS device into a professional light meter. Though it is one of the smallest light meter on the market, it is very accurate. It is also easy to use: you just need to download the free app and you are good to go. For an accessory that offers 7 different modes of measurement in a single device, this is an incredible bargain.
Looking at the number of brands featured here, you can easily tell that there are many manufacturers of light meters. Even when you decide to buy from a particular manufacturer, you may still have selection headache trying to pick from tens of available options. This section is aimed at helping you make the right decision with your selection.
Factors to consider when choosing a light meter
Though we have reviewed the top ten light meters you can grab right away, it is still important that we discuss some of the most important factors you must consider before choosing one. Here are the most significant factors to keep in mind:
It is always advisable to buy products that are made by reputable companies. In every category, there are brands that are considered industry leaders. Buy such brands if you consider the purchase a meaningful investment.
You need a light meter that is well-built so that you won’t find yourself back in the market for another one in a matter of months. The built quality of a device/instrument will determine durability, though you are also expected to care for your light meter and handle it properly.
Unless you are involved in one photography discipline, it is recommended that you buy a light meter that is versatile. Even if you are specialized in one aspect of photography a versatile light meter will help you in different instances to get the best shots consistently.
There are important features that determines how wonderfully a light meter will perform and how much you will enjoy using it. Look at the feature list of the product you intend to purchase and see if it matches what you need in a light meter.
Frequently asked questions about light meters
My Camera Has A Built-In Metering, Do I Still Need A Light Meter?
Depending on the quality of the result you want, you will need a standalone light meter even when you own a high-end camera with built-in metering.
Do Standalone Light Meters Perform Better Than Camera In-Built Camera Metering?
To an extent, a standalone light meter is much better than the built-in metering systems in cameras. Top-quality meters provide you with all the information you need to create the right environment for photography and video making.
Do Light Meters Measure Light Sources Other Than LED?
Yes, most standalone light meters can measure all kinds of light sources including flash and ambient light.
Are Light Meters Also Needed For Outdoor Photography?
Yes, there are several instances where outdoor lighting is never enough to take important shots. With the quality light meters that can measure ambient light and color temperature, photographers can create the right outdoor environment for shooting.
What Are The Major Benefits Of Standalone Light Meters?
Standalone light meters will primarily help users to measure luminance and create adequate lighting for shooting top-quality photos and recording quality videos. When picture quality is of utmost importance, standalone light meters are needed.
As you can see from the variety of products reviewed here, light meters are not all made equal. Choosing one from the many available options can be difficult. We have tried to make the process easier for you by reviewing the best ten options available on the market right now. The products featured here were carefully selected based on serious research. We hope this guide helps you pick the perfect light meter for your personal or professional need.