Choose the Best Light Meters for Photography and Click the Best Photos

Written By Ryan Mills

best light meter for photography

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As an essential tool for both amateur and professional photographers, light meters are used to measure the amount of light present in a given scene.

This information is then used to determine a given photo's correct shutter speed and aperture settings and pick the best light meter for photography.

Choosing the right light meter for photography may be challenging among all the different types available on the market.

Whether a beginner or an experienced photographer, read on for information on finding the best light meter for your needs!

Brief Overview of Light Meter and Its Importance

A light meter is a tool used to gauge the amount of light. These meters are commonly used in photography, film, and stage lighting. A light meter can be categorized into two types: incident and reflected.

Luminance meters detect the amount of illumination falling on a surface. On the other hand, the reflected meter measures the amount of light reflected back to the ground.

Both types of meters measure light readings in units of lux or foot candles.

Light meters are essential because they help photographers determine the correct exposure for their images. Without a light meter, it would be tough to know how much light is required to let in when taking a picture.

Light meters can also measure the intensity of artificial light, such as those used in stage lighting.

Stage lighting designers assess the quantity of available light and ensure their lights are bright enough for the audience to see but not so bright that they cast glare or shadows.

How to Read a Light Meter

Use of Light Meter for Landscape Photography

Light meters are particularly useful in landscape photography, where lighting conditions vary significantly from location to location.

By taking a light reading in each area, the photographer can ensure that the exposure is correct for the scene as a whole.

In addition, light meters can also be used to measure the contrast between light and dark areas in a scene.

This information can help ensure that highlights and shadows are adequately exposed in the final image.

Explore More: Working, Functionality, and Features

Suppose you are a photographer, whether a professional or an amateur; you should have a light meter.

It allows you to measure the amount of light in a scene and calculate the appropriate exposure for your photograph.

You can have either two light meters, handheld or in-camera. Handheld light meters are more versatile and accurate but are also more expensive.

In-camera light meters are less expensive and easier to use, but they're not as accurate.

Light meters typically display their readings in terms of Lux, a measure of the amount of light received by a surface. The average light level in a room is typically between 500 and 1000 lux.

It can be used to measure both natural and artificial light sources. They are often used to determine the best time to take photographs and ensure that artificial light sources are not too bright or dim.

These meters are typically small, handheld devices that are easy to use. Many modern light meters also have digital displays that make it easy to scan the readings.

Features and Functions

The following is a list of the characteristics of the light meter for photography.

  • Amount of light in a scene.
  • Exposure of a photograph.
  • The brightness of a luminaire.
  • Spectral Color of a luminaire.
  • The extremity of a light source.

Essential Considerations for Buying Light Meter for Photography

If you enjoy taking pictures, you must know that a light meter is essential. But how can you pick the best brand or type for you?

When there are many options available! The following are various crucial things to consider when you are looking for a light meter:

The Angle of Coverage

Make sure the light meter you choose has a wide angle of coverage so you can accurately measure light in various situations.

Spot Metering

This feature allows you to take a light reading from a small area, which is excellent for tricky lighting situations.

Incident Metering

A feature of the light-meter measures the amount of light falling on the sensor, which is ideal for studio photography.

Flash Metering

If you use flash photography, look for a light meter with flash metering capabilities. This will help you get accurate readings when using flash.

Sensitivity Range

The sensitivity range indicates how much light the sensor can detect. Look for a light meter with a high sensitivity range so it can accurately measure even in low-light conditions.

Analog Display Compared To Digital Display

Some light meters have an analog display, while others have a digital display. Decide which type of display you prefer before making your purchase.

Aperture and Shutter Priority Modes

When you want specific outcomes, these modes enable you to obtain measurements based on the aperture or shutter speed.

Cine Modes

Cine modes are settings on a light meter specially calibrated for photographing moving images, such as video or film. These settings consider that film and video are typically shot at a much higher frame rate. 

Know the Distinction between a Flash and a Light Meter

Using Light Meters

A flash is an artificial light source that illuminates a subject. A light meter helps to ensure that a photo is accurately exposed by measuring the quantity of light present.

The distinction between Flash and Light Meter is crucial since they are frequently confused. 

A flash is typically employed in situations of insufficient natural light to get good exposure. For example, if you are taking a picture indoors or at night, you will need to use a flash.

The distance between the subject and the camera must be considered when employing the flashlight. The closer the object is to the camera, the more light will be needed to get a perfect picture.

Additionally, the type of flash can also affect the amount of light produced. There are two main types of flashes: hot shoes and studio strobes.

Hot shoe flashes are small and portable, making them ideal for event photography. Studio strobes are larger and more powerful. However, they require an external power source.

A light meter is not a light source but a tool. It helps you measure the amount of light present in a given area. This information can be used to determine the best exposure for a photograph.

Light meters come in both handheld and built-in varieties. Built-in meters are found in most digital cameras, while handheld meters must be purchased separately.

Handheld meters are more versatile, but they can be challenging to use. When using a light meter, you should consider your camera's ISO, aperture, and shutter speed.

 Choosing the correct instrument for the work is vital because each type of meter has distinct strengths and limitations.

A Showdown of the Best Light Meter For Photography On The Market

1.  L-308X-U Flashmate – Sekonic

The light meter L-758DR Digital Master has a digital display that measures and displays ambient light and flash intensity. It maintains a legacy of accuracy thanks to its pocket-sized dimensions and exceptional precision.

In addition to metering ambient and flash lighting, you can work in video modes such as cine and HD cine on the light meter Sekonic Flashmate L-308X-U.

A 40° reception angle lens enables ambient and reflected light measurements with the L-308X-U. Also, this meter can work with flash within f1.0 to f90.9 at ISO 100, with an overall metering capacity between 0 and 19.9 EV.

With a measurement accuracy of 0.1 EV on repeat exposures, the L-308X-U provides repeat accuracy when metering.

PROS

  • Clear Exposure
  • Great measurement
  • Accurate results every time
  • Easy-to-use product

CONS

  • Not best for studio work

2.  Flash and Digital Incident Light Meter L-308S – Sekonic

Sekonic has redesigned the popular L-308BII light meter to make it affordable, lightweight, and digitally compatible. Precision calibration and the latest component technology make this meter ideal for digital exposure measurements.

Now, the Light Meter L-308S – Sekonic offers the same aperture settings as today's digital cameras so that data can be displayed accurately.

Digital cameras or point-and-shoot cameras can measure and read exposures within 1/10th of a stop, making them easy to use. As well as LCD panel, the LCD screen has been improved for effortless observation.

A similar design to the popular Sekonic L-358 FlashMaster has been used to present information such as ISO, measuring modes, and selected settings.

PROS

  • Great LCD display
  • Water-Resistant
  • Increased accuracy
  • Gives perfect exposure

CONS

  • Basic level product

3.  L-308X-U Sekonic with Deluxe Case

The Flashmate L-308X-U Light Meter blends photo and film-related functions into one device, making it portable and versatile. Using a 40° reception angle lens and a sliding lumisphere, the L-308X can measure incident or reflected light.

Besides supporting metering ranges between 0 and 19.9 EV at ISO 100, the camera can also take exposure times between 1/8000 and 60 seconds; flash ranges between f/1.0 to more than f/ 85 at 100 ISO.

Photo mode allows you to shoot stills using the focal length and focus priority features.

HD Cine mode lets you shoot video with DSLRs or mirrorless cameras at a maximum frame rate, while Cine mode allows you to choose between 8-128 frames per second with one-tenth of a stop of accuracy.

With its backlit LCD, you can easily view all these settings. When working at 5 EV or darker, the display automatically illuminates to meet your needs.

There is also an option for cordless flash measuring and a PC sync terminal. A single AA battery, sold separately, powers the L-308X-U, which weighs about 3.5 ounces.

PROS

  • Wider Measuring Range
  • Backlit LCD Screen
  • Multiple Photo Modes
  • Comes with a Portable Meter

CONS

  • High-precision settings do not offer certain exposure times.

4.  Sekonic - L-398A Light Meter Studio Deluxe III (401-399)

The Sekonic L398A excels in the user experience.

As the center button is pressed, the foot-candle number is read off, and the dial is rotated to the corresponding number using either the low or high pointers of the dial, depending on whether the high slide is pressed.  

This light meter displays the aperture for various shutter speeds. Furthermore, you can adjust the exposure compensation dial by two steps of -2 and +2.

If you know how the exposure triangle works, you should have no problem using it.

PROS

  • Memory pointer available
  • Comes with silicon photocell
  • Accurate measuring
  • Light sensors available

CONS

  • None we can think of!

5.  Discontinued L-478D LiteMaster – Sekonic

Sekonic L-478D is an incomparable mode of filtration compensation for light sources. With an industry-standard CTO/CTB/ND type, precise control lighting is just a touch away.

An extended ISO range and illumination measurements are available. There is an ability to design lighting and expose it in one tool. You can adjust the ISO and aperture settings for modern digital cameras.

For today's HDSLRs and Video Cine cameras, Cine/HD Cine modes are available. It provides exact exposure settings for HDSLRs, and Cine can be switched effortlessly.

Changing the frame rate or shutter angle is as simple as touching the screen. For special applications, you can create unique settings. As video cine cameras become more advanced, the possibilities are endless. The same is the case with metering.

PROS

  • Easy to use
  • Comes with touch operations
  • Cine mode available
  • Provides accurate exposure

CONS

  • Lack of necessary options

6.  Gossen Digisky Digital GO 4039 Light Meter

The Gossen GO 4039 Light Meter is a highly accurate and reliable exposure meter perfect for digital and film cameras.

This meter features a display that is easy to read, even in low light conditions. It has a range of 2 to 1000 fps and an accuracy of ±3%.

The meter has a LED display and can be powered by two AAA batteries. It also has a USB port for connecting to a computer.

The meter also has a built-in memory that can store up to 99 readings, making it ideal for taking multiple readings in different lighting conditions.

It can measure both incidents and reflected light, making it great for taking readings in studio and outdoor settings.

PROS

  • Long-lasting Battery Life
  • Measure exposure in various situations.
  • Contrast Range Control

CONS

  • Low-end build quality
  • Mode-switch control is relatively cheap.
  • Expensive

7.  Sekonic 401-208 Twin Mate Light Meter

A compact and stylish light meter, the Sekonic L-208 TWINMATE was designed for everyday use. A small light meter for incident light and reflected light measurement is also an ideal backup meter for professionals and beginning or advanced photographers alike.

The Sekonic L-208 TWINMATE analog light meter can take measurements of the handheld incident and reflected light. A hot-shoe adapter with the L-208 TWINMATE permits quick, camera-positioned reference readings while you're working.

The Compact and Lightweight L-208 TWINMATE can also be mounted on your camera or bracket.

Although designed primarily for beginners, the Sekonic L-208 TWINMATE can also be used by longtime shooters as a backup meter due to its accuracy, ease of storage, and compact design.

The included shoe mount is also helpful for rangefinder camera owners who want to use an incident and reflected meter.

It is possible to measure incident angles accurately with a sliding lumisphere. Take reflective measurements once you retract the lumisphere. If we compare it to the angle of view of a regular lens, a silicon photodiode receives light at 33 degrees.

Using a hold-and-read function, you can evaluate the settings after 15 seconds of holding the measurement button. CR2032 lithium batteries have powered the show for a long time.

PROS

  • Lightweight and compact
  • Best for beginners
  • Extended exposure
  • It comes with additional accessories

CONS

  • Average quality product

8.  (401-800) Spectomaster Meter – Sekonic

With its advanced field meter, C-800 SpectroMaster is ideal for photographers, videographers, cinematographers, and gaffers. It can read virtually all light sources, including LEDs, flash, incandescent lights, HMIs, fluorescent lights, and even natural light.

Its 4.3" color touchscreen displays 11 different modes, so you know exactly how to create the desired effect based on your light source analysis.

CMOS sensors allow the meter to measure light output as precisely as 1nm and capture color spikes - particularly useful when dealing with LEDs, HMIs, fluorescent lighting, and diverse sources.

With the C-800 series, you may use a linear CMOS sensor with a range of 380 to 780nm in 1nm output wavelength increments to detect spikes in the output of traditional light sources, fluorescent, flash, HMI, and LED sources.

A text, a spectrum graph, a spectrum comparison, a comparison of the CRI, a comparison of TLCI/TLMF, a comparison of multiple lights, a correction of white balance for numerous lights, and lighting filters for Rosco and LEE.

PROS

  • Best to capture colors
  • Easy to use
  • Great meter

CONS

  • The touch screen is not good!

9.  Triplett LT80 LED Illuminance Light Meter

The Triplett LT80 LED Light Meter has a maximum lux measurement range of 400k. White LED light sources can be used in factories, parking lots, schools, offices, transit lines, warehouses, hospitals, and other locations to readily verify compliance with OSHA safety regulations.

The LT80 analyses incandescent light in addition to fluorescent and metal halide lighting.

It has a silicon photodiode sensor with a spectrum response filter, Min/Max/Avg capabilities to recall the maximum, minimum, and average readings, and Data Hold to lock the display reading and turn off the device automatically. It is shown with 9999 counts.

Several digital light meters are on the market to measure the light intensity produced by fluorescent, metal halide, high-pressure sodium, and incandescent bulbs.

The primary characteristics of this spectrometer are the spectrum response filter and silicon photodiode sensor.

PROS

  • Provides a wide range
  • Accurate exposure
  • Comes with photodiode sensors
  • Capable of providing maximum readings

CONS

  • Not a pro-grade tool

10. Extech AO-50537-11 LT40 Light Meter

Searching for a light meter to monitor and organize the environmental lighting? Look no further than the Extech AO-50537-11 LT40 Light Meter. For indoor building environments, it is recommended and trusted blindly.

This instrument can measure light from fluorescent, metal halide, high power, sodium, and incandescent sources in addition to white LED light. The push-button interface allows you to set up and use this gadget quickly and effectively.

PROS

  • Quick and accurate measurements
  • Comes with FootCandle and Lux Unit
  • Easy to turn OFF/ON
  • Color correction

CONS

  • None!

Which Light Meter Is The Best Value For The Money?

Lighting meters are necessary while measuring a specific part of the frame or using flash in a studio or film.

Still, these meters aren't essential for most film photographers because they can create good exposure using the Sunny 16 rule or apps on their smartphones. If you want to know which light meter is worth buying, you are in the right place.

You can choose any of the above light meters according to your budget. We have researched well before selecting these products.

So, there is nothing to worry about regarding any of the products you pick from our list. However, we recommend reviewing your budget and requirements and picking up a light meter that suits your needs.

Do Cinematographers Need A Light Meter?

Using a light meter will help you develop the correct exposure for your scene, play with contrast ratios, and even test the dynamic range of your camera.

Digital technology has replaced the need for a light meter with waveform manipulation on a monitor. Despite this, these new techniques do not eliminate the need for external meters.

You'll save valuable time and avoid exposure issues if you use an external meter.

Exposure information is provided by a light meter, which measures light intensity. A spot meter measures your light, and an incident meter measures your light incidence. Light falling onto a subject is measured by incident meters.

The subject's point of view is taken from the camera's point of view when taking an incident meter reading. It reads the light in a scene falling on the subject using a white sphere.

The sphere can be retracted to a disc on higher-end meters to take narrower incident readings on flat surfaces.

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Brief Wrap-Up!

After reading this guide, you should be able to choose the best light meter for photography for your needs. Listed above are top light meters for photography, mainly from Sekonic, Triplett, or Extech brands, considered the best brands in the market.

You can have all the best customer-reviewed light meters, the best budget light meters, or others with the best qualities that can meet your requirements.

All of these products are listed along with their pros and cons. You can choose one as per your desires and needs!

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