A light meter is a must have camera accessory for those who like to take pictures with the utmost detail. While some photographers find light meters to be pedantic, there are many others who consider them necessary. Investing in a light meter also saves computer time. It saves time that could have otherwise been invested on the subject. Another benefit to having a meter is that sometimes the trial and error can cause the photographer to miss out on many captures, especially when shooting for an event like a wedding.
Purpose of the Guide
This guide is written to help you decide which type of light meter is best for you and to cover the basics of how they work and their terminology.
What are Light Meters?
Simply put, a light meter is an instrument used to measure the intensity of light. It works by measuring the reflected and ambient light levels within the area of a photograph. The light device will help set the exposure time perfectly. Light meters are either already present and are built into a camera, or they come as an external handheld meter. This light meter buying guide throws light on the two types of metering in light cameras, Incident Light Metering and Reflected Light Spot Metering.
Types of Light Meters
Incident Light Metering
Incident light metering is the simplest way to determine exposure. Incident meters measure the light that falls on the subject then provides the camera with settings that render the image exactly the way it appears. It also enables a quick estimate of the brightness of multiple light sources for a speedy, accurate adjustment of lighting ratios.
Reflected Light Spot Metering
Reflected light metering helps the user focus on the subject. It refers to the light reflected by the environment that is being photographed.
Utilities of Light Meters
This feature of light meters helps download test images into the computer. It converts RAW files to TIFF for computation. The data transfer feature also helps graph the dynamic range of any DSLR camera.
Present in all light meters, this feature assists in making the right exposure decisions with its large, full-information data display and viewfinder with diopter correction.
Memory Mode and Latitude Display
Light meters come with a memory mode and a latitude display. Upon programming, the latitude display mirrors the dynamic range of the camera which can help in making decisions over the exposure settings.
Use of Light Meters
Light meters are not just important, they are necessary for those looking at seriously pursuing photography. Most handheld and almost all DSLR cameras, come with a built in light meter. Many people believe that having a handheld light meter will provide superior accuracy as well as convenience since it is not fooled by light or dark backgrounds, the color of the subject, or the light-reflecting qualities of the subject. When starting out initially, users can go with a trial and error approach and check the LCD screen. Once they have become familiar with the techniques, they can then move on to using light meters.
Top 5 Manufacturers
Based in Japan, Sekonic makes tools such as light meters, illumino meters and color meters that help photographers as well as cinematographers to measure and control light for the perfect exposure. They provide a wide range of light measurement devices for professional photographers. Sekonic meters are so popular that they were even taken into space on the NASA Space Shuttle. Sekonic is today one of the leading producer and developer of meters for every aspect of photography, serving the film, cinematography, and digital photography markets.
Headquartered in the Philippines, Phottix is an international company that specializes in photography accessories. The company develops an expanding line of original and innovative products for photographers. Their designs, pricing and quality have made them a popular choice amongst both customers and retailers.
Nikon is a leader in everything relating to precision optics, digital imaging and photo imaging technology. It is globally recognized for setting high standards in performance and product design and mostly importantly its award-winning professional and consumer photographic equipment. Nikon sells some excellent DSLRs that comes with great lighting meters. It is also the manufacturer of some fantastic handheld light meters.
Canon is an international company based in Japan. This multinational corporation specializes in optical and imaging products as photocopiers, cameras, and computer printers. They are one of the leading high quality light meter manufacturers.
The Bogen Imaging company are manufacturers of precision optics, digital imaging and photo imaging technology. The company manufactures and sells some of the best handheld light meters.
- Metering can be of two types in light meters. Reflected-light meter is the light reflected by the environment to be photographed, while incident-light meters refer to the light falling on the subject.
- Data entering:
- This feature on the light meter helps download test images into computer.
- Spot Viewfinder:
- The feature assists in making the best exposure decisions.
- Latitude Display
- The latitude display mirrors the dynamic range of the camera that helps to make exposure decisions.