Most digital cameras come with inbuilt high-end metering and lighting makes it difficult for photographers to have their standalone light meter. Even professional digital photographers know that getting the best spot, recommended light levels or color temperatures and flash is vital to the success of any shoot, which is a justification for using a dedicated light meter.
We saw it fit to make choosing the best light meter an easy task and put together this list as some of the best meters you can purchase in 2020. Do not worry about the cost because we also know that you need something that works for the best price.
Table of Contents
- Look at our summarized table.
- The Best Budget Light Meter 2020
- The Buying Guide
- What is a Light Meter?
- Types of Light Meters
- Why Get a Light Meter?
- Frequently Asked Questions
Look at our summarized table.
The Best Budget Light Meter 2020
1. Sekonic 401-208 Twin Mate
The Sekonic 401-208 Twin Mate is a compact light meter that is small yet stylish. The meter combines both incidents and reflected light making it ideal for use as a primary meter for both the advanced and the beginner photographer, and as a backup light for the professional.
2. Kenko 1100 Auto Digi Meter
Kenko 1100 is sold as a user-friendly design light meter for reading both flashlight and ambient light. The meter feels comfortable on your hand for its logical design. It has a large LCD reading 10ths stops and in ½ stop increments. This meter is a sensitive meter, and you can get to 8-128 frames. You can analyze your scene to determine the lighting ratio needed. This device should work in areas that need “opening” due to shadows created by natural (ambient) light.
3. Sekonic 401-701 Spectrometer
The Sekonic Spectrometer is a design fit for motion and still photography that need quality results without compromising on color. The product has a full spectrum color LED that measure and capture display spikes to give the accurate color measurement. You also get color filtration information that helps in the light color modification.
4. Sekonic C-700-U Spectromaster
Sekonic C-700-U is a world’s first when it comes to measuring every light and displays on a colored touchscreen. This particular one has a wireless flash in addition to CMOS linear sensor. The measurements can measure to 1nm increments that capture any spike in light output making unique color measurement accuracy.
5. Sekonic L-308X-U Flashmate
Sekonic Flashmate is one of the smallest digital light meters that features dedicated modes for digital photography, HD filming, and cinematography. You use the device if you are looking for the ability to switch from incident to reflected light.
6. Sekonic Pro L-478R-U LiteMaster
Sekonic LiteMaster U-series has unique features for both still and motion photography. The device uses a simple touch and go sliding menu. The full-featured Ambient- flash modes include the latest T-F mode that measure, compare, mix ambient results, and displayed on the color touch screen. The ISO settings of the LiteMaster matches the latest cameras.
The Buying Guide
Buying such technical stuff needs a proper understanding of what you need versus what you have. Choosing a camera may be the easiest thing to do than picking the correct light meter. Here is a simple checklist that should guide you when choosing the best budget light meter.
Most of the light meters measure the incident and reflected light. Depending on what you need to ensure that you get one that can measure both.
Digital or analog light meters are still handy even for the most advanced camera operators. Analog give readings faster compared to digital but do not have any advanced features due to technological advancement.
Analog meters do not need batteries to operate; they work in different situations that may require extended shoots.
Like any other product, money plays a significant role in the final product that you will purchase. You can opt for a basic one that will not cost so much but still has all the standard features or go for the high-end ones that offer the best for professional photo operators out there.
What is a Light Meter?
A light meter is designed to measure the amount of light in a scene. It then breaks the light down into measurements that you can use. Basically, there are various light metering modes available and each looks at the scene differently. These include:
This is where the camera measures the light but only in a very small area of the center of the frame.
With this mode, the camera simply collects light in the entire scene and then averages it.
The camera measures the light in a small area around the center of the autofocus point.
Weighted light metering- this is almost similar to matrix metering but focuses more on the center.
That said, it’s important you determine which metering mode is best for your scene to ensure you get the right exposure.
Types of Light Meters
Light meters come in two types and each has its own advantages and disadvantages. Besides, cameras are designed to use one of the two options available which include:
Incident Light Meter
This type of meter is designed to measure only the amount of light that falls on the subject in question. It could be light coming from an artificial source like strobe or flash or even natural light from the sun.
The incident light meter requires you to hold it between the light source and the subject. It should be as close as possible to the subject. This helps avoid errors caused by lighting an object or subject from behind.
One key advantage of this type of meter is that it ensures more accuracy and finesse. This is especially in cases that would confuse a reflective meter.
Reflective Light Meter
This kind of meter reads only the light levels reflected by the subject and is common in digital cameras. Unlike the incident meter, the light leaves its source and then bounces off the subject. Unfortunately, this type of meter only tells half the story.
Why Get a Light Meter?
The benefits of using the best light meters are plenty. First and foremost, they provide more details compared to in-built meters and can improve your shots in different scenarios.
Besides, they specify the exact numbers you require to light a scene well. This means you get to save time since you can communicate with your crew clearly on set. This also helps to take out any guesswork involved.
What’s more? Light meters allow you to light a scene way before the subject is in the frame or the camera is built. More importantly, they help ensure that nothing in your scene is out of your camera’s exposure range.
Frequently Asked Questions
Check out these frequently asked questions that photographers tend to ask about the best budget light meter.
Do I really need a light meter for photography?
Light meters offer so many benefits for photographers, therefore, in our opinion they are essential. In fact, a light meter can often improve the quality of your pictures in some scenarios.
What is the best budget light meter for digital photography?
It all depends on what you’re looking for. However, any of the above models we have reviewed is worth your money and time.
Since we advocate for the best budget light meter, go for something like the Sekonic 401-208 Twin Mate or one with more advanced features like the Sekonic Pro L-478R-U LiteMaster. These two should be able to serve your immediate needs.