The ikan MK350 Handheld Spectrometer, from UPRTek

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The MK350 handheld spectrometer is a marvel of engineering. It slices, dices, and makes coffee. Okay, it doesn’t make coffee, but it is the first self-contained handheld spectrometer—awesomely impressive, as prior spectrometers were either bulky desk units with separate probes or required connection to a computer to give you readings. The MK350 Spectrometer weighs just 8.8 ounces, is 5.7 inches long, and will run for about 5 hours on a full charge. It reads light quickly, and about three seconds later provides all its calculations as numerical or graphical info, all while you hold it in your hand. Designed to read LED light sources, this spectrometer displays LUX, Color Standard, Color Temp, Spectrum, Peak Wavelength, and Color Rendering Index.

Providing such an astonishing amount of information makes the MK350 a valuable tool for a DP, LD, gaffer, or anyone involved with a significant amount of LED-based lighting. This spectrometer gives you an objective reading of the light before you turn on the camera. For me, the CRI-reading capability may just be this little unit’s best feature. I think of CRI as being an indication of the richness or fullness of a light, and with a rise in use of LED sources, the CRI of your light becomes very important to know. You may be wondering why CRI matters—after all, if the light is bright enough, won’t that provide rich, deep colors? Well, no—and while the question isn’t all that complicated, it isn’t all that simple either.

Remember that white light consists of all the wavelengths of visible light. But in fluorescent and LED lights, although the light output looks white to our eyes, some of the wavelengths are missing. This means, for example, that if you’re using a low-CRI light source to shoot a deep, rich purple color, the result you get may not look so rich, or even purple. You may not notice so when shooting, but you will when reviewing your footage. The CRI number gives you an idea of how well your light is reproducing the full spectrum of light. Sunlight is going to regsiter at 100, full and rich, while a CRI below 80 is pretty thin and won’t deliver good colors. A handheld tool that can read the actual CRI of a light is a very neat little tool to have, as you won’t have to depend on what the manufacturer tells you.

As I mentioned above, this spectrometer also displays luminance, color temperature, and peak wavelength values. It will also graphically plot and display the spectrum of a light on a graph based on the CIE 1931 or 1976 standard. While looking at a graph of the spectrum is cool in a geeky sort of way, besides checking your CRI, the color temperature reading is probably the feature you will use most, as nowadays some manufacturers put a “daylight” label on any light with a color temperature from 5000K to 6500K and above. Such inaccuracies could cause you great surprise when you review your footage, especially if you mix light sources, because the range from 5000K to 6500K is vast.

The human eye can’t objectively judge color temperature because our eyes (eye/brain combinations, rather) adjust and get used to light—just imagine walking from a dim interior to a bright exterior and not even noticing the contrast as early as a moment later. Cameras, however, are very sensitive to color temperature. You tend to get better results when you give the camera the color temperature it is expecting. Thus, a color temperature meter is a very valuable tool. It helps you balance your lights to ensure you get the results you want. It even lets you measure a change in color temperature as you dim a light.

The MK350 displays results on a large 3.5” touchscreen LCD. It also lets you save these results on an SD card in Excel and BMP formats, enabling you to compare results with those of other units, from months or even years previous. The MK350 is very simple to get up and running: just cap it with the included cover, enter Dark Calibration mode, and you’re good to go. Dark Calibration is necessary every time you start the unit, and ikan does offer testing and calibration services. The MK350 is easy to use and carry around and is shipped in a hard case. You can take it with you to almost any location.

For more information on this spectrometer, stop by the B&H SuperStore in New York, or speak with a sales professional over the phone at 1-800-606-6969 or online via Live Chat.

Sensor CMOS linear image sensor
Spectral Width Approximately 12 nm (half bandwidth)
Receptor Size 6.6 mm +/- 0.1 mm diameter
Cosine Correction Yes
Measurement Range 70 to 70,000 lux
Wavelength Range 360 to 750 nm
Integration Time Range 8 to 1000 ms
Capture Function One time / continuous
Integration Mode Auto / manual
Measuring Modes 1. Basic Value mode
2. Spectrum Graph mode
3. CIE 1931 Chromaticity Diagram mode
4. CIE 1976 U.C.S, Chromaticity Diagram mode
Measuring Capabilities 1. Luminance / lux
 2. Spectral Irradiance
 3. C.I.E. Chromaticity Coordinates
      a. CIE 1931 x,y coordinates
      b. CIE 1976 U.C.S. u', v' coordinates
 4. Peak Wavelength
 5. Correlated Color Temperature (CCT), in Kelvin
 6. Color Rendering Index (CRI); Ra (Rendering Average) 
Digital Resolution 16 bits
Dark Calibration Yes
Stray Light -25 dB max
Wavelength Data Increment 1 nm
Wavelength Reproducibility ± 1 nm
Illuminance Accuracy Illuminant A @ 2856K at 20,000 Lux
± 5%
Color Accuracy Illuminant A @ 2856K at 20,000 Lux
CIE 1931 x,y: ± 0.0025
Color Repeatability Illuminant A @ 2856K at 20,000 Lux
CIE 1931 x,y: ± 0.0005
CCT Accuracy Illuminant A @ 2856K at 20,000 Lux
± 2%
CRI Accuracy @ Ra Illuminant A @ 2856K at 20,000 Lux
± 1.5%
Display
Type LCD
Touch Panel Yes
Screen Size (Diagonal) 3.5" (8.9 cm)
Resolution 320 x 240
Recording
Maximum Files Approximately 2,000 (on optional 2GB SD card)
Battery
Type Rechargeable Li-ion
Capacity 2500 mAh
Battery Operation Time Approximately 5 hours on a full charge
General
Language Support English, traditional Chinese, Simplified Chinese, Japanese
Data Output Interface SD card / USB 2.0
Data Format Compatible Microsoft Office Excel / BMP Date Format
Operating Temperature 32 to 95°F (0 to 35°C)
Storage Temperature 14 to 104°F (-10 to 40°C)
Dimensions (HxWxD) 5.67 x 3 x 0.94" (144.2 x 78 x 24mm)
Weight With battery: approximately 8.8 oz (250 g)

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What is this for photography? Give the data for white balance? Does it function as light meter?

No, this device is not for photography, it is used by cinematographers who primarily work with LED type lights. It is designed to read LED light sources; this spectrometer displays LUX, Color Standard, Color Temp, Spectrum, Peak Wavelength, and Color Rendering Index readings.

What is the price of the units