Shopping for Light Meters
Light meters gauge the intensity of light in a scene, and let you set optimal exposures and shutter speeds. While most modern cameras feature integrated meters for measuring light, separate exposure meters deliver better results by allowing you to measure illumination levels in precise areas, and not just the average light in a scene. This way, sidelighting, backlighting, strobe lighting, extreme contrast, and other tricky lighting conditions won’t affect your shots.
How Do Light Meters Work?
Most light meters for photography feature sensors made from photovoltaic materials such as selenium, CdS, or silicon. As light hits the sensors, they produce a voltage in proportion to the brightness, which then drives the meter to give a readout. This meter use to be a needle galvanometer, but in today’s digital light meters, they are LCD monitors. Readouts include data such as ISO, f-stops, and shutter speeds. They also show the current mode of your unit if it’s a multi-function meter.
What Types of Light Meters Are Available?
Light meters come in two main categories: incident meters, which are separate handheld units, and reflected light meters, which integrate into cameras. Incident meters gauge the intensity of the light falling on your subject. The sensor sits in a white dome called a lumisphere. Taking readings this way lets you set your exposure based on your subject, not the background. Sophisticated handheld photo light meters can gauge intensity down to tenths of an f-stop, allowing for precise readings. Reflective light meters record the intensity of the light levels reflected off your subject, and aren’t as accurate.
Other variations include spot meters, which measure tightly focused areas, and center-weighted units that concentrate on the light in the frame’s center. Other popular options are flash meters. These can provide the correct exposure for photographing with the bursts of light from studio strobes and portable flashes. Modern high-end light meters are multi-functional, and feature some or all of the above functions in one unit.
What Are Useful Light Meter Accessories?
To enhance the use of your meter, various light meter accessories are available. These include spherical diffusers, which read omnidirectional light. Other options include viewfinders that focus on precise areas for more accurate measurement. You'll find light meter cases that will keep your meter safe. You can find stylish models with zippered pockets to hold both your meter and accessories.
Take charge of your photography with the fine range of high-quality light meters and white balancing accessories at B&H Photo and Video.