Last Updated on August 14, 2020
There are many reasons to find yourself in need of a light meter. Many photographers opt not to use a light meter, as most cameras have them built-in nowadays, but they might want to consider standalone light meters, as these are generally much more accurate. If your picture needs that extra little bit of perfection, a light meter could be just right for you.
While photography is the main use for a light meter, there are others as well. OSHA regulations require lights to be at certain levels in most workplaces, so GMs will find these tools quite handy. Whether you are making sure your workers’ eyes are comfortable or are creating a beautiful piece of art, light meters can be incredibly useful. In these reviews, we’ll go over 10 different light meters and shine a light on their pros and cons.
|Best Overall||Extech LT40 LED Light Meter||
|Best Value||URCERI Handheld Light Meter||
|Premium Choice||Sekonic Flashmate Light Meter||
|Dr.Meter LX1330B Light Meter||
|Leaton Digital Luxmeter Light Meter||
Extech has made a versatile light meter that can be good for all sorts of different projects. What makes it so versatile is that it is able to read white and red LED light and standard light, including fluorescent, metal halide, incandescent, and high-pressure sodium. This device weighs 8.8 ounces and boasts an accuracy of within 3%.
When you buy this product from Extech, it will come fully set up. The package includes a built-in sensor with a protective cover, two AAA batteries, a user manual, and a storage pouch. This is an especially good item to use within light-dependent workplaces because of the high level of accuracy.
You will be able to monitor light in two different modes with the Extech LT40: lux and foot candle. Lux units (lx) are used to measure area, while foot candle units (fc) are used to measure light illuminance one foot away from the source lighting. Once your units are measured, you will be able to read them on the display on this device. The LT40 comes with a quick calibration button and an auto-ranging feature. This product is mountable for hands-free use.
Users of the Extech light meter love it for its simplicity, reliability, and price. While it isn’t the most powerful or accurate meter on the market, it’s a wonderful product that requires minimal fuss to use. Users who have not liked the Extech have reported receiving products that were defective straight out of the box. Fortunately, this product comes with a one-year warranty.
This neat little device is a two-in-one product for the price of half of one. Because it can read both light and temperature, you’ll find many uses for your Urceri handheld light meter. You can take it anywhere, as it is extremely lightweight and easily fits into most pockets.
The display on this product is simple but gives you everything you need to know. It comes with a four-color digital screen that allows you to see readings even in the dark. You will be able to check MIN/MAX extreme readings, perform a data hold, and use the battery indicator to know when it is time to throw in new batteries.
This product is meant to be a multipurpose tool. Whether you are in charge of keeping the light just right at the office or are a photographer who wants to make your pictures pop, this could be a wonderful tool for you. Speaking of photography, this is where we find one of the few drawbacks of this item. While you can read your shutter speed with this device, it will not calculate it for you like some other light meters do. You will have to use a chart to figure that out yourself.
Users have found this device to be quite surprising for the price. It’s also considered a wonderful “first” light meter for those who are inexperienced with using them. While it is praised for its functionality and price, those seeking more accuracy might be disappointed. We recommend this device if you have never used a light meter before or do not plan to be entirely dependent on it. That being said, we think that this is the best light meter for the money.
This is an easy-to-use product, but we wouldn’t necessarily say that it is for beginners. Those seeking a high-quality product will be happy to find this light meter from Sekonic.
This light meter is a photographer’s dream. There are all sorts of readings that you can do with this device, and all come out quite accurately. First off, you will be able to choose between ambient readings or electric flash readings. This is the full-stop mode, the accuracy of which is down to a tenth of a stop.
In Photo mode, you choose to have an aperture or shutter priority display. This also comes with HD Cine mode, which is wonderful for photographers using DSLR cameras. In this mode, you will be able to take exposure readings while using shutter speeds and frame rates to control light. Cine mode (not to be confused with HD Cine mode) is for those using cinema-grade cameras for their project. All of this comes in a lightweight and portable casing.
Users of the Sekonic L-308X-U Flashmate swear by its accuracy and ease of use. Setup also requires zero to little fuss, so you can get going in no time. The only complaints we’ve seen about this product are from those who didn’t prefer it to other higher-end products.
This four-range digital light meter can range all the way up to 200,000 lux! This device was built to deliver a rapid response at a high rate of accuracy.
This is another product meant to be used in the world of photography and cinematography, so there are many uses that you are sure to be pleased within this package. Using a silicon photodiode with filter, this light meter is capable of data holds with peak data hold switches, all while having a short rise and fall time. The easy-to-read display will show you the over-range indicators, your units, and a sign display.
This is also a good product for those not in the pursuit of art. Able to be used in a general field of lighting, landscaping companies and florists can cut down on light waste by ensuring proper levels of lighting indoors. This can work wonders when trying to hold a plant over a winter season or for plants that need to begin their lives indoors before being transplanted.
In fact, landscapers and gardeners rave about this light meter, praising its functionality and usability. Those in the field of photography or cinematography have nice things to say about it but wish for the pinpoint accuracy that can be found in higher-end models. As such, we strongly recommend this item for gardeners.
We now find ourselves on the opposite end of the price spectrum with this nice product from Leaton. With a display range of 200,000 Lux, or 20,00 Foot candles, you’re sure to be impressed by the power in this package.
Powered by a 9V battery, you can get a reading within 5% accuracy of 200,000 lux. The functionality for the price is impressive as well. This product comes with a hold function and two different ranging functions: auto and manual. You won’t have to worry about wasting your battery because this device will automatically turn off after 15 minutes of not being used. While this isn’t the fastest meter, it is still quite quick, giving you readings in two seconds.
This is a wonderful cheap solution for gardeners who want a good idea of the lighting situation in a room but don’t need the most precise reading. Don’t get us wrong — this is impressively accurate for the price, but if you were to buy something 10 times this price (the average price of a good light meter), you are likely to get a better reading. We would not recommend this for photography or cinematography.
This is another surprising value buy, this time from Holdpeak. As the name suggests, this device allows for data holds and offers switches between data holds and peak data. This is an affordable product that was designed with a wide array of uses in mind.
It doesn’t have the largest range for reading, but that is to be expected considering the cost. This item will accurately read up to 20,000 lx or 2,000 fc. For anything over those two thresholds, the accuracies diminish significantly.
This is an easy-to-use device, and you will be able to switch between lux readings and foot candles with no issue. This product also offers a rapid response time and auto zeroing. It’s not the most accurate meter on the market, but at 5% give or take, it isn’t bad. The screen is large and easy to read with a back-lit LCD display.
Powered by a 9V battery, this device was built with generality in mind. Holdpeak advertises this as being for gardening, office, home, and photography. While we think most photographers would prefer something on the higher end, gardeners and GMs of factories and office can make good use of this product.
It’s good for a quick read of fc, but not for readings where accuracy is important. Users praise the simplicity of this device and quality for the price but acknowledge that its main function is for a quick read, not a precise one. This product is also known to have durability issues.
This light meter from BTMeter was built with ease of use in mind, and while it is pretty easy to use, it might be hard to get a good reading. There is plenty of functionality with this product and plenty of use for it, though it might not be for those seeking precise measurements.
As for functionality, take one look at the front of this device, and you can see that you have several options for how to use it. You will easily be able to select your range of measurement, type of measurement (fc or lx), and data hold. You can also use this device to compare data, either from one area to the next, or in one spot over the course of time. The light sensor itself is on a 270-degree swivel so you can take different measurements without having to move.
BTMeter boasts a high accuracy, but it’s not that good compared to high-end models. Considering the price, this is probably to be expected. BTMeter also claims that this meter can measure up to 400,000 lx or 40,000 fc, but we find that hard to trust.
Users looking for simplicity and out-of-the-box use love this meter. Those expecting accurate results are less enthused.
Gossen has made a light meter for more experienced users. This is meant to provide comprehensive readings for a wide range of projects.
This company had photographers and cinematographers in mind when making this light detector. The Cine function is able to determine f-stops for those needing to adjust film speed, with speeds ranging from 8 to 64 frames per second, or if the project is meant for TV, 25 and 30 frames per second. For photographers, this has a comprehensive flash measuring system. This is able to make multiple flash calculations while adjusting the synchronization speed down to 1/1000th of a second.
Those of you who have never used a light meter or are new to the game will have no idea what the display means, but those who are experts with these devices will be thrilled with how comprehensive and detailed the screen is. It is a bit chaotic, but any information you need is all there. Unfortunately, the display is not back-lit.
Users who seem the most pleased with this product are already familiar with other Gossen light meters. This seems to be a popular item for those looking for something more portable than the meters they already had. The main complaint is that for the price, it just doesn’t feel that well made.
This multi-use light meter may not look as sleek as its competition, but it doesn’t care because it has one job: reading light!
Latnex has made a light meter that is intended for all sorts of different projects, from gardening to photography. The display on this device is simple enough, as are the mode options. You can record measurements in lux or foot candles, depending on what you need for the job. The light sensor and readout display are separate from each other, making this more of a cumbersome item than others on our list.
The praise for this item tells you as much as the negative feedback does. This item is not particularly loved nor is it particularly disliked. It is accurate, more so than the light meters that are in a lower price range. For the price range it’s in, though, it is just okay.
This one is cute because the light sensor looks like a microphone, so you can pretend you’re singing while measuring light.
This light meter from ennoLogic comes with a whole list of functions, but none that you can’t find anywhere else. You’ll be able to switch your mode of measurement from lx to fc, and you’ll be able to perform a data hold. The large display comes with a backlight so you can use it in hard-to-see areas.
This product is well revered for indoor use for gardening — and that is about it. Those who have used it for outdoor growing have reported wildly inaccurate results. As for photographers, ennoLogic makes it clear that this device is not for photography.
When it comes to shopping for a light meter, there are many variables at play. Before you get too deep into your shopping spree, make sure you know what a few of them are. Let’s take a look.
This is an important question that could not only help your project but also save you tons of money. The range of prices for light meters is quite wide, so you probably don’t need a $5,000 precise readout if you are growing plants inside. If you are in the business of photography and cinematography, however, you will probably need a light meter that is in a more expensive price range.
This is another important thing to consider, as light meters can be complex devices. Light itself is no easy thing to wrap one’s head around, and measuring it can be even more confusing. If you are new to using light meters, there are plenty that is affordable and offer decent enough readings.
Do you need to know the exact difference between the red and the green you are shooting to even them out or make one of them pop, or are you just trying to make sure your hydrangeas make it until summer? The answer to this will determine the exact kind of light meter you need.
Some light meters can be expensive, so we recommend doing your research regarding warranties and customer service groups. While some companies offer great sounding warranties, there are nightmare stories of customers not having the warranty honored because of poor customer service.
Light meters are cool tools that can help you with a wide range of projects. For some people, they are nice little toys to have, while for others, they can be absolutely necessary for a project. In these reviews, we showed you all sorts of light meters to help you on your journey to buying the perfect light meter. Maybe you read this and fell in love with our top pick from Extech, or you really loved the value of the product from Urceri. Maybe you decided to buy one to have for now, and in the future, you will get another. Whatever the case, we are happy to provide this resource, and if you need to come back, don’t worry — we’ll leave the lights on.
Robert’s obsession with all things optical started early in life, when his optician father would bring home prototypes for Robert to play with. Nowadays, Robert is dedicated to helping others find the right optics for their needs. His hobbies include astronomy, astrophysics, and model building. Originally from Newark, NJ, he resides in Santa Fe, New Mexico, where the nighttime skies are filled with glittering stars.
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