Among all the things photography is, it's certainly not easy. You need to set the right exposure value, ISO, aperture, shutter speed, and if you're blessed with an advanced model, adjusting the flash power before you get started is a must.
Even after all that, it's so easy to mess everything up in a matter of seconds. What would otherwise be a majestic landscape can become a bland patch of overexposed colors. So, if you've already started off the wrong foot with photography, a light meter can fine-tune your skills for the better.
The best light meters can tell you how to adjust your camera controls and the studio lighting equipment for a mesmerizing photo shoot. Without further ado, let's catch up with the light meters we have here today.
Table of Contents
The Best Light Meters
Give my top 10 light meter reviews a read to see what they offer!
1. Sekonic LiteMaster Pro L-478D-U
Featuring a 2.7-inch color LCD with straightforward controls and quick calibrations, the high-end Sekonic LiteMaster Pro L will expose your portraits in the best way.
Light meters from Sekonic's L-478 series are the first-ever touchscreen meters to capture accurate light readings. So, there's no doubt that this one will be worth a shot.
You can comfortably use the LiteMaster Pro for your outdoor portrait and landscape photography. Since it's an incident light meter, all you have to do is take the device close to your subject pointing right at the camera.
This way, you can easily meter the amount of light falling on the subject and adjust your camera's exposure accordingly. It saves you a lot of time in raw processing or chimping.
We like the LiteMaster Pro because it's an excellent meter for ambient and flash. Moreover, its touchscreen feature allows you to make quick changes, record readings, and select the incident lighting parameters with ease.
And let's not forget about the radio module here. Sekonic makes it quite convenient to calibrate the meter to your camera via its data transfer software. You may also choose to input the data yourself.
The exposure value (EV) range on this modern light meter is worthy of praise as well. At ISO 100, you can get precise incident metering from -2 EV to 22.9 EV.
Although the LiteMaster Pro lacks guidance in real-world situations where you need to bring the EV down to -5 or -6, it's still a budget-friendly light meter you can get started with.
Sekonic LiteMaster Pro L-478D-U
2. Sekonic Speedmaster L-858D-U
As expensive as they are, light meters will grease the wheels of your photography and take it to greatness! We have our eyes on the Sekonic Speedmaster today. And we have to say, and it's a brilliant upgrade to the LiteMaster Pro with plenty of brand-new features!
When you have to freeze a fast-moving subject, getting the flash strength and duration right might take multiple shots. And often, it's out of the question.
Luckily for you, the Sekonic Speedmaster features an iconic flash duration metering. That's right; this one hell of a light meter will help you calibrate the flash power according to your needs.
On top of that, this device simultaneously measures the ambient and flash for indicating the flash percentage at a given exposure. Adjusting the ambient is also easy. You just need to turn its Jog Wheel.
Moreover, you have both an analog display and a digital display to view preferable camera settings. The Sekonic L858DU can measure stroboscopic pulses for Hi-Speed Sync (HSS) function for acing shallow depths of speed in different light settings.
For the price, you could have easily gone with the LiteMaster Pro or Sekonic's Twin Mate and still have a couple of hundred bucks in your wallet. But when it comes to taking your photography to a professional level, getting quality gear pays in the long run.
The Speedmaster's impeccable flash measurement and light sensitivity is something worth paying for. You'll immediately notice it once you capture that perfect cityscape in the night or low light settings.
Sekonic Speedmaster L-858D-U
3. Sekonic L-308X-U Flashmate
Whether you're an amateur photographer or a professional, metering exposure for brilliant portraits and still life photography gives you a subtle perfection that goes a long way. The Sekonic L 308X U is a practical light meter that sticks to the basics- giving useful, real-time readings to make your photos stand out.
The Flashmate isn't just another digital light meter with complicated controls to look intimidating. In fact, the meter integrates three easy modes with different focus points for the incident and reflected light reading.
Take the Photo Mode, for example. This high-end, handheld meter incorporates an easy-to-read display prioritizing shutter speed and aperture. In addition, it emits light in a wide range of ambient and flash situations.
This way, you can choose the correct f-stops and shutter speeds from 1/8000th of a second to 60 seconds without flash and 1/500th of a second to 1 second with flash.
It supports both a corded and a cordless flash metering. The EV range, however, is a decent 0 to 10.9 EV. And finally, the aperture range falls in the f/1.0 to f/90.9 to improve your exposure setting.
Next up, we have the Cine Mode, which is tailored for Cinema Cameras. It's a great help to new and experienced filmmakers alike, considering that you get to select the desired frame rate for the right EV and shutter angles with 1/10 stop accuracy.
If you're a mirrorless videographer, there's good news for you too. The HD Cine Mode will deliver simultaneous measurements with a <0.1 EV rating on repeated exposures.
Sekonic L-308X-U Flashmate
4. Sekonic 401-208
If you're looking for a pocket-sized ambient light meter for backup, the Sekonic 401-208 is an affordable option. It has a hold-and-read mode that locks the readings so that you may evaluate the exposure in 15 seconds.
For starters, a great light meter can put a stop to your guessing game. When a precise lighting ratio is in question, nothing but this device can help you out. And considering the time it saves photographers, the Sekonic 401-208 can be your stepping stone into the world of professional photography.
Unlike the latest L-308X-U Flashmate, this one doesn't have a one-tenth stop accuracy. Instead, it supports an f/1.4 to f/32 aperture and ISO 12 to 12,500 in half-stops.
Its lightweight build makes the device an ideal choice for handheld light meters. You can also attach it to the camera's bracket or shoe using a shoe adapter that comes included in the box. You also get a sturdy carry case, a strap, and a lithium battery to get started right away.
It has a sliding lumisphere, as seen on the recent light meter models for cinematography. As you retract the lumisphere, you can note down reflective readings that its photodiode receives at a 33-degree angle.
We did expect a better exposure value from this one. With a 3 to 17 EV range, the Sekonic 401-208 barely makes it to the final cut due to its incompatibility with the HSS flash metering systems.
5. Lumu Power 2
As majestic as your expensive photography gear looks, carrying them to every photoshoot can make you wish for compact gadgets. What if we told you that your iPhone could now be your light meter? It certainly ticks one thing off the list!
First, the Lumu Power 2 is one of the best light meters that connect to your iPhone via the charging port. It has a stainless steel body and high-quality diffusers. Since it is not a standalone light meter, it might lead you to question this light meter's usefulness in serious photography.
We were also guilty of thinking the same. But to our surprise, we got a close to precise reading based on its light metering.
It shows you useful pointers on your phone's display such as aperture, shutter speed, ISO, flash, and ambient. You can move your phone around and see the spontaneous readings to pick an average.
Moreover, its user-friendly interface makes it the most straightforward camera accessory to use in your shoots. Packing all the features of a professional light meter in a small dome and easy-to-read interface, the Lumu Power 2 sure gives Sekonic a tough battle to win.
And finally, picking up the essential photography skills with your iPhone will be the easiest with this device. It teaches you how to adjust camera settings and decipher light readings for a perfect shot based on what's available.
However, we didn't like a situation whereby the Lumu Power 2 meter says that it features a color temperature meter, but you need to pay for an upgrade to avail yourself of that option. It's still a relatively cheaper alternative to handheld light meters.
Lumu Power 2
6. Gossen GO 4033-2 DigiPro Light Meter F2
If you can't maintain a constant lighting ratio in your cinematography, you might have to retake expensive shots. That is why, as an up and coming filmmaker, you're going to love the Gossen Go DigiPro F2 without a doubt.
First of all, this exposure meter supports a corded or uncorded flash measurement with ambient light ratio and adjustable sync speeds.
Its versatility in selecting pre-set modes allows you to prioritize shutter speed and aperture for a specific scene. The product's repetition accuracy being 0.1 EV, it can show values in one-tenth increments for precise metering.
It has the Cine function, which saves the busy cinematographers their valuable time with on spot metering. It tells you what f-stop is ideal for your film speed from 8 fps to 64 fps. The 25 fps alongside the 30 fps adjustment comes in handy when you're shooting tv shows.
The DigiPro features both incident and reflective lighting in full f-stops or ½ and ⅓ increments. But what we liked about this light meter is its wireless triggering and free software upgrade.
The device's remote radio module or SkyPort helps you scrap the hassle of cables for firing four groups of studio flash. Additionally, it's compatible with Phottix, Elinchrom, and Broncolor- the commonly used studio lighting and flash equipment by professionals.
7. Sekonic C-700R-U Spectromaster Color Meter 401-703
A full-spectrum light meter such as the Sekonic Spectromaster can measure light sources including natural, fluorescent, LED, and HMI for unbelievable color control. It also features a wireless flash measurement capturing sudden spikes in your lighting equipment to achieve unmatched accuracy.
It utilizes the CMOS linear sensor for consistent precision. Moreover, the unit is also the only spectrometer that measures flash units and offers specific triggering with selective zone adjustments among the color meters available right now.
You can view the necessary readings in either graph or serial numbers on the full screen. Its Color Rendering Index (CRI) displays General CRI, Rendering average, and a special CRI. They show how accurately each color can be reproduced as a percentage of your available light source.
Its color touch screen is the easiest to read. You now can measure flash and other critical parameters for your photograph. You can also navigate the otherwise difficult reading comparisons, spectral distribution, CRI color, and many more on its intuitive interface.
The device compares color spectrum, temperature, illuminance, light filtration, and CRI from two single sources and multiple ones in a studio light setting.
And the best part? The Spectromaster shows its reading in CC and Mired for major brand equipment. Its detailed filtration information helps you correct, modify, and achieve a suitable light color for clean recordings and hassle-free raw processing.
Sekonic C-700R-U Spectromaster Color Meter 401-703
8. Sekonic L-398A
Although the analog meter looks pretty old-fashioned, its cutting-edge features put the modern light meters to shame. The Sekonic L-398A is the best one out there with simple controls.
Since the device comes with a photocell, you won't require an external source of power or even batteries for that matter. It makes the Sekonic L-398A a super useful backup light meter for your indoors shooting.
It supports an ISO range from 6 to 12500 in ⅓ increments. And if you remember the Sekonic 401-208, which we reviewed only a while ago, you'll like the L398A a lot better.
This one is a serious upgrade considering what it did to the refinements. The device finds the available light source and points to a fitting shutter speed from 60 seconds to 1/8000th of a second.
You can see how its supported shutter speed and 6 to 1200 ISO range are identical to the Sekonic Flashmate, a first-rate digital light meter for modern cinematography.
And finally, to help you with film making, the device will show frame rates from 8 fps to 128 fps with flawless incident light readings. You can take an accurate measurement range with its 180° lumisphere for reading three-dimensional subjects.
And as for the Lumidisc, you may use it for measuring the lighting ratio between the key and fill lights on flat objects. The Lumigrid, however, is used when you shoot with a fixed shutter speed and ISO.
9. Gossen Digisky Digital GO 4039
This best, multifunctional light meter is a practical tool for photographers and videographers alike. It includes a Skyport radio module that you can trigger on multiple frequencies and free firmware updates to increase its compatibility with big-budget studio lighting gear.
You can get a significantly precise metering performance from the iconic Digisky Digital by Gossen. When there are photographers in every direction, making your photographs stand out will take a few extra tools other than sheer luck and practice.
Its TFT color screen is straightforward to follow. The selector button and controller ring help you master the exposure hack single-handedly.
What make it the best handheld light meter are its dedicated film-making mode and 3 camera modes. The Cine function comprises 2 to 1000 fps frame rates in motion picture recording and 45-degree to 315-degree open aperture angles.
We also liked that the Digisky Digital is compatible with both incident metering and reflective light metering. The device uses spherical and flat diffusers and displays readings in full stops, ½, and 1/3 increments.
Lastly, it supports two different ways to power up the gear. The meter runs on a rechargeable lithium-ion battery charged via a USB port.
Gossen Digisky Digital GO 4039
10. Kenko KFM-1100
A simple ambient meter that analyzes mixed lighting function can lead you to take masterful portraits that hit all the right spots. The Kenko KFM-1100 is such a device. It calculates flash-ambient ratios like a pro while supporting cord and cordless operations just the same.
To begin with, its super large LCD screen displays f-stops in small increments. Featuring a 1/8000th of a second to 30-minute shutter speed, you can see how sensitive the device is.
On the Cine mode, you can achieve frame rates from 8 to 128. It can store 2 readings that you can recall for averaging with the press of a button.
It's a useful feature in reflected lighting since you need a couple of light readings and exposure readings from different light areas to capture the highlights and shadows more precisely.
Moreover, you may use the flash meter with or without the sync cord. Be it ambient or flash lighting, the KFM-1100 can analyze any scene and determine their lighting ratio.
Since it supports both reflective and incident lighting, you can use this super-accurate meter for outdoor, nature photography or taking live footage. However, you need to keep in mind that this Kenko meter, surprisingly, is not a spot meter.
You would at least expect the spot function since it's become so common nowadays. Other than that, nothing beats the precision of this great device for your motion pictures and stills.
How to Choose a Light Meter
Sometimes what sets a brilliant portrait aside is its key light and fill light ratio. Several takes on chimping and software tuning might not recover the same crisp colors in your photos and cinema frames.
So, if you don't want washed out landscapes or underexposed headshots, invest in an accurate light meter and let it do its magic!
The best light meters are small, handheld gadgets that do not look frightening at all. But, to the eyes of new photographers, it has all the baffling numbers and charts to put them off.
So, when it comes to choosing the best device for the job, you ought to keep a few things in mind. Let us walk you through a detailed buying guide, so you know exactly what to look for!
Incident Lighting VS. Reflected Lighting
We have both meters on our list because they are hardly each other's alternative. In fact, they are entirely different in the way they function.
For example, incident light readings are independent of the reflectiveness or illuminance of the subject. These are the incident readings that your meter takes when the dome-shaped lumisphere faces the light from the subject's point of view.
And as for reflective lighting, you have a built-in light meter in your camera for that. But since it's of average quality, getting a standalone gadget to measure the amount of light in a scene is the best course of action.
However, spot metering is very much accurate as well, considering you have to measure the exposure difference in multiple spots to get a flawless capture.
Often, we see that reflected light can be biased, mostly when you use a center-weighted flash meter. That's why we prefer a spot meter over a plain reflected light meter, which is better for flat objects or art photography.
Usually, most advanced light meters will support all three configurations. For example, the Sekonic Speedmaster 401-858 has 2 stops for spotlighting and 3 stops for high-sensitivity incident lighting.
You will notice that the best light meters these days feature a radio module or wireless triggering. It helps them sync with popular studio lighting systems such as the Elinchrom, Phottix, and many top-of-the-line gadgets for exceptional cinematography.
Wireless triggering helps you shoot in mixed lighting with the best combinations available to you. It also allows you to go cordless and trigger the extra flashes with modified intensity.
Overexposed and underexposed photos are enough to ruin anyone's day even when you're not a fully-fledged photographer.
A light meter allows you to use its metering features to set the exposure values on your camera in a way that brings out the true colors. Any accurate light meter will offer repeated readings with +/-0.1 EV in the same scene.
If you're looking forward to shooting regularly in daylight, natural indoor light, or night-time bright outdoor scenes, we recommend the Sekonic L398A Studio Deluxe 3 for you.
This is mostly because it can guide you to accurate exposure readings from EV 4 to EV 17 in incident light and EV 9 to EV 17 in reflected light at ISO 100. Then there's the Gossen Digisky with its incredible -2.5 EV to 18 EV range for studio photographers working in versatile light conditions.
Aperture and Shutter Speed
Aperture is the lens opening from which light enters your camera sensors. The more light that enters the lens, the brighter your photo will come out. If you set the aperture too big (lower f-stops), you can get a magnificent, shallow depth of field that enables you to separate your subject from a busy background.
While it's desirable in some cases, most landscape photographers will use a large depth of field to catch the subject and a crisp foreground and background.
Incident light meters measure the light that falls on your subject from either single or multiple sources and suggests a suitable f-stop to grab all the details. The Sekonic L308X Flashmate features an f/1.0 to f/90.9 aperture range with a 60-second to 1/8000th of a second shutter speed.
It's important to remember that dark, dim-lit photos are the products of fast shutter speeds. If you want to add motion blur to your stills, dial the shutter speed up a notch for bright and pronounced images by freezing the action or blurring the motion.
Finally, if you want to enjoy absolute versatility, get a Sekonic L398A, which features an f/0.7 to f/128 aperture range in 1, ½, and ⅓ stops.
Light Sensitivity & Flash Duration
Using the same flash strength and duration in every shot is a common mistake many entry-level photographers make in their early days. This is where light meters come to the rescue.
The best ones offer you HSS flash measurements for your upgraded cameras that support the High-Speed Sync flash. It drives the flash at a higher speed than that of the shutter speed. Coming with a sliding lumisphere and a positive EV ranging from 0 to 19.9, the Sekonic L 308X is great for measuring flash durations.
However, the Sekonic Spectromaster wins the round with its unbeatable light sensitivity and selective zone control. It also displays the Color Rendering Index (CRI) in Mired for an accurate photo projection even before you shoot it. Moreover, the color spectrum comparison under different light situations comes in handy more often than you think.
Once you're familiar with a light meter, you'll find it the easiest to use. Don't let the numbers and buttons fool you. It's no more challenging than shooting your very first portrait in a professional setting.
These super useful, pocket-sized gadgets give you important pointers to bring out a mind-boggling composition before you hit the Lightroom. We hope our best light meter reviews helped you in your journey.