Light meters

Discussion in 'Casual Photo Conversations' started by straw_man, May 24, 2015.

  1. Although sunny-16 with negative film has a lot of leeway, I still like to have the assurance of a light meter. I carry an iPhone 5s, and there
    are quite a view light meter apps including one that claims to use matrix metering. I have compared the recommended settings with
    several of my metered cameras and they are nearly all within 1EV, which is usually fine with print film. I haven't used slide film for
    decades. Now if the phone only had a decent way to measure range for my guesstimate rangefinders.

    Anyone else have experience using cell phones as light meters?
  2. When I find myself in need of a light meter I still use my Gossen Lunasix light meter. I can't surf the web with it or phone my wife but it gives accurate light readings.
    A phone app. if accurate, could come in handy as my iPhone is smaller and lighter than my light meter.
  3. Light meters are used for digital photography too. Not all digital cameras are automatic (e.g., Hasselblad V series), nor flash units (e.g., multiple or studio). While a smart phone might work well enough for some situations, a dedicated light meter with spot, incidence and flash capability gives you maximum flexibility. Exposure for digital is as critical as for reversal (slide) film. Having cut my photographic teeth on Tri-X, I would offer that negative film is equally critical if you want the best tonal range and minimum grain. The 1 EV variance, described by the OP, is rather significant and may be due to calibration (or lack thereof), or how exposure data is assimilated by the smart phone. Even matrix metering tends to over emphasize strong light sources, like windows in a church wedding. What and how you measure light is paramount.
    By the mid 1980s, nearly all cameras had some sort of internal metering capability. Do you need an application in a smart phone to confirm what you already know? Even so, an external meter is highly useful because not all, and perhaps only a few situations are truly "average".
  4. Anyone else have experience using cell phones as light meters?​
    Yes, but not an iPhone.
    I tried one such app for my Windows Phone and it was hilariously far off. However, my phone does come a very nice manual-control camera app, and a fixed aperture. So I would just shoot a photo with the ISO fixed, read the shutterspeed and then calculate back; the image could help me verify if a bit more or less exposure would make sense. All in all, it worked out quite well, accurate enough for colour negatives anyway (haven't tried with anything else). Not a fast technique, but more reliable than apps in my view.
  5. " ... I still use my Gossen Lunasix light meter."


    Me too. I used film for most of my photo lifetime. I got an old but sturdy Luna Pro as a wonderful gift ca 15 years ago and it is even older than that...and boy it still works fine...and I test it now and then... And I trust it because I have learned its little ways and color scale and choices it offers in its analog dial... And I bought on the cheap a reflection spot type snap on for the Gossen, about 20 bucks used...

    For off camera or studio flash., I have and will use a 20+ year old Minolta IV flash meter that tells me a lot about what is going on lumen wise.

    This does not answer your question as stated, and I am sorry, but I have to encourage, with film or manual cameras- to trust the makers of light meters to know what they are doing and why they still do busines. Of course, if the app works for you it really means you have learned to compensate for its read outs. Or compensate for sunny 16 which also needed learning. My iPAD is getting pushy...lately the photo app keeps reading personal advice like " F1.8 and be there, pal.." But smart phones and tablets are getting smarter. They allow for viewing stereo pairs for instance. And are emergency lighting.

    And one I will not go there:) Be well and let us know how the app works out. I am interested in a general way.
  6. I have also used an iPhone 5 app when I forget to carry one of my light meters. It works great. I compared it to several of my handheld meters and, as you mentioned, it is well within a stop. I still use Sunny16 as a comparative measure - amazing how it teaches you to evaluate lighting conditions.
  7. Can the iphones read flash outputs or just ambient light sources? I never heard of this, but it's pretty cool!
  8. Regardless of weight, when I leave the house, my iPhone is with me. Great insurance for everything especially auto
    accidents. Works fine with my meterless cameras. I had been using a compact digital with manual controls for such
    metering support, but the iPhone is handier.
  9. Get a Sekonic 308. Not a phone but a killer light meter:incident, reflected and flash metering in a sub-phone size package. Think you'll find the app wanting if accuracy matters.
  10. david_henderson


    I have little use for a handheld meter, and have sold all mine despite that I used them extensively - every shot- when I shot MF slide film. You could change "little use" to "none at all" if the phone app were to deliver wide-receptor reflected light readings alone. If they can manage to incorporate a quick to use one degree spot, and an incident facility, that might be worth changing my cellphone for.

Share This Page