Searching For a New Light Meter

Several months ago I started noticing that the reading from my light meter was giving me a bit of an underexposed photo. At that point I was transitioning from Nikon to Sony. I wasn’t sure if the problem was more around the way Sony exposes.

A few weeks ago I went to use the light meter. it gave me an underexposed error when reading for a flash. Regardless the distance to the flash and the flash power. A couple of days after, it started to give me a reading. But this time was way off. And when measuring for ambient light, it was underexposing for close to two stops.

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I forgot to mention that my light meter is a Sekonic L-358. It’s been a great tool for the last, I don’t know, 10 years maybe. The meter can be calibrated to +/- 1 stop in 1/10 increments. There is also an exposure compensation setting that can be change. Both were in 0. Using a white balance target and two cameras I compensated the exposure 1 2/3 stops. I called the service department for the company that distributes Sekonic in the US and I was giving a quote of close to $90 to calibrate it. And more in case needed to service the electronics inside it. Based on the history of issues I started thinking that it was possibly not worth sending it in for service. And instead looking for a new one.

I couldn’t find much useful information about different light meters online. It wasn’t like searching for almost everything else related to photography. Camera technology has advanced a lot for the last 20 years. Cameras are doing a great job metering. But when it comes to setting up flashes I find that a light meter saves me a lot of time. I found many forums where photographers were posting that a light meter is a tool of the past and there is no need to use one any longer.

That may be why there aren’t many good options for light meters now a days. If you do a search on B&H there are essentially three manufacturers. Gossen, Kenko and Sekonic. And based on my needs, I narrowed the search to three different models, one from each brand. The Gossen DIGISKY, the Kenko KFM-2200, and the Sekonic L-478D.

Gossen had a great reputation in the past. Lately the reviews for all their light meters aren’t great. They don’t seam to have the same level of quality any longer. Based on the reviews, the plastic they use today is on the cheap side. Plus the company seams to not stand behind their products. The reviews for the DIGISKY were awful. So it was the first one to exit the list.

Kenko is producing those Minolta meters that everyone used to love. But many of those Minolta users say that they are not what they used to be. It was difficult to make a case for it. Then the price. I couldn’t find reviews for it and at $500, it was the most expensive of the three. I wasn’t ready to spend the money on it.

I got the meter I didn’t want. I got the Sekonic. After my meter failed, I wanted to try something else. I also don’t like it is touch screen. Some things are better with buttons, like a TV or cable remote. A light meter falls in that category for me.

I feel that this has been a very negative post. I feel bad. Since I couldn’t find more information about choosing light meters on the internet, I felt that I needed to write about it. It was one of those time that I didn’t chose something because I really liked it, but because there wasn’t much to choose from.

What do I like about the new meter? I like the size. It’s smaller than my old light meter. And it uses AAA batteries. I have never been a fan of CR123a batteries. They are expensive and hard to find.

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What don’t I like? I don’t like to touch screen. I still think that buttons and dials made it easier to use. Changing ISO, F Stop or Shutter Speed is more difficult. Those controls should have been bigger. Just look how my finger covers the numerical value and it’s hard to see what I’m selecting. And in most cases I go past the number I wanted. confirmed what I was thinking about the touch sensitive screen. I also liked the pouch of the old unit much better. I almost forgot. There is a boot up time for this unit. It’s only 3 or 4 seconds. If it wasn’t for the touch screen, that wouldn’t be needed. The old unit was ready as soon as it was on.

Please email me if you have questions. I’l be happy to answer any questions.