BetterPhoto Q&A
Category: New Questions

Photography Question 
Jeanette Krzyzek

Light Meters


Can anyone tell me what a good basic inexpensive light meter is to purchase? What to look for? Thanks. Any and all help is appreciated!

Chico, CA

To love this question, log in above
7/30/2005 1:17:39 PM

Michael H. Cothran   One of the problems that many consumers encounter with purchasing products is trying to fit the words "good" and "inexpensive" into the same sentence. They just doesn't always work together.
That said, there are three major manufacturers of hand meters today - Sekonic, Minolta, and Gossen. Any meter from these companies will be a good investment. I've owned all three brands. For the past decade or so, I have used (and still use) a Minolta Flash Meter IV, a Sekonic L508, and a Pentax Digital 1 degree spot.

Sadly, you did not say what your purpose for the hand meter was, so it would be impossible to recommend one without knowing what you wanted to use it for.
However, a good quality general purpose meter to begin with would be the Sekonic L-308. It reads ambient and flash, both in reflective and incident modes.
Michael H. Cothran

To love this comment, log in above
7/30/2005 9:15:57 PM

Jeanette Krzyzek   Thanks Michael.....

Yes, I know.. the two words "good" and "inexpensive" rarely go hand and hand.... but, I don't want to break the bank either. I just simply want a good meter so I can take pictures at the proper exposure. I'm just trying to build up my camera bag with the basic necessities so that I can be prepared. I appreciate your help/response. I will look into the names that you recommended. I did see the Sekonic.. but it was almost $400. Ouch for me right now. I'm an at home mom so I have to budget budget budget. I'll do some more homework on these meters and go from there. If you ever have any helpful hints.. feel free to shoot them my way. I'm open to learning all I can.


To love this comment, log in above
7/30/2005 10:47:13 PM

Michael H. Cothran   Jeanette - I don't think you'll find much under $200, although there are a few. Personally I don't think you will be happy with much of the breed available in the $100 price range. Most hand meters should offer you ambient/flash measurement in both incident and reflective modes. A decent hand meter also measures in 1/10th stop increments. Whatever you get, be sure the meter covers these basics.
I can certainly understand any budget restraints one might have. Just don't waste hard-earned money on something that isn't very good. The worst thing you could do would be to buy something cheap simply because it's all you can afford now - only to be disappointed one way or another - which means you really wasted your money on a bad investment.
If you cannot afford a decent meter at present, I'd hold off and save a little. Also, you can check Ebay - there are always good used meters for sale.
By the way, my Minolta Flash Meter IV is over 20 years old, and still works for me almost daily. My Pentax Digital Spot meter is about the same age, and my Sekonic L-508 is about 10 years old. Ditto on my two 20 year old Gitzo tripods. My point is that if you buy decent quality of anything, it should last, and you'll probably never have to replace it. That is where the value sings through, and money is ultimately saved. Good Luck.

To love this comment, log in above
7/31/2005 10:37:00 AM

Jeanette Krzyzek   Once again Michael.... you are correct. I am not "wanting" to buy something that's cheaply made as I do understand quality vs. $$. I was just "hoping" that there was something more affordable that would do the trick. I should know better. ha ha ha!

I will just save up....and do the right thing and make the purchase that makes sense.

Thanks again!

p.s. your pix are beautiful. I hope to learn to take such great photographs one day.

To love this comment, log in above
7/31/2005 12:00:46 PM

Larry T. Miller   Try seeking a Weston Euromaster. Robust, accurate, Incident & Reflected readings and no batteries. I've had that meter for over 15 years. It still matches my in-camera meter of my F3.

To love this comment, log in above
3/27/2006 1:14:06 PM

  Hi Jeanette;

You may want to go used. I've had very good luck with purchases on ebay. You may want to try there. I got a very nice Gossen Luna Pro for 85 bucks. It's in great shape, and works fine. You may want to try some out at a camera shop to find what you want, first.

Have fun and keep shooting,
Mark H.

To love this comment, log in above
3/27/2006 5:26:24 PM

Log in to respond or ask your own question.