The Basics of Light Meters: Reaching Perfect Exposure

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Indeed exposure must be the most complicate thing to get right for both pros and amateurs when it comes to practice. Recently we reviewed a couple of tools that help you improve lighting and colors in your photography, but they still do not give you enough precision since they either deal with your monitor colors or manually measure the ambience settings in the case of the latter.

Many photographers believe that stand-alone light meters are long a thing of the past since currently all modern cameras have a built-in automatic exposure meter. But actually a good old light meter remains the quickest, most efficient, and most accurate way to measure the right exposure which is ideal in settings where other tools would fail.

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There are three types of light meters:

  1. Incident light meters that record the incident light that falls on the subject or scene;
  2. Reflected light meters that record the light reflected from the subject or scene;
  3. Flash light meters that use your flash to measure the exposure.

Modern light-meters can often be all-in-one. Now let's take a closer look at the technology and its features.


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A light meter which is built in your camera only records the light reflected from your subject or the whole scene and will often measure the exposure wrong, making your shots go either underexposed or overexposed. Especially if you are shooting in broad daylight or at a scene where dark and bright colors are mixed. 

In case of the former, your photo will be underexposed. In case of the latter, it will be overexposed. You don't want that any more, right?

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Since light meters automatically measure incident light, or the light that falls on your subject or the whole scene, there is little or no chance for mistake. The light reading will be displayed in tenths of an f-stop on the screen. Apart from it, some light meters measure the amount of flash and ambience light and give you the exact numbers in percents if you would like to give the shot more or flash lighting, which is a really handy and powerful technique.

Other features that modern light meters possess are wireless flash triggering, memory mode, ISO presets, and so on.


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There are quite a few gadgets that lend you a hand at getting closer to finding the right exposure, but none of them are as precise as any light meter and none help you save as much time on post processing—because you won't need it at all except for cropping—as this small and smart tool.

And though a real light meter costs quite a penny and is mainly thought to be used only by professional photographers, it would be a really great investments for amateurs who are deciding on what gadget they should buy to master exposure and deliver awesome work.


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An average light meter costs around $250 and up, but there are plenty of basic models that you can get for as less as $100 and which—although lacking several perks—will give you the same ideal result. Staple light meter brands are Gossen and Sekonic.

Try out this simple and useful tool to shoot distinctive photos that people will love, use our platform to sell them, and earn at least 70% of the photo value. Become a KeepSnap independent photographer and go out today to snap people around you and earn a living. It's completely free for photographers.


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