Knowledge

A look at five light meter apps

Published on April 30, 2012 under Photography

Girl with light meter

It's been several years since I bought my first iPhone, and months since I dove into Android with my ThinkPad Tablet. I only find it fitting that I make some space here in this blog simply to review the many apps I've bought and tried over the years. I'll have these reviews split up amongst iOS and Android, but I will try to equally cover both sides.

Today I'm going to kick off this section with a look at five apps built to replace or supplement a tool many photographers use known as a light meter. Normally it would look like a device with a small white dome used before a shoot. Its function is to show the photographer the ideal settings for his camera to get the perfect shot.

The five apps I'm going to show are all freeware, mainly ad-supported with the option of paying a small fee to get rid of the ads. I'll also add that in my opinion none of these apps can do a full replacement of a true light meter, simply because you cannot bring in the aspect of your flash and other strobes in a studio. A normal light meter would measure the light based on when your flashes and strobes go off, not on the light in general. Still, these are very handy for the amateur or even for travel if you don't want to bring the meter with you.

Pocket Light Meter

Pocket Light Meter
Click to enlarge

(iOS) This is my favorite out of the five. I love how it's built for photographers like me who use manual mode. I can simply set up my ISO and then have the app tell me what my f-stop and shutter speed should be. I know most of the others do this as well, but I like the added manual touch in how I can change my shutter speed or f-stop and thus the app adjusts itself.

The app has two interfaces, the current and an older one for those who have used it in the past. You can also press on any part of the screen to focus on a particular point for more accurate readings. Very handy when you are doing portraits or need specific lighting on certain areas.

beeCam Light Meter

beeCam Light Meter
Click to enlarge

(Android) If you Android users are looking for your version of Pocket Light Meter, this would be my choice. The interface is similar to what you see on a normal light meter, but you can still change the ISO, f-stop, and shutter speed settings to match what you want to set up on your camera. I do wish it had the viewscreen focus that Pocket Light Meter had.

Light Meter Free

Light Meter Free
Click to enlarge

(iOS) I didn't think this one was terrible, but I'd also say it's more ideal for those who mainly shoot in Aperture Priority mode (Av) or Shutter Priority mode (Tv). You can tweak your ISO, f-stop, and shutter speed, but it seems you can only manipulate two at a time. I felt with this app I was forced either into Av or Tv mode, when I generally shoot in Manual mode.

Light Meter

Light Meter
Click to enlarge

(Android) For those seeking out a light measurement in lux over camera settings, this one might be more ideal. However, it is very limited in that you can only use it on certain Android devices that have a light sensor built in. No heavy frills to this app, just a meter that reads the lux, and the rest is up to you.

LightMeter by whitegoods

LightMeter by whitegoods
Click to enlarge

(iOS) Another solution that measures in lux, but also FC. This one plays itself differently by having the user set the front-facing camera and then lay their iOS device on a table. The app not only gives the reading, but offers suggestions in laymen's terms what those readings mean. it also comes with some handy information on understanding lux and FC. I think it's great for those who want those settings, but not for shooters wanting ISO, f-stop, and shutter speed settings.

Have you used any of these apps? What do you think? Are there other light meter apps you have tried?

Tags: app, ios, android, light meter, photography

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