5 Best Handheld Light Meters for Film Photography

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Written by Jen Golay

One of the most essential pieces of equipment for film photographers has to be a handheld light meter.

In order to make a good exposure, we have to be able to measure the available light and calculate how long to open the shutter and how wide to make the aperture to let light onto a piece of film that has been made light sensitive.

A light meter is just the tool we need.

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Why Use a Handheld Light Meter?

While most film cameras from the mid to late twentieth century on have built-in light meters, a handheld incident light meter will always be the most accurate way to measure light that is falling on a subject.

Before built-in reflective light meters, handheld meters were the only option for metering. Yes, it’s a little awkward juggling a light meter and a camera, and I’m sure, like me, you’ve taken a meter reading and then forgotten to dial the exposure into your camera; but if you’re looking for a well-exposed image or moody lighting or even a light and airy look, you’ll need to be able to measure light accurately.

I’m going to share with you five of my favorite light meters for film photographers and why I love and use them all.

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The History of Light Meters & Photography

Edward Weston discovered stable-resistance alloys in 1884 that made accurate electrical measuring instruments possible. He created the first highly accurate, direct-reading, direct current, portable voltmeter. Then in 1932, he created the first direct-reading light meter. It was accurate and simple to use.

These early light meters were initially used mainly by motion picture filmmakers but were quickly adopted by still photographers. Filmmakers outside of still film photographers are still probably the largest population light meter users today.

If you’re a history buff, you might know that photography has been around since the 1840s, so how did anyone every make a good exposure before Edward Weston came along? Trial and error and practice.

After many exposures, photographers became experts at reading the light themselves. If you’re an experienced photographer, you can probably estimate a good exposure in various lighting situations—especially if you know and use the Sunny 16 Rule. They also created tables and calculators and used instruments called actinometers and extinction meters. None of these methods were very accurate or especially easy to use.

The invention of the handheld light meter along with consumer grade cameras made photography available to the masses. These early light meters were incident rather than reflective light meters.

Before we take a look at popular models available, let’s define the difference between these two types of light meters and when or why you might want to use each.

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Two Types of Handheld Light Meters

Reflective (Spot) Meter

A reflective light meter measures the light that is reflected off of your subject onto the meter. This is probably the type of light meter you are most familiar with since it is the type of light meter that you’ll find built into your camera.

Some cameras have a basic reflective meter that averages the light that is reflected off the subject. Other more advanced cameras may offer different modes of the reflective light meter. These modes may include center-weighted, spot, or fully averaged.

Incident Meter

Incident light meters measure the light falling onto your subject. You’ll hold the light meter in front of your subject, and the meter will use something called a lumisphere to measure the light hitting the meter.

These light meters can be very basic with no batteries required, or they can be quite high tech with digital readouts, fractions of a stop, and retractable bulbs (lumispheres).

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I’m going to share with you four Sekonic light meters in order of fanciness, and one Pentax light meter made famous by Ansel Adams that are all great for film photographers.

You’ll notice that all of my light meters are well-loved. Let’s get started!

5 Top Light Meters for Film Photographers

1. Sekonic L-398A

The Sekonic L-398A is a classic, analog light meter that looks intimidating, but it’s actually really simple to use. It doesn’t take batteries, so it’s always ready to go.

This light meter is so classic and so reliable that when Sekonic celebrated its 70th anniversary in 2021, they issued a special gold edition of this light meter.

The L-398A light meter is one of two meters on my list that can still be purchased new. You can get one new for a little over $200. You can also find them used for around $150.

Find the Sekonic L-398A on Amazon or at KEH Camera.

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The Sekonic L-398A uses an amorphous photocell that generates its own power. That’s why there is no need for a battery. It’s completely analog and has been updated to be environmentally friendly. It does contain a very strong magnet, so you should keep it away from electronics like your phone or other magnetized objects.

It can read incident or reflective light, and it makes its measurements using the meter needle. The measurements are then entered into the dial below that computes the exposure settings. The meter calculates brightness in units called foot-candles.

A foot-candle is a measurement of light intensity. One foot-candle is defined as enough light to saturate one square foot with one lumen of light.

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Pros & Cons of the Sekonic L-398A

Pros

  • Looks cool! Very analog.
  • No batteries required. Environmentally friendly.
  • Reads incident and reflective light.
  • Bulb swivels.
  • Will last forever and can be recalibrated if necessary.
  • Shows EV and equivalent exposures on the dial as well as +/- 2 stops of exposure compensation.
  • Small and fits well in your palm.
  • Doesn’t turn off.
  • Well-built and can be bought new.
  • Comparatively inexpensive to even other discontinued meters.

Cons

  • Highly magnetic. Keep it away from electronics.
  • Bulb/lumisphere doesn’t retract.
  • Takes more effort to use than digital meters.
  • Looks intimidating.
  • Small numbers can be hard to read.
  • No backlight for reading in low light.
  • Only measures ambient or continuous artificial light. Won’t work with strobes.

How to use the Sekonic L-398A:

  1. Press and turn the silver stopper button in the center of the meter until the black dot is at 12:00. The button should pop up when you let go.
  2. Set the ISO by turning the smallest dial around the sliver stop button until the desired ISO lines up with the ASA window of this dial.
  3. Place the meter in front of the subject and face it toward the camera position. (Pro tip: Or hold the meter in the same type of light shining on the subject. This is how to use an incident light meter when shooting landscapes where you can’t place the meter in front of the subject.)
  4. Press and hold the silver stop button. Release it once the needle stops moving. This locks the needle in place so you can use the dials to calculate the exposure.
  5. Now, turn the clear dial beneath the black one until the red arrow lines up with the needle.
  6. Turn the black dial ring until the black pointer on the computer dial lines up with the same number of foot-candles as the meter needle.
  7. The window will show an EV reading at the top of the dial. All around the dial you’ll see every equivalent exposure for that meter reading.
  8. Dial the exposure settings of your choice into your camera and make the exposure.

This meter can also be used for shooting motion pictures or Super 8. You would use the red numbers in the center of the dial in front of the word CINE. Those numbers correspond with frame rates of motion picture cameras. The f/stop numbers around the outside of the dial that line up with them are the correct apertures for each.

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Using the Slide Inserts

On the back of the meter, you’ll notice a slot with a slide in it with a pattern of holes in the slide. You will need to use this slide and potentially other slides (purchased separately) to help the meter take accurate measurements in various light situations.

The high slide is included because you’ll need to use it in bright outdoor conditions like a sunny day at the beach or a sunny snow day.

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To use the slide, insert it into the top of the meter and take a meter reading the same way as usually, but when you turn the black dial, you’ll need to align the red pointer marked H with the correct foot-candle number indicated by the meter needle. The high slide reduces the amount of light reaching the photocell enabling the meter to take readings in very bright light.

When you’re lining up the arrows to have the meter calculate your exposure, be sure to mirror the needle’s position. If it’s just to the left of 160 foot-candles, make sure that the black arrow is also just to the left of 160. This is a precision instrument, but user error can affect its effectiveness.

The L-398a meter comes with a lumidisc which is used to determine ratios of two or more light sources, and it comes with a lumigrid which is used to take reflected light readings when the meter is pointed at the subject from the camera position.

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You can also get a set of direct reading slides to be used with the lumisphere (as discussed above) or the lumidisc.

When using the direct reading slides, the aperture number for exposure is indicated with the meter needle—no calculating anything with the computer wheels.

You can hold the silver stopper button down and move the meter between different types of light to help you determine whether you are at the max of the meter or if you should put in the high slide. You can also use this continuous metering feature to find a particular exposure setting.

I think I love this meter for the same reasons I love fully mechanical film cameras: it gives me complete control.

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2. Sekonic L-308

The Sekonic L-308 is a classic light meter that is relatively inexpensive, easy to use, and very popular. You can purchase the latest version of the L-308, which is the L-308X for a bit over $200. You can find previous versions of the L-308 for around $150.

I use the L-308S Flashmate that has been discontinued. The most recent model (L-308X) combines the features of the 308S with the features of the 308DC, which was geared more toward filmmakers as it included a CINE mode, HD (frame priority) mode, and a photo mode.

This newest model was released in 2018 and is considered a replacement for the other two models.

Find the Sekonic L-308 on Amazon or at KEH Camera.

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I’m going to talk mostly about the 308S or the photo mode of the 308X. This is often labeled as an entry-level light meter for those just beginning to shoot film or make videos. (The main uses for light meters in today’s digital world is for shooting video.)

The Sekonic L-308 is a professional-grade meter with all of the most important features in a light meter. It’s compact and light-weight, and like the L-398A, it reads ambient and reflected light.

The lumisphere slides left and right allowing you to switch between incident mode and reflective reading. Modes available on the meter are daylight, daylight EV, flash, and corded flash.

The L-308S only operates in shutter priority mode. This means that you can choose your shutter speed and the meter will give you the needed aperture. If you want a different aperture, you can use the up and down buttons on the right side of the meter. This will give you equivalent exposures. The newer L-308X offers shutter and aperture priority modes.

Pros & Cons of the Sekonic L-308

Pros

  • Inexpensive
  • Easy to use and accurate.
  • Small and light weight.
  • Reads incident and reflective light.
  • Can be used in the studio with flash.
  • Can be used for still and motion picture photography.
  • Uses one AA battery which is readily available.
  • Has a battery life indicator.
  • Can be set for partial stop increments.

Cons

  • No retractable or swivel bulb (lumisphere).
  • Only shutter priority mode in L-308S.
  • Feels a little cheap and not solidly built.
  • Cannot trigger flash wirelessly.
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How to use the Sekonic L-308:

  1. Set the film ISO by holding down the ISO button and using the arrow keys on the right side of the meter to scroll to the correct ISO.
  2. Make sure the lumisphere is slid all the way to the left and is completely covering the lens. You should hear and feel it click into place.
  3. Choose your metering mode. Unless you’re using strobes, you’ll choose ambient mode which is the sunshine icon. (Choose shutter or aperture priority if you have the option.)
  4. Place the meter in front of your subject facing the camera or in the same light as your subject.
  5. Push the measure button.
  6. Dial the settings into your camera and make the exposure.

If you want to use this meter with strobes, you can do it one of two ways: flash mode or corded flash mode.

The L-308 comes with a lumidisc which is used to meter flat lays, flat copy, or light contrast. To use it, slide the lumisphere to the right and slip the lumidisc over the lens.

You can set this meter to full, ½, or 1/3 stops to match your camera if you have one that can be set to partial stops. This will give you very precise metering and exposures.

Overall, this meter—especially the most recent model—is a great first light meter since it is reasonably priced and full of the most important features.

3. Sekonic L-358

The Sekonic L-358 is a very popular light meter and one that you’ll see a lot of film photographers using. It’s one of my favorites for portraits in both natural light and the studio.

While it has advanced features, you can also just pick it up and start using it. It’s very intuitive.

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The L-358 has three plus metering modes: one ambient and three flash (if you have the RT-32N module which is sold separately.) To navigate between modes, hold down the mode button and rotate the jog wheel at the same time. To set the ISO, push and hold the ISO button then turn the jog wheel until the desired ISO is reached. To retract the lumisphere, turn the black dial that surrounds it.

This meter is no longer in production, but you can pick one up used for around $200-$250. It has a solid construction and can take some good regular use. It has an all-weather design, but it is not waterproof.

It has a retractable bulb that swivels 360 degrees. It takes a CR123A battery which is not a common battery found at the local corner shop.

Find the Sekonic L-358 at KEH Camera or on eBay.

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Pros & Cons of the Sekonic L-358

Pros

  • It’s easy to just pick up and use, but it has advanced features too.
  • Reads incident and reflective light.
  • Has a retractable and 360 degree rotation bulb.
  • Displays reciprocal exposures when jog wheel is rotated.
  • Has aperture and shutter priority mode.
  • Can wirelessly trigger flash when using the RT-32N.
  • Has a lock feature.
  • Continuously meters when the measure button is held down.
  • Has 2 ISO readings.
  • Memory and averaging feature.
  • Can be used for cinematography.

Cons

  • Unusual battery.
  • Two hands needed to change settings.
  • Requires an accessory module to wirelessly trigger flash.
  • PC sync cover easily lost.
  • Battery cover can be fragile.
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How to use the Sekonic L-358:

  1. Set the meter to ambient light mode. This is the sunshine icon on the LCD screen.
  2. You’ll probably want to put the meter in aperture priority mode. This is my favorite metering and shooting mode, especially for portraits because I tend to always shoot with the same wide aperture. To do this, hold down the mode button and turn the jog wheel until the F has a box around it. (The F stands for f/stop.)
  3. If you want to freeze action or create motion blur or for whatever reason like to shoot at the same shutter speed, you may want to put the meter in shutter priority mode. To do this, hold down the mode button and turn the jog wheel until the T has a box around it. (In case you’re wondering why shutter priority mode is indicated by a T instead of an S, the T stands for timed shutter mode.)
  4. Hold the meter with the bulb out and facing toward the camera in front of the subject or in the same light as the subject. Push the measure button.
  5. Dial the setting into your camera and make the exposure.

This light meter will calculate and display reciprocal exposures for you. To see these options, once you’ve taken a reading, simply turn the jog wheel and the exposure numbers will change.

When metering in ambient mode, the meter will continue to measure the light as long as the measure button is held down. This is helpful to see how much the light changes when you’re either adjusting the light or moving toward or away from the light.

You can lock in your meter settings so they aren’t accidentally changed by pushing the mode and ISO button at the same time. To release the lock, push and hold both buttons again.

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Using the L-358 in the Stuido

The Sekonic L-358 meter is the best one to use in the studio in my opinion because of an accessory you can get called an RT-32N Module (find on eBay). And if you shoot very often in a studio or even outdoors with a strobe, this little gadget is definitely worth it!

When the RT-32N is installed in the slot in the battery compartment, it acts as a trigger for your light when you push the measure button if you use Pocket Wizard transceivers. This makes metering with strobes super quick and easy.

If the RT-32N is installed, you’ll have three strobe metering modes available and showing on the LCD screen: The lightning bolt, the lightning bolt with a C, and a lightning bolt with a T.

Advanced Features

One of the more advanced features of this light meter and the Sekonic L-508 is the set of four DIP switches you’ll find inside the battery compartment. These four tiny switches change or activate different settings.

  1. Turn on and off EV display.
  2. Tun on and off multi-flash support.
  3. Shutter speed/aperture display settings.
  4. Measure and display exposures in 1/3, ½, or whole stops.
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Another great feature of the L-358 is that it can store multiple measurements in its memory and average them which is a great feature for when you’re using a multi-light setup.

The two different ISO buttons are great for portrait session when using two cameras with two different film and ISO. But you must really pay attention to what you’re doing! ISO 1 is the default, but when you push the ISO 2 button, you’ll see the correct reading for that ISO.

This is one of my favorite light meters of all time, and its perfect for the rapidly learning photographer. You can start using it with its basic functions and grow into its more advanced features.

4. Sekonic L-508

The Sekonic L-508 meter is a combination meter—and incident meter plus a spot (reflective) meter. It is no longer produced and has been replaced several times by more advanced models, but that makes this a much less expensive option.

You can find a used one for anywhere between $310-$400. In ambient mode, it is almost identical to the L-358 but it has the added spot meter. It also has a weather-proof and durable body and has a low light sensitivity of -2EV.

Find the Sekonic L-508 at KEH Camera or on eBay.

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There are a few key differences besides the spot meter from the L-358. It does not have an option for wireless flash triggering. If that is something important to you, get the Sekonic L-558. (This one is on my wish list!) But unless you do a lot of work in the studio or with strobes, it’s probably not worth the $500-$600 price tag.

It takes a single AA battery. It has a retractable bulb that swivels 90 degrees to the left and 180 degrees to the right. The LCD is backlit for low-light situations, and the backlight turns on when the meter senses darkness.

Like the L-358, the Sekonic L-508 has a memory function that enables the meter to average several meter readings. The ambient move operates the same ways as the L-358, as do the flash mode and the cabled flash mode. It also has two ISO options like the L-358.

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Pros & Cons of the Sekonic L-508

Pros

  • A spot meter and an incident meter in one.
  • Uses AA battery.
  • Backlit LCD screen.
  • Can average multiple readings.
  • Retractable bulb that swivels.
  • Two ISO buttons.
  • Displays reciprocal exposures when jog wheel rotated.
  • Continuous metering when measurement button held down.
  • Has aperture and shutter priority modes.

Cons

  • PC sync cover easily lost.
  • Spot meter lens cap gets in the way and is easily lost.
  • Two hands needed to change settings.
  • Cannot trigger strobes wirelessly.
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How to Use the Spot Meter on the Sekonic L-508:

  1. To use the spot meter, turn the dial surrounding the eye piece on the right from the ambient meter icon which looks like a lumisphere to the spot meter icon which looks a lens.
  2. You’ll see the symbol of the mode you’re in on the LCD screen as well as the side of the eye piece on the right side of the meter.
  3. The spot meter can measure 1 to 4 degrees of the scene in front of it. (Hence the Zoom Master in its title.) To adjust the zoom, hold the eye piece up to your eye and turn the dial on the viewing lens on the left side of the meter. The various sized dots you see on the outside of the lens indicate the size of the “spot” you’re metering.
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  1. Choose aperture or shutter priority mode.
  2. Hold the light meter up to your eye and aim it at the part of the scene you want to meter.
  3. Push the measurement button.
  4. Dial the settings into your camera and take the exposure.

Like the L-358, the Sekonic L-508 has four DIP switches in the battery compartment. They control the following:

  • Shutter speed displayed in ½ stops or full stops.
  • Aperture priority mode in use or not in ambient meter mode.
  • EV displayed or not in ambient meter mode.
  • Multiple flash mode can be set or not.
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The Sekonic L-508 is a great next step from the L-358 if you find the need for a spot meter very often. The spot meter comes in handy for me for portrait sessions when I shoot black and white film or when I’m using slide film.

The most current version of this meter is the Sekonic L-858 D-U Speedmaster whose feature include illuminance measurements, flash duration measurements, and radio control modules for a variety of strobes.

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5. Pentax Digital Spotmeter

The Pentax Digital Spotmeter is a spot (reflective) meter only. It is most famous for being the meter that Ansel Adams used. (Technically, he used a Pentax Spotmeter V, which is the earlier analog version.)

This is a lightweight and easy to use spot meter best suited for using the Zone System of metering.

The Zone System involves equating the colors in your scene to shades of gray, and using those shades to calculate exposures. The Zone System can be a bit complicated and takes practice to master, but it is a great skill to have to really understand your exposures. You can read about the Zone System and how to use it in detail here.

Find the Pentax Digital Spotmeter at KEH Camera or on eBay.

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When you look at it, you might be reminded of the Sekonic L398-A meter with its dials of numbers, but it does take a battery as well as require some input from the user. The battery is not commonly found and is an A554 6-volt battery. The battery compartment is not easy to open and requires a coin to remove the cover.

The minute 1 degree angle of view makes it possible to take accurate exposure readings of distant subjects. It has an IRE (Institute of Radio Engineers) scale which was created in the 1930s with the dawn of TV. This scale is still used today in video and television and is their equivalent of the Zone System.

You’ll notice that my IRE scale is covered up by my Zone System scale. Unless you’re a Zone System expert (and even if you are), you’ll want to print your own or purchase a sticker of the zones to put on your Pentax Digital Spotmeter.

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Pros & Cons of the Pentax Digital Spotmeter

Pros

  • Super accurate.
  • Simple way to meter.
  • More control over your images.
  • Can do basic spot metering or the more complex Zone System.
  • Can be used for cinematography.
  • Long battery life.

Cons

  • Uncommon battery type.
  • Using the Zone System is a little complex at first.
  • Requires user input and is not fully automatic.

How to Use the Pentax Digital Spot Meter:

  1. Set the ISO (the meter uses the title ASA) by turning the dial until the correct number lines up with the arrow in the window. The ISO numbers appear in green.
  2. Hold the meter up to your eye and place the circle in the center of the viewfinder on what you want to meter.
  3. Push the measurement button on the front of the meter.
  4. You’ll see and EV number in red in the LED display in the viewfinder possibly followed by one or two dots. The dots indicate fractions of a stop. Two dots = 2/3, one dot =1/3, and no dots mean it’s a full stop.
  5. Align the EV number with the red triangle on the IRE scale or Zone V if you’re using the Zone System.
  6. Now you can choose one of the displayed aperture and shutter combinations lined up along the scale.
  7. Dial in the chosen settings on your camera and make your exposure. This is the most basic use of a spot meter.
  8. You can also use a gray card with a spot meter for black and white film as well as slide film, both of which have less latitude than color negative film. This is the most accurate way to use any spot or reflective light meter.
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The Pentax Digital Spotmeter is a great meter for advanced metering techniques as well as basic spot metering techniques.

This is not the meter you want to pick up when you’re out looking for your first hand-held light meter. Once you master this, you and/or your scanner will have to make fewer adjustments in your scans. This meter gives you much more control over your images.

When Should You Use an Incident or Reflective Light Meter?

After learning about all of the different light meters—incident and spot—and the possible combination of the two, you might be wondering when or why you might want to use one or the other. There are definite situations where an incident meter is preferable to a reflective meter and vice versa.

You’ll want to use a spot meter when shooting distant subjects like landscapes (although you can just put an incident meter in the same light), objects that generate light (like neon signs), highly reflective or translucent surface (like stained glass), and backlit subjects.

When you’re shooting a backlit subject, you’ll want to use a spot meter specifically, not just a reflective light meter like the one in your camera. The backlighting will confuse a reflective light meter, but your spot meter will make sure that the subject, which is technically in the shadows of a light source will be exposed properly. To be really accurate, try to get as close as possible to your subject when spot metering.

You’ll want to use an incident light meter when shooting high contrast scenes (like a bride and groom), a scene dominated by large areas of very light or very dark values (like a snowy day), in the studio and/or with strobes, a backlit subject or a bright background.

The reason for backlit subject or a subject with a bright background is similar to that with a spot meter. Remember that subjects like this are in the shadows of a light source, so using your incident meter will accurately measure the available light actually on the subject in the shadows. And a subject with a very bright background will confuse a reflective light meter, so an incident meter will give you the most accurate reading.

In the end, you can successfully use an incident or a reflective meter in any situation if you know how they each work, as well as when and how a reflective meter can be tricked and how to compensate for it.

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Final Thoughts

These five light meter options are not the most recent models, nor do they have all of the features that current light meter have; however, I think they are great options for current film photographers who don’t need meters that measure color temperature or illuminance or chromaticity or flash duration.

Compared to these recent models, all of these options are reasonably priced and easily found online.

One of the things I love about analog photography is the simplicity of it and the amount of control I have over my work. Any one of these light meters is an essential tool for a film photographer.

What light meter do you use? Which one of these meters would you like to add to your camera bag? What questions do you have about light meters? Let me know in the comments!

Thank you so much, Jen! Jen is a regular contributor here at Shoot It With Film, and you can check out her other articles here, including Understanding Reciprocal Exposures and the Exposure Triangle and Exposure Cheat Sheet for Shooting Film at Night.

You can also check out more of Jen’s work on Instagram.

Leave your questions about light meters for film photographers below in the comments, and you can pick up one for yourself at KEH Camera or on eBay.

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Jen Golay

Jen Golay is a senior portrait and travel film photographer and a regular contributor for Shoot It With Film. Find her other articles here, such as How To Shoot Kodak Gold 200 and Olympus Pen F Half-Frame Film Camera Review.

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Blog Comments

Great right up Jen! I love the L-308S and have been using it for the past 7 years. They are nice and cheap, which is good because I’ve lost/broken a few. I really like the backlight on the L-308X – helps me a lot when I’m out before sunrise and can’t read the screen.

Hi Peter! I’m so tickled that you read my article! I think you should be doing workshops on how you meter your beautiful beach photos. And I agree that those are great meters! Thanks so much for the comment!

You should cover the Reveni Labs offerings as well. They are less expensive offerings, have good functionality, support a small business, and are still in production.

https://www.reveni-labs.com

Hi Matt! Thank you so much for the recommendation! I’ve had lots of great suggestions for various brands of light meters with this article. I will definitely check them out. Thanks for the link!

Interesting article, mostly on Sekonic meters (4), but where are the Gossen light meters?
Gossen (Metrawatt) is one of the oldest still existing meter brands and best known for the legendary Lunasix, and they are still building very fine meters…

Hi Philippe! Thanks so much for your recommendation of Gossen light meters. I have been a consistent user of Sekonic, but that doesn’t mean they are the only great light meters out there. There have been several comments recommending Gossen, so I will have to check them out in future!

I use a UK made Weston Master V meter. Uses a selenium cell so no batteries required and very good as an incident light meter – if you have the invercone that goes with it.
A suitable companion for a fully manual camera.

Hi Lawrence! I love hearing about all of the different light meters that people use and love. Just like cameras, the best light meter is the one you have with you.

Thank you Jen. Your articles are always interesting! Note that Ansel Adams also used Weston Master light meters. Like Phillipe, I was also disappointed there was no inclusion of the excellent Gossen Profisix/Lunasix light meter. These meters come with zone system already part of the measuring dial, measures both incident or reflected light with a simple cone slider, and also has a Cine reading scale for motion picture work. There’s also an attachment that allows variable-angle measurement of 15 or 75 degrees, a Profi-Flash attachment, a Profi-lux attachment for measuring Light or Lux, attaches to the Sinar Six insert for measuring film-plane exposures with LF 4″x5″ cameras by way of the Profi-Select TTL head, a microscope attachment, a spot-meter attachment (selectable 1, 5 and 10 degrees) as well as a Labor attachment for use as an enlarging light meter in the darkroom. It really is the consummate universal light meter. The only negative I offer for this light meter is the lack of backlight in dimly-lit situations. Btw I have a spare set of Sekonic Slides with inserts for ISO 25, 40, 54, 64, 80, 100, 160, 200 & 400 (being different to the usual 1,2,3.. nomenclature). The only one missing is the H (High) slide but this is the standard slide in the Sekonic L398.

Hi Ray! I haven’t used a Gossen meter, but I really appreciate your recommendation and the great information about them! I will have to check them out in future.

Gossen?

I haven’t used Gossen meters, but I will have to look into getting one after several comments recommending them!

I have both the L-358 and Pentax Spotmeter V. I agree the spotmeter is a bit much for someone starting out. That said I still love and use my 358. (Fun fact, you can buy a radio module from the Netherlands that will trigger Profoto!) I think you were right to focus on the meters most folks are likely to encounter vs. trying to be exhaustive.

Hi Michael! Thanks so much for your comment! It’s so nice to hear from readers. And thank you for the tip about the radio trigger from the Netherlands! If I was a Profoto user, I would definitely get one!

Thanks for sharing these top handheld light meters! I’ve been looking for a reliable and accurate meter to help me with my film photography projects, and now I have a great list to choose from.

I’m so glad you found it helpful!

Being of a certain age and having shot film for 40ish years I’ve used a lot of meters. I love my trusty Minolta IVf, I use the aforementioned Sekonic 508 these days due to its flexibility. As often as not though I find myself reaching for the “Mylightmeter” app on my phone.

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