Friday, 16 August 2013

Pocket Light Meter

I always considered a good trusty light meter as one of the most important tools in my photo bag. Regardless of the camera (film or digital) and built-in metering system (matrix, centre, spot, weighted, etc) I am still using a dedicated light meter to re-confirm exposure settings. Couple months ago disaster happened, I lost my beloved Gossen Luna Star F light meter. Before spending ~ $ 200 on the replacement I decided to check what other options are available in 21st century and came across this Pocket Light Meter  app.
This FREE app transforms you iPhone into a pretty good spot light meter. There are several other apps available that can do similar job, but I picked up Pocket Light Meter because of its accuracy and simplicity. Here is my quick review.
Interface is very simple and straight forward. By touching the screen you can move the reading area around the scene. You can choose between aperture or shutter priority modes.


LOG and HOLD. Those are really great features.  With HOLD I can go away from the camera, take the measurement, hold it (freeze the screen) and go back to the camera to adjust the exposure accordingly. I don't have to memorize the readings.
LOG is even better . It creates a snapshot of the scene with precise GPS location, time and exposure values. You can also add your own notes (camera, film, etc). Now I have GPS data and notes for my old film cameras!


There are few options that you can change via the configuration button.



I tested Pocket Light Meter in various light conditions EV@ISO 100 1.79 - 15 (below EV 1.79 the message pops up: TOO DARK) and compared readings to my other cameras:

Nikon F3: within 1/2 stop

Sone NEX: same or within 1/3 stop

Fujifilm X-Pro1: always 1/2 or even 1 stop faster, but as we all know X-Pro1 ISO values a bit inflated.

For my next test I used ISO160 on the iPhone to represent ISO200 on the X-Pro1.


I set camera's aperture and shutter speed according light meter readings and took a shot.


X-Pro1+XF 35/1.4 @ 1/1000, f/1.4, ISO 200

It came out properly exposed:)

My conclusion:
I am impressed with Pocket Light Meter, it is a keeper  and I've already paid $0.99 (ha ha) to remove the ad banner.  It is very accurate within EV 4 - 12 range. But the app has its limitations. It is less reliable (but still good) in extreme low or bright light conditions. Also, you can't use it with strobes, so unless you’re using a constant light source there’s no way to use it for studio work. User interface/functionality can be further improved.

Some suggestions (with mock-up) for future development:

Please:
  • Move the configuration button from the main window to the tool bar below and switch between front/ back cameras to the options section. Too easy to accidentally hit them when moving the reading area around the scene.
  • Make EV compensation bar visible on top of the the main window.
  • Add separate locks for Aperture, Shutter Speed and ISO values. If both aperture and shutter speed are locked then I would like to see what ISO value is required to have the photo properly exposed.  If all three locked then it would be nice to see how far my settings are off on the exposure bar.


Thanks for dropping by,
vkphoto



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