These days almost all digital cameras offer excellent light metering, The old fashioned “light meter” has become a “thing of the past” to a large extent. Nevertheless they do still have their uses.
For those still wishing to flirt with light meters but who don’t want to fork-out to the £100 or so that a hardware device could cost, there are some quite good light meter emulations for smartphone. I won’t pretend that an emulation will always behave exactly the same as a real hardware meter. They work by using the smartphone’s built-in cameras as light sensing devices – often using the front camera for incidental and the rear for reflected light. But then, most of these light meter emulations are either free or perhaps, just a few quid.
Biggest downside of all these emulations is that you cannot use them in flash-trigger mode – there’s no flash socket on a mobile! But for everything else, and considering the very low (or even zero) cost, they can still be pretty damned good. My favourite by-far is David Quiles’ emulation. His looks and behaves just like an old-school light meter – with a few handy modern extras. It displays both EV (exposure value) and Lux (luminous flux). The reflected sensor mode actually allows you to zoom-in on the source of light too and displays EXIF info from that camera’s own light sensor. Raft of other calibration tweaks and adjustments to for those with geeky inclinations. A couple of screenshots, if I may…
Quiles’ emulation was free when I first downloaded it a few years ago. Seems he wants £2.10 for it these days. Still, it’s hardly likely to break the proverbial bank even in these impoverished times. 🙂