Photography Lighting is supported by readers. When you buy with our links, we may earn a commission. Learn more

This post was most recently updated on January 21st, 2024.

Lighting is such a fickle thing: your subject moves an inch and it could change everything.

So no matter how amazing (and expensive) your camera is, it can’t factor in the fickle nature of light. It tries, but the computerized mechanism can be easily tricked.

So you need a precise and excellent light meter.

An external light meter looks at ambient and reflective light to determine what exposure is right for you, plus it accounts for your flash in a way your camera can’t.

With the best light meter, you can take the guessing out of your exposure to nail it from the start!

Let’s dive in.

Top 17 Light Meters for Photography

Editor’s PickBrand
Best Light Meter For PhotographySekonic Speedmaster L-858d-u
Best Affordable Light Meter For PhotographySekonic Litemaster Pro L-478dr-u
Best Budget Light MeterLight Meter Lm-50kl
Best Cheap Light Meter For PhotographyDr.Meter Lx1330b
Best Camera Light MeterSekonic Speedmaster L-858d-u
Best Iphone Light MeterLumu Power
Best Color Temperature MeterSekonic C-700r-u
Best Film Camera Light MeterSekonic Speedmaster L-858d-u
Best Cheap Film Camera Light MeterSekonic L-398a
Best Handheld Light MeterGossen Digisix 2
Best Pocket Light MeterSekonic L-398a
Best Light Meter For Flash PhotographyGossen Go H264a Sixtomat F2
Best Light Meter For Landscape PhotographySekonic Litemaster Pro L-478dr-u
Best Light Meter For Street PhotographyGossen Go 4033-2
Best Analog Light MeterSekonic L-398a
Best Ambient Light MeterSekonic Litemaster Pro L-478dr-u
Best Light Meter For VideoSekonic Speedmaster L-858d-u

Best Light Meter for Photography: Sekonic Speedmaster L-858d-u

Sekonic Speedmaster L-858d-u
This Sekonic Speedmaster is speedy and accurate. With flash duration, flash ratios, and both reflected and ambient readings, it’s a shoe-in for the top pick.

The Sekonic Speedmaster L-858D-U offers extensive support for your flash.

Its flash duration detects how much flash is contributing to the ambient light of your space and lets you modify it for your exposure.

It’ll let you adjust your aperture to get the correct exposure then, voila your subject is in motion!

It also offers flash to ambient light ratios so you can measure the precise output of your flash.

So you can modify it to either diminish or heighten the flash vs. ambient light for the final photo.

At times, a photographer has to choose which kind of light meter matters most: a reflected light or an incident light. With the Sekonic, you get both incident and reflected light meters.

And it doesn’t get more sleek than this. Its touch screen interface makes adjusting your settings a breeze.

Key Features of the Sekonic Speedmaster L-858D-U:

  • 2.7” color dot matrix touchscreen
  • Shutter Speed Range 1/64,000 to 30 Minutes

Best Affordable Light Meter for Photography: Sekonic Litemaster Pro L-478dr-u

Sekonic Litemaster Pro L-478dr-u
More cost efficient but still carrying the might of the Sekonic brand name, the L-478DR-U combines light measurement and flash power tools to give you optimum control.

If you’re looking to stretch your dollar, the Sekonic L478DR-U is the perfect light meter for you.

The flash power technology is exclusive to this, just use the PocketWizard wireless technology that syncs up to your flash allowing for wireless control.

With that, you can use your flash to lighten shadows or dial down some background detail.

Ambient? Reflective? You can read both to really see how your flash impacts your shot!

You can also create and store up to ten profiles for different devices since all cameras and flashes interact with the exposure readings differently.

The lumisphere can be retracted or expanded for a flat surface reading or a contrast ratio.

Its touch screen lets you have the most control at your fingertips.

It’s easy to use, the menus are easy to follow and the readings will adjust even if you’re changing the settings.

All you have to do is point your light meter, take the reading, and plug it into your camera.

Then you’ll have all the variables you’d need for the ideal exposure for any photograph.

Key Features of the Sekonic Litemaster:

  • Flash meter wireless capabilities
  • Easy to use touch screen
  • Personal profile settings

Best Budget Light Meter: Light Meter Lm-50kl

Light Meter Lm-50kl
The LM-50KL is a standard LED light source meter, measuring the lumens emitted from a light source with accuracy and in a compact device.

Should you be looking to measure the exact light (lumens) coming from a light source, the LM-50KL will be a handy device to have in your photography kit.

It will detect a light’s intensity from a fixture or a fixed place.

Precise light intensity will help you to nail down your exposure, saving you a lot of trial and error if you’re manually setting your flash and camera.

For instance:

Knowing you have low illumination levels in portrait photography will indicate that you should open up your lens aperture or increase exposure time to get a solid photo.

And if you’re trying to duplicate a shoot over time, knowing the exact levels of lumens will help you maintain your consistency over time.

Reading this device couldn’t be easier and that’ll eliminate the guessing of your exposure!

For this price, you couldn’t ask for a more accurate and straight-forward tool to keep a handle on your light in the studio.

Key Features of the LM-50KL:

  • Measures LED white light and all visible light
  • 99 records of data storage
  • 200 hours of battery life

Best Cheap Light Meter for Photography: Dr.Meter Lx1330b

Dr.meter LX1330B
The Dr. Meter LX1330B has a lot of things going for it from its small size to easy to read display that delivers precise light output levels.

What do you do if you’re dipping your toe in the manual settings pool? You don’t want to spend a fortune on a tool you’re just starting out with – so try the Dr. Meter LX1330B.

With this you can accurately detect light levels and it’s easy to read and easier to use.

Though this comes in a small device, the output levels are unmistakable and not bogged down with a bunch of unnecessary details.

This is a great light meter for scouting out locations, using the info you get to determine a spot and what kind of equipment to bring with you.

Plus, the data hold button records your readings and the premium light sensor gives you accuracy within 3 degrees.

If you get a proper gauge on lumens emitted, no matter the space, your manual control of your exposure levels is sure to be much more precise.

Key Features of the Dr. Meter:

  • Auto zeroing capabilities
  • 4 range settings
  • Premium Light sensor

Best Film Camera Light Meter: Sekonic Speedmaster L-858d-u

Sekonic Speedmaster L-858d-u
Hands down the best light meter for your film cameras, the Sekonic L-858 has a seamless touchscreen display and flash power to back up your classic film camera.

Improper exposure is one of the biggest contributing factors to low quality photos, especially when you are shooting with film.

The Sekonic Speedmaster L-858 is the best light meter for film cameras because it gives you the ability to play with contrast by providing light ratios to let you test the abilities and limits of your flash. Whether it’s ambient reading to get a handle on your natural light or the incident reading to gauge what light is coming off your subject, you can see it all in this meter.

It’s touchscreen display has countless menu options and setting powers to try all sorts of different scenarios with your shoot.

Key Features of the Sekonic L-858D-U:

  • Flash power control
  • Touch Screen display
  • 1 degree spot metering with Viewfinder

Best Iphone Light Meter: Lumu Power

Lumu Power Light & Color Meter
Turn your iPhone into your light meter with the Lumu power accessory, attaching a high-powered lumisphere to your phone.

Did you know you can turn your iphone into your light meter?

The Lumu power light meter affixes a light meter to your phone and lets you control it in an app from any iOS device.

That app gives clear and precise readings displayed on your phone or tablet, taking readings from the lumisphere and calibrating them in the app.

This includes flash measurements, a cine/video mode for calculating exposure, and works as a color meter as well.

The color meter functions by using the White Balance setting on the light meter.

So you can read the light color in the app and manage your camera’s white balance accordingly.

The Filters Mode will then help you use that info to detect subtle differences from various light sources,

That frees you up to pinpoint exactly what shot is most ideal for your desired color output.

Because of its dependence on your phone, there’s no assembly required, no battery needed, and it fits in even your smallest camera bag.

Best of all, the app is constantly updated and redefined based on user feedback.

That way the kinks are few and far between with this meter.

Key Features of the Lumu Power:

  • Compatible with iPhone and iOS devices
  • Measures from 1600 to 18000K
  • Filters mode

Best Color Temperature Meter: Sekonic C-700r-u

Sekonic C-700r-u
The Sekonic C-700R-U is easy to use and spot on when it comes to data output and reading from several light sources.

So while some colors are described as “warm” and others as “cool” this Sekonic C-700R-U puts a precise number on those readings to allow you to adjust your equipment accordingly.

This will detect the color temperature of a light to determine its exact color in relation to white.

Shade, fluorescent lights, and incandescent lights can all lend a certain hue to your final result. These are so imperceptible to the visible eye that you don’t realize it until it’s too late.

Lighting affects the color cast of the desired environment. Even if you forego this issue and use one source of light, it fluctuates.

Adjusting your white balance in your camera only helps if you know that those coloring effects are there and at what levels.

Take a reading and put that in the white balance settings of your camera to compensate for that cast!

Complete with a touch screen display that gives color meter readings as a percentage or a color spectrum graph.

The graph shows you potential warm or cool casts that you see without knowing it, whereas your camera needs the assist from the white balance info to get it on track.

Key Features of the Sekonic C-700R-U:

  • Extensive color data information
  • Easy to use touch screen display
  • Measures LED, HMI, Fluorescent plus tungsten & natural light

Best Light Meter for Film Cameras: Sekonic Speedmaster L-858d-u

Sekonic Speedmaster L-858d-u
The Sekonic Speedmaster L-858D-U comes equipped with flash duration technology, an easy and intuitive touchscreen, and increased light sensitivity.

The Sekonic Speedmaster L-858D-U is the first multi-function light meter with a flash meter to measure flash duration.

WIth this, you can change your shutter speed to sync with those levels.

The L-858D-U will help using an intuitive interface that allows you to measure ambient and flash exposure plus your HSS flash exposure.

This measures HSS (high speed sync) and that’s a game changer.

This light meter is accurate to 1/10th of a stop with a 1 degree spot meter, working with strobe lights and all flashes with HSS.

Its Data Transfer Software lets you use the light meter to create and modify different exposure profiles based on your camera’s sensor.

You can keep different profiles stored in memory too, cutting down on your process time and maintaining consistency.

It’s important that your light meter be stream-lined and intuitive. It won’t do you much good if you’re shooting and you can’t get to the right menu to read the levels.

Never fear, this light meter is as easy to use as they come:

The menus are all quick to access and edit on its 2.7” color dot matrix touch screen.

What if you swipe haphazardly and delete your settings?

Not a problem, you can lock your settings in place just by holding the home button.

Dust-proof, weather-proof, idiot-proof…plus it’s powered by a pair of AA batteries. This light meter is ideal for the photographer on the move.

Key Features of the Sekonic L-858D-U

  • Flash duration technology
  • 2.7” color dot touchscreen
  • Data Transfer Software

Best Cheap Film Camera Light Meter: Sekonic L-398a

Sekonic L-398a
If you prefer an analog light meter that delivers accurate data, the Sekonic L-398A is for you, plus it doesn’t require a battery.

This Sekonic L-398A is great for still and cine shooting, offering accurate readings for both.

A purely analog experience, the meter needle and exposure dial system give you all reading combinations while indicating the brightness in footcandles.

Equipped with a swivel head lumisphere that lets you move to detect different light levels, then you simply release the button to check the exposure calculations.

The lumigrid is used for reflected readings, helping to set up for fast-paced shooting scenarios.

The lumidisc can take specific readings from an area or light source for ratios between highlights and shadow for contrast, so you see subtle differences in spaces.

Using an amorphous silicon photocell to charge the analog light meter, this is a battery-free option to keep on hand for emergencies.

If analog is your preferred way of measuring, the Sekonic L-398A is the way to go.

Key Features of the Sekonic L-398A:

  • Amorphous silicon photocell-charged
  • Press and hold for continuous readings

Best Handheld Light Meter: Gossen Digisix 2

Gossen Digisix 2
The Gossen Digisix 2 is small but mighty. It could not be easier to use with an exposure reader visible on top and it is quick to adapt to new settings.

The Gossen Digisix 2 is exactly what they mean when they say good things come in small packages.

Compact, lightweight, and easy to loop around your neck or from a key chain, this little marvel is perfect for a photographer on the move!

Speed is important when determining which exposure is best for just the right shot and the Gossen 2 displays the readout right on top and can quickly shift as you move around.

It’s also super simple to use, clicking the measurement button gives the reading which you can store to display until you click again.

Giving you time to put the readings in your camera to get you all set up with your ideal exposure in mind.

Displaying the contrast in ⅓ increments allows you to detect the subtle differences too.

Which lets you compensate with your exposure even for the smallest changes.

It then reads the aperture and the light meter adjusts the shutter speed to the ideal exposure for that space or subject.

Powered by a rechargeable lithium ion battery through the included adapter or a mini-USB cord, it can power up right out of the box and it’s ready to go!

Key Features of the Gossen Digisix:

  • Small and lightweight
  • Easily visible exposure readings
  • Timer for Time Exposures: 1 second to 30 minutes

Best Pocket Light Meter: Sekonic L-398a

Sekonic L-398a
Small and battery free, the Sekonic L-398A is best to keep in your back pocket for on the go readings.

The Sekonic L-398A is perfect for moving quickly from place to place without lugging a lot of equipment with you.

Though analog, this light meter will help you configure the right exposure by delivering accurate light level readings with no muss and no fuss.

The meter needle and exposure dial system are easy to read and to direct at different sources quickly.

It works for both still and cine shooting, this light meter will deliver accurately regardless of what functions you need it for.

Plus, tt’s battery-free so you won’t have to worry about it dying on you.

If you want an analog meter, and if the battery-free option appeals to you, the Sekonic L-398A is the way to go.

Key Features of the Sekonic L-398A:

  • Amorphous silicon photocell-charged
  • Press and hold for continuous readings

Best Light Meter for Flash Photography: Gossen Go H264a Sixtomat F2

Gossen Go H264a Sixtomat F2
The Gossen Go Sixtomat is user-friendly and accurate. You won’t be disappointed if you need a light meter specifically for flash.

When it comes to flash photography, it can be hard to find the right balance between dynamic and easy to use. That’s the sweet spot the Gossen Go Sixtomat fits in perfectly.

It’s very straight forward, easy to use right out of the box, and doesn’t sacrifice capability for simplicity.

If you need both Aperture and Shutter priority, this meter will let you go from one to the other.

That will help if you’re shooting action in motion shots or even portraits.

The light readings are clearly displayed on the LED screen in addition to the aperture and speed settings that are also visible on the display of the meter.

The flash exposure measurement syncs up to 1/1000 while displaying the ambient light ratio and calculates multiple flashes at once.

While the flexible ambient light measurement lets you choose between aperture or shutter priority pre-selections plus exposure value displays on the screen.

You can take this on the go (that’s what the lanyard is for) or fix it to your tripod if you’re using a stationary camera.

Complete with the meter, pouch, a battery, and a lanyard, you’re set to go. Just put the battery in, and it starts right up.

Key Features of the Gossen Go:

  • Comprehensive flash calculations
  • Clear LED display
  • Ambient light measurement

Best Light Meter for Landscape Photography: Sekonic Litemaster Pro L-478dr-u

Sekonic Litemaster Pro L-478dr-u
Consistent and accurate, the Sekonic L-478Dr-U is just the thing for landscape photography.

Consistency is key for landscape photography, as often you need to return to the same place at different times. The Sekonic L-478Dr-U delivers, letting you avoid under and over exposure.

It removes all the guesswork you used to put into exposure, making exposure problems a thing of the past.

This meter complies with the exposure settings of most cameras on the market, just plug in the data from your meter to your camera.

With two different ranges for incident and reflected light in ambient settings, the configuration of your exposure is sure to be precise and accurate.

The settings on the touchscreen are easy to set up, profiles are simple to configure.

Plus, you can store up to ten profiles in this device to remember different camera sensors.

Weighing just 8 ounces, this light meter can be taken all over from rocky vistas to city views without causing you any strain at all.

Key Features of the Sekonic Litemaster:

  • Flash meter wireless capabilities
  • Large color LCD display
  • Ambient, Incident: -2 to 22.9 EV at ISO 100
  • Ambient, Reflected: 3 to 19.9 EV at ISO 100

Best Light Meter For Street Photography: Gossen Go 4033-2

Gossen Go 4033-2
the Gossen Go 4033-2 light meter is great for street photography because of its compact size and precise but legible readings.

Preparation and understanding of your light is key when gearing up as a street photographer, and nothing will help you more than a light meter like the Gossen Go 4033-2.

The analog contrast displays in half f-stop values so you can make minute adjustments to determine which effect has the best impact on your focal point.

It measures incident and reflected light precisely, visible clearly on the small display.

Using your readings, you can plug them into your camera for your ideal exposure.

The advantages of having a compact and independent light meter apply when shooting street photography, letting you be covert and get the right exposure without a lot of elaborate prep.

As such, you can shift from place to place quickly and the readings will shift with you so you can be quick on your feet.

It gives you both Aperture and Shutter priority, letting you go from one to the other with no delay.

That’ll come in handy when shooting both motion shots or subjects that are still.

The Gossen Go is portable and easy to read and reset. So you can take readings of your desired area and move on a dime if you need to.

Key Features of the Gossen Go 4033-2:

  • Comprehensive metering measurements
  • Subject contrast control

Best Analog Light Meter: Sekonic L-398a

Sekonic L-398a
If you prefer a simple light meter that just delivers accurate data with no battery and the look and feel of an analog meter, the Sekonic L-398A is just what you need.

Whether you’re old-school, old-fashioned, or just like the look of a meter sliding back and forth, the Sekonic L-398A has got the look and feel of an analog meter down.

The meter needle and the exposure dial system sway back and forth, giving you a completely accurate reading every time, indicating the brightness in footcandles.

You can be a videographer or photographer and still get something out of this simple pocket-sized meter.

The Sekonic L-398A is a battery-free option to keep in your bag as a back-up if you’re in a pinch, using an amorphous silicon photocell to charge the analog light meter.

If you like the look and feel of an analog device over a digital light meter, this one will check all your boxes.

Key Features of the Sekonic L-398A:

  • Amorphous silicon photocell-charged
  • Press and hold for continuous readings

Best Ambient Light Meter: Sekonic Litemaster Pro L-478dr-u

Sekonic Litemaster Pro L-478dr-u
Fast, easy, and accurate, the Sekonic Litemaster L-478Dr-U is great for measuring ambient light and configuring the best exposure for you.

Ambient light can be difficult to control, especially if you’re not sure of the exact readings.

The Sekonic Litemaster Pro L-47DR-U removes all that ambiguity and just gives it to you.

With two different ranges for incident and reflected light in ambient settings, the configuration of your exposure is sure to be precise and accurate.

What’s best about this light meter is just how easy it is to use.

While it takes tons of variables into account, you won’t be flummoxed with an overload of technical info.

The settings on the touchscreen are easy to set up, profiles are simple to configure and you can store up to ten profiles in this device to remember different camera sensors.

It lets you take a breath to concentrate on your contrast and composition instead of the nitty-gritty like aperture, ISO, and shutter speed.

The flash power technology works with the PocketWizard wireless technology to sync up to whatever flashes you also have hooked up.

So you can manipulate your ambient light, lessen or heighten and contrast, and keep focus.

For such a small device, just 8 ounces, you can easily see the ambient, flash, cine, and a plethora of other readings.

Key Features of the Sekonic Litemaster:

  • Flash meter wireless capabilities
  • Easy to use touch screen

Best Light Meter for Video: Sekonic Speedmaster L-858d-u

Sekonic Speedmaster L-858d-u
The Sekonic L-858D-U is key for anyone working with video because of its easy touch screen and the lumisphere for precise readings.

Using a light meter is the easiest way to elevate your video skills by getting the perfect ratios for each and every image.

You can’t go wrong with the Sekonic L-858D-U.

It calculates both ambient and flash exposures within a tenth of a stop so it can do the tough job of calculating mixed ambient/flash readings too.

Consistent readings every time, even if you’re shooting over a period of days of start and stop.

It is designed to analyze exacting ambient light and flash-exposure data simultaneously to nail down your exposure settings.

The key is the lumisphere which can be retracted if you’re measuring from a particular light source or if you want to check the evenness of light distributed across flat surfaces.

Complete with flash duration technology to accurately gauge the exact nature of your burn time, you know just how much a flash or strobe is hitting your area.

And Sekonic’s Data Transfer software enables you to use this light meter to create different exposure profiles based on different camera sensors.

It stores all the profiles for you!

You can set shutter angles from 1 degree to 358 degrees with up to 20 different settings and you can adjust your frame per second rate from 1 to 1000.

Its 2.7” color dot touch screen has easy-access menus, adjustable settings, and the ability to record your sensor settings for different cameras.

Key Features of the Sekonic Speedmaster:

  • 2.7” color dot touchscreen
  • Data Transfer software
  • Frame rates from 1 f/s to 1000 f/s


A light meter can help you nail your exposure, replicate settings and desired results, and some even store your camera settings and profiles so you won’t have to change them every time.

The best light meter won’t replace the mechanism that’s inside your snazzy camera, but it will compensate when your camera comes up short.

Whether you’re in the studio or on the move, this tool is a real let-up when it comes to getting the perfect shot every time.