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Old Sep 15, 2018, 5:47 PM   #1
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Default Good gear (light meter) vs cheap gear..!!

First, forgive me if I posted an article pertaining to this somewhere else in this forum - thought I did,, looked for it but can't find it so here it be..

A short while ago I bought a light meter, a Sekonic L478D which has actually given a bit of extra help in understanding poor to low light conditions, where I always seem to trip up. To many of you, this is more than second nature and you get it right every time. To me, on those wall to wall flat grey days, sometimes I may as well just leave my gear at home, my photos just look dull, kind of lifeless. Anyway, the other day I was browsing through camera shop websites, and the much differing prices among them, when I saw some cheap $20 - $40 light meters and kind of scoffed at them. I then went onto an online auction site where I saw the same meters and more, some were quite a bit cheaper, so I decided to throw some money away, I bought one of them - a Smart Meter AS308.. Now, it hasn't got any of the features of a full blown photography light meter, but all I wanted to do was to simply compare the accuracy of Lux readings. You know what, the two give almost identical readings side by side. Examples - the first night I had it (yeah "night",, it arrived home just on dinner time), I fired it up in my room, lights out with computer and 40" TV on and the L478 gave a reading of 56 lux, the AS803 gave 57 lux,, Yesterday at 8 am sunny day, L478=5660, AS803=5700,, midday (straight at the sun) L478=70,000, AS803=67,000,, At 90 deg to sun L478=27,000, AS803=26,700,, 5pm sunny, L478=6000 AS803=6000.. These figures were rounded off to the nearest zero (except for the first 'night' readings), especially for the AS803 as this meter continually reads and you have to press a button to lock the data. On all occasions I held both meters right beside each other and pointed at 90 deg to the sun, except for the noted one at midday.. I was quite surprised at these readings because I honestly thought there would be miles between them..

I know this is not any way to say good or bad about these two meters but it sure lifted my eyebrows.. Then again, I have some expensive pro and cheap pocket multimeters and they too yield virtually identical results..

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Old Sep 16, 2018, 5:33 PM   #2
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G'day mate

As you will also know from your years of learning from the 'university of life', there is all of accuracy & reliability & serviceability. If dropped does it break or bounce? > and if it bounces does it still work ... sort of stuff

This is often the difference between 'cheap' and 'more expensive'

On the other hand - I have things in my toolbox that I bought 30+ yrs ago that did not cost as much as recognised brands, but those tools are still working as good as when I bought them ... so sometimes there's little to go by when choosing 'stuff'

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Old Sep 16, 2018, 7:56 PM   #3
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Price isn't always an indication of quality.

... but sometimes it is.

And even if the Smart Meter AS308 did break the first time you dropped it, you probably saved enough buying it to buy its replacement, and the one after that,
and the one after that, and the one after that.

Caveat emptor.
  • The lens is the thing.
  • 'Full Frame' is the new 'Medium Format'.
  • "One good test is worth a thousand expert opinions." - Tex Johnston, Boeing 707 test pilot.

Last edited by TCav; Sep 16, 2018 at 8:00 PM.
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Old Sep 17, 2018, 11:58 PM   #4
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Yes, both of you have fair points and I fully agree with each of you about quality/accuracy etc and in no way would I ever contemplate going for the cheaper stuff in every day life, especially with my above example if I had the chance to go back in time. I work with my brother and we are builders and right from day one we always had a philosophy about tools and the gear we bought etc - "No Cheap Stuff,, quality and reliability is a must" - which is actually a standing philosophy in my spending for anything (unless forced to by budget and need). The whole exercise was just a straight comparison from an on the spot rush of fat to the brain, and nothing more. On the cheaper meter, the buttons rattle, the whole thing is made of a much less impact resistant plastic and it represents the money I shelled out for it and nothing more. Who knows how it would perform in adverse conditions etc, but it still did make my eyes open up a bit...

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