The answer is really simple. The meters in our cameras are kinda crippled. Want to see what I mean? Go find a white wall. Fill the viewfinder of your camera or camera app on your phone with the white wall then take a photo. Is it white? Nope. It’s gray. 12.5% gray. Here’s a screenshot of my iPhone of a white wall I shot with it at the Las Vegas Convention Center during N.A.B. Reflected light meters are easy to put in cameras. They are better than nothing and really hard to master. Reflected meters measure the light that has bounced from the subject. A dark one will be overexposed, a light one will be underexposed.
Incident meters read the light falling on the subject. This reading is highly accurate. The not-so-good-news is it has to be read from the subject with the meter pointing at the light source. That means a lot of trips from the camera to the subject and back again. I use an incident light meter every day. I can’t tell you how many times during a session I walk up to a model, aim the dome at the light, read its brightness then go back to the camera to change the settings.
The Illuminati meter is tiny. During my session with model Vanessa Guillemette, she held the meter while I received the reading on my smartphone and (can metering be any cooler?) on my watch! It reads ambient (natural,) flash as well as flash and ambient together. It’s also a very accurate color temperature meter.
After the reading appears on my phone/watch; I have her place the Illuminati meter and X-Rite ColorChecker Passport to the side out of sight while I adjust the exposure on the camera. After a quick test, the session continues, worry-free as far as exposure is concerned, until of course, the set and the lighting gets changed.
A new set, new lighting, new reading
While I’m composing the image Vanessa picks up the Illuminati meter and ColorChecker then aims them both at the light shining on her. I trip the flash and the readings instantly appear on both my phone and watch. A quick exposure change on the camera while she sets the meter / ColorChecker aside and the session continues.
The Illuminati meter is for any photographer who has wanted a really excellent incident meter but was put off by the size and high price of entry. When it comes out in September, the meter will retail for $300.00. The meter is small, durable, affordable and you already have the bulky part of it in your pocket or purse. This is a great way to get properly exposed photographs with the least effort. By the way, I pledged on Kickstarter for the Illuminati meter. It saved me some money. There is still time for you to get in on the deal.