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Thread: Light Meter questions for 2019

  1. #1
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    Light Meter questions for 2019

    Hi all!

    I noticed that the last thread on here related to what light meters people were using was started by JasonO in April 2011 and the discussion lasted through April 2012. I'm wondering if there might be some new intel or opinions since some time has passed.

    Looking at that thread, there were a lot of disparate opinions as to quality of light meters being equivalent vs not equivalent to price and varying thoughts on what units were good - lots of speculation and some depth...

    I have been looking at purchasing a light meter for my business - I am an independent art consultant with a focus on installation and exhibitions and work with a mix of private clients and institutions. The need does not come up that often for me to use a light meter, but mostly because majority of my clients who are not institutional are not thinking along those lines, and I am interested in being able to start letting them know what their light exposure is vs what is advisable and at least giving them the info to start thinking about this sort of stuff...

    I find myself juggling these issues:
    - With the myriad options and price ranges, it is very difficult to tell what works best and what works effectively (in full recognition that you don't have to have the best to be efficient and effective). Everyone seems to have a different opinion of what unit is the one to use and not really have any solid good info about why other than that that is the unit they use or that someone else uses it or that it is expensive or it has a certificate but I have not seen any strong arguments for any unit
    - It is hard to tell what quality you are getting for the price - I want a tool that will be accurate and stand up to use without breaking early, but that does not always correlate to price
    - It would appear that most units require regular calibration (usually recommended at 12 month intervals) but that none of the units I have looked at are able to be calibrated by the user, none of them have the ability to tell you if they are out of calibration or that they have logged enough hours to justify the expense of calibration, and that the standard price for calibration is $250-$275 plus shipping, which is more expensive than cheaper units and often over half or close to half of the cost of more expensive units.
    - manufacturers have told me that the need for calibration correlates to use, not to time, but no one has been able to tell me what amount of use puts their unit in a range where calibration is a good idea - essentially they say you have to guess, so that is why you should just do it every year (except if your unit gets ambiguous "light use" in which case it may be cool to calibrate it at longer intervals (but never more than the also ambiguous 2 years).
    - many of these issues related to calibration and knowing when a unit should get calibrated seem to be the kind of issues that devices of these sorts should not still be limited by in 2019...

    I have also spoken to several preparators and museum folks who do not seem to realize that their light meters need to be calibrated, or just don't do it because of the cost...

    Does anyone have any thoughts or input on the following:
    1- Are there moderately priced units that work well and are known to be very accurate, account for the right light ranges and properly calculate for angle of light?
    2- Since calibration is $250-$275, does it even make sense to buy a unit that is priced over the calibration cost? Should you just buy a unit that costs about the calibration cost, or less than that, use it for 1-2yrs, discard it and buy a new one?
    3- Does anyone know of any Light Meters that are user-calibratable (?sp)? - I know that this is unlikely because you would need to be able to accurately test the sensor.
    4- Does anyone know of any units that do not require calibration (has technology caught up with this)?
    5- Does anyone know of any unit that logs use so that you can accurately tell if it is time to calibrate the device rather than just throw $$ at calibrating it when it may not yet need it?
    6- It would seem that the sensor itself would be much less expensive than $250 given modern technology... Does anyone know of a Light Meter that has a replaceable sensor so that every year or two you can just purchase a new, already calibrated sensor and replace your old sensor for a fraction of the cost of calibration...?

    Curious what people are finding - I can't possibly be the only person looking for these answers / asking these questions.
    Perhaps the hive-mind here can shed some light...

    I look forward to your input.
    Last edited by Rashido; 08-21-2019 at 03:47 PM. Reason: when I cut and pasted the thread post, it had some html code in it.

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