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  1. #1
    PhotoPete's Avatar
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    Has anyone ever made their own light meter?

    Thinking about this...looking for advice or plans...very low-light operation or accuracy down to the lumen is not necessary...just something that is more accurate than my eye for days when the sunny 16 rule is no help...

  2. #2
    Dave Parker's Avatar
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    We did them back in highschool for our photography class, if I remember right we bought the parts from the local Radio Shack store, but now a days, I doubt they would even carry a light sensitive cell...they used to have the plans available in one of their little shop series books that they charged like a dollar for, you might give your local store a call.

    Dave

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    i used to be very good at casting a shadow from my right hand onto the back of my left hand and getting my exposure right on. once you do it a few times, and see the intensity of shadow, it is really very easy to figure out the exposure ... try it, its ez ...

  4. #4
    dphphoto's Avatar
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    Why not just go on eBay and get a cheap light meter? A Gossen Pilot would be a good choice. It would probably be more accurate than anything you could build yourself.
    Or...B&H Photo sells something called a Black Cat exposure guide. (I was thinking of getting one, then decided I didn't really need it.) It's only $20.
    Dean
    dphphoto

  5. #5
    PhotoPete's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dphphoto
    Why not just go on eBay and get a cheap light meter? A Gossen Pilot would be a good choice. It would probably be more accurate than anything you could build yourself.
    Or...B&H Photo sells something called a Black Cat exposure guide. (I was thinking of getting one, then decided I didn't really need it.) It's only $20.
    Dean
    Buy it? Where's the fun in that?
    I own a lovely Luna SBC, but I am looking for a little shoe-mounted number that I can slip onto the top of a Holga that I have modified to allow for different shutter speeds and aperatures. I could buy one, but I hate to buy a $100 meter for a $20 camera...

    I have the good fortune of living near You-Do-It Electronics...which is like what the Shack used to be...full of transistors, LEDs and CB radio parts. I'm sure they will have all the parts I need, if I can only determine which parts those are.

  6. #6

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    The Black Cat is a great device! Got a new one on Ebay for only $3.00.

  7. #7
    Calamity Jane's Avatar
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    The simplest form of light meter would be a photovoltaic cell and a small moving coil meter with a resistor in series. The problem is that the photgraphic scale is logrythmic and the meter is linear - i.e. it would only cover a narrow range. The other problem is that all photocells are "colour sensitive" and that would become an issue for other than B&W.

    Photoconductive cells are much less colour sensitive and much less linear. The problem is that you need a power source (battery) with a stable voltage OR you need to use a bridge circuit to remove the battery voltage variations from the measurement. All of the inexpensive light meters I have seen use a photoconductive cell in a bridge circuit. Of course the cost of a bottom-end light meter is less than that of a moving-coil meter! (The advantage of buying by the thousand!)

  8. #8
    BradS's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by PhotoPete
    Thinking about this...looking for advice or plans...very low-light operation or accuracy down to the lumen is not necessary...just something that is more accurate than my eye for days when the sunny 16 rule is no help...

    I made one in Highschool. Bought the parts at Radio shack...must have cost all of $3.50 and an hour of my time to solder 'em up. Worked like a champ. I'll bet they still sell the CDS cells too.

  9. #9
    htmlguru4242's Avatar
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    Good idea, I've been pondering this myelf recently, as well.

    By the way, what do you mean by saying that photovoltaics are "color sensitive"?

  10. #10
    dphphoto's Avatar
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    [QUOTE=PhotoPete]Buy it? Where's the fun in that?

    I forgot about the fun factor. That's the same reason I wasted (a small amount of) money building stereo speakers several years ago. They sounded terrible, but it was like taking an undergraduate level course in sound reproduction.
    They didn't even look bad sitting in front of my house on trash day. Dean
    dphphoto

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