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View Poll Results: Would you use a Light Meter application on your iPhone?
YES you bet I would! I want it now! 178 46.23%
Yes I would download it and use it on occasion. 74 19.22%
Maybe... I'd give it a look to see if it interests me. 47 12.21%
Nah... I'm happy with what I'm using. 10 2.60%
Not at all interested. I enjoy carrying this old meter around! 16 4.16%
I don't have an iPhone so it doesn't matter anyway... 83 21.56%
Multiple Choice Poll. Voters: 385. You may not vote on this poll

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Light meter application on your iPhone?
Old 02-14-2009   #1
Blake Werts
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Light meter application on your iPhone?

A friend and I were chatting recently about the possibilities of developing a "light meter" application for the iPhone and wondered if there would be enough interest to push something like this to the official iPhone App Store.

Would you use such application if it were available? What features would you require to make it useful for your photography routine?
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Old 02-14-2009   #2
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The iPhone has a light sensor?
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Old 02-14-2009   #3
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It has a camera, so it must be able to sense light. I would definitely use an app like that if it was as accurate as my sekonic.
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Old 02-14-2009   #4
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if you can read light levels accurately from the camera, then yes. All you would need really would be a quick way of scrolling through the various combinations of shutter speed/aperture that the light allows - which would be easy on the iphone. Averaging multiple readings would also be handy.
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Old 02-14-2009   #5
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If you could figure out a way to make it work, then I would definitely jump all over it, as I'm sure others would too.

However, I looked into the idea myself a little while back, and I think it's impossible. As far as I know, the SDK doesn't allow any access to the exposure data from the camera and the EXIF data in the jpegs always gives an aperture of 2.8 with no shutter speed.
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Old 02-14-2009   #6
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I would buy a digital version of the Black Cat Exposure Guide. If you have the skills to program a light meter then this should not pose any problems for you. Plus you would have the potential market of itouch users (who don't have the camera found on the iPhone) Why not get in touch with BlackCat and see if they'd be interested in a deal? Good luck!
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Old 02-14-2009   #7
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I've spoken on a similar theme with various friends. If it were accurate, and as others have mentioned, gave the various permutations of a given reading I would jump at the chance.
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Old 02-14-2009   #8
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I don't have an i-phone.

...but I would buy one pronto if it had a decent light meter app.
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Old 02-14-2009   #9
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Where would the incident dome attach?

If it can't take incident readings, not interested. I'll keep my low-end Nokia and simply use it as a phone. Don't want to pay more for all the trendy features I won't really use.

No need for an i-phone; I'm too old, fat, and grouchy to pretend I'm cool.
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Old 02-14-2009   #10
Blake Werts
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bassism View Post
If you could figure out a way to make it work, then I would definitely jump all over it, as I'm sure others would too.

However, I looked into the idea myself a little while back, and I think it's impossible. As far as I know, the SDK doesn't allow any access to the exposure data from the camera and the EXIF data in the jpegs always gives an aperture of 2.8 with no shutter speed.
Yeah... We have only taken a cursory glance at the SDK options and now understand this could be quite a challenge. Which is why we are wondering at the level of interest--would it be worth the effort that it may require?

Thanks for the comments. Keep them coming!
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Old 02-14-2009   #11
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Unfortunately I have an iPod Touch, not an iPhone, but this is a great idea. Good luck with your venture.

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Old 02-14-2009   #12
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But would the CMOS sensors be consistent enough between the iPhones? I mean, I know they have pretty decent cameras, but somehow I don't think they're calibrated, which they'd need to be to be an accurate light meter.

Either that, or you will have to make your users find a consistent light source by which to calibrate on a phone-by-phone basis.
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Old 02-14-2009   #13
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I would like a blackberry version of it.
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Old 02-14-2009   #14
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As with any decent meter, an iPhone-based exposure meter would need to transfer exposure values longer than one second to a timer. The timer should begin countdown via user input and include audible feedback during the last five or ten seconds of its count.

I would certainly use one if it were available and reliable. However I do have my doubts that the sensitivity of the sensor is up to the task of low-light shooting.


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Old 02-14-2009   #15
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i think this is a really cool application if the camera is able to detect light like a light meter
i have an iphone and would get this app if it is available
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Old 02-14-2009   #16
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Fascinating idea! Makes for a pretty expensive light meter, though, when you can get a Luna Pro for well under $100.
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Old 02-15-2009   #17
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I would buy the app, but I don't think the sensor is up to the task. The response from it when taking pictures is abysmal.

//Jan
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Old 02-15-2009   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by KoNickon View Post
Fascinating idea! Makes for a pretty expensive light meter, though, when you can get a Luna Pro for well under $100.
I agree with you. I guess their point is that if you have the iPhone already ANYWAY. And also, who wants to carry a light meter round everywhere they go? But if the light meter is already on your cell, that's just a bucket full of awesome.

Frankly, if apple released a new version of the iPhone/iTouch that guaranteed accuracy and depth-of-response to light, could be calibrated, etc. I would LOVE it and would LUST after owning it. I especially would like the idea of being able to program up my light meter how *I* want it.

But this is all pipe dreams for right now methinks.
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Old 02-15-2009   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by crawdiddy View Post
I don't have an i-phone.

...but I would buy one pronto if it had a decent light meter app.

Same here, would be great for metering when the M3's are in the bag.

Option: make it switch between metering for digital and for film, and allow for 'dialled in' shutter speed compensation in low light, so each can correct his own film in low light That would be cool
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Old 02-15-2009   #20
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If it's possible for I-Phone, any mobile phone would be able to use a similar aplicaion, isn't it?
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Old 02-15-2009   #21
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It's quite unlikely with most mobile phones. The iPhone is no exception. I tried to write a light meter app at some point and realised it won't work.

Compact CMOS sensors don't have a shutter and an aperture in the strict sense, they work using a photon gating "bucket" method where basically they collect light from the various sensor areas until certain thresholds are met. That's why you can take strange pictures such as this one:

(from BoingBoing.net: "Photon gating" makes for interesting cameraphone pictures)

As a result, there's no way to infer the actual light level from the images taken, and the EXIF info is worthless. The only way to infer light levels is if you take a standardised light source, place it from a standardised distance from your camera and take a photo. But in this case you don't need a light meter anyway.
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Old 02-15-2009   #22
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I'd rather have Quality Light Metric come out with a way of fitting phone components into the empty spaces inside my Weston Master V. Maybe the selenium cell could also act as a trickle charger for the phone battery?
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Old 02-16-2009   #23
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Quote:
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Maybe the selenium cell could also act as a trickle charger for the phone battery?
No, it couldn't. Your cellphone batter uses/needs a LOT of juice. The trickle charge off a small selenium cell would almost be eaten up entirely in waste (heat) charging the battery.
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Old 02-16-2009   #24
Paul T.
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No, it couldn't. Your cellphone batter uses/needs a LOT of juice. The trickle charge off a small selenium cell would almost be eaten up entirely in waste (heat) charging the battery.
Humor Bypass Alert! Humor Bypass Alert!
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Old 02-16-2009   #25
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Humor Bypass Alert! Humor Bypass Alert!
It didn't seem like a joke to me. Or at least, looking at it as a joke, it doesn't seem very funny to me. Chalk it up to the loss of nuance and inflection on the internet. Also, chalk it up to the fact that there's an endless supply, online, of misinformed people with earnest comments; I thought he was being serious.

But I do appreciate being given a "humor bypass ALERT" as opposed to a polite "I think it's just a joke, dude."
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Old 02-16-2009   #26
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Which cameras (modern) do not have a superior lightmeter than one that an i-phone could ever include?

OK, there are still thousands of Leica Mlow numbers users, but enough to sell more than a dozen i-apps?

What is the business model here? (I use the meters inside my cameras [sorry, I have no M2] and a bit of good sense.)
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Old 02-18-2009   #27
Blake Werts
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Quote:
Originally Posted by uhligfd View Post
Which cameras (modern) do not have a superior lightmeter than one that an i-phone could ever include?

OK, there are still thousands of Leica Mlow numbers users, but enough to sell more than a dozen i-apps?

What is the business model here? (I use the meters inside my cameras [sorry, I have no M2] and a bit of good sense.)
The idea/intent was never as lofty as to replace, or even compete with, the modern precision light meters or those found in "modern" cameras. This is more for those of us who are still shooting with cameras from the era of the handheld meter--or those that attach to the camera's hot shoe.
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Old 02-19-2009   #28
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I would have liked it to work, but it won't. I ended up hacking together a Python version of the Ultimate Exposure Computer tables for my Nokia E60, which was just as useful even though it doesn't meter light.

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Old 02-19-2009   #29
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Look at an application in the App Store inside iTunes called "Exposure Calc". Several developers ARE working on a version of a light meter usable inside an iPhone!
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Old 02-19-2009   #30
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Quote:
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Look at an application in the App Store inside iTunes called "Exposure Calc". Several developers ARE working on a version of a light meter usable inside an iPhone!
Exposure Calc (aka iKspozher) is just another version of the good old exposure tables. You select lighting conditions from a list and it tells you an exposure value from a list. It doesn't use the phone's camera.

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Old 04-14-2009   #31
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Black Cat

I've had a look at the iPhone Apps store (Exposure Calc) and it's a start, but I agree with FreeRanger - if the Black Cat calculator could be converted to an iPhone App it would be a more versatile application and I too would be interested. It doesn't actually measure the light or work with the iPhone camera but as a pocket calculator for film users it would be great.
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Old 04-14-2009   #32
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I've got a couple exposure charts on my iphone, and I really find that they're more of a pain than they're worth. A piece of paper is much faster than turning on the phone, waiting for the app to load, then using the slider.
I've never used the Black Cat calculator though, and it does look pretty comprehensive, which could make up for the cumbersomeness.

At this point I'm waiting to see what Apple puts in the 3.0 SDK. I'm hoping with the addition of video, they might also go through and give access to the phone's metering or put proper exif info in the photos. I still think that a halfway useful meter in my phone would be pretty great.
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Old 04-16-2009   #33
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Why don't you consider adapting a cell phone into a Weston Master?
Just a joke, good luck with the experiment.
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Old 04-24-2009   #34
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Blake Werts View Post
A friend and I were chatting recently about the possibilities of developing a "light meter" application for the iPhone and wondered if there would be enough interest to push something like this to the official iPhone App Store.

Would you use such application if it were available? What features would you require to make it useful for your photography routine?

Hey, if you need any help with dev or artwork let me know.
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Old 06-08-2009   #35
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Thought I would bump this thread back to the top b/c of Apple's announcement about the new iPhone today. Watching the MacRumors site for live updates, they mention that the new generation iPhone has a new camera, and developers will have access... Hmmm...
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Old 06-08-2009   #36
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I'd take a look at it, but wouldn't buy it. I only use free apps.
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Old 06-08-2009   #37
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Would be pretty difficult to program I'm guessing, but I presume it would be cheaper than getting a dedicated lightmeter. Wouldn't trust it for professional use though...
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Old 06-13-2009   #38
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My usual meter is my trusty weston V but I have often pondered the iphone exposure meter wish list myself.
In theory it sounds possible.. I am surprised no-one has yet written an application.
If I could save carrying an extra object in my pockets (leave behind the weston in favour of the iphone exposure meter) I would jump at the chance. So long as its acurate and reliable. I think thats the bottom line for me.
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Old 06-13-2009   #39
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I have been using some photo calc apps like DOFMaster and PhotoBuddy. I use PhotoBuddy quite a bit. Its exposure value conversion is particularly useful to me. But for reasons already mentioned, I would not hold my breath for any kind of reliable reflective TTL metering app being developed for the iPhone in the near future, at least not until they upgrade the dismal camera. Even after several favorable hardware/software updates, I think you'd still be hard-pressed to compete with a dedicated or in-camera metering unit. I think that having any kind of accuracy and reliablity is still a ways off. In the mean time I think we can expect to have several feeler apps released until things start to actually get serious.
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Old 06-13-2009   #40
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At least once a year you'll get stuck learning the proper sequence of button pushing to read the light because if the battery gives up the ghost the phone store will talk you into a newer better phone. Then they'll stick you for thirty bucks for a car charger because they ALL use different plugs.

Have you ever seen a cell phone with an incident dome? My Weston Master V does everything I need and I don't have to turn it off at meetings.

On the Good News front I can now get away with walking down the street talking lovingly to my light meter and nobody thinks that I'm crazy. Hey! That's it! A light meter with a built in phone!
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