Keks EM-01, V-201X, Hedeco Lime One, Reveni, Voigtlander Vcii and Doomo Meter D
Accessories Buyers Guides

Shoe Mount Light Meters – Which One is Right for You…?

May 3, 2021

I’ve reviewed a whole load of the new crop of shoe mount light meters recently. I’ve liked something about all (most) of the meters I’ve tried, but trying them in quick succession has also revealed the shortcomings of each of them to me too. As such, I thought it might be useful to make a bit of a comparison article looking at their various pros & cons.

Just my opinion/experience

Before I get into this, I just want to labour the point this all of this is still just my opinion and my personal experience with some (not all) of the shoe mount light meters on the market today. Your mileage may well vary. That said, hopefully this should still provide useful reading for anyone who’s got themselves into a bit of choice paralysis. I know I’d probably be a little confused we’re I trying to pick one and hadn’t had the opportunity I’ve had to play with all of them.

Voigtlander VCii

I shall start with the one I have had for the longest, the Voigtlander VCii. Of all the shoe mount light meters here, this one remains a firm favourite of mine. A little bit of this might be the fact that I’ve had it for ages, and am very used to how it works, but I also think that it’s a great design, mostly at least.

That said, I have been known to curse it for the fact that the battery chamber on mine pops open spilling the batteries on a whim. I’ve also read others talking about this issue in other reviews and forum threads. It’s only really a minor annoyance, as a bit of bluetac in the door fixes it, but for what they go for second hand, I’d expect more.

On the plus side, it’s easy to read with it showing the correct settings and reciprocal settings thanks to the lines that join the readings together on the top. It’s just a shame the LEDs are just arrows, meaning which LED denotes over and which denotes underexposed isn’t immediately obvious. Regular users won’t find this an issue, but sporadic users (like me) might find it a bit of a faff having to get their head around what the readings mean each time they use it.

Voigtlander VC-ii

Pros

  • Reciprocal readings easy to see
  • “Analogue” dials will appeal to some
  • Solid build quality
  • Accurate metering

Cons

  • Settings range limited by dials compared to the OLED meters
  • Battery compartment can spill batteries
  • LEDs just arrows (rather than more obvious +/-)
  • Expensive (more than twice the price of the others here)

For more details, you can find my complete review of the Voigtlander VCii meter here

Reveni Labs Light Meter

The Reveni was the first of the new crop of shoe mount light meters I tried. It’s advantages and disadvantages were immediately apparent to me too. This meter is the smallest light meter on the market (as far as I know of at least). It’s footprint is only slightly bigger than a cold shoe meaning it can be quite readily mounted to essentially any camera that has one. A wide range of mounting accessories are also available.

With the small size comes a the disadvantage of slightly hindered user experience. It’s not quick to use, and the buttons are tiny making it feel quite fiddly.

It does have the option to be calibrated by the user, and can be set to display the reading in EV before showing shutter and aperture settings.

It also has a wide range of settings – the shutter speed range goes from 1 hour to 1/8000th and the aperture settings range from f/0.7 all the way to f/1024 making it usable with pinhole cameras.

Reveni Labs Light Meter

Pros

  • Tiny. I can’t think of a camera I couldn’t mount it too
  • Allows for user calibration
  • Can be set to display EV reading
  • Wide range of settings
  • Wide range of mounting accessories

Cons

  • Fiddly to use
  • Slow to use
  • Goes a bit weird/slow when batteries are dying

For more details, you can find my complete review of the Reveni here

Hedeco Lime One

The Hedeco is the most expensive of the shoe mount light meters here. For that though, it does answer a lot of the questions you could ask of a light meter of this size with little in the way of compromise.

To begin with, the one I received out of the box was bang on accurate to my eye. It can also be user calibrated. It also displays EV along side the shutter and aperture settings and has a exposure compensation mode.

The settings range isn’t quite as wide as the Reveni, but thanks to the dial used to change the settings, it is dramatically faster to use. In fact, it is the fastest of all the OLED meters compared here.

The only thing I feel is left wanting is a bit more substance to its build. It’s so small and light that it just feels a little insubstantial somehow, but that is nitpicking really I think. Some might also struggle with the tiny size of letters/numbers on the display.

It is also worth noting that as of writing this article it is not yet available to purchase. It was funded on Kickstarter, and appears to be on the way, so if you like the look of it, you might just have to wait.

Pros

  • Dial allows very fast setting
  • Small and light
  • Allows for user calibration
  • Displays EV
  • Exposure compensation mode
  • Wide range of settings
  • Range of mounting accessories

Cons

  • Feels a little insubstantial for the money
  • Readout letters/numbers quie small
  • Not available to purchase yet (at time of writing)

For more details, you can find my complete review of the Hedeco here

Doomo Meter D

Out of all the shoe mount light meters listed here, the Doomo Meter D is the one I wanted to love the most. It is to all intents and purposes a copy of the Voigtlander without the lines on the top to denote the reciprocal settings, but with the advantage of a better battery compartment that won’t randomly ditch the batteries and +/- shaped LEDs that make it easier to read.

Unfortunately, the two I’ve tried were slightly inaccurate to my eye. This is no real issue as it’s easy enough to just differently rate the meter to your needs, so for eg, I found myself rating 400 ISO film at 200 on the meter. I wouldn’t say it is even a full stop out, but it was enough out for me to want to make an adjustment. It’s also not user calibratable.

For  all that though, the Doomo Meter D really is a very nicely made meter. The build quality is way up there – it’s easily as nicely made as the Voigtlander, and as I say has a better battery compartment.

Of course, it is still limited by the nature of the dials in terms of the range of settings compared to the OLED meters, but with that comes a more “analogue” user experience that some might prefer.

Doomo Light Meter

Pros

  • “Analogue” dials will appeal to some
  • +/- LEDs make for quick and easy to read user experience
  • Solid build quality
  • Half the price of the Voigtlander it’s a near-copy of

Cons

  • Settings range limited by dials compared to the OLED meters
  • Slightly inaccurate to my eye
  • Slightly unusual battery type

For more details, you can find my complete review of the Doomo here

V-201x

The V-201x is the budget option of shoe mount light meters listed here, and with that comes some compromise. For my money, the build quality – especially of the metal version – is just ok. The housing around the controls and USB port doesn’t look particularly great, and it feels a little cheap. It’s also a bit clunky looking in terms of the design. Furthermore, the controls are a little sharp against the tip of your finger.

The ones I tried were also slightly inaccurate to my eye, and as well as that the intermediate aperture settings between f/2 and f/4 are a little out of whack – possibly I suspect due to some sort of rounding error. Switching between modes it remembers the last setting too, which might sound logical, but in practice provided a strange user experience.

For all that though, it is cheap, and I quite like the fact that it has a built in battery and can be charged off a USB-C cable which are becoming fairly ubiquitous.

Personally, this meter is my least favourite of the bunch, but it’s still a workable option for those with a tight budget.

V-201X on Leica M4-P

Pros

  • The cheapest of the bunch here
  • USB-C Rechargeable

Cons

  • Strange aperture settings
  • Strange user experience
  • Clunky design
  • Sharp buttons
  • Built in battery will eventually fail
  • All of the other meters here have stronger and more obvious pros for not that much more cash

For more details, you can find my complete review of the V-201x here

Keks EM-01

The Keks EM-01 was the last of the shoe mount light meters I reviewed, but one of the first I was aware of. I always thought it looked a little bulky on cameras when I saw pictures of it, and this was born out when I played with one in real life too.

But, that was pretty much the only thing I found I didn’t really like about it, short of it being a little slow to use, but even that was only in comparison to the Hedeco.

Unlike the Hedeco and Reveni it also doesn’t offer any user calibration options. This wasn’t an issue in practice though as the one I tried was bang on accurate – to my eye at least.

The 4 buttons on the top make for a really logical user experience.

The factor that really gave me a bit of added confidence in it was the build quality though. Just like the Doomo, it feels really solid and well made. It also comes with a range of slightly different sized screw on shoe mounts meaning it can be well fitted to your camera.

Overall, the Keks was the OLED based meter that I like the most.

Keks EM-01

Pros

  • Really nice build quality
  • Logical user interface
  • Accurate
  • Displays EV and Lux alongside shutter and aperture readouts
  • Range of shoe mounts in the box
  • USB-C Rechargeable

Cons

  • Not as quick to use as the Hedeco
  • A little bulky
  • No user calibration (though is accurate out of the box)
  • Built in battery will eventually fail

For more details, you can find my complete review of the V-201x here

Comparison Table

Just a quick thanks to Jonathan MacDonald who, by total coincidence, sent me this comparison table just as I was reviewing the Keks. You might note ZB_M08 on the list which I haven’t reviewed – quick not on it below in my final thoughts. I’ve added to this sheet a bit myself too now – if you spot any mistakes, let me know. You can see the live sheet here.

Final thoughts/My opinion

There are a couple of other shoe mount light meters out there – one of them being the ZB_M08 which is even cheaper than the V-201x, but looks a little naff. I might get around to writing about it, but to be honest unless someone gets in touch with me to tell me that it suffers none of the issues I found with the V-201x, I feel somewhat disinclined to try it.

All of the rest of the meters here are around £100, with the exception of the Hedeco which isn’t available yet, and the Voigtlander which is a good bit over £200. If I were in the market for one of these types of meter, I personally would ignore the cheaper meters and would stretch to at least the ~£100 meters.

If you can do so, this rules out the ZB_M08 and V-201x leaving the Voigtlander, Reveni, Hedeco, Doomo and Keks. If you like the more “analogue” controls, and can get over the slight inaccuracy then go for the Doomo. If you want a more accurate meter, and can swallow the price (and potential issue of the batteries falling out), it’s the Voigtlander.

If you like the idea of an OLED meter with the wider range of setting they bring to the table, then go for the Reveni if you want the absolute smallest, the Hedeco for speed and the Keks for overall build quality. Whichever one you go for though, I would still advise reading my full reviews listed above where I go into a little more detail.

Please feel free to add your thoughts to the comments below if you think they will help someone decide which to go for.

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22 Comments

  • Reply
    Jeremy
    May 3, 2021 at 11:06 am

    The Voigtlander is still available new from Robert White – although £247.66 is a bit steep.

    • Reply
      Hamish Gill
      May 3, 2021 at 7:35 pm

      Cheers, not sure why I thought it was discontinued. Updated

  • Reply
    Paul
    May 3, 2021 at 5:41 pm

    Hello Hamish,

    Nice article. Thanks for the valuable info

    One remark: the link to the Hedeco does not refer to the Hedeco.

    with kind regards

    Paul

  • Reply
    Case Harris
    May 3, 2021 at 5:51 pm

    Hamish-

    Obviously one’s personal approach to logic varies wildly. I’ve found the Keks meter nearly unusable because of so many buttons affecting things in such a non-intuitive way. As a novice at using meters that aren’t built in to a camera, I was able to begin using the Reveni meter right out of the (tiny) box.

    One minor correction, is that the Voigtlander VCii is available new (albeit many dollars for a tiny little device) from a variety of photo-related online retailers (B&H, Adorama, CameraQuest, etc.) I just received mine from Amazon (USA).

    • Reply
      Hamish Gill
      May 3, 2021 at 7:33 pm

      That’s funny isn’t it – to me it was the most intuitive.

      Thanks for the pointer re the Voigtlander, I’m not sure why I had it in my head it had been discontinued. I’ve amended the article now

  • Reply
    Leo Tam
    May 3, 2021 at 6:59 pm

    I wish someone would make a tiny spot meter (maybe a 5 or 10 degree with a cheap viewfinder, no need for fancy Pentax style prism) – I like to see what I’m aiming at

    • Reply
      Hamish Gill
      May 3, 2021 at 7:31 pm

      Have you seen the new Reveni spot meter?

  • Reply
    Phil Steelandt
    May 3, 2021 at 7:05 pm

    Hi Hamish,
    I always trusted the Seconic light meters. I still use my 40+ years old “Studio Deluxe” (great for incident metering) and purchased recently the L-858D to use with flashes and also as spotmeter.
    One year ago I was looking for a small shoe mount light meter to mount on my old rangefinders.
    I was tempted by those 3D printed ones and by the Voigtlander.
    I decided to go for the small Sekonic Twinmate L-208…Okay, it’s a uggly plastic little duck that spolils the look of my old Contax, Leicas or FSU-rangefinders 😉
    But it’s an alternative to consider.
    It’s an very accurate old school meter with analog reading, easy to use in both incident (it has a tiny retractable “dome” for it) and in reflected mode.
    I checked its measures with my two other Sekonics ad it’s pretty accurate for such a small meter.
    Just press the button, (the needle stays there for approx 15 sec) align the two needles and read the EV or the whole range of aperture/speed…that simple.

    • Reply
      Hamish Gill
      May 3, 2021 at 7:31 pm

      Yeah, I also have a Gossen Digisix 2 which is similarly ugly on the camera. I might do a review of it and a couple of these other smaller meters at some point. They just feel in a slightly different class

      • Reply
        Phil Steelandt
        May 3, 2021 at 9:54 pm

        …and they, for sure, are in a different class !
        Modern plastic light meters with a un-sexy look.
        This was exacltly my concern a year ago.
        they are a curse to the aesthetics 😉
        Why should I destroy the look of my Contax II or my Barnack-Leica with a “cancer-like cheap plastic protuberance” on top of those nice cameras ?
        That’s the reason I was interested in the Voigtlander or the 3-D printed options…they blend better with vintage cameras !
        But, after a while, I considered that a correct measurement was more important than the looks.
        Just give them a try.
        Consider that they are not intended for people looking for a vintage look matching their vintage cameras…but for people interessed in a correct measurement in a (detachable) shoe mount option.
        Honestly, I’m not shy to “wear” my plastic Sekonic on my vintage cameras.
        I’m glad to have a small reliable light meter after all 😉

  • Reply
    Peter
    May 4, 2021 at 1:27 am

    Excellent breakdown of what is out there. I have the VCii for my M2 but looking for something for my other meter-less cameras so I might carry two (with different focal lengths) at a time without having to take off and place on the VCii. I use a meter only for color film most of the time and sunny 16 fo B&W. Do you have a preference for any of these for color emulsions ?

    • Reply
      Hamish
      May 11, 2021 at 9:56 am

      No, not really, I don’t see meters of this type being able to be precise enough for anyone who might metter colour differently to black and white really. I may be wrong

  • Reply
    Chris Bennett
    May 4, 2021 at 11:26 am

    Hi Hamish,
    As you were previously recommending the Voigtlander VCii as a second-hand only option, you shouldn’t overlook the original VC-meter. Apart from the lines that connect the values on the dials, it is functionally identical to the VCii, but with one big difference that you should approve of. It has a proper battery housing cap in the same vein as one finds on the bottom of a camera – an aluminium disc with a coin slot to open/close it.

    • Reply
      Hamish
      May 11, 2021 at 9:55 am

      Just because they’re so much harder to come by really – I didn’t know about the battery cover though, that is interesting

  • Reply
    JK_Foto
    May 4, 2021 at 12:16 pm

    Nice review, but I wonder why the obvious choice for a classic Leica is missing: The Leicameter MR (newer version with CdS cell). It’s a bit more expensive than these newer light meters, but it has one big advantage – it’s coupled with the shutter speed dial, so you don’t have to match it to the values on the meter. With a completely uncoupled meter, the chance is high that you will forget about that sometimes, which results in wasted frames. I don’t have many other cameras without a meter, so I decided to go for the original. With my medium format cameras, it doesn’t bother me to use a hand held meter, it’s just part of the slower image taking process for me.

    • Reply
      Hamish
      May 11, 2021 at 9:54 am

      Mostly because they haven’t been made for years

  • Reply
    Lee
    May 4, 2021 at 1:45 pm

    I like the fact that the Reveni and Hedeco meters have such a wide aperture range for metering, potentially suitable for pinhole cameras, one of which I have. However, aren’t pinhole cameras normally quite wide-angle, rather than the 45 degree and 35 degree field of view for the Reveni and Hedeco meters, respectively? I know my Noon 66 pinhole shoots with a 15mm effective field of view (full frame digital or 35mm equivalent) or a viewing angle of about 100 degrees. This may not really matter, but I thought it was worth noting.

  • Reply
    Eric Norris
    May 6, 2021 at 12:37 am

    I agree that the KEKS meter’s built-in battery will eventually fail, but in real life this should happen very, very slowly. Lithium batteries degrade over time as they are discharged and recharged. The KEKS meter’s battery on a full charge will keep it working for a very long time, so the number of discharge/charge cycles will be very small unless you’re using it all day long every day. I’m not worried at all about degradation of the battery.

    I have a silver KEKS meter mounted on top of my Leica M4, where it looks very nice.

  • Reply
    Duncan G
    June 23, 2021 at 7:00 pm

    I received my Heseco Lime One last week and all looks good so far. I subscribed to the Kickstarter from day 1 so not sure whether it’s valuable to order but can’t be long of it isn’t. I do like the chrome effect colour but it does obscure the Leica lettering on my old iiif!!

  • Reply
    Lars
    July 20, 2021 at 2:17 pm

    Hamish, I purchased the Reveni Labs meter recently. Very accurate from the get go. The buttons are small, but very easy to figure out. I read a number of reviews before settling on the Reveni. The spot meter is likely to be my next purchase. Made here in Canada 🇨🇦 which is a huge plus for me.

    • Reply
      Hamish Gill
      July 21, 2021 at 12:39 pm

      You wil have to let me know how you get on with the spot meter – I am due to review it soon too!

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