Keks EM-01
Light Meters

Keks EM-01 Shoe Mount Light Meter Review

April 19, 2021

The Keks EM-01 is the last shoe mount light meter I will be reviewing for this little series of reviews – for the time being at least. I have so far looked at the Voigtlander VCii, Reveni, Hedeco Lime One, Doomo Meter D, V-201X and now the Keks. They have all had their pros and cons, so I was intrigued to see what the Keks could do for me.

As with most of the meters featured in these reviews, the Keks was loaned to me. This time the the meter came from Will at The Latent Image. If you haven’t checked out his shop, you should – he sells a good selection of very nice gear. I’d just definitely not recommend following his Instagram… pure gear porn, and it’s all available to buy!  No one needs that sort of temptation in their life! HA! (Thanks again, WIll!)

As far as I know, the Keks EM-01 was actually one of the first of this new batch shoe mount light meters to come to market. It appeared on my radar around the time the Reveni did, and I think it was already available to buy…? I might be wrong. Regardless, it feels a little remiss to be coming to it last – not least because it very much piqued my interest when I first saw it.

I very nearly bought a Keks EM-01. In fact, had I not backed the Reveni, I might have. As it was, I decided to wait until I got my Reveni to see how much I liked it. Then of course the Hedeco appeared on my radar, and before I knew it, I had decided I was going to give as many of these shoe mount light meters I could find a review – or at least as many as appeared to offer something different.

The Keks, on face value, doesn’t offer much different to the meters I have already reviewed. What made it interesting to me from the perspective of someone who has now tried a lot of these meters, is that it appeared to combine some of the best bits of some of the meters with apparently less of a compromise.

Keks EM-01 Features

Like the V-201X the Keks EM-01 is a OLED screen based light meter but without the menu system offered by the Hedeco and Reveni. Unlike the V-201X, alongside the shutter speed, aperture, ISO and EV display, the Keks also displays a Lux reading. I must admit, I’m not sure who this is useful to given the target audience for a shoe mount light meter, but I suppose it must be a nice-to-have for some people.

Keks EM-01 Screen

Also unlike the V-201X, the Keks EM-01 is actually quite nice to use. Not only is it intuitive, but the buttons are nice to press – no pointy plastic switches to hurt my delicate photographers fingers here! In fact, nothing about the way I find the Keks to work jars.

One of the common “complaints” about some of these shoe mount light meters is that some of them give a constantly updating readout and some give a fixed readout. I must admit, I don’t find either to be particularly bothersome, but for anyone who does, the Keks EM-01 offers both.

Press the metering button on the back and you get a fixed reading. Press and hold and you get a constantly updating reading. To me this gives a bit of a best of both worlds, though if I was being super-picky, I would probably like it even more if clicking the metering button after a reading has been taken would update the reading. As it is, to get an updated reading, you have to click and hold then release to lock in the reading.

Changing the settings on the Keks EM-01 is logical too. Out of all these OLED meters, it is the only one that offers 4 buttons for changing settings. As you look at the top of the meter from the back, the left two buttons cycle through aperture settings and the right cycle through shutter settings. If you wish to change the exposure index, you just press and hold the metering button and then cycle through the settings with the left (aperture) buttons to change the settings. It’s so simple, in fact, that the instructions are printed in their entirety on the inside lid of the box.

Keks EM-01 Stats

As indeed are the stats. The Keks EM-01 aperture settings range from f/1.0 – 64, shutter settings from 30 seconds to 1/6400th and ISO settings from 50-8000, all with 3rd stop increments. It has a 30 degree metering angle.

What isn’t printed inside the box lid is the metering range. I experimented a little and found it to range from a little over EV0 (100 ISO) to a bit above EV20 (100 ISO) .

Keks EM-01 Stats in the box

Battery

Like the V-201X the Keks EM-01 runs off an internal battery. Of course, the concerns about how long the battery will last in terms of recharge cycles remains. It will, at some point, stop holding charge rendering it a very small and likely quite ineffective paperweight.

I think because of how much more expensive the Keks EM-01 is compared to the V-201X, I found myself a little more concerned by this. Not much though, ultimately I guess I must be a product of this throwaway society we live in, as I much prefer the idea of being able to charge the meter rather than having to carry spare button batteries when I go on holiday.

The sticky label inside the box lid says the battery lasts 20 hours. I guess this must be 20 hours of time the screen is lit up…? If that is the case, seeing as it goes to sleep only 10 seconds after you click the meter read button, I’d say 20 hours is going to get quite a lot of real life usage. I only had it for a couple of days, I used it loads for this review too, and it didn’t run out on me…

Keks EM-01 bottom

The usb port is on the base of the meter

Quirks / Issues

I am nitpicking a little bit here. I need to, as the Keks EM-01 is so simple and intuitive that there really isn’t much to argue with. The only thing I found a little frustrating about this light meter in use was the fact that the settings can feel a little slow to cycle through. Click and hold the settings buttons and they do cycle quite quickly, but there was just a couple of times in use where I found myself trying to get from f/2 to f/8 (or whatever) and having to frantically click through all the settings in between.

That said, I suppose this is only really an issue if you compare it to the Hedeco which is incredibly fast to cycle through the settings, or the Reveni which I feel has an excuse for being slow because of its small size. I think I would have prefered it if the press and hold had cycled the settings more quickly. It felt frustrating that my frantic clicking worked quicker than the press and hold cycle.

There is also what I assume to be a rounding error on one of the intermediate aperture settings. It reads f/3.1 rather than f/3.2. But really, this is meaningless and I probably wouldn’t have noticed had I not been on the lookout after finding the aperture settings on the V-201X to be out on one of the full stop settings. It’s certainly unlikely to confuse someone in the way I think the V-201X could.

Keks EM-01 buttons

Build Quality & Design

It surprised me a little when I first got it out of the box to find the shoe mount to be made of plastic. I asked Will about what he thought of this and he replied saying that actually the mount on the meter he sent me one just one of a selection of slightly different sized metal and plastic mounts it comes with. The idea being that not all hot/cold shoes are made the same, so you can swap it for the one that fits your camera the best. Clever!

What’s also nice about the shoe mount is that it can be unscrewed and located in two different places on the base of the meter meaning it can be mounted on more cameras. Of course, thanks to the total size of the Keks EM-01, it won’t mount on as many cameras as the Reveni, but that almost goes without saying.

Of course, it’s not just the shoe mount that’s well thought out. The Keks EM-01 as a whole is a very nicely made light meter. The outer shell is made out of metal that feels a lot more solid than the Hedeco and the metal version of the V-201X which feel quite thin and lightweight by comparison. In fact, it’s right up there in terms of build quality with the Doomo and Voigtlander.

That said, to me aesthetically, I think the Keks EM-01 just looks a bit too tall on the cameras I mounted it on. This really is no big deal, I personally would have found a tiny-touch more favour with it had it been a little smaller.

Metering Accuracy

I’m not going to lie, after find the Doomo and the V-201X to both be out of whack, I had begun to doubt my own ability when it comes to testing a light meter for accuracy against meters that I know to be accurate. The Keks EM-01 has made me feel a lot better. Given the majority of scenes I pointed it at, I found it to give an expected reading within 1/3rd of a stop.

Unfortunately, unlike the Hedeco and Reveni, it has no built in user adjustability. I say “unfortunately”, but actually, what with it being accurate, oddly enough, I find myself significantly less bothered about the fact that I can’t adjust it…

Keks EM-01 Compared

Each one of these reviews has included more comparisons with the other shoe mount meters I have looked at. Each meter has, as I have already said, come with its pros and cons. So much so, that I have decided I am going to do a follow up article to this one detailing all the pros and cons of each.

In summary though, the Reveni wins on small size. It can be mounted on basically any camera, but is a little fiddly. The Voigtlander and Doomo both give that more “analogue” user experience, and though the Voigtlander is more accurate and reads nicer, the Doomo has a battery compartment that actually holds the batteries inside. The Hedeco is small, light and very quick to use, though if doesn’t feel as solid as the likes of the Doomo and Keks. And the V-201X is, well, cheap.

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

The Keks EM-01 is up there with the most expensive, but I must admit, out of all of the OLED meters it gave me the most confidence. It is no more accurate than the Hedeco (which was also bang on out of the box), but the solid build quality just gives a bit more reassurance. As I have said, I also really like the internal battery – despite the concern that it might not last forever.

Final Thoughts

I have been forced to nitpick to find fault with the Keks EM-01 Light meter. Really, the only thing that I think puts me off is that I find it to be a little too bulky – it just doesn’t look as elegant on top of a camera as I think some of the other meters I have looked at. Some people will no doubt find the internal battery an issue too, and I suppose it could be said to be a little slow to use – at least when compared to the Hedeco.

But, those “issues” aside, there is really is not much to take away from the Keks EM-01 light meter. It feels solid, is bang on accurate, and is really nice and intuitive to use. I might even go as far to say it is my favorite of the OLED meters, or at very least, as a complete package, it gives me the most confidence!

 

Support & Subscribe

35mmc is free to read. It is funded by adverts. If you don't like the adverts you can subscibe here and they will disapear.

For as little as $1 a month, you can help support the upkeep of 35mmc and get access to exclusive content over on Patreon. Alternatively, please feel free to chuck a few pennies in the tip jar via Ko-fi:

Become a Patron!

Learn about where your money goes here.
Would like to write for 35mmc? Find out how here.

11 Comments

  • Reply
    John Furlong
    April 19, 2021 at 10:12 am

    From the view of the underside of the meter it looks like its’ possible to open the case. This makes replacement of the battery a feasibility as and when…

    • Reply
      Hamish
      April 20, 2021 at 4:04 pm

      I guess so, yeah…

  • Reply
    Terry B
    April 19, 2021 at 11:59 am

    Hamish, for those not wishing to carry around a full size hand-held meter, or finding older selenium meters are no longer accurate or cds versions that took the now-banned mercury battery, these small accessory shoe meters now offer a choice, both in price and performance. And given that older shoe mount meters are now difficult to find nowadays, even if they work, this has to be a good thing.
    I was surprised to learn from your comment that the meter can display lux readings. Now even if there are users who want and know how to use a lux reading, this meter is unlikely to be accurate for the purpose simply because proper lux meters use incident readings employing an opal plano disc. Reflected readings can’t do this. It is feasible to go the “other way” and use a lux meter for photographic purposes, however, providing one has a conversion calulator of the sort Gossen once sold for its early lux meter, the Panlux. I did track one down, but it cost me three times what I paid for the meter!
    I’d share your slight concern over the battery, although in reality, it may not be an issue. Rechargeable cells do, however, have a finite capacity to be recharged, usually around 500 cycles or so, but their ability to retain a charge deteriorates as they age. Fo me it would be for how long they retain a charge. 20 hours of usage with this meter should be more than adequate between charges. Shelf life can be another matter, too.
    Re shelf life, a few months back I picked up a mint Kodak 4000 disc camera which came with a film for my collection. I was very surprised to discover the camera still functioning. This also has a built-in non-user replaceable battery; the instructions say return the camera to Kodak. Why was this functioning camera a surprise? The last ones were made in 1984!

    • Reply
      Hamish
      April 20, 2021 at 4:04 pm

      That’s nuts! It will be interesting to see how long these meters survive for sure!

    • Reply
      JL Williams
      April 23, 2021 at 7:25 pm

      “I was surprised to learn from your comment that the meter can display lux readings.” I’m guessing that’s simply because the meter uses a readily-available one-chip lux sensor, such as the AMS TSL25911. These sensors read out directly in lux values, which the designer then converts to camera-friendly units via a microcontroller. Bringing out the lux number to the display would make it easy to do a function check before shipping, as well as giving the purchaser at least the illusion of high precision.

  • Reply
    Tom
    April 21, 2021 at 6:31 am

    Is this light meter a rebrand of someone else’s work as suggested here: https://reddit.com/r/AnalogCommunity/comments/iglzo4/keks_meter_em01_for_less_than_half_the_price_keks/

    Or is someone getting access to their production line?

  • Reply
    Chris Routledge
    April 22, 2021 at 8:01 am

    Well, if a rechargeable battery can take, say, 500 full cycles, and the battery in this meter lasts 20 hours in use (I have one on my M2, and I’ve charged it once in nine months, and then not because it ran out but because I felt like I should), I fully expect the KEKS to be working long after I’m not.

  • Reply
    der_fotograf
    April 23, 2021 at 4:13 pm

    In most cases the Sekonic L-398A is the better choice (around 199 Euro). Or the Gossen Digisix 2, which can also be mounted on the hot shoe (around 139 Euro). Most importantly two large, established and experienced companies stay behind the products and offer an excellent service.

    • Reply
      Hamish Gill
      April 23, 2021 at 9:54 pm

      I have the Gossen, but it didn’t come with the shoe mount and is a little big in my opinion. I quite like the smaller meters here for their size. I’m also a supporter of smaller new companies where they produce good kit. I think this is good kit too.

  • Reply
    Martin JONES
    April 23, 2021 at 4:25 pm

    Hi Hamish, an interesting article and I’m broadly in agreement with you. I run a lot of cameras without built in meters and was getting bored of using an app on my phone. I looked at the Reveni and the Keks units. I like the idea of the crowdfunding model for the Reveni. Impressions? The Reveni is very neat, but didn’t like the thicker cold shoes found on many FSU cameras. This was problem for my selection of Kievs and also (bizarrely) a Revue 400. The Keks came with an assortment of 3 x plastic and 3 x aluminium shoes, which made it easy to find a fit. Rodney at Firstcall Photographic was great and took the Reveni back and fed back on the shoe fitting issues to Canada. It transpires that you can buy a 3D printed adapter for the Reveni to fit FSU cold shoes, but neither Rodney nor I knew of it prior to asking the company. To be honest, it should be shipped with the unit as part of the package like the Keks. I didn’t even switch it on as it was pointless. The Keks is bigger, but that means that the screen and buttons are bigger too. It arrived charged and I haven’t had to charge it yet (half a dozen films), plus the interface is intuitive and easy to use. I just fired it up and used it – no need for instructions. It feels solid and well made – the silver finish tones well with my older cameras, although I think that you can get it in black as well. Seems accurate enough from my results and, as you pointed out, will give intermediate aperture settings that you can factor in when deciding to go up or down. It feels like a more “complete” product than the Reveni – I shouldn’t have to find (and buy) an adapter that cost pennies to 3D print so that a £100 product fits an FSU camera. Would I recommend the Keks meter? Yes I would – the easy operation, solid build quality and flexible (provided) shoe fitting options swing for me.

  • Reply
    HENRION
    May 23, 2021 at 8:05 pm

    Hello, I may have read too fast but how do light meters behave in sunlight? I have the V-201X and the Chinese M08 and they are simply unreadable, just good indoors and in cloudy skies with no sunlight. I’m still looking for something else than the sunny 16 🙂 Good luck with your tests.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.