Am I a lazy photographer? Maybe. The shortest path to the best possible image is the way I like to go. After years of shooting, I also tend to get set in my ways. However, sometimes it’s good to get out of your familiar bubble and explore with new techniques and equipment, especially if it can help you become more efficient.

Enter the Illuminati Meter that I received from the company for testing. This little gadget promised to quickly help me capture better images in camera. How could I resist? So I decided to run a test and see how it handled image exposure.

First impressions: Getting it up and running

Installing the app on my Android phone was surprisingly easy. Once I opened the app, it almost immediately delivered a reading, even as I wondered what the next step was. Interesting. I  made sure to check the “Monitor Ambient” box since I wasn’t using a flash.

A handful of rocks from the beach and a starfish strewed on the living room table served as my test setup. I was situated next to a window and opened the curtains to reveal the overcast day outside. There was no other light source.

Image comparison: Auto exposure vs. manual exposure with the Illuminati

Here is the first image WITHOUT the Illuminati Meter. I simply set my camera on Auto.

Auto: 1/50, f/3.2, ISO 250

And here is the second image WITH the Illuminati Meter with its dome extended and aimed at the light coming from a window. I set my camera on Manual this time and, and within the Illuminati app on my phone, plugged in an aperture of 2.2 to give it a bit less depth of field to blur the background even more. It immediately suggested the optimal shutter speed and ISO setting. Nice.

Manual, with Illuminati meter: 1/50, f/2.2, ISO 320

The difference was pretty obvious. Clearly, the photo using the Illuminati meter is better exposed. The exposure in the photo using the camera’s “auto” setting was dark and a bit boring frankly.

Using the Illuminati meter allowed me to quickly match the depth of field that I wanted with the appropriate shutter speed and ISO setting. Overall, the result was a much more visually interesting image.

Concluding thoughts

This little powerful meter can shave off precious time spent fiddling with settings during a photo session, and it also saves you precious time in post-production correcting your images. And just as importantly, it allows you to quickly control the “feel” of an image by virtually hand-delivering the settings you need directly to your phone.

Will this become a staple during my photo sessions? Absolutely. I wish I’d been using it sooner!

Get an Illuminati meter here.