When Rudy Guttosch from Illuminati Instrument Corp sent me this intriguing device, I wasn’t really sure how I was going to use it. I don’t particularly enjoy having to bring extra stuff at photo shoots. Still, for the purpose of this article, I gave it a try and took it with me on location. Well, I have to admit it, I’ve been quite fascinated by all what my new buddy could do for me for less than 62 grams of weight.

These are three examples of different readings you can get for ambient stills. You can have a quick overview with the tiles (the blue squares) and you can get more precise information about exposure, color temperature and chromaticity by simply clicking on it. (Those are screenshots of my iPhone SE)

First things first: what is that Illuminati thing?

The Illuminati light and colormeter does exactly what its name says it does: it measures the amount of flash and ambient light at the same time and it reads their colors. The big thing is: our cameras only read reflected light. The camera aims at our subject and reads the light that bounces back from it (reflected light metering.) That can lead to a lot of inconsistency with our exposure and white balance (imagine if you are near a white, black or red wall — low contrast, high contrast, and color contamination respectively.) The Illuminati reads the light that falls on our subject (the incident light) by facing its dome to the main light source. In other words, it meters with 100% accurately the real light and colors striking the subject: it is not guessing at exposure and color readings like cameras do. This is HUGE.

Why is it different than old-school light/color meters?

That’s where the “connected, cool and efficient” part in me gets interested. I remember using the expensive traditional light meter at school. We learned how to calculate ratios from ambient light and strobes. It was kind of useful but to be honest, I’ve never wanted — or felt the need — to use another light meter since I got out of there! So what makes this one so different?

It is synced straight to my cell phone

Yep, with the free Illuminati Meter app, my dear cell phone turns instantly into a bright and responsive light/color meter with wireless connectivity via Bluetooth. I don’t bring much with me on a photoshoot but you can be damn sure this I will always have in my pockets! (Free tip: make sure to type “Illuminati Meter” on the search bar for the app otherwise you might end up with all kind of… strange results! ;) )

It meters light AND color

Did you know that traditionally, if you wanted to meter light and color you had to buy TWO devices? That’s right, you had to own a light meter AND a color meter as well. How convenient was that! The Illuminati developers really had a brilliant idea (pun intended) to combine both of them into the same device.

It’s compact

And it’s cute! As I previously said, it only weighs 62 grams or 2.2 ounces (and that’s with the batteries in). Being worried about the added bulkiness of a light meter will obviously never be an issue for me anymore.

It’s a fraction of the price of a regular light meter

If you asked me, I’d never be willing to pay $750+ for a light meter or twice that for a color meter. Well, good news, that’s not the price of the Illuminati meter either. Their retail price is $299. That’s right, you invest under 300 bucks and it’s yours. Here’s a link to the meter if you want to have a look by yourself.

What I got in the box

  • the wireless light and color meter
  • two AAA batteries (I get so annoyed when I finally receive a new electronic gadget and I can’t even play with it because I forgot to buy the freaking batteries!)
  • two (very useful) magnetic mounted clips
  • a rugged black case
  • pamphlet instructions (that stayed somewhere in my drawer because I’m so smart I made it work instantly – or maybe they just purposely made it idiot proof, I’m still not sure)

The-purse-or-the-pocket dilemma

As I confessed, I am not the kind of girl to bring a lot of stuff with me on photo shoots. Let alone bringing a purse — I don’t even think I own one. I don’t know if it’s because I’m always in too much of a hurry or if I keep on forgetting everything when I am heading into action, but I don’t enjoy having to bring too much stuff with me. I take what fits in my pockets. If it doesn’t, I don’t even bother with it. If you are the same as me you will enjoy the Illuminati’s downsized frame. In fact, I don’t need a pocket to carry it with me. I clip it to my harness and I’m off. Those clever guys thought about girls wearing leggings for sure.

That’s the way I carry my meter. I hook the round magnetic clip on my camera harness and I snap the Illuminati on it. Whenever I need to use it, I just pull it off, take my reading and put it right back at its place. No reaching into my bag, no excuse to forget it. It’s just plain simple — and that’s exactly how it needs to be.

Last but not least: Strong enough for the clumsy but made for a photographer

I can’t help myself. As much as I really want to take care or my expensive gear, it keeps on falling/banging/crashing everywhere. I am not in a studio and I am not sitting on a chair. I need tough stuff. When I asked Rudy if the little white dome was fragile (I remembered how much they stressed about the fragility of the dome when we borrowed a lightmeter at school) I’ve been delighted with the answer he came up with. Theoretically, I could sit on it, step on it or slip on the floor without any fear of crushing it. The mechanism has been made with the principle of a ballpoint pen: when you press on it, it retracts and is secured into the device. Can I get an AMEN?

I am currently experimenting with the device (now that I’m sure I won’t break it). I am testing it indoors and outdoors. I’m trying different things and I’ll share my discoveries with you with some comparison pictures. Stay tuned for my upcoming adventures-in-light-metering articles!