Printing a Light Meter!

No, I’m not kidding. I use a printed light meter with my meterless Leica IIIa!

Well, it’s not really a light meter… It’s just a very clever sliding table that gives me the correct exposure for any lighting situation.img_0577

Normally when you use a film with a nice exposure latitude like Ilford’s HP5 or Kodak Portra for color, you can determine the light situation you are in using the table on the reverse. Film latitude will gloss over any errors you may make here, be assured.

On the left of the tables you have the approximate light siruation and in the right columns you can read the correponding EV (exposure value).

You then turn your ‘light meter’ aroundimg_0578and set the film speed index opposite the EV value you have found.

Et voilà, you can read all possible exposure combinations of shutter speed and aperture right off your device.

Lightmeter, slightly used condition!

In this case, I pretend to shoot a 1600 ISO film right after sunset. The reverse gave an EV of 9 to 10.

I slide the inner part up to align 1600 ISO with EV 10 and see I can get away easily with, for eaample a shutter speed of 1/250s at aperture 8…. great for street photogaphy! ‘F:8 and be there’ goes the saying.

Of course with time you get to know the correct exposure, but sometimes I check anyways. Not even any need for an iPhone light meter app…. The aim is to stop relying on any kind of light meter. It’s possible. Takes a bit of time and practice, but it works – well it worked a long time until  the  first light meters appeared. And in those days the film emulsions were really not as flexible as modern film when it came to correct exposure.

Just learn to rely on your eyes to measure your exposure!

Want your own light meter?

Download the template from Andy Lawn’s site (there’s other goodies there!) or from the links just below and print it out on some tough card stock. Ordinary printer paper will quickly go bad…. I used glossy photo paper.

There’s two versions, a slightly bigger one and a smaller one that needs you to turn it around to see all the EV values.



Follow the easy instructions and here you go!

Have fun, it’s photography!


7 thoughts on “Printing a Light Meter!

Add yours

  1. Hello, I have it (in french !) and it is very easy tu use. For the geeks, you have the same in a smartphone version, downloadable on android market with that name : photo exposure calculator.
    Enjoy it !
    Benjamin, from south of France…

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Merci pour le commentaire, Benjamin!

    For iOS there is a similar app called ‘Expositor’, very nicely done. But when I’m out with my Leica IIIa I don’t use the iPhone….. normally!


  3. In normal daylight I usually don’t use any exposure calcs at all, only my eyes. It seems to work very well, at least for now.
    It’s getting trickier at night time, though, and especially for exposures indoors for some reason. It’s a bit more difficult to “read” the light for me in those situations. Usually I’m getting OK exposures, but not all the time. I might download and print one of these just to have it in my bag. If nothing else it sure looks cool as hell 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

      1. They do, which suits me fine to be honest. That’s why I’m mostly carrying cameras operating just as fine without them as they do with batteries on board. Old Leica M3, the Nikon FM2, a Rolleiflex or whatever. I just feel a bit more free to do whatever I like when I use the lovely old manual ones 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Uh… that sounds a bit on the bad side of things! An old Leica is always nice to find when you’re in that old Leica mood. But heck, there are other cameras as well, as we know. You will probably get another one some day, though… at least I guess you will

        Liked by 1 person

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