Product Review: Sekonic's New Light Meter, L-478DR

Simon Blundell ( is an award-winning advertising and editorial photographer specializing in portrait, lifestyle, and landscape.  After earning his MFA in photography, Simon continued to educate on the university level (currently teaching at the University of Utah) while simultaneously continuing his commercial and fine art pursuits.  An early proponent of digital art, Simon has been sought out for his advanced abilities in both film and digital communications.

Simon:  "The new Sekonic L-478DR is a light meter and I-TTL power controller, all in one small package. Many digital photographers feel that they don't need an external light meter, but with the additional capabilities (such as its wireless capabilities) built into the L-478DR, it is time to get a meter.

"I like having an external light meter. It might be my education in both film and digital capture. I find that the external meter is a critical piece of equipment, especially when using studio strobes or off-camera flash units. It provides more accurate and precise measurements of both ambient and strobe lighting. This would be great for a photo assistant; it's light, easy-to-use, and I could tell an assistant to go change all the lights to a different aperture settings.


"The first thing you'll notice about the L-478DR is that it is the first meter to have touch screen controls. This new design simplifies the meter into its core functions and creates a smaller physical size. This is great for the assistant who needs to keep things light. Within this small package, Sekonic has created a powerful device. The layout is simple with four simple physical buttons: power, meter, memory, and menu. The overall construction is solid and rugged, as I would expect from working with previous Sekonic light meters. It has a retractable dome with a swivel for flexibility in measurements. An additional 5-degree spot meter attachment is also available. There is a USB port to connect the meter to a computer to further enhance its metering capabilities. You can set custom settings that will match the L-478DR with your camera's capture. These custom settings can be dialed in for various lighting conditions which will ensure more precise exposures. Proper exposure is critical in making great images.


"I started my tests by taking the meter outside in a simple test of ambient daylight. In noon-day sun, the screen was very visible. An additional anti-glare screen is provided. I found the touch screen adjustments to be simple and very responsive. Setting the ISO, f • stop, and shutter speeds was seamless. Both shutter speed and aperture priorities are available, with AVE/EV readings as well.


"In the studio the meter connects directly using a synch chord, or as I prefer wirelessly. Sekonic provides meters both with and without PocketWizard technology built in. I prefer to have it built in, and with the L-478DR, in my view, is essential. The real power of the L-478DR is its ability to synch with i-TTL flashes. This to me is one of the best points of the meter. With i-TTL flashes, you can fire and control the power output of the flash from the camera. WIth the L-478DR, you can control the flash using a simple slider. You can slide the power of the flash up and down all from the meter. This is great for anyone who uses small flashes. It's great for making an adjustment to the flash output, and then testing the exposure with the meter. As a still photographer, this additional feature is one of the strongest aspects of the L-478DR.


"In addition to a meter for still photography, it also is fully equipped with cinematic metering capabilities. For those that are working in both still and motion, the L-478DR becomes the all-in-one meter. It has the ability to set frame rate as well as shutter angles. Additional compensation adjustments can be applied for ND and other filters. The one thing that would have really topped this off would have been a temperature meter for a serious cinematic shooter, but perhaps this will be added in the future."


"In conclusion, the L-478DR is an amazing meter. I love how much power it packed into such a small and easy-to-use design. If you are using i-TTL flashes, I see this as a must-have device. For those who are new to meters, it will provide not only a basic, fundamental meter, but has the additional powerful features that will grow with you as you develop your still and motion imagery."

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L-478drLight meterPocketwizardProduct reviewSekonicSektonicSeptember 2012Simon blundell