AstrHori has announced a new black version of the AstrHori AH-M1 light meter. Designed for use in the camera’s hotshoe, it was originally announced in silver (buy here) a few months ago, but it wasn’t quite available at the time.
Now, the silver AstrHori AH-M1 is available to buy, and the company has also announced a new Black Brass version (buy here). There’s a slight price increase for the new black version, but it’s still very competitive.
Why do we need an on-camera light meter?
Light meters like this are designed primarily for use on older cameras that don’t contain built-in light meters. Or, as with some older cameras, they do have light meters but the batteries for them are no longer readily available.
A lot of older mechanical cameras with built-in light meters used mercury-based batteries. And while there are modern replacements for some of those obsolete batteries, the meters are voltage-dependent and new replacements can throw their readings off.
For digital cameras and most of the last wave of 35mm SLRs, light meters are built in. So, something like this is somewhat redundant.
A modern solution to old problems
The AstrHori AH-M1 is a reflective meter with two metering modes, A and T. In either mode, you get real-time monitoring. This lets it accurately reflect changes in lighting conditions as they happen.
It does not require any communication with the camera. So, there are no worries of one interfering with the other. It just sits in the shoe, doing its thing and giving you its readings. The foot can be repositioned using hex screws to fit a variety of older hotshoes.
Naturally, it has a built-in battery and a USB-C port for charging. You shouldn’t need to charge that often, though. With a battery life of 12 hours, that’s a lot of sessions. At least, it is if you only turn it on when you need it. And it goes into low power mode after 10s or 25s.
The USB-C port lets you charge it back up quite quickly, too. That 12 hours of use takes only 40 minutes to top back up. So, even if you do run out of juice, a little time on a power bank fixes it.
On top, there’s a 0.66″ OLED display. This lets you see your real-time exposure and parameters, such as shutter speed and ISO. Of course, it also shows your your battery level to keep an eye on when you need to charge.
One-shot metering mode is also available. This lets you hit a button for a quick reading. It doesn’t run all the time, so changing light sources in your scene won’t throw it off.
Why the price increase for brass?
The standard issue silver AstrHori AH-M1 is made from aluminium. Brass is a heavier and more expensive metal than aluminium, so the price has had to be increased, although only slightly.
TTArtisan also released a small on-camera light meter a couple of years ago. It, too, was initially launched in an aluminium version. A black brassed version came at a later date, again with a significant price increase over the aluminium versions.
Interestingly, the aluminium version of the AstrHori is a little more expensive than the TTArtisan one. But AstrHori’s new black version is a little cheaper than TTArtisan’s. So, if you fancy a black brassed light meter, the latter makes a lot of sense – assuming both offer the same levels of accuracy.