Photon: a Raspberry Pi-powered DIY light meter

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The Raspberry Pi is an affordable Linux-based computer that can enable a wide range of DIY projects, including many aimed at photographers. Just recently, we’ve seen creative builders and engineers create a 3D-printed interchangeable lens camera, an IR camera for card tricks, retro-styled DIY camera and a camera that can identify subjects, all powered by Raspberry Pi. A new project, Photon, isn’t a Pi-powered camera, but instead a light meter, designed to help photographers capture better images, rather than record photos itself.

The Photon is built around a Raspberry Pi Pico, allowing it to deliver a light meter at a significantly reduced price compared to traditional light meters, which can cost hundreds of dollars. The Pico itself starts at just $4. The company that designed Photon, VEEB, outlines that the total parts list costs less than $50.

In the digital age, the light meters built into cameras are effective for nearly every use case. There are, however, instances where you may still need a light meter. One such use case is when shooting with film cameras, which have undergone an impressive resurgence in popularity in recent years. Not all have built-in light meters and some that once did no longer have a working light meter, necessitating an external light meter to ensure the best exposure. After all, film isn’t cheap and nobody wants to waste an exposure because of incorrect settings.

Photon is an incident light meter, meaning it’s designed to measure the amount of light hitting your subject, not the light reflecting off your subject into your camera. You choose your aperture or shutter speed using the Photon’s built-in button-knob and take a reading. You can also select the ISO using a smaller button on the other side of Photon. Despite being built using less than $50 worth of components, Photon performed well when tested against a tried-and-true high-end Sekonic light meter, according to VEEB.

The full project is outlined on GitHub. The build requires some soldering, but VEEB says it’s easy. The full components list includes the Raspberry Pi Pico, an OLED screen, LiPo SHIM for Pico, a rotary encoder, two momentary switches, a Pimoroni light sensor and a LiPo/Lilon battery.

If you’re looking for an affordable light meter and aren’t afraid to build it yourself, the Photon looks like an excellent option. Visit GitHub for detailed instructions and check out VEEB’s website to view its other products.

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