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Polaris SPD100 Digital Exposure Meter

by Polaris
4.7 out of 5 stars 109 customer reviews
| 16 answered questions

Available from these sellers.
  • Oversized LCD display shows all data and functions clearly and easily, even at full arm's length.
  • Large analog" (Gas-Gauge Style) Scale for easy fractional measurements.
  • Standard PC terminal for sync cord flash activation. Compact, ultra-thin design. Polaris is less than 1- inch thick and weighs just 4 oz.
  • Requires only one "AA" battery. (Not included)
  • Four exposure modes to choose from.
  • Unique multi-flash feature makes it simple to calculate how many times the flash must be fired to achieve a desired f/stop.
  • Accurate to 1/10 f-stop.
2 used from $138.00

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Technical Details

Product Description

Polaris SPD100 is an easy to use flash and ambient light meter. Take accurate meter readings accurate to 1/10th of an F-Stop and get good exposures every time. One of the best values in exposure meters on the market.

Product Details

Product Manual [3.72mb PDF]
  • Product Dimensions: 3.5 x 2.2 x 6 inches ; 8 ounces
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces
  • ASIN: B00009X3UA
  • Item model number: SPD100
  • Batteries 1 AA batteries required.
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (109 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank:
  • Product Warranty: For warranty information about this product, please click here
  • Date first available at Amazon.com: October 2, 2001

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Verified Purchase
Length: 8:00 Mins
The Polaris SPD-100 Light Meter comes in this simple unassuming box. The packaging is very unassuming. Inside the box the Polaris SPD-100 comes with a carrying case, a lanyard, and a manual.

The meter is a nice size coming in at 2.5 inches wide, 7/8 of an inch thick, and 4 and 11/16 inches tall. The battery door is located on the back. The meter uses a standard AA battery.

When you turn on the meter the first thing the it does is a battery check. It shows this information for about a second. This is nice because if you are about to start a complex and lengthy shoot, you can just change out the battery rather than having to stop the process (model, assistant, etc.) and restart after changing a battery. Also, if the meter does run out of batteries, the meter will save your most recent settings as it does when you turn it off and back on. Another nice thing about this meter is that it automatically turns itself off after 5 minutes of non-use. Some people might not like this, however, it is a nice power saving feature for when you get busy and forget to turn it off.

The Polaris SPD-100 allows you to measure both incident or flash metering and reflective light metering. Reflective light metering is similar to the light metering included in your Digital SLR camera. Incident light metering is the ability of the light meter to measure a light incident such as the firing of the strobe flashes in a studio setup.

To use the reflective metering you first slide the incident sphere to the right until it clicks, exposing the light sensor. Then you press and hold the ISO button while using the adjustment buttons on the side to adjust the ISO to the preferred setting. Then you press the mode button until the ambient light metering mode displays.
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I have one of these that I use regularly with my studio flash setup.

Inexpensive high-power studio flashes generally don't work with your camera's TTL metering system, and when you bring in multiple lights, complex diffusers and so forth, calculating exposure gets to be a challenge. With the Polaris, I setup my lighting the way I want, fire the flashes (either one at a time or all at once), and the meter gives me correct exposure information that's always 100% spot on. It can also help me achieve certain specific lighting ratios, such as making sure the background is subdued or helping me know one part of my subject isn't in too-deep shadows - in effect, you just fire the flash a few times, metering all the key parts and noting how far apart the exposures are. For calculating studio flash exposure, the Polaris can't be beat, especially considering the price.

Of course, these days you can achieve good results with digital cameras by simply taking lots of test exposures...there's no film cost, and most photographers tend to have a few lighting setups that really don't vary all that much. This means there aren't too many exposure combinations, and you can probably home in on it trial and error if you want. Or, you can do it the old-fashioned way by knowing the guide numbers of your flashes and dividing by flash to subject distance. Still, having a meter like the Polaris makes this much faster and more precise, especially if you tend to shoot under lots of varying conditions.

There are also flashes like the Nikon Creative Lighting System that actually do integrate with certain camera metering systems, even when multiple, off-camera flashes are used.
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2 Comments 61 of 62 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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Verified Purchase
Length: 5:05 Mins
For more than 30 years, I have loved photography. I've bought just about every type of camera and gadget you can think of, but for some reason I didn't own a light meter until I saw this one in action. I guess I never thought I needed one. I was wrong. Having a light meter takes your photography to a new level.

Since exposure is controlled by three distinct variables... ISO, aperture and shutter speed, many hobbyists usually take control of whichever they feel is most important for their specific shot. They may need a fast shutter for moving subjects, or a wide aperture for artistic shots, but they still leave the camera to decide the other variables.

The trouble with this is that they base their estimates for the other two variables on a fundamentally flawed premise, which is assuming what they see in the lens has an accurate correlation to the actual light in a shot, however, this is not always the case.

If you walked into a room which was painted entirely in black, then placed a golf ball in the center of the room and illuminated it with a 500 watt flood light, what would the camera see? It still see a very dark image, so it would set the exposure based upon a higher ISO, slower shutter and a large aperture. By contrast, when you use a light meter, you measure the light by placing it in front of the object (the golf ball) and face it away from the ball and it registers that there is this massive flood light pointing at it, so it will tell you the complete opposite... smaller opening, faster shutter, lower ISO. Aha!

By getting this particular exposure right, you will see the details like the dimples on the golf ball, and any color in the logo will be dead on correct.
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8 Comments 42 of 44 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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