Failed! Lux Meter Apps

Author: Derek Ward, Published on Sep 10, 2013

Manufacturer illumination ratings cannot be trusted, so you should use a lux meter and test yourself. Some people, though, are too lazy to get their own lux meter or want to use an application that can be loaded on their smartphone. However, this begs the question - How well do these applications work?

We tested 2 iOS and 2 Android mobile device apps named "Lux Meter" and "Light Meter". You can find these apps on either the Android Play or iOS App stores respectively. 

The only paid app was the iOS Light Meter for $1.99 USD. All other apps were free.

In this report, we:

  • Test the performance of 4 mobile light meter apps against a professional Extech light meter, which acted as our baseline.
  • Compare lux measurements in a variety of scenes, highlighting the pros and cons of each app tested.
  • Offer feedback on device and app usability.

************ ************ ************* ** *******, ** *** ********* * *** ******** **** ********. **** ******, ******, *** *** **** ** get ***** *** *** ***** ** **** ** *** ** application **** *** ** ****** ** ***** **********. *******, **** begs *** ******** - *** **** ** ***** ************ ****?

** ****** * *** *** * ******* ****** ****** **** named "*** *****" *** "***** *****". *** *** **** ***** apps ** ****** *** ******* **** ** *** *** ****** respectively. 

*** **** **** *** *** *** *** ***** ***** *** $1.99 ***. *** ***** **** **** ****.

** **** ******, **:

  • **** *** *********** ** * ****** ***** ***** **** ******* a ****************** ***** *****, ***** ***** ** *** ********.
  • ******* *** ************ ** * ******* ** ******, ************ *** pros *** **** ** **** *** ******.
  • ***** ******** ** ****** *** *** *********.

[***************]

Key ********

  • *** **** ****** ** **** ******** ***-***** *** *******-***** (********) measurements, *** **** **** ******** *******. **************,***** ******* ****** *** ********, *** ** ********* ***** ** *** use ****** **** ** ******* ******* ******.
  • ******* *** ****** *** ****** ** **-**,*** *** *** *** Lux *****, *** **-**,*** *** *** *** ***** *****, ***** the *** **** *** ***
  • ******* ******* *********** *****, **** ***** ******* *** **** ** "use * **** ***** *****, ******* **** ******** ** * constant ~***-~*** *** *****, *** ******* *********** ** ***** **** light *****". ********* *** *** ** * "**** ***** *****" to ********* *** *** ******* *** ******* ** **** ***** the ***.

***********

***** ** ** ***** ******** **** ****** **** *** *** test. ** ****** ** ***** ****** ******* **** ******* ** a **** ******** ** *** ************. *** ******* ********* ** this ***** ** *** ****** ***** ***** *********** *** **** scene.

***** ** * ***** ******* *** *******. **** ** *** apps************ ** *** *** ****** ***** ******, *** **** **** accurate ** ****-*** ****** ******. 

***** ** ** ***** ** *** "***** ***** ****" **** to *** ****** ***** *****.

***** ** ** ***** ** *** "*** ***** ****" **** to *** ****** ***** *****.

*********

** *** **** ** ****** ************ **** *** *******, ***** the **** ****** *** ** ***** * ****** ** ******* light. *******, ** ** ********* **** *** **** **** *** get ** *** *** ** *** ******, ***** ***** ** could **** *******. ******* **** *** ***** ** "****" ******, with ** ******* ** ****** ** *** ****** ****** **** a ****** ****** ** *** **** *** **** ******** ***** measurements. **** *** **** ******* *** *** ** ****** ***** or **** ******. ******* ************ ****** ** ** ** ** down ** ********, ******* *** ************ ***** **** **** ***-***-***-*** lux ***., ***** *** *** **** ******* **** ******* ************ (225-226-227-228 *** ***.)

***************

** ****** *******, ******* ******** ****** *** ******** ** ************, and ** ****** ********* *** *** **** ******* ** ***** scenes. *******, ** * ****** ** *** *******, *** *** apps *** ******** ** ***** ** ********* *** ******* ****** measurements. *****, ** ******** ********* ***** ** *** ************ ***** light ****** (**** ** *** ****** ***** ***** ***** ( ~$*** ***) *** **** ******* ******** ******.

Comments (15)

How and when did you calibrate you "professional" Lux meter ?

Thanks

Alex,

The Extech LT300 Light Meter is factory calibrated and ready for use right out of the box (which is stated in the companies website FAQ and user manual).

I was just curious. I am sure meter is much better then Apps. by the way I have the same meter :)

But after few years would be nice to calibrate as they suggest

The Extech in the test is only about 8 months old, actually. I do plan to have it recalibrated in time, but it shouldn't require it yet.

"Some people, though, are too lazy to get their own lux meter"

Please, don't beat around the bush. Say what you think.

"the iOS apps are stronger in terms of usability and overall indoor measurements. "

I am not sure we can conclude that from the informations given. It could also be because of the phones sensor version. For example it may be very plausible that devices running either Android or IOS have different sensors depending on the model or year of manufacture. Thus, a Galaxy S4 could be even more accurate than an Iphone.

I understand that the pro LT300 meter is the more accurate device, but an app that could be calibrated with a decent sensor would be much acessible to many professionals

I think the key takeaway, though, is how do you know your smartphone has a decent sensor? How much experimentation would you be willing to go through (different apps and phones) in order to find one that works?

It wasn't part of Derek's test, but I've tried calibrating these apps using a light meter on other phones, and even then they're still inaccurate.

For Android, there is an app called "Android Sensor" where you can check the harware version and resolution. I hope that one day we will get better sensors in order to decrease the gap between apps and pro devices.

Andre, there may very well come a time 1, 2, 3, 5, years into the future where the sensors / cameras are sophisticated enough that they can match on their own. Today, though...

One option that might be worth considering today is add on sensors for phones, like Luxi, which evidently is now shipping and costs $29.95. Thoughts?

That is great! And the price seems fair. I think that could fit our market need perfectly. Has anyone tried it yet?

I didn't see listed anywhere what Android phone you used... some actually have a light sensor (for automatic brightness adjustment of the screen) rather than using the camera, and in addition to "lux meter" apps, there are several Android apps that will simply display the output of the various sensors in the phone (lux, temp, pressure, accelerometers, gravity sensors, magnetic sensor/compass, etc.)

Now that said, I don't think the light sensors tend to have very good resolution (ie. very rough measurements), and I don't know that they're generally calibrated in lux as all they need to do is match the screen brightness to a pre-defined sensor output. And on my HTC, it doesn't output any numbers below 10 lux, so not really useful for this application...

Matt,

The Android phone used in the test was an HTC One X, Android version 4.1.1. Also, thank you for the added information! Do you know what android apps would display phone sensors?

You can find this app that display android sensor information + harware version with resolution.

on my device de resolution is 1 Lux

I've used SensorBox, also played with Sensor Kinetics, but prefer Sensor Readout. There are tons more, though.

Here are a couple screenshots of Sensor Readout on my HTC Desire HD's light sensor:

Here's my experience from over 30 years in this industry, not all in the camera side....

Rule 1 There is always time and money to replace cameras that are not providing a suitable image. Not enough time and money to investigate in advance.

Rule 2 It always works in conference room demos and PowerPoint presentations.

Rule 3 The hardest thing to manage is a customers expectations after the sale when not managed before the sale.

Login to read this IPVM report.
Why do I need to log in?
IPVM conducts unique testing and research funded by member's payments enabling us to offer the most independent, accurate and in-depth information.

Related Reports on Low Light

Genetec Privacy Protector Tested on Nov 12, 2018
Genetec has built Kiwi Security's Privacy Protector into Security Center, an analytic which anonymizes individuals in cameras' fields of view...
Dahua Dual Imager Dome Camera Tested (HDBW4231FN-E2-M) on Nov 07, 2018
Dahua has introduced a dual-imager dome model, the HDBW4231FN-E2-M, with two independently positionable sensors including integrated IR, not found...
Axxon Face Search Tested on Oct 26, 2018
AxxonSoft has brought facial recognition to their Axxon Next VMS for free with the simply named Face Search, claiming to allow users to find...
Hanwha Dual Imager Dome Camera Tested (PNM-7000VD) on Oct 18, 2018
Hanwha has introduced their first dual-imager model, the PNM-7000VD, a twin 1080p model featuring independently positionable sensors and a snap-in...
Dahua Face Recognition Camera Tested on Oct 15, 2018
Dahua has been one of the industry's most vocal proponents of the value that AI creates: As part of this, Dahua has released a facial...
Last Chance - October 2018 Camera Course on Oct 04, 2018
Today is the last day to register for the October 2018 Camera Course, register now. This is the only independent surveillance camera course,...
Axis Vs. Hikvision IR PTZ Shootout on Sep 20, 2018
Hikvision has their high-end dual-sensor DarkfighterX. Axis has their high-end concealed IR Q6125-LE. Which is better? We bought both and tested...
Axis First IR PTZ Tested (Q6125-LE) on Aug 21, 2018
Axis is very late in releasing IR PTZs. While competitors such as Hikvision and Dahua have offered them for years, Axis has just released their...
Hikvision PanoVu Mini Tested (Multi-imager + PTZ For ~$500) on Aug 07, 2018
Hikvision has released their first PanoVu Mini multi imager, the PanoVu DS-2PT3326IZ-DE3, with four 1080p imagers, including a PTZ and integrated...
Panasonic 9MP Panoramic Fisheye Tested (WV-X4571L) on Aug 02, 2018
Panasonic has released their latest fisheye camera, the WV-X4571L, with 12MP sensor and 9MP resolution, claiming "extreme image quality" under...

Most Recent Industry Reports

Milestone Disrupts Milestone With Arcules on Nov 19, 2018
Milestone is now competing against... Milestone's own spinout Arcules New IPVM testing shows that Arcules has incorporated a substantial amount of...
Pressure Mounts Against Dahua and Hikvision Xinjiang Business on Nov 19, 2018
Pressure is mounting against Hikvision, Dahua, and other companies operating in Xinjiang as an international outcry brews against the Chinese...
Arcules Cloud VMS Tested on Nov 19, 2018
Arcules is a big bet, or as they describe themselves a 'bold company', spun out and backed by Milestone and Canon.  But how good is Arcules cloud...
'Sticker' Surveillance Camera Developed (CSEM Witness) on Nov 16, 2018
The Swiss Center for Electronics and Microtechnology (CSEM) has announced what it calls the: world’s first fully autonomous camera that can be...
ISC East 2018 Mini-Show Final Report on Nov 16, 2018
This is our second (updated) and final show report from ISC East. ISC East, by its own admission, is not a national or international show, billed...
Facial Detection Tested on Nov 16, 2018
Facial detection and recognition are increasingly offered by video surveillance manufacturers. Facial detection detects faces in an image/video...
Throughtek P2P/Cloud Solution Profile on Nov 15, 2018
Many IoT manufacturers either do not have the capabilities or the interest to develop their own cloud management software for their devices....
ASIS Offering Custom Research For Manufacturers on Nov 15, 2018
Manufacturers often want to know what industry people think about trends and, in particular, the segments and product they offer.  ASIS and its...
Hikvision Silent on "Bad Architectural Practices" Cybersecurity Report on Nov 14, 2018
A 'significant vulnerability was found in Hikvision cameras' by VDOO, a startup cybersecurity specialist. Hikvision has fixed the specific...
French Government Threatens School with $1.7M Fine For “Excessive Video Surveillance” on Nov 14, 2018
The French government has notified a high-profile Paris coding academy that it risks a fine of up to 1.5 million euros (about $1.7m) if it...

The world's leading video surveillance information source, IPVM provides the best reporting, testing and training for 10,000+ members globally. Dedicated to independent and objective information, we uniquely refuse any and all advertisements, sponsorship and consulting from manufacturers.

About | FAQ | Contact