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

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...
October 2018 Camera Course on Sep 13, 2018
Today is the last day to save $50 on the October 2018 Camera Course, register now. This is the only independent surveillance camera course,...
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...
Panoramic Fisheye Camera Shootout - Avigilon, Axis, Dahua, Hanwha, Hikvision, Oncam And Vivotek on Jun 27, 2018
IPVM tested Avigilon, Axis, Dahua, Hanwha, Hikvision, Oncam And Vivotek 12MP panoramic fisheye cameras head to head, as shown in the test setup...
Hikvision 12MP Fisheye Camera Tested (DS-2CD63C2F-IV) on Jun 14, 2018
Hikvision's DS-2CD63C2F-IV is their flagship panoramic camera, with a 12MP imager, 15m integrated IR, smart codec, and more. We tested the 63C2 in...
Introducing Effective PPF (ePPF) - Improving Video Surveillance Designs on Jun 11, 2018
Pixel density (PPF / PPM) is the best metric the industry has to define and project video quality. It allows simple communication of estimated...
Hanwha Low-Cost 4MP Camera Tested (QNV-7010R) on Jun 11, 2018
4MP usage is increasing noticeably, as IPVM 2018 resolution statistics show. And low-cost, fixed focal cameras, are popular for budget...
Hikvision PanoVu 20MP Flexible Camera Tested on Jun 01, 2018
Hikvision has released their first repositionable multi imager cameras with integrated IR included, atypical in competitors. We bought and tested...

Most Recent Industry Reports

Alexa Guard Expands Amazon's Security Offerings, Boosts ADT's Stock on Sep 21, 2018
Amazon is expanding their security offerings yet again, this time with Alexa Guard that delivers security audio analytics and a virtual "Fake...
UTC, Owner of Lenel, Acquires S2 on Sep 20, 2018
UTC now owns two of the biggest access control providers, one of integrator's most hated access control platforms, Lenel, and one of their...
BluePoint Aims To Bring Life-Safety Mind-Set To Police Pull Stations on Sep 20, 2018
Fire alarm pull stations are commonplace but police ones are not. A self-funded startup, BluePoint Alert Solutions is aiming to make police pull...
SIA Plays Dumb On OEMs And Hikua Ban on Sep 20, 2018
OEMs widely pretend to be 'manufacturers', deceiving their customers and putting them at risk for cybersecurity attacks and, soon, violation of US...
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...
Avigilon Announces AI-Powered H5 Camera Development on Sep 19, 2018
Avigilon will be showcasing "next-generation AI" at next week's ASIS GSX. In an atypical move, the company is not actually releasing these...
Favorite Request-to-Exit (RTE) Manufacturers 2018 on Sep 19, 2018
Request To Exit devices like motion sensors and lock releasing push-buttons are a part of almost every access install, but who makes the equipment...
25% China Tariffs Finalized For 2019, 10% Start Now, Includes Select Video Surveillance on Sep 18, 2018
A surprise move: In July, when the most recent tariff round was first announced, the tariffs were only scheduled for 10%. However, now, the US...
Central Stations Face Off Against NFPA On Fire Monitoring on Sep 18, 2018
Central stations are facing off against the NFPA over what they call anti-competitive language in NFPA 72, the standard that covers fire alarms....
Hikvision USA Starts Layoffs on Sep 18, 2018
Hikvision USA has started layoffs, just weeks after the US government ban was passed into law. Inside this note, we examine: The important...

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