Gearview: Micnova MQ-LM30 Lightmeter

I am going to be honest with you guys; I am not sure if you should buy this lightmeter unless you really don’t have any other option. Before I owned one, I used to be quite enthusiastic about this thing and I have sold a couple of them. The price seems good for what it is on paper. Yes, it feels a bit plasticky but so does a Sekonic lightmeter from the same price range. One day I lost my old Minolta light meter and needed a replacement fast. The choice was between this, the Sekonic 308S Flashmate or preferably a second hand Minolta. The reason I went for the Micnova was the fact that I was enthusiastic about it and that the Minolta would have cost me double. Regarding the Sekonic, it is a tried and true product, but I like to have a swivel head.

When I bought it, I was quite happy with it. The LCD lights up, the controls are simple and once again, that turnable head gives a bit more flexibility while measuring than the Flashmate. It has an x-sync port for flash and in my opinion, it looks a smidge better than the Sekonic.

The moment when it went awry was after two weeks or so when I noticed that the batteries were almost empty. This was a big surprise since there is no reason why this thing should consume so much power. After that moment it’s power consumptions remained erratic, but it compensates for this by refusing to turn on sometimes. It feels like working an old janky television set with antennas. Moving it this way and that way, flipping batteries, shaking and slapping it just to get it going. So who said that violence doesn’t solve anything.

As far as I can tell, the problem lies mainly in the wiring. As you can see in this image, it does look quite flimsy. If I would have finished this article before last night, I would have ended it like this: just to be sure, I always carry an extra set of batteries and my Teeny Turner so that I can rearrange the cables in the field and hope for the best. But  I had enough, I need a light meter that I can rely on. Once again I took the Micnova apart, but this time with a soldering iron at hand and some spare bits of cables. After messing around for a bit inside this thing, I managed to replace the cables going to the batteries. It worked well, as long as I kept the cover open. Apply tape at the right spots and hey, it works. It turns on and off just like it should do. Since I just finished this modification last night I can only report that I needed to replace the batteries in the morning and after that, it turned on again.

I have no idea if this solves the problem in the long run. But let’s make a deal, if it doesn’t work out I shall revisit this topic in the nearby future (possibly with a review of a different light metering solution). If it does work out, then I have a decent light meter from now on and I will change my initial standpoint on the Micnova. Don’t buy this unless you can work a soldering iron.

P.S.: Yes, the horrible paint job is done by me. It was a quick and dirty way to make sure that I won’t lose it like I did with the Minolta: dropping a black light meter onto black soil and losing it forever. Somehow, light meters are the only pieces of equipment that I keep losing.

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