After seeing the success of hot shoe light meters like the Doomo Meter D, Reveni, and others, TTArtisan has decided to throw their hat into the ring by introducing their own retro-style shoe-mount meter.
Upon first inspection, it’s clear where TTArtisan got their inspiration from. This meter looks very similar to the Meter D we reviewed last winter, and quite similar to the Voigtländer VC Meter that inspired it.
It’s essentially the same shape. A short rectangle with two large dials for shutter speed and aperture, with the aperture dial doubling as an ISO controller. Just like the Doomo, the shutter dial is clicked and the aperture dial spins freely.
The meter is available in black or silver to suit your camera and requires a CR2032 battery to function. This battery is not included with the meter and must be purchased separately. The shoe must be unscrewed to get into the battery compartment, which would be a pain if TTArtisan wasn’t promising 60 hours of continuous battery life.
Overall, the new TTArtisan meter positions itself as a budget option compared to the Doomo Meter D, Reveni, or Voigtländer VC. It’s quite a bit cheaper depending on your region and taxes, which is a huge selling point for many. With an affordable external meter, more and more meter-less cameras become viable for entry or mid-level shooters.
When I took the TTArtisan out of the box, I immediately began comparing it to my trusty Doomo Meter D. The TT is a bit larger (40mm long vs 32mm) than the Doomo, but it’s lighter as well (36g vs 56g).
The next thing I noticed was the build quality. It’s.. not very good. I suppose it's suitable for the price. Considering the Meter D is considerably more expensive, you’d expect a significant difference in quality. That’s what we get here.
The TTArtisan dials don’t have the same satisfying click of the Doomo, and they feel less well-dampened. I don't think the TTArtisan meter will hold up as well over time if it were used every day. The numbers on the TT are just printed onto the dials, whereas the Doomo has them engraved into the metal.
We’ve also had issues with our shipment of TTArtisan meters where some meters, especially silver ones, will have looser ISO dials. This doesn’t affect function much, it just means the user has to be extra careful when putting the meter in a bag or adjusting the aperture.
If you do put the TTArtisan meter in a bag, there's a chance that the ISO will be in a different spot when you take it out. This issue only affected a small percentage of our test meters, but it’s something to make note of before you purchase your own. I wouldn't consider this "working properly", even at this budget, but TTArtisan might.
One other thing of note is that the TTArtisan only comes with one shoe mount. The Doomo comes with two different thicknesses which allow it to fit on more cameras, especially when combined with its smaller size. But overall, both meters will likely fit on the same cameras. Neither of them fit on my FED-2’s, which makes me sad, but both fit nicely on most other cameras I own.
I took the TTArtisans Light meter out for about 5 days on a Pentax 6x7. Luckily we had one of the ridiculous wooden grips for the 67, otherwise there’s nowhere to mount a shoe meter. But I found this setup to be quite intuitive.
Carrying the camera by the wooden grip put the meter activation button right under my thumb. From there, it’s as simple as adjusting the settings. The TTArtisan takes a page from the Voigtländer VC meter by having extra lines to indicate similar exposure pairings.
For example, if your reading proper exposure at 1/60s and f2.8, the meter will also tell you that you can use 1/30s and f4 or 1/125s and f2 and still get proper exposure. It’s a simple system with lines, and many already understand this concept, but for those who do not (or those who forget, like me) it’s a great help that’s absent on the Meter D.
I was lucky to get just a bit of sun in the otherwise-dismal Finnish November, so I rushed out to take advantage. Even at noon, the sun casts long shadows here due to the Earth’s tilt, which is the same reason it gets dark so early in the day here.
I walked the streets around our office while I ran some errands, all while lugging around the Pentax 6x7. I noticed people looking at the massive camera in my gloved hand and imagined I would do the same in their situation. It’s a pretty intimidating piece of kit.
I took some photos in bright light, in subdued light, and at night to test the TTArtisan and found it to be serviceable. It underexposed a bit in bright light and overexposed a bit in low light, leading me to believe its sensor is a bit less sensitive than the Meter D.
That being said, for the vast majority of situations this meter is totally acceptable, and I even liked the look of the night-time/low light photos I got. This isn’t a long-exposure meter by any stretch, but it never claimed to be.
Its shutter speed range simply isn't wide enough to cover exposures longer than 1 second. The Doomo Meter D features the same limitation. If you're looking for long exposure metering, you're better off with one of the screen-based meters like the Reveni.
TLDR: It’s fine and it works fine, for the price. Basically, the meter comes at a substantial discount over its competitors and that’s its main appeal. Whereas the Doomo Meter D prides itself on build quality and retro design and the Reveni sells itself with small size and low weight, the TTArtisan's price is the selling point here.
If price wasn’t a factor, I’d pick the Doomo over the TTArtisan any day. But if you’re able to get nearly 2 TTArtisan for the price of a Meter D, and even more for the price of the Voigtländer VC, then it’s a different conversation. Not having to swap meters from camera to camera is a big benefit, as is having a silver meter for silver cameras and a black one for black cameras.
With vintage cameras like this, the aesthetic is part of the shooting experience. It’s just the truth. With that in mind, the TTArtisan is a solid, if unremarkable addition to the light meter battlegrounds whose most impressive feature is its low price tag.