Light Meter Reviews – UPRtek MK350S

Posted: August 4, 2014 in Light Meters
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We have now entered the modern era, where meters are available with a dazzling array of features, at a fraction of the cost once commanded. In this case, the UPRtek MK350S, available also in a lesser featured, and lower cost MK350N version, produces amazingly beautiful results with little pain in the wallet or the head from learning to use it. You may find this also sold under other brand names, such as AIBC, or sold through outlets such as Allied and Ikan. I first saw the MK350S at Light+Build in Frankfurt. A customer of mine also saw them, and was so impressed, he purchased one and has allowed me some time to play with it and in preparation of building up a test lab for his company.

MK350S package

MK350S package

The MK350S comes with all the parts necessary to put it to work. With a bit of minor assembly, insert the battery, slide in the data/wireless card, charge it up, and its ready to go. The touch screen interface is a great feature, as is having the results readily displayed on the device itself in full living color. Their is a camera function that not only allows a picture to be associated with the readings taken, but assists in aligning the sensor when readings are taken.

This meter can deliver the entire collection of desirable architectural lighting results (with a couple of interesting exceptions we will cover in a moment.) The output on the screen can be configured to show:

Spectrum view
CIE 1931 view
CIE 1976 view
LED Bin position (within a standard ANSI bin for the CCT reading)
Footcandles and Lux
Dominant and Peak wavelength
Comparison of two light sources
Associate a photo to a meter reading

The data can be stored on an SD card for use within the companies basic software, which duplicates the presentation of the device itself. Overall, the product runs in the $3,100 range at the advanced level, while the MK350N can be hunted down for around the $2,500 mark. The extra $600 produces several nice additions, particularly the lack of CRI and Purity. Further, the MK350S includes wireless communication for control of the device, where this is an add-on the the MK350N, which will bring its cost closer to the MK350S level, and still be missing the CRI function. Here is a link to a comparison of the two MK350N vs. MK350S.


The range of delivered outputs from the MK350S is impressive

I found the product an exciting tool. Its difficult to resist walking around taking readings all over the place and looking at the results. It’s great having this all in hand, without cables connected to a laptop, and a display bright enough to be seen in daylight conditions. The meter fits well in the hand, and goes a long time on a charge. Overall, this is a great new step forward in bringing accurate, relevant lighting data to specification level decision makers and evaluators.

LUX.G image from AIBC web site

LUX.G image from AIBC web site

There is another unique feature provided in the MK350S, called LUX.G that generates a colorized brightness ratio image of a space to illustrate brightness patters. This false color imagery helps the user see the brightness patterns more clearly, and is rather interesting. Not sure exactly how useful it will be, but it is certainly something to look at.

This all said, I have a few nits to pick with it.

No CQS. With CRI under attack, and likely to be replaced soon, likely with the CQS or other similar system, I wonder how they will deal with the new standard when it emerges, or will this be a matter of having to replace the product itself?

No P/S Ratio. It seems an easy addition to include the Photopic/Scotopic ration function, considering how this is becoming a topic of discussion for future approaches.

No McAdam Ellipse evaluation in the bin function. With the data existing in the system as it sits, there is no reason this comparison could not be included.

Not wild about the software/wireless registration loop. The company makes every new user jump through a few hoops to get their software up and running, and the wireless card to work. The real problem here is that the wireless card must be functional to access the memory card for storing data, so until that’s done, there is no way to get the data from the device anywhere else. But that’s okay, since the data is useless without the software, which also requires a registration loop.

Integrated display on top with fixed light sensor is not ideal. The fact that the sensor is permanently stuck in the end of the meter, and the display is on top, means that in lab or tripod mount uses, the meter must be connected to a computer to see the results. Further, the sensor at the end of the meter means reading some angles must be done blind, then read, which renders the camera assisted aiming moot. While we’re on that topic, the camera position on the head is enough offset of the sensor, that measuring close up objects is a bit odd, requiring you offset what you see to get the sensor properly centered. It would be a nicer device if the sensor head popped off for hard-to-read, tripod, and lab application.

These are all minor issues in the bigger picture, and will likely be smoothed out as the product is applied over time. This is a level of performance, and superior in the GUI over much more expensive systems, like the Minolta CL500, whose display is poor, or others where connection to a computer is necessary to come even close to what is displayed in this handheld device.

More on the MK350S from UPRTek and from AIBC

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