Keks KM-Q OLED Light Meter Review

Keks KM-Q OLED Light Meter Review

2200 1237 James Tocchio

When I reviewed the Keks Camera KM02 OLED light meter back in 2022, I called it “the best $100 shoe-mount light meter on the market.” But it wasn’t without problems. I mostly disliked that the buttons were unlabeled, which made operation nearly impossible without reading and re-reading the manual. Two years later, I still use the KM02 any time I’m shooting a meter less film camera (and still getting tripped up by those inscrutable buttons).

Now Keks has released their newest OLED light meter, the KM-Q. This meter is their smallest meter yet, at nearly half the size of the earlier KM02. It retains almost all of the most important parts of the larger meter’s functionality and specifications, and also comes in two models with differing screen orientations (top-mounted screen and back-mounted screen), ideal for people seeking the perfect orientation for their waist-level or eye-level rigs.

But the KM-Q frustratingly fails to address the problems I found in earlier models. Nothing is perfect, granted, but my frustration is all the more potent given how close the Keks meters come to perfection.

Keks KM-Q Specifications

  • Material: Aluminum housing (black or chrome)
  • Dimensions: 1 x 0.9 x 0.8 inches (25.5 x 22 x 21 mm)
  • Weight: 0.7 oz (18.5 grams)
  • Battery: 120mAh Lithium Ion
  • Battery Life: 20 hours (six months standby mode)
  • Charging Time: 30 minutes
  • Charging Port: USB Type C
  • Monitor: 0.4 inch (1 cm) grayscale OLED
  • Shoe Mounts: Three removable plastic shoe mount sizes provided
  • Metering: 30 degree average metering (approximately 50mm lens viewing angle)
  • Metering Mode: Continuous metering
  • Exposure Modes: Aperture Priority or Shutter Priority
  • Aperture Values: f/1.0 to f/64
  • Shutter Speeds: 1/6400s to 30s
  • ISO Values: ISO 50 to ISO 8,000

The Keks KM-Q in the real world

I spent two months using the Keks KM-Q before writing this review, and much of the below copy will read identically to my review of the Keks KM02. Like that earlier meter, using the KM-Q is simple (mostly).

The meter mounts to any camera with a hot or cold shoe. It’s provided with three different mount sizes which are attached by the user with a provided Allen wrench. Once the meter is mounted to the camera, we set the ISO to whatever film we have loaded in the camera. This is not as simple as it seems, since setting the ISO requires interacting with some mysterious combination of the four available buttons. Sitting here in my office with the Keks KM-Q meter a few dozen steps away, I genuinely cannot explain how to set ISO.

I know I’m repeating myself, but there needs to be some sort of marking on these buttons. I own fifty electronic devices and I can’t remember how to set ISO on my meter when all four of its buttons are identical, and none of them are labeled.

I’ll allow that this particular problem only happens once, when we have to set the meter’s ISO. But it happens every time I have to remember how to set the ISO, and it’s an especially pronounced problem since I sometimes go weeks without using the meter. Then, I have to learn it all over again.

I’ll also allow that this isn’t a massive problem. It may not even be a problem at all, just a minor annoyance. But I’m getting older. Every second I spend fumbling with the Rubik’s cube of my light meter’s unlabeled buttons is another second I’ll miss when I’m dead. And really, this could all be solved by a simple laser engraving on the meter’s body.

Once we’ve stumbled our way into the menu which allows us to select ISO, we’re ready to meter.

The unit works in a way that’s similar to any camera’s aperture-priority or shutter-priority mode. After setting the ISO we then select either the desired aperture or shutter speed, after which, the meter will continuously meter the light display on the screen the final variable which will result in a correct exposure.

To give an example, say we’re shooting 400 ISO film and we want to shoot a shot with the lens aperture set to f/8. We set our ISO to 400, and then simply press the plus or minus button until the meter is set to f/8. After that, the meter will tell us which shutter speed we should choose. The ISO, aperture, and shutter speed values are all adjustable, and the meter will give the reciprocal reading.

While the older meters could meter in single shot mode, wherein the user would press a button to take a reading, the new meter reads only in continuous mode, constantly refreshing its reading based on environmental input.

The meter’s 30º metering angle of view strikes a good balance between average and tighter selective metering. It corresponds well with the readings I’m getting from my Leica R5 in side-by-side comparison when the R5 is set to its somewhat wide selective metering mode.

The OLED display on the back or top of the meter (depending which model we’ve bought) is bright, vibrant, and easy to read in daylight.

When the battery runs down we plug it into a USB C connector and it charges in 30 minutes. Like the earlier Keks meters, the KM-Q uses a Lithium Ion battery instead of replaceable batteries, which may be a good or bad thing, depending on perspective. The earlier Keks meters had a 220mAh battery and this new meter has a less potent 120mAh battery, however the new battery charges faster and lasts almost as long as the earlier meter’s battery. Neat!

The bottom line? The Keks KM-Q is tiny, works great, and does everything that most users will ask of it. It’s a great light meter at a great price ($84.99).

Alternatives and Buyer’s Guide

The Keks KM-Q seems to be a direct response to some of Kek’s competitors. The earlier Keks meters were small, but a number of other meters have appeared which offer similar performance in a smaller package. The KM-Q also addresses the competitors whose products offered top mounted display screens.

Like the earlier Keks meters, this new meter does everything I need, inexpensively, and elegantly. That’s not to say that competitor’s meters aren’t good meters. I just don’t see any of them being notably better than the Keks.

And then there’s the earlier Keks meters, which could be considered competitors of the newer KM-Q. Frankly, I like the older meters better. While the KM-Q is smaller than Keks’ earlier products, the earlier meters are small enough for me, and with larger buttons and more user controls (such as exposure compensation), and a bigger display which is easier to parse and easier to navigate.

For me, the Keks KM02 is still the most convenient inexpensive light meter I’ve used. The KM-Q is very nice, but the only users who would prefer it over the older meters are those who used the KM02 and thought “I wish this was half the size.” That’s just not me. But it might be you!

Buy your own Keks KM-Q from B&H Photo here!

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James Tocchio

James Tocchio is a writer and photographer, and the founder of Casual Photophile. He’s spent years researching, collecting, and shooting classic and collectible cameras. In addition to his work here, he’s also the founder of the online camera shop

All stories by:James Tocchio
  • Merlin Marquardt April 10, 2024 at 4:10 pm

    “another second I’ll miss when I’m dead” Too late. But life’s like that. Priorities. Nice review of a nice meter. I have the Keks OM02, but use it very little, just lazy. Have been spoiled by cameras with built in light meters.

  • Good to know about . . . thanks for the review. I noticed the Keks site has a KMQr model that accommodates the Rollei 35’s bottom shoe. It makes the rear display readable with the meter in upside-down orientation.

  • Great review – and I agree, it is a mystery why such a well-designed and made item has such inscrutable controls. A real Achilles’ heel.

  • Personally I prefer the Sekonic L-208, its bigger granted, but has a hotshot and best of all its analog so goes so much better with my film cameras. Its v accurate too!

  • The lack of labels on the buttons is a negative but understandable on a meter this small. I use mine often and now find the buttons intuitive. The meter reading generally matches the meter on my Leica SL (Typ 601) which is to say it’s accurate.

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James Tocchio

James Tocchio is a writer and photographer, and the founder of Casual Photophile. He’s spent years researching, collecting, and shooting classic and collectible cameras. In addition to his work here, he’s also the founder of the online camera shop

All stories by:James Tocchio