The Gossen Digisky marries a standard lightmeter with current technological trappings, promising to be the first of a new generation of compact and lightweight multi-function exposure meters .

In place of the usual numerical LCD, for example, is a 2.2in monitor, which displays graphics and menus in colour, while a USB port on the underside not only allows the meter's firmware to be updated as it becomes available, but also charges the internal battery while connected.

The device supports up to four flash groups over eight radio frequencies, and three presets may be defined at a time in addition to a single preset menu for movie settings, which includes options for frame rates and shutter angle in addition to more standard exposure-orientated controls.

At the top of the unit is a retractable diffuser head which is encircled by a ring; turning this serves the dual purpose of moving the head in and out for incident and reflective light metering and also powering the device up and down.

Gossen digisky meter: head shot

Underneath the LCD screen a measurement key is joined by menu and data buttons and a control ring for navigating the menus, while a flash sync socket at the unit's base allows the unit to be connected to external lighting sources.

It'd be unreasonable to expect the Digisky to boast the same build quality and durability of a magnesium-bodied SLR, although those shelling out £330 for one may nevertheless feel a little short-changed by its build. The body is constructed from a matte-finish plastic, only differing with its glossier front fascia; the two could easily be found on a budget compact camera.

Gossen digisky meter: in hand

There's less to complain about with handling, though. The M button used for taking readings is large and presses firmly into the body, and it's positioned so that the thumb naturally falls onto it when handled.

Measurements themselves are carried out within the second, which is on a par with similar exposure meters. Aside from the ring around the diffuser head all functions may be accessed using just the thumb, making speedy one-handed operation is a doddle, although the diffuser head ring itself can be a little awkward to operate with precision.

Gossen digisky meter: menu navigation

All preset menus and options are segregated with tabs within a simple menu system, and repeated presses of all the camera's controls show it to be generally responsive and with little lagging when moving from one screen to the other.

The main screen presents all its details clearly, and changing shutter speed or aperture is easily done with repeated presses of the control ring. It'd be helpful for these to keep changing as the control is being held down, though, as this would make moving through the values even more effortless.