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The best laser measure in 2021: get the distance accurately with these tools

best laser measure
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Looking for the best laser measure, to help you to measure distances accurately without the need for the tape? This guide will help you pick the right laser distance measurer at the right price.

Optics has its uses beyond photography, and eliminating the fuss of attempting to get an accurate figure from a conventional tape measure is definitely one of them. Not only that, but it might be your chance to snap up that first Leica, since the brand’s digital distance measures start at under $100.

Laser tape measures, as those determined to speak in metaphor can’t help but call them, take all the hassle out of measurement jobs, pro or DIY. Their practicality has been quickly adopted by trades from construction and surveying through IT networking and energy fitters and even used by drivers of oversize loads to check clearances.

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It works simply by measuring the time taken for the light pulse from a laser to be reflected back to the sensor. Surfaces with unusual reflectivity can cause problems, as can very bright surroundings. A good level of accuracy is 1-2mm (1/16 – 1/32-inch) and it is important to ensure your preferred measurements are available. 

With 100-300ft (30-90m) the average measuring range for contractors, competition has emerged in the range of additional features the system can add. In physical terms, some kind of spirit level is useful and, in software terms, memories for previous measurements, the ability to perform area and volume calculations, and the ability to export measurements are all possibilities. 

The best laser measures in 2021

(Image credit: Leica)

1. Leica D1

Best laser measure for carpentry or flooring

Specifications
Measurement range: 40 m / 130 ft
Display: Illuminated LCD
Memories: 2 measurements
Accuracy: ± 0.08-inch / 2mm
Bluetooth: Yes
Inclinometer: -
Dimensions: 115 x 44 x 24 mm
Weight: 87g
Power: 2xAAA (approx. 20h)
Laser: Class 2 650 nm
Protection: IP54
Measurements: M/In/Ft
Reasons to buy
+Elegant design+On-screen memories
Reasons to avoid
-Expensive given features

The D1 is elegant and simple to use, but that doesn’t mean it’s not equipped with advanced features it is compatible with Leica’s free Disto Plan app which – via Bluetooth and any Apple or Android phone – extends the measure’s two-button operation into a full room measurement tool with sketch 

The effortless transfer of data to the smartphone, combines with a light-touch keypad (no more buttons than you need) make this a great tool for measuring spaces and single lengths of wood but those working on larger spaces or outdoors might look for a more powerful laser. Similarly the app is great, but of course built-in mathematics would be a way to keep your phone’s touch-screen away from the work environment.

(Image credit: Mileseey)

2. Mileseey S6

Great value laser measure

Specifications
Measurement range: 100 m / 328 ft
Display: Backlit LCD
Memories: 20 measurement groups
Accuracy: ± 1/16-inch / 1.5mm
Bluetooth: -
Inclinometer: Yes
Dimensions: 113 x 47 x 27 mm
Weight: 136g
Power: 2xAAA
Laser: Class 2 650 nm
Measurements: M/In/Ft/Ft+In
Reasons to buy
+100m range+Digital angle measure+Low price for specifications
Reasons to avoid
-Empty List

The Mileseey S6  is a more versatile electronic measure than some on this list that cost considerably more, and at least claims a longer measuring range too making it more useful in factories and warehouses as well as large apartments and other big spaces. In terms of features there are area, distance, volume and Pythagorean measurements.

As well as being reasonably robust, with IP54 ingression protection, the rubber body makes for a good grip and drops aren’t much of a concern. It’s great that a bubble-level is included as well as electronic inclinometer for those just wanting to quickly check a level, or passing the tool to their older workmate and wanting to side-step a “good old days” lecture! (Check out the Mileseey S2 if you’re not interested in the angle measurement facility).

(Image credit: Bosch)

3. Bosch GLM400CL Blaze

Best laser measure for features

Specifications
Measurement range: 120m / 400ft
Display: Color LED
Memories: 600 measurements
Accuracy: ± 1/16-inch / 1.5mm
Bluetooth: Yes
Inclinometer: Yes
Dimensions: 140x29x64mm
Weight: 210g
Power: Integrated 3.6V Li-ion
Measurements: M/In/Ft/Ft+In
Reasons to buy
+Built-in camera+⊕ Reinforced glass display
Reasons to avoid
-Regular charging needed

This is a bright laser, capable of taking a long measurement on a fairly bright day, but what really sets it apart is the technology it has to back that up. There are a good range of measurements, including (by virtue of the inclinometer) Pythagorean areas, but the icing on the cake is the camera. 

The camera does, of course, invite risky comparisons against other photographic products here – but really it has two jobs – it helps identify the spot the laser is pointing to more easily, and it records an image with the measurement. Both of these tasks any low-end digital camera is perfectly adequate for. 

(Image credit: DeWalt)

4. Dewalt DW030PL Atomic

Best laser measure for travel

Specifications
Measurement range: 16.75 m / 55 ft
Display: Backlit light-on-dark LCD
Memories: -
Accuracy: ± 1/4-inch / 6.3mm
Bluetooth: -
Inclinometer: -
Dimensions: 64 x 38 x 19 mm
Weight: 100 g
Power: 3.7V Lithium-Ion
Laser: Class 2 650 nm
Measurements: M/SAE
Reasons to buy
+Rechargeable+Highly portable
Reasons to avoid
-Limited range

If you’re conducting household work ease of use, and the ability to withstand splashes and dust, are probably a good bit more important than long distance measurements. That’s where DeWalt’s new range measure fits perfectly. It’ll be easy to throw in a bag with plumbing gear and can dangle on the included wrist-strap without worry.

It has the brand’s legendary toughness guarantee, while the back-lit display makes it easy to read in a dark cupboard or a bright yard. Despite the surprisingly accessible pricing (presumably the relatively low range keeps costs down), the measure has a USB-rechargeable lithium battery (cable included). Single button operation might lack memory functions but will be enough for most tasks.

(Image credit: DTape)

5. Dtape DT50

Best budget laser measure

Specifications
Measurement range: 50m / 165 ft
Display: Backlit LCD
Memories: 20 groups
Accuracy: ± 1/16-inch / 1.5mm
Bluetooth: -
Inclinometer: -
Dimensions: 115 x 50 x 29 mm
Weight: 200 g
Power: 2xAAA
Laser: Class 2 650 nm
Measurements: M/feet/in/ft+in
Protection: IP54
Reasons to buy
+Several memories on display+Multiple features+Extras including bag
Reasons to avoid
-Empty List

The Dtape brand might not have the presence of some of the others on this list, but nor are they planning to remind you of that when you check your wallet; offered at very reasonable prices in both a 50m and 100m version this measure has a 2-inch screen with several measurements on and is capable of area and volume calculations. There are even indirect Pythagorean calculations on offer.

Features like this might make you question the wisdom of spending more and, Dtape are now comfortably past their tenth birthday so the firm is clearly not without experience. The rubber design also makes this a reasonably rugged, no-slip tool which will convert anyone to laser measures (and, at the risk of mentioning the price again, would make an excellent gift without breaking the bank).

(Image credit: Leica)

6. Leica Disto E7500i

Best laser measure for professionals

Specifications
Measurement range: 200 m / 660 ft
Display: Color LCD
Memories: 30 measurements
Accuracy: > 1/16-inch / 1mm
Bluetooth: Y
Inclinometer: Y (±0.2˚)
Dimensions: 143 x 58 x 29 mm
Weight: 198 g
Power: 2xAAA
Protection: IP65
Laser: Class 2 650 nm 1mW
Measurements: M/In/Ft
Reasons to buy
+Excellent accuracy+Rugged
Reasons to avoid
-Quick user of batteries

As photography enthusiasts reading this will have no trouble believing, the Leica Geosystems range offers pricier alternatives, but even for professional surveyors the E7500i seems capable of providing the features required, plus compatibility with Leica’s Disto app and height tracking.

The IP65 rating means the device isn’t just splash-proof but will withstand a jet of water. The system can help with all the area, volume, and Pythagorean calculations you’d hope. In addition, acknowledging the long range, long-distance measurements are easier to achieve thanks not only to the 4x zoom digital camera (I feel I should say “technically a Leica” and make an exaggerated wink at the photographers reading) for aiming, but a feature called Smart Horizontal for circumnavigating obstacles. 

The only potential issue is the speed of battery consumption, and of course with any long-range measure a pro would do well to pack a tripod, target and perhaps even laser glasses to be ready for any conditions.

(Image credit: Nikon)

7. Nikon Forestry Pro II

Best for measuring trees and power professionals

Specifications
Measurement range: 1600 m / 1 mile
Display: Backlit dot matrix LCD
Memories: 250 measurements
Accuracy: ± 1ft / 0.3m
Bluetooth: -
Inclinometer: Y
Dimensions: 110 x 74 x 42 mm
Weight: 170 g
Power: CR2 Lithium
Laser: Class 1M
Protection: IPX4
Measurements: M / yd
Reasons to buy
+Illustrated display+Excellent optics
Reasons to avoid
-Limited uses

While calculating the height of trees from distance isn’t essential for everyone, if you are doing it or anything involving similar triangle-based mathematics, the Forestry Pro makes the task a lot easier by thinking about the problem you must face, and even helping with a diagram. Measurements can be taken using two- or three-point measuring depending on whether parts of the tree or pole you’re measuring are obscured.

It works using an optical monocular finder – in that respect, the device has a lot in common with a more professional version of a golfer's laser rangefinder (for comparison, the eye relief is 18mm). With a magnification of 6x, professionals will find their targets reasonably easily, but there is also the Target Priority Mode to helps find objects in sequence if needed. The memory of 250 measurements lets you cover a lot of ground without getting the note pad out, too, and despite the distance measurements take about 0.3 seconds.

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Adam Juniper

Adam is Digital Camera World's resident drone expert. He is the author of a number of books including The Complete Guide to Drones, The Smart Smart Home Handbook, 101 Tips for DSLR Video, and The Drone Pilot's Handbook.