Any reason to prefer a spot meter over a 35mm body that has one built in.

Discussion in 'Exposure Discussion' started by Anupam Basu, Sep 9, 2006.

  1. Anupam Basu

    Anupam Basu Member

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    I was planning to carry my N90s with my 4x5 camera to use as a spot meter. But I also have the opportunity to pick up a Minolta Spot meter II. But the weight saving doesn't look like it's going to be much, so is there any compelling reason to prefer a dedicated meter over a 35mm body?

    Thanks,
    -anupam
     
  2. Sportera

    Sportera Member

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    I just prefer working with a hand-held meter. To me carrying an SLR would be awkward to meter with. You don't have to spend a great deal on a meter either. I use a Gossen Multi Pro Ive had for 10 years with a variable angle attachment. Its never failed me, Ive drooled over the digital spots but I ask myself everytime, do you really need this? Can you use what you already have? (I hear that thought in my head, strangley it sounds like my wife!)

    Try the Slr metering for awhile, then buy a meter if you need one.
     
  3. Anupam Basu

    Anupam Basu Member

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    Well, also since I don't have a full LF kit right now, I'll probably carry the 24mm and the 105 macro with the N90s for stuff that the LF might not be able to handle. So, unless there is a compelling advantage to the handeld meter, it doesn't make sense for me until I can get a couple more LF lenses.

    -Anupam
     
  4. roteague

    roteague Member

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    Anupam,

    I sometimes use a Nikon F5 as a meter, but only in those cases where the light is changing too fast to use a spot metering technique. However, the spot meter remains my primary meter.

    The primary reason I use a spot meter over the F5, is that generally the F5 meter uses a built-in algorithm to determine correct exposure; this is based upon the cameras internal database. While this may work for the majority of the time, there are cases where I really need a spot meter. This is because I may wish to use a split neutral density filter to balance the exposure, rather than use a average meter reading. A spot meter simply makes it easier to determine where to place this filter.

    The other reason I use the spot meter is simply because I don't always want to carry the F5. I've found in the past that sometimes it is easier to start shooting with the F5 than go through the hassle of setting up a LF camera. By not taking the F5, I don't succumb as easily to that temptation. I've gotten much better over the years at placing my primary emphasis on the LF camera, but I still don't always carry the F5.

    In other words, it is better to become proficient using the spot meter, and only use the 35mm as a backup.
     
  5. Anupam Basu

    Anupam Basu Member

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    I only use the spot meter on my N90s as I am most comfortable with it. Only one of my lenses is AF but even with it I never use matrix metering.

    So my question is not about matrix metering vs. spot metering but about spot meter in a 35mm body or a handheld spot meter.

    -A
     
  6. roteague

    roteague Member

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    The Nikon spot meter uses 1.5% of the image area of the viewfinder. This may or may not be too big of an area for proper spot metering, depending upon what type of film you shoot, and the length of your lenses. For most of my work, I find it too much - I mosty use a 1 degree metering mode, with my spotmeter. FWIW, I see no real reason to shoot my F5 in anything other than matrix mode - the F5 is the type of camera I use for fast work, and with the limited exposure latitude of transparency film, it would be too easy to get the wrong exposure using spot metering.
     
  7. copake_ham

    copake_ham Inactive

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    I think part of this comes down to how much kit do you want to carry.

    I have both a (heavy) F5 and a (lightweight) N75 (and too many other Nikons - but that's another story). I'm guessing the N90 is closer to the latter than former in being a lightweight, plastic body.

    So, I am guessing that Anupam wants to limit his kit in terms of carrying the 4x5 and only the N90 w/o also carrying a spot light meter.

    In that case, given Robert's cautions, Anupam is probably okay. Using the N90 won't be as "perfect" as an external spot light meter but will probably be an acceptable compromise to lighten his kit and provide for including 35mm capability.
     
  8. johnnywalker

    johnnywalker Subscriber

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    If you put a telephoto or zoom (say the 70 - 300) on the Nikon, the 1.5 per cent would be a pretty small area at say 300 mm wouldn't it?

    I was using my F80 as a meter for my 4X5, bought a Gossen Luna Pro F (not a spot meter) off ebay and believe it's not calibrated right, so I'm going back to using the F80's meter until I find out if I'm throwing good money after bad by trying to get the Luna Pro repaired.

     
  9. Roger Hicks

    Roger Hicks Member

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    Dear Anupam,

    A true spot meter has a known constant angle and (usually) an I.R.E. (Institute of Radio Engineers) scale or highlight/shadow indices; as far as I recall, the Minolta has the latter and is one of the easiest-to-use spot meters I have ever encountered (I own four and have tried most of the others on the market -- bear in mind what I do for a living). I find spot meters so infinitely more convenient than in-camera 'spot' meters that I would not even consider using the latter as a meter for another camera.

    Cheers,

    Roger (www.rogerandfrances.com)
     
  10. David Henderson

    David Henderson Member

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    Three reasons. Firstly size/weight/convenience or whatever label you want to put on it. To get even close to replicating a spotmeter with a known 1 degree facility you'd have to carry/fit the slr with a long lens. Personally I'd rather carry another lens or two for my main system.

    Second, accuracy. I want to use a small spot to guage how relatively small details of the photograph will turn out at my chosen exposure.

    Third flexibility. For me, how a potential scene meters and whether I can hope to generate the effect I want is an important part of whether to photograph. I want to be able to make that decision without opening the bag or setting up a camera and so the hand-held meter stays in my pocket when I'm in an area where photography is a real possibility.
     
  11. Whiteymorange

    Whiteymorange Subscriber

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    I'm no expert in metering. You've obviously been every comfortable with the meter in the Nikon for quite awhile and find it easy to use. New gear may make your work better, it may not, depending on what you're really trying to do in LF. According to the testimony from the much more experienced and skilled folks who have contributed to this thread already, it can certainly make your metering in any given shot more precise. Do you feel you need more precision?

    Some simple questions you may want to think about:
    1. If you do buy a new meter, will you continue to want the Nikon with you anyway?
    2. Do you find yourself shooting the scene with the Nikon when you begin to meter? I always shoot a few frames in 35 as a sort of reference. I don't hike very far with the 4x5 and having a 35 handy isn't a problem for me.
    3. Will the familiar tool, the Nikon, actually distract you from the very different experience of working with the 4x5? I sometimes find it difficult to shift mental modes when changing formats and gear in the field.
     
  12. gr82bart

    gr82bart Member

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    If anything, it's an incident meter I would prefer over a spot meter or the in-camera meter.

    Regards, Art.
     
  13. Bob F.

    Bob F. Member

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    With a sufficiently long lens, a camera's built-in spot metering could easily be less than 1 degree so I don't see a problem there (about 250mm of my 300mm zoom on my EOS gives about 1 degree) but, trouble is, a long lens weighs a fair bit; add the weight of the camera and you are talking... what? 4 or more times the weight of a spot meter? A kilo or more? Worth considering if you are walking any distance. It also takes up a lot more room.

    If you are taking the 35mm anyway then it's likely to be a better fit and you can put the money saved towards a new LF lens, but otherwise I think it's worth splashing out on a spotmeter.

    Cheers, Bob.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 10, 2006
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  15. Drew B.

    Drew B. Subscriber

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    my meter is both a spot and incident meter. It is great to enter the settings, put the device around your neck and you can switch from the M645 to the RZ to the 4x5 anytime..or back and forth...all the while using the same meter. You never have to buy a metered finder if you're using MF. ...just my 2 cents.
     
  16. Eric Rose

    Eric Rose Subscriber

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    I use my Bessa R with a 90mm lens as my backup meter. Bang on accurate. Light too. Lugging a N90s around just seems like overkill to me. I have one, but would prefer to take the Bessa.
     
  17. dancqu

    dancqu Member

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    You've reminded me to work with my Olympus OM2000 as
    a spot meter and as importantly as a grab shot camera.
    Should equip it with a 35-105 Oly zoom.

    Most of my shooting is woods scenics and streams.
    A few years ago I was headed up a trail with my OM1n
    ready to shoot. I spotted an owl perched in a small tree
    very near the trail. I began a series of photos as I
    very quietly approached nearer. My last near shot
    was no more than two arms length. The owl
    took flite and landed on distant limbs
    where it was the subject of two
    more shots.

    Turned out it was a Spotted Owl; the rarely seen
    endangered species found here in the North West.

    Be sure you've film in the camera. Dan
     
  18. TheFlyingCamera

    TheFlyingCamera Membership Council

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    I think the biggest reason NOT to use the Nikon as a meter for your LF camera is that it makes you stop looking at the scene from the perspective of your LF camera. Not only are you now analyzing the scene through the 2:3 proportion viewfinder of the 35mm, but you are looking at it from a different point of view than your camera on the tripod. I find that I have a hard time retaining vision of what objects in a scene I want to analyze when looking through a different viewfinder, especially since most 35mm cameras don't have the metering spot marked in the finder, so you're not entirely certain what it is metering from.
     
  19. raucousimages

    raucousimages Member

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    A 35mm SLR may have a meter but it is not a meter. Use the right tool for the job. A good spot meter will out do an in-camera meter. Why go to all the trouble to work in LF if you are going to do some sort of hybred metering with an SLR?
     
  20. BradS

    BradS Subscriber

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    Anupam, This is good advice. The meter in your N90 will be plenty good. I carry a 35mm slr (Nikon FA) in my kit and use the meter all the time - works fine.
     
  21. Anupam Basu

    Anupam Basu Member

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    Thanks for all the posts. I decided to go with the N90s, at least for a while as I will be carrying it anyway. 4x5 can't do many of the kinds of shooting I want to do, but while using the LF camera, I won't be composing thru the N90s - I only take it out to meter particular spots, as the final step before setting the exposure.

    Meanwhile, here's my first LF print.

    Thanks,
    -Anupam
     

    Attached Files:

  22. gchpaco

    gchpaco Member

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    Spot meters tend to be smaller and more convenient to use than 35mm cameras, particularly if you mount a lens on your N90 so that the field of view is comparable.
     
  23. JBrunner

    JBrunner Moderator Staff Member

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    spot meter more ergonomic. spot meter measure smaller more accurate angle of acceptance. me vote for spot meter.
     
  24. naturephoto1

    naturephoto1 Subscriber

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    Unless using one of my Leica R series cameras (which have spot reading capabilities) I opt for carrying a 1 degree digital spot meter when using my medium and large format cameras. Though the spot reading capabilities for working with the 35mm cameras may be more flexible (reading for manual and automatic modes) and faster with these cameras, I find the spot meter easier, more practical, smaller,lighter, and as stated more ergonomic when using the larger formats. Additionally, with the 35mm camera as you change the lens focal length you change the size (angle) of spot metering. This option may require you to carry additional lenses.

    Rich
     
  25. Shawn Dougherty

    Shawn Dougherty Subscriber

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    I certainly can't add anything to the discussion from a technical standpoint. I will say that I used to carry a D-SLR to use as a meter(don't worry, I sold the silly thing). It was somewhat awkward to use. I finally bit the bullet and picked up a Pentax digital spotmeter and I love it. It's incredibly easy to use, small and accurate. I would recomend getting a spotmeter for sure. Best. Shawn
     
  26. dancqu

    dancqu Member

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    After being on the shelf for years your thread prompted
    me to start work with my Oly OM2000. At 70mm I've a
    5+ degree spot and 2 EV sensitivity. My old Sekonic
    will deliver 1 EV and 8+ degrees but won't take
    pictures.

    I wonder at times why I should be interested in spot
    metering. Years ago a Weston was plenty good enough.
    Seventy years ago the Zone system was likely nursed
    forward with the use of such meters. For that matter,
    IIRC, Phil Davis suggests an incidence meter be used.

    As for Spot meters, I personally doubt I,d care for so
    narrow as a 1 degree. I've a more recent Sekonic
    5 degree plus incidence. Quit on me. Dan