handheld light meters

Discussion in '35mm Cameras and Accessories' started by lilmsmaggie, Aug 26, 2009.

  1. lilmsmaggie

    lilmsmaggie Member

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    I realize that this topic has probably been beat to death, but as a novice, I just had to ask. I'm taking another digital class this semester, and trying to get into a 35mm film photography class. The latter is a prerequiste for a large format class that I eventually hope to take. Any way, I know I will need to obtain a light meter at some point.

    I'm assuming that whatever model I end up with, it should be multifunctional e.g. be able to measure, incident, relected, flash, etc.

    Problem is: which model/brand? Sekonic vs. Gossen vs. ?? Analog vs. Digital

    Is this a personal preference, one of those brand loyalty choices, or All the above?
     
  2. Paul Sorensen

    Paul Sorensen Member

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    I think that mostly it is an issue of preference when choosing which brand. The ones you mention are good, along with Minolta. Pentax also made awesome spot meters. Many large format photographers use spot metering which is really useful for the zone system, so that might be something to consider. From what I know, there is not really a good solution the includes flash metering and spot metering, but most good flash meters do include ambient as well as flash and can be used for both incident and reflected metering, sometimes with an added accessory.

    Edit: As for me, I have a little cheapie Sekonic that I use with my Rolleiflex and when I want to travel light and a pretty large digital Minolta Flash Meter IV when I am carrying everything and when I am using strobes, of course. I got the Sekonic because I was tired of carrying the large Minolta when I was carrying a walk around camera.
     
  3. tessar

    tessar Subscriber

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    It's all of the above. I use an old analog Gossen Luna Six for which I was lucky enough to find a battery adapter (the meter uses the now banned 1.35v mercury cells). I like it because it's accurate, convenient and I'm used to it. Sekonic is just as good as Gossen, digital is as good as analog -- it's a matter of personal preference.
     
  4. archphoto

    archphoto Member

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    Sekonic, Gossen, Minolta are all good.
    Analogue is faster to read (just glance at it to confirm your idea of aperture and shutterspeed)

    I have both a Gossen ProfiSix and a Minolta Flashmeter IV and they are both good.
    The ProfiSix (called diferent in the US) does not have flash metering, you will need an extra attachment for it (I have one).

    In the future I want a Sekonic Studio for walking around with anything from D upto 4x5 inch LF.

    Some will say a spotmeter, but not for me, allthough I have a 5 degree spot att for my Minolta.

    Peter
     
  5. Don Wallace

    Don Wallace Member

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    There are some light meters that "do it all" but I have never been able to afford one. Well, that isn't totally true - it is just that I would rather spend that much money on something else. Don't get too carried away with all of the features on the fancy lightmeters because for most photography, you won't need them. Define your needs first. If you do get just one meter with a lot of features, make sure it can also do spot metering (1 degree - you will need it that narrow for zone metering).

    I shoot mainly large format with some medium format, both black and white and colour, and I use two light meters

    1) A very simple and old Minolta digital digital meter that can do both incident and reflected. I use it almost exclusively in incident mode for colour. It is also a flash meter.

    2) A very simple and old Pentax spotmeter, analogue. I prefer the analogue for spot metering so I can see the zones more easily.

    You can get a good used meter for not a lot of money.
     
  6. Ektagraphic

    Ektagraphic Member

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    I have the Sekonic L-208 which is a small somewhat inexpensive analog meter and I love it!
     
  7. Rol_Lei Nut

    Rol_Lei Nut Member

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    As others have mentioned, you really can't go too wrong between Gossen, Sekonic & Minolta.

    I've gone through many meters and tend to prefer Sekonic to Gossen for reliability & ergonomics.

    Currently my main meter is a Sekonic L-308B, which is light, compact and does everything except spot metering.

    Digital meters have the (at least theoretical) advantage of being less sensitive to knocks than analogue (needle-equipped) ones, though to be fair, I've never managed to knock a analogue needle out of place or seriously out of adjustment.
     
  8. mgb74

    mgb74 Subscriber

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    First decision is whether you want a spotmeter or not. Then, assuming you don't, whether you want flash capability (I'm not aware of a spotmeter that also meters flash, but I could be wrong). I would not consider a meter without incident reading unless it's a small meter, or a spotmeter.

    I like my Minolta IVF (takes a single AA battery, digital), and my older Pentax Spotmeter V (analog), but many good options out there. Note that some of the earlier Gossen Luna Pros take the obsolete 624 mercury battery (although there are ways to deal with this).

    Like Paul, I also have a small Gossen Pilot (Selenium, so no battery) for casual use with my older folders.
     
  9. 2F/2F

    2F/2F Member

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    In my book, it should be simple/quick, have a analog scale, have mechanical controls for changing EI, etc., and be extremely durable.

    I personally do not like multimeters because none of the ones I have seen meet any of these requirements in my eyes. I like to have separate incident, spot, and flash meters. They seem to be more specialized, more simple/quick, more well built, and seem to be available with analog scales and the ability to make setting mechanically (i.e. twisting a dial until a number lines up with a dash, instead of pushing a button and rolling a wheel until a number comes up on an LCD).

    Digital readouts on an ambient light meter make no sense to me whatsoever. I find them most unhelpful. I see it as a complete waste and unnecessary application of technology to something that was already just as good as it could ever get. It does nothing but get in my way. (I do put up with the red dots inside my Pentax Digital Spot Meter, though.)

    I have not found a flash meter that feels like it fits the "durable" description, and I don't mind a digital readout on a flash meter, as it is not a hindrance when using flash. For as little as I use flash, I usually borrow a flash meter, though I am probably going to end up getting a Minolta soon. I like a brick that has nothing but an EI dial, a PC port, and a button. That also probably means that it is less likely to break, and that when I do break it, I can either fix it myself or be able to easily get quality work done on it for a reasonable price.

    For me, they have to be durable, because they tend to get beat to hell in actual "field" use, the way I use them.

    My incident is what I use probably 3/4 of the time that I use a light meter.

    I have a Brockway, which is an early version of the Sekonic L-398, which is still made.

    It has survived a lot just since I obtained it, and it still reads perfectly at almost 60 years old.

    Based on my own experience, I would suggest a Sekonic Studio L-398 from Freestyle. They are under $200. They are best bargain out there in a light meter, as far as I am concerned...and not only are they the best bargain, but the best bargain in this case also happens to be for the "best" meter, IMO. You will never need another incident ambient meter if you get this thing (and do not destroy it).

    There is also a cheaper Sekonic caried by Freestyle that probably works just as well. It is about $100. (See Ektagraphic's post below.)

    You can get a worthwhile student discount on both of these meters if you are a full timer. The L-398 goes down to below $150 this way. You can apply through Mac Group, which is the distributor, I believe. Once you are signed up, you also get the discount on Toyo, Mamiya, ProFoto, and some other stuff.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 26, 2009
  10. Ektagraphic

    Ektagraphic Member

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    It is the L-208 Twinmate. Great meter.
     
  11. lilmsmaggie

    lilmsmaggie Member

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    Coolio! -- I'm too green and wet behind the ears to have developed any preferences. Just so happens my current photo instructor suggested checking out freestyle for supplies. Now, I most certainly will!

    Initially, I was thinking maybe the L-308S, or L-358 - but will add the L-398 to my wish list. :tongue:
     
  12. John Koehrer

    John Koehrer Subscriber

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    Using a Sekonic 328 flash & ambient. reflected & incident, compact & light weight. A very straightforward meter to use. I've also used Gossen Luna-Pro SBC that was very handy.
    The 308S or 358 will certainly do the job.
     
  13. MattKing

    MattKing Subscriber

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    I have two that I use regularly.

    I've used my Gossen Profisix (Luna Pro SBC in the US) for years. I have the flash metering accessory, which I have used a lot, and an older enlarging meter accessory, that I've used rarely. There is also a spot meter attachment, which I don't have.

    The Profisix is a great meter for reflected, incident or flash operation. Apparently the spot meter accessory is also useful.

    The Profisix is, however, fairly large and therefore there are times I'm reluctant to take it with me.

    To deal with that, I've recently purchased a Gossen Digiflash. It isn't quite as convenient in operation as the Profisix, but it is very convenient to transport, and it is accurate and flexible.

    Matt
     
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  15. Ektagraphic

    Ektagraphic Member

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    A digital meter seems to be one of the stupidest things that I could buy because with an analog meter you can look at all of the exposure possibilities that you have all laid out on a wheel.
     
  16. cooltouch

    cooltouch Member

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    I own a Luna Pro SBC, a Luna Pro F, and a Pentax Spotmeter V. They're all good. Both the SBC and F will accept various Gossen accessories that attach to the front of the meter, but the earlier Luna Pros will accept only the vari-angle attachment -- I believe. One nice thing about the SBC and the F is that they both use a standard 9v battery. So no worries about the 1.35v mercury batteries. The Spotmatic F uses the same batteries, as I dimly recall, as most Nikons. Takes three of them, I believe.

    To me, the Gossen Luna Pro F comes as close to an ideal multi-function meter as one will need in most instances. It's analog (which I prefer), meters down to extremely low light levels, handles incident and reflected light, meters flash, and accepts the vari-angle attachment, which, while not a true 1-degree spot meter, narrows the angle of acceptance down to a choice between 15 and 7.5 degrees. I have found the 7.5 setting to be almost as useful as a spot meter.

    The Luna Pro series are extremely accurate, durable, and very flexible in their capabilities. Plus, they sell for way less than the L-398 Sekonic over on fleaBay -- most BIN prices for the F range from $100 to $140, as of a couple of minutes ago. The vari-angle attachment can be had for another $30 or so over there.

    Best,
    Michael
     
  17. MattKing

    MattKing Subscriber

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    Like this wheel:?

    Matt

    P.S. just because it has a digital display doesn't mean that it isn't eminently useful for analogue photography
    P.P.S. this is exactly the same display and dial as on the digiflash
     

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  18. DWThomas

    DWThomas Subscriber

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    A few decades back, my experience with analog meters wasn't all that wonderful. For really sensitive metering, the analog meters are rather delicate. I had an original Gossen Lunasix in which the meter died after about four or five years. I mailed it to NYC and spent the price of a lesser meter to get it repaired, after which it was dead again in a matter of months -- just long enough to be out of the repair warranty!

    I currently have a Gossen Digsix, which I like. It feels like an empty plastic box, but works quite nicely. I more recently acquired a Sekonic L-508 which has a digital display and does incident, variable width (1 to 4º) spot for reflected light, and flash (which I've not really tried yet). It's fairly large, but not very heavy, and uses a good ol' AA cell for power. There are newer Sekonic models which may offer more features, but they are pricey (as are most high end meters).

    DaveT
     
  19. Ektagraphic

    Ektagraphic Member

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    I didn't realize that they had meters like this. That is pretty neat. I still think that I would personally stick with an analog.
     
  20. Rol_Lei Nut

    Rol_Lei Nut Member

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    While I can understand where you're coming from, I find that in practice I can "visualise" the wheel in my head and "see" the combinations almost as well as on a physical wheel.

    After years of using analogue meters, I had the same thoughts/worries about using a digital one, but in practice they were mostly unfounded.

    BTW: Many people consider the Lunasix/Luna Pro as accurate, but at least the older CdS models have significant colour & linearity variations, even when using the right kind of batteries or substitutes.
     
  21. Q.G.

    Q.G. Inactive

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    I only buy meters that display EVs.
    No worries about displays (only one, in fact: does it display EVs). It's all i need.
    :wink:

    So with that concern out of the way, it's a toss up.
    Analog meters are a bit more delicate than digital ones.
    Both contain electronics. And with my meters at least, the electronic innards are the thingies that will eventually fail. Not the delicate meter mechanism.

    I use the Digisixes too, and absolutely love them.
    Not that they are without flaws.
    But still: small, and every bit as accurate as the larger ones.
    Plus an alarm and thermometer... what else can you ask for? :wink:
    (To be fair: the thermometer is not very good. You could hardly call it accurate.)


    CdS meters like the old Lunasix are indeed very accurate too. But rather slow to respond.
    And they hate strong light and need time to recover after having been exposed to it (memory effect).
     
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  22. BradS

    BradS Subscriber

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    The simpler the better as far as I'm concerned. I've always owned and used Gossen but, I'm pretty sure the Sekonic meters are just as good. My most used hand held is probably the Gossen Luna Pro digital. It is a modern wonder....it is extrememly accurate and does everything you could possibly need / want.
     
  23. doomtroll

    doomtroll Member

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    I like mine old school, I use a Weston Master III Universal Exposure Meter.
     
  24. benjiboy

    benjiboy Subscriber

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    Me too

    I have a Profisix too Matt, because it's so large I put it into semi-retirement and bought a Gossen Digipro F which is just as accurate but much quicker and more convenient to use, is also a flash meter, and is powered with a single AA battery you can get anywhere.
    I'm very impressed with the Digipro F and would recommend it, and if you don't need the flash facility the Gossen Sixomat Digital is very similar but without flash metering.
     
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  25. Chan Tran

    Chan Tran Member

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    whatever brand I don't have a recommendation, I own a few Minolta's though but they don't make meters any more. Kenko seems to make the same things now. What I would recocommend is to get the top of the line of any brand (Sekonic, Gossen, Kinko) then you'll be ok.
     
  26. j37r

    j37r Member

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    I'm old school as well I use a Weston Euromaster