Light meter advice needed!

Discussion in 'Lighting' started by J Rollinger, Apr 16, 2009.

  1. J Rollinger

    J Rollinger Member

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    For a couple years i have been using the meter in a Canon Rebel 35mm for my medium and large format photography. I have decided to take my photography my serious and Im looking at a brand new Pentax digital spotmeter for $499 and was wondering what everyone thought about the meter? The Canon Rebel meter served me fine as a hobbyist but i want to advance in the area of exposure.

    Thank you
     
  2. BradS

    BradS Member

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    I'm sure this is going to get me castigated as a freethinking heretic - but, it won't be the first time....

    Personally, I've never seen the need for a spot meter.

    A good used Gossen Luna Pro SBC or similar basic handheld meter with a needle and a calculator dial is hard to beat - just be sure to get one that does both incident and reflected readings.
     
  3. TheFlyingCamera

    TheFlyingCamera Membership Council Council

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    On the used market, I'd look for a Sekonic 308 if you just want a handheld meter like BradS is advocating - nice pocketable meter that does incident and reflected, ambient and flash metering, and gives you the readouts in easy-to-interpret Fstop-plus-graph readings with 1/10th stop precision. For a spotmeter, I'd suggest the Minolta Spotmeter M or F (depends on if you want flash metering as well (spotmeter F), or are concerned about battery availability (Spotmeter F takes an AA battery, the M takes a silver oxide battery). For a nice compromise, the Sekonic 408 has a 5 degree spot (the Minoltas are 1 degree), does ambient and flash, incident and reflected (dome up, dome down), and as a plus is weatherproof. I've owned all of the above mentioned meters, and have liked all of them (I still have the Spotmeter F and the Sekonic 408). In all cases, they're about half the price of the Pentax you're looking at. The 308 is still available new, in fact. It's a shame they killed off the 408, but I guess more people wanted the 1 degree spot metering on the higher end models like the 508.
     
  4. Christopher Walrath

    Christopher Walrath Subscriber

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    Wirelessly posted (BlackBerry9000/4.6.0.167 Profile/MIDP-2.0 Configuration/CLDC-1.1 VendorID/102 UP.Link/6.3.0.0.0)

    And you don't even need that much. All I have used for the past few yearsN with the exception of my N65, with my cameras has been an old Weston Master IV hand held light meter. I have wanted to get a spot meter for some time now but thatfirst number after the $ makes me rethink and buy more film. If you are meticulous you don't need to spend upwards of half a grand to get a mete you can use well.
     
  5. mikebarger

    mikebarger Subscriber

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    I've got a Luna pro SBC and two Pentax spotmeters, a V and the digital . Very seldom do I pick up the SBC over the spot. I shoot 120 and 4x5.

    I bought a used digital on a whim, really cheap (under $125 for a really nice meter). Maybe because I've used the V analog for a lot of years, but I don't care that much for the digital dial.

    If you could combine the digital readout with a dial on the side like V, it would be a perfect meter for me!

    Mike
     
  6. Jeff Kubach

    Jeff Kubach Member

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    I agree!

    Jeff
     
  7. jeroldharter

    jeroldharter Member

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    I just made a post on meters at the Large Format forum, so this is a repeat. I have a Sekonic spotmeter (Dual Spot) and a Gossen Luna Pro SBC. Both of them are excellent meters. I use the zone system (BTZS) and have gone through all of the testing, etc. However, I thought I would try the incident metering system advocated by Phil Davis in his books. It works great and I find it much faster and more accurate than my spot metering. So now I use an incident meter. I just picked up a Gossen Digisix for a good deal used (only ~$125 new) and it is a great meter. It is extremely small and light and simply measures the EV which is all I need. You can transfer the EV to the exposure dial by rotating it if you work that way also. So buy the Gossen and use the extra money for 300 sheets of film to practice on.:smile:
     
  8. Ian David

    Ian David Subscriber

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    I use a Sekonic L308B (almost always in incident mode) and a Pentax digital spot, depending on the situation. They are both very reliable meters and I have never had any problems with either. Whether a spot meter is a worthwhile investment for you will depend on what sort of photography you do and how excited you want to get about precise metering of different elements of your scene.
    Jerold - I have heard a few people say good things about the Gossen Digisix but I bought one a few years ago and hated it. Felt too cheap and plastic and I found that it used to change modes annoyingly in my pocket due to the placement of the buttons. A nice man on ebay took it off my hands. Anyway, that was just my personal experience of it...
    Ian
     
  9. archphoto

    archphoto Member

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    Some Sekonics have everything in one meter, they should be in your price range !

    Refelctive reading is for my digi, incedent for 6x6 upto 8x10 inch.
    For the Minolta Flashmeter IV I have the 5 degree spot att aswell, but I use it seldom.

    Peter
     
  10. jeroldharter

    jeroldharter Member

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    Ian,

    You are certainly right that this meter is no tank. It does feel like a plastic lightweight. But it is so small and light. I am inclined to keep the meter on a lanyard around my neck or in a belt pouch anyway. Try to put a Pentax spot meter in your pocket by the way! The dial also has some play in it but don't forget that it costs ~$100.
     
  11. 2F/2F

    2F/2F Member

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    Spot meters are great, but really specialize in a few things: Tonal placement, measuring relative luminance values of elements in the composition, and measuring the luminance range of the composition.

    If these are not things you will be doing, and just want the most accurate and foolproof way to get a direct-reading exposure, I would opt for a different type of meter: an incident meter. With these, you point the dome on the meter at your light source. They are very difficult to fool, like all reflected meters are. You can get a direct reading exposure that will render a grey card as a middle grey, and you can also measure lighting ratios. If you use one of these in conjunction with a good eye for luminance range and knowledge of your film and paper, you can also decide when to give more or less exposure (followed by less or more development) than the meter recommends.

    My favorites are the Sekonic L-398A Studio Deluxe III (or any of the earlier versions of it) for $180 brand new, or the Sekonic L-208 Twinmaster for $100 brand new.

    These are ambient meters. If you want a meter that will measure flash as well, get one of those. They usually measure ambient light as well.

    If you want a meter that can do all three, look at the higher-end Sekonics. They are pricey, but not a whole lot more than the Pentax digital spot meter.

    I personally use a Sekonic Studio Deluxe predecessor backed up by a Pentax digital spot meter for most things I do.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 16, 2009
  12. J Rollinger

    J Rollinger Member

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    Thanks everyone! I have allot of choices now and will bring the model numbers you guys mentioned to the shop and compare the features and prices. Thanks again for all of your help!
     
  13. Kent10D

    Kent10D Member

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    That's where I keep mine!
    Hmm ... that may be why people keep asking me if I'm pleased to see them ...

    Silliness aside, I personally am a staunch adherent of the Pentax Spotmeter. I use a Sekonic L-758D in situations where I want both spot and incident metering, and of course when I'm metering flash, but for just straight-out landscape shooting in medium or large format the Pentax Spotmeter really hits the spot (<-sorry about that one).

    Why? Part of the reason is the meter's simplicity. No bells and whistles. It just does what it says on the label.

    Another big one for me is comfort: the handle, trigger, and eyepiece are exactly in the right place for me. The L-758D, which also does spot metering with more features than I care to learn about, is an absolute dog to hold, aim, and trigger.

    One more minor difference is that with the Sekonic, you hit the trigger and the reading is fixed, frozen. With the Pentax you can hold the trigger and sweep around the scene and the reading will follow. Not essential, but I find it nice and smooth that way.

    One thing some people don't like about the Pentax is that it reads in EV, and you have to get the shutter speed and aperture off the dial. But if you think in zones that can actually be preferable. If you want direct shutter speed and aperture readings, then give the Pentax a pass.

    Cheers!
     
  14. L Gebhardt

    L Gebhardt Subscriber

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    I tried a lot of meter and the Pentax Digital SPotmeter was what I ended up with. It is easy to use, and has practically no advanced features to accidentally get set. Simply set the film speed and take a reading. Then place that reading on the zone I want it at. Read to the shutter/aperture combination. For this to work you need to add a sticker showing the zones. Mine is simply marker on a postage label. Others get fancy. Take a look at http://www.largeformatphotography.info/articles/ZoneDial.pdf to get an idea. When you look at the store it won't have this, and it is what makes all the difference to me.

    If I am shooting portraits or close up I also like an incidence meter, but I have trouble getting it into the subject's light for landscapes so it isn't 100% useful for me. A spot meter can be used anywhere, and if you are only going have one meter type this should be it (in my not so humble opinion).
     
  15. furcafe

    furcafe Member

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    I am also (somewhat) of a fan of the Digisix's size, if not the ergonomics of the buttons, etc. The fact that is small & light & modern & accurate was the deciding factor for me, because as the old adage re: cameras also applies to meters, i.e., they're only good if you have them w/you when the need arises. The only serious quirk that a user should be aware of is that the location of the sensor & incident dome, on top & facing outward & away from you when holding it flat in your hand, make it more awkward to to use in incident mode than the Sekonics, which have the incident dome facing up towards you when held in the hand.

     
  16. EASmithV

    EASmithV Member

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    Check ebay. You can find some amazing deals there. I got a Sekonic L-508 Zoom master meter, which can do 1 degree spot metering, Incident metering, Flash metering, and a major bonus over the L-308 is that it uses standard AA batteries, instead of some weird one. 200 bucks used, expensive for me at the moment, but a good buy, and definately something I needed. It's a great machine, so If you can find a L-508 for a good price, I can tell you it's worth getting.
     
  17. JRJacobs

    JRJacobs Member

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    I own both the Pentax Digital Spotmeter and the Gossen LunaPro SBC. Both are useful meters and serve different purposes.

    If I could only keep one, it would be the Gossen. I also have the "variable angle attachment", which allows the Gossen to be used as a spot meter. The reason I like the Gossen better: A) More versatile (reflected, incident and spot), B) Can measure very low light levels - the Pentax poops out in low light conditions.

    I should add that I also use a Sekonic 308 in the studio for measuring flash. It also works well as an incident meter in available light, but is very poor to use as a reflected type meter.

    If you are only doing zone system work, you might appreciate the Pentax more. If you like to do all sorts of photography, the Gossen is a better choice (and it can also be used for zone work with the vari-angle attachment).