Light meter questions

Discussion in 'Medium Format Cameras and Accessories' started by jmccl@yahoo.com, Nov 24, 2012.

  1. jmccl@yahoo.com

    jmccl@yahoo.com Member

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    I have a couple of vintage cameras that have no metering. I don't want to keep carrying a DSLR to provide my metering, so I was thinking about picking up a vintage (in keeping with my 50s era cameras) meter. I see Weston, Goshen, GE, Setronic, on e-bay with prices ranging from $2 to $500. In a lot of cases shipping costs exceed product cost. First question, are there any brands or models to avoid? I guess whether the device works is just caveat emptor regardless of the assertions of the seller. Any advice and opinion will be greatly appreciated.

    Thanks

    Jim McClain
     
  2. Diapositivo

    Diapositivo Member

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    If you shoot black & white you can basically do without light meter when you are outside.

    If you still need a light meter, I suggest the following:

    SBC (silicon blue cell);
    Incident and reflected metering;
    Modern, currently available battery;

    Some of the lightmeters have an analogue reading (a needle) some have a digital display. Both solutions have pros and cons and the choice is personal. Digital display can be better if you are longsighted, they are probably more robust, they can memorize several readings and show them on the display easily, they can show subject brightness range. Needles typically show directly a series of aperture/exposure couple so they can be faster in real-life use.

    I would avoid the very cheap Gossen Sixtino (selenium) as they badly fail in incident light metering. I also would avoid CdS based light meters.

    That said, anything branded Minolta or Gossen (with the exception of the Sixtino) is certainly very good, and many other light meters are vedy good as well.

    If I were you I would not care about the "vintage look". That doesn't mean that you cannot find a perfectly viable and functional vintage light meter, though. But I wouldn't restrict my choice to those.
     
  3. Paul Goutiere

    Paul Goutiere Subscriber

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  4. kintatsu

    kintatsu Member

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    As far as the Sixtino, I've had no real issues. Mine is about 1/3 stop off other meters. though. For average readings, I use the Gossen Sixtomat, which is a nice little meter. It has a screen for incident and does reflected. The one I have I picked up at a camera store in Regensburg for 20 Euros, and it even had a long gold chain.

    Another good meter for spot metering is the SEI Exposure Photometer, but they run extremely high in price, as they measure down to 1/2 degree and were mentioned by Ansel Adams.

    For the most part, a Sixtomat or Weston should be great!
     
  5. Dan Daniel

    Dan Daniel Subscriber

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    The majority of the vintage meters you are looking at use selenium for the metering element. These decay over time and either don't work or provide non-linear readings. This is a case where getting a newer meter makes the most sense. The Sekonic L-398A is one meter I can think of that has a 'retro' look while using a contemporary meter element. And it will be limited in low-light situations.
     
  6. dpt2014

    dpt2014 Member

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    Another is the L-208, which I often use very happily.
     
  7. Peltigera

    Peltigera Member

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    I use a Zeiss Ikon Ikophot from the 1960s and a Leningrad from the 1970s and both are fine despite their age. Neither needs a battery and both agree with my modern SLRs. If you buy a 1950s light meter, beware that the ASA (aka ISO) scale changed drastically in the mid/late 1950s.

    I paid around £5.00 for each - certainly less than £10.00 including postage.
     
  8. Chan Tran

    Chan Tran Member

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    While I would certainly use a Vintage camera circa 50's I don't want to use any meter of the same vintage. What I suggest you to do is to buy a modern meter and then keep it in your pocket or something and shoot most of your shot without the meter. Get out the meter only in tough situation. Also, arriving at a scene/area you could take a few readings that would then help you in selecting the right exposure without the meter later on.
     
  9. jeffreyg

    jeffreyg Subscriber

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    Perhaps not appropriate for APUG but I got an app for my iphone called Pocket Light Meter from NuWaste. Actually I have two Pentax spot meters. an UltraPro and a Luna Pro. When away from home I always consider taking a spare just in case. The app is quite accurate and you can set the ISO and either the f-stop or shutter speed and it will show either. By touching the spot on the screen it will read that area but I don't know how many degrees it reads. It was either 99cents or a $1.99.

    http://www.jeffreyglasser.com/
     
  10. Salem

    Salem Member

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    another vote for sekonic L-208. It's always in my pocket even if I'm not carrying a camera, it's very light and small. And above all you can buy it new for about 60 GBP.
     
  11. andrew.roos

    andrew.roos Subscriber

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    I suggest you avoid selenium meters, since selenium cells deteriorate over time. If a meter does not require batteries, then it uses a selenium cell.

    Also watch out that many of the older meters use mercury batteries (PX13, PX625 and similar). These are no longer available and alkaline batteries cannot in general be substituted since the mercury cells have a lower voltage (1.35V) and very flat discharge curve that alkaline batteries cannot replicate.

    I would recommend a Gossen or Sekonic meter.
     
  12. Poisson Du Jour

    Poisson Du Jour Member

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    You can never buy too much of a light meter, but it is very likely you can buy one that does not grow with you.
    It is fair to say that if mono work is all you do, a bit of judicious guesswork will get you over the line. But if you are going to progress to more complex scenes (in terms of illumination), you will need to skill up on all of incident, reflective and especially, spot metering, which is the most accurate method of analysing the individual luminance values of a scene.

    I am not a fan at all of the old analogue meters; many beginners struggle to understand what they are saying, yet switched to a digital meter and they are rocketing along smartly. Whatever rows your boat, but consider your needs now and especiallly your needs 5 years into the future.
     
  13. David Allen

    David Allen Member

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    I have always used Weston Meters and can recommend them highly. A Weston Master V or a Weston EuroMeter can be found cheap and they are very good. However, the most important thing regardless of which meter you choose is to test the Exposure Index for a particular film that corresponds with your camera(s), your way of metering, the way your meter works, what you like to photograph, how you like your prints to look, what film | developer | processing technique you prefer and most importantly what you can consistently reproduce.

    Best,

    David
    www.dsallen.de
     
  14. Alex Muir

    Alex Muir Member

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    I use a Gossen Lunasix F. It has a different name in the US. It looks retro and has a needle display. The advantages are that it uses a standard 9V battery and it is a zeroing meter which makes it very quick to use. You align the meter needle with the zero mark and the scale shows all the available shutter/ aperture combinations. It does reflected and incident readings in ambient and flash. Prices vary, so it's worth shopping around.
     
  15. Jim Jones

    Jim Jones Subscriber

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    I use selenium cell Westons, GEs, and Norwoods. It's best to buy them in person so you can compare their accuracy against a known good meter, and check the meter balance. Balance is especially critical in the Weston and Norwood, as they are normally used with the axis of the meter horizontal. A balance error leads to inaccuracies in metering dim light. Ebay sellers may not know or care to check accuracy and balance. The GE with its vertical meter axis is less critical in this respect. Newer meters have greater sensitivity, better readouts, and more durability, but lack the class of a good Weston.
     
  16. Paul Howell

    Paul Howell Member

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    I have a number of meters, Weston Ranger 9, Weston IV, a couple of Sekonic incident meters, a soligair spot meter and a gossen luna pro. I use the Weston Ranger 9 at least 80% of the time, followed the Soligair spot if I am in zone mood, the others on occassions. I have a battery converter for the Ranger 9, but the Weston IV in most fair to good lighting is also spot on. I perfer a dial to a digitial read out. I agree that buying older meters from the internet can be costley as most of the older meter are not accurate.