Light meter

Discussion in 'Medium Format Cameras and Accessories' started by Rtcjr, Sep 5, 2013.

  1. Rtcjr

    Rtcjr Member

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    Hi All

    I will be switching to MF soon and enjoy landscape photography. I wanted to ask for some advice on selecting a light meter with a spot meter as I assume I will need this for proper metering at a distance.

    Can those of you who have been through this provide guidance on the best approach here? Is my assumption correct about spot metering? Advice on a good brand buying used?

    Other thoughts?

    Thank you

    Rich
     
  2. munz6869

    munz6869 Subscriber

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    I use a spot meter for LF and an incident meter for MF and most everything else. I enjoy using a spot meter, but I guess my boring point is that a far more useful thing is familiarity with your own processes. I tend to use the same films/filters/meter combinations over and over and over and by now get quite consistent results. For landscapes, I reckon you have the time to contemplate the good info that a spot meter gives you - 'why not' get one and see if it works for you? You can always sell it here if not :smile: I've used a Minolta F (nice and simple), and now a Sekonic 758DR (it can do incident readings & trigger my pocket wizards for studio stuff), and they are both great, accurate meters.

    Marc!
     
  3. chriscrawfordphoto

    chriscrawfordphoto Member

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    I use a Minolta Flash Meter VI. What I like is that it has both a one-degree spotmeter and an incident light meter all built into one unit. Sekonic has made several spot/incident combo meters too and they are, like my Minolta, very good. I think spotmeters are best for shooting negative films, color or black and white, and incident is best for shooting slide film and for digital cameras if you ever use one. The all in one meters cover both bases.
     
  4. Tom Richard

    Tom Richard Member

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    I´m on a shoestring budget and have opted for a free iphone app. Works great for me altough rainy weather will be a problem since the iphone isnt very happy about wet weather. Its probably not as accurate as a dedicated meter but you quickly learn how to get around its shortcomings. That said, i will get a dedicated meter down the road but right now i prefer to spend the money on film and chemistry in order to get my work done. I have also found that the "sunny 16" rule is surprisingly accurate once you get your eyes tuned to compensate for various lighting conditions.
     
  5. Mark_S

    Mark_S Member

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    Like Munz, I use a spot meter for LF, and use it to determine the proper exposure based on the shadows. - This for B&W. When shooting MF, I am more often shooting colour film, and then my whole procedure is different (and because I am new to Colour, evolving). For colour, I am shooting transparancy film, which has a smaller range than I have with B&W. If the scene has a lot of contrast, then I use the spot meter to meter for highlights and accept that I will lose detail in the shadows. If the scene doesn't have too much contrast, I generally just do an incident light measurement and get exposure that way.
     
  6. Alan Gales

    Alan Gales Member

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    Hi Rich,

    I use a Pentax Digital Spotmeter. It's accurate, relatively small, very easy to use and very dependable. If the digital version is too pricey for you there is the older, larger analog Pentax Spotmeter V. Batteries are easy to find for either version. Just stay away from the older versions than the Spotmeter V because batteries can be hard or impossible to find.

    Minolta and Soligor spotmeters are also said to be fine meters but I have no personal experience with them.
     
  7. naeroscatu

    naeroscatu Subscriber

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    I have and use a Soligor analog spotmeter, I'm happy with it; If I remember well I paid little over $100 few years back.
     
  8. L Gebhardt

    L Gebhardt Subscriber

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    I like the Pentax Digital Spot meter, and it's my usual meter for landscape work. You can get by with a light meter app on your phone, which I frequently use with my Hasselblad if I want to travel light. Even a basic incident meter can be made to work well, if you know how to use it.
     
  9. DREW WILEY

    DREW WILEY Member

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    The most important thing is just to get familiar with your chosen meter, to the point of using it intuitively. But for sheer accuracy and
    convenience, I use Pentax digital spotmeters for everything - color and b&w, 35mm all the way to 8x10.
     
  10. jwatts

    jwatts Member

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    From what I have seen, heard and researched I have come to this understanding. Listed from most favorable option to least.

    Pentax Digital Spot meter. One trick pony but super accurate, dead simple and very sturdy.
    Sekonic spot/incident. Slightly more expensive, but a very large list of applications and functions.
    indecent only.
    iPhone app.


    At the moment I'm using only a Sekonic 308s (incident only) I will take a reading of the light falling on my foreground knowing the meter will be giving me exposure settings for middle grey (Zone 5) I will then view the scene, decide what zone my foreground should be and adjust + or - x amount of stops accordingly. In high contrast scenes I will use my iPhone app to measure the highlights to see if I'm still within the acceptable range of the film im using. It's not super accurate, but its better than nothing.

    All that to say, a spot meter is defiantly on my list.

    You can also rent a Sekonic to try it out from a rental house near by or borrowlenses.com if your in a more remote local.
     
  11. momus

    momus Member

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    You don't need an expensive spot meter. Years ago I went out shooting w/ a LF photographer w/ a 4x5 camera I was experimenting with. We had our cameras loaded w/ the same color slide film, and that's pretty fussy about exposures. He pulled his super expensive Sinar w/ Nikon lens out and metered w/ an expensive spot meter (after making a lot of complicated readings). I set up my cheapo Crown Graphic w/ Kodak Ektar lens and looked at the scene, metered an appropriate bit of ground nearby w/ my $30 Sekonic reflective hand held meter, and came up w/ exactly the same readings. Ansel Adams once mentioned the same thing. After making all of his fussy zone calculations once while out w/ Edward Weston, Weston stood a while looking at things, turned here and there making a couple of quick readings, and came up w/ the same reading.

    What really hacked my friend was when we got the negs back from the lab. He couldn't tell his from mine, even though there was probably a couple of thousand dollars difference in the prices of our gear. I gave up on LF after that outing (just too slow and heavy for me), but those 4x5 transparencies were a sight to behold on a light table.
     
  12. markbarendt

    markbarendt Subscriber

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    A few years back I went to a Large Format workshop and at one point we were setting up to take a shot of the leader, Per Volquartz.

    Then somebody asked anybody got a meter? Silly question.

    A moment or two later there were a great variety of meters at hand, I was the lone guy using an incident meter. There was much discussion and probably 50 or more readings taken over the next few minutes, lots of discussion about how and why and this and that and I don't remember Per saying a word (none of us were newbies).

    As I remember, in the end we all came to an essentially equivalent setting choice for the shot.

    Any metering method, when well practiced, can get you the info you need to shoot and develop your film. Both methods are fully interchangeable.

    http://www.apug.org/forums/forum216/115941-primer-incident-metering.html
     
  13. Rtcjr

    Rtcjr Member

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    Thank you Everyone for your input. I will probably head in the direction of a mid priced spot meter and play around with some cheaper incident meter options. Since I am a somewhat of a newb at this process, i don't like spending a lot until I understand my own process or needs-but still need to start somewhere.

    Yesterday, picked up my hasselblad. I researched this move for a long time and was unsure if i was making the right decision to stick with analog. After evaluating the cam and getting it home...it was the correct decision for me. It just feels right to go analog for this purpose. The 500 cm is in primo shape and for little money - seller just wanted it sold. It is a 50th anniversary edition with little time on it, time to get outside and shoot some landscape!

    Some of you mentioned the iPhone app, anyone in particular that works well?

    Thanks for the help, Rich.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 8, 2013
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  15. Tom Richard

    Tom Richard Member

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    Congratulations!
    The Hasselblad camera truly offers an experience larger than that of an image recording device.
     
  16. waynecrider

    waynecrider Member

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    Just in my own experience I found that I was spending too much time taking (handheld) spot readings here and there and everywhere and trying to average them or bias them to one side or the other such that I sold the meter and made my life easier, and to tell the truth I always been right on since with an averaging meter if it was in good repair. It also helps to know if your meter does in fact meter at 18% as some don't.

    Perhaps the best in camera meter I've ever used is the rectangular patch in the FTbn series. Bias it one way or another and you know instantly the best reading for the subject.
     
  17. Rtcjr

    Rtcjr Member

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    Experience


    Tom,

    Yes, the experience, that is what it is about.

    Get up early, discover places I have never been before and might not have if I didn't shoot. Then capture incredible sights using a means that is as much art as it is engineering, on a medium that is true and timeless.
     
  18. Robert Ley

    Robert Ley Subscriber

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    When I first started in MF almost 25 y/o I got a Pentax 6x7 with a plane prism and needed a meter. I chose the Gossen Luna Pro and it served me very well for many years. When they first came out, Sekonic was running a deal on their new L-508 Zoom Master meter and I picked one up for about $450. The meter got great reviews and I liked the idea of a spot meter as I had never used one before.
    Through the years I have grown to love this meter and frankly wouldn't trade it for any other. It's versatility, spot, incident and flash is unbeatable. I find that I use it about 75% of the time in incident mode, but when I need it the spot is right there. I rarely use the flash capability, but once again it is there when I need it.
    I did a search on Fleebay and was surprised that there was only one up for bid. There was about 7hrs. to go and the bid was about $225. I suspect that it will go for between $250 and $275 and it was one that was hardly used ;-)
    I like to think that the lack of 508's on the auction site is that the owners hold them dear and are unwilling to let them go.





    Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk HD
     
  19. markbarendt

    markbarendt Subscriber

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    Like you I now do a lot of work with the center weighted averaging meters in my various cameras.

    And yes a handheld (incident in my case) can add extra time but having an objective measurement to train myself against and match my tools to provided a huge improvement in my exposure setting skill.

    It allowed me to understand how each meter saw things, and more importantly, how they got fooled. The incident meter allowed me to "calibrate" my system across all my camera meters. In essence I learned how I had to use each meter to match the reading given by the incident meter and how to judge many situations without a meter.

    Still and yet and probably always, for situations I view as truly important, I whip out the incident meter.
     
  20. L Gebhardt

    L Gebhardt Subscriber

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  21. Tom Richard

    Tom Richard Member

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    I have used that one with good results as well as another one that looks very vintage. I have also used a fairly expensive pinhole meter (i think its french?) and the thing is that they all give me the same reading. I spent one day walking around, metering and firing off testshot with a Canon 5DmkII, i would say that 99% of the images were accurate according to the Canon meter as well as the exposures.
     
  22. jwatts

    jwatts Member

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    The app I believe most people are referring to is just called "light meter" its free.
     
  23. andrewf

    andrewf Member

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    If you're doing any landscapes, or shooting things at a distance, you will most likely need a spot meter. if you're able to measure the light falling directly on your subject then incident is OK.

    I have a Sekonic L-358 incident meter which works great and has served me well as an incident and flash meter but now I'm shooting medium format and my current favourite thing to shoot is landscapes, it's hard to meter accurately.

    I've got my eye on a 758DR. I'll sell the 358 on ebay and fork out the difference for the 758.
     
  24. markbarendt

    markbarendt Subscriber

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    The 358 is a great meter, I own two.

    The only thing that needs to happen to get an accurate reading with an incident meter is to "be in the same light as the subject matter". The easiest reading to take following this rule of thumb is the one where the meter is pointed straight back at the camera, because no offset is required to find the camera setting, you just use the numbers the meter spits out.

    That's not the only way to use an incident meter. If you per chance are in the shadow of a hill where you can't see the main light (sun), you can many times still take the reading the same way you just apply an offset, in this case probably about 2 stops.

    In practice, in the real world, this idea the equivalent of pointing a spot meter at a specific point in the scene and then deciding how that reading relates to the scene.

    With very little practice the relationships/offsets of alternative incident readings are pretty easy to figure out, consistent, and reliable.

    Once you understand and practice this concept there are few if any situations that would truly keep you from making a usable and accurate reading with your current meter.
     
  25. baachitraka

    baachitraka Subscriber

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    Incident meters are indeed good for landscapes. It may not go wrong if you incident meter the shadows/simulated shadows and hightlights and average them both.
     
  26. elekm

    elekm Member

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    I own the Sekonic L-508 and find it to do all that I want without any extra fussing about it. I've owned it for about a decade. It takes AA batteries. It has great battery life. And I think that it does all that I want I don't find it wanting in any way.

    My own thought is that if you're going to spend hundreds (or more) on a camera system, then spend a bit more for a high-quality light meter. It's a one-time purchase.