Looking for a Spot Meter

Discussion in 'Large Format Cameras and Accessories' started by bmac, Dec 3, 2002.

  1. bmac

    bmac Member

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    I'm getting tired of lugging around my 35mm to use as a spot meter. I've done some searching online, and I think I want to go with a used Pentax Zone VI modified spot meter. But of course I am having second thoughts about buying used. I searched Audorama and see that they have a store brand spot meter. Has anyone used this meter? What do you think of it? Also, is the Zone VI mod worth the extra cash on the pentax meter?

    Brian
     
  2. SteveGangi

    SteveGangi Member

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    Their house brand looks a lot like my Soligor digital spot. Mine seems to be pretty accurate and gives the same readings as my other meters (gray card, full sunlight). For the price it isn't too bad. I can't help you with the Zone 6 since I never used one.
     
  3. jmcd

    jmcd Member

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    As for Zone VI modified versus regular Pentax, I offer the following observation without being able to say if the modified version is worth the extra cash. I just compared measurements at different light intensities reflected off of various colored surfaces, using an analog Pentax and a Zone VI modifed Pentax. Reflective surface colors included a green trash can, green foliage, stainless steel, weatherd wood, beige tile, blue sky, turquoise wall, red cardboard, yellow notepad, etc. Light intensity ranged from dim (EV 3) to bright (EV14). Most often the meters agreed exactly. About 20 percent of the time the readings differed by 1/3 stop. On some pink printed newspaper they differed by 2/3 stop; but on red cardboard they matched exactly.

    The digital meter is small and sleek, and you can rotate the EV dial with your index finger without changing your grip. But the analog allows a more secure grip, at least for me. If I were now choosing between the two, I would go for the analog, especially if it were cheaper. I don't know how old the analog model I am using is. I bought it used about ten years ago. It has been used a lot however, and has even taken at least two accidental spills, and still works great.
     
  4. Nige

    Nige Subscriber

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    I have a analogue spotmeter (brand unkown) and one thing I'd caution you to check is what the display is like in low light. Mine is very hard to read and has no way of locking the reading to be able to point it somewhere else and read easily!
     
  5. jmcd

    jmcd Member

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    In regard to the above post concerning a meter's readibility in low light, the Pentax analog meter's screen can be illuminated by pressing a button on the side of the handle; the digital meter displays numbers in glowing red. So, either reads easily in low light.
     
  6. Tom Duffy

    Tom Duffy Member

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    Just a thought... One of the great advantages of the Zone VI modified meter is that it has become something of an objective standard in the LF community. In the same light, e.g., bright sunlight, tungsten, etc., my Zone VI should read the same as your Zone VI.

    One of things I've noticed over the last 10 years in a drive to certain standards in large format. As one particular example, if you're in the John Sexton camp you use TMAX 100 rated at 64 and rotary process in a JOBO using TMAX RS at 1:9. People have even published his development times for different contrast ranges! Like his work or not, it's a methodology that can be duplicated without becoming his photographic assistant.

    Use of this meter could be very helpful for someone new to B&W large format. If he reads in a magazine or a forum, "I use a Zone VI meter. I rate HP5+ at 320 and place the important shadows in zone IV and if the contrast range doesn't exceed 5 stops, I develop for 8 minutes in a JOBO using Rollo Pyro at 68F." This kind of thing gets you to a passable technique fairly quickly, allowing you concentrate on the contents and composition of your picture.
     
  7. BobF

    BobF Member

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    Well I guess I'll have to be the odd man out here. First I too love the way a Pentax or Minolta spot meter works, but.....

    I use a Seckonic 508 for all the reasons in their advertisements. I like it's size, ordinary AA battery, incident and spot and flash meter all in one. I don't entirely trust my zone readings and often use the incident dome as a double check on my brain functions. Sometimes I take an incident reading that doesn't make sense with what I got from spot readings and reread or adjust my thinking.

    Downsides; expensive, damned digital readings that are difficult to translate into zone readings, and most importantly no readings in viewfinder unless you pop for even more $ with the new 608.

    Best set up for me would be a Pentax spot, and a Minolta IV with someone to carry the beasts for me.
     
  8. William Levitt

    William Levitt Member

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    Geez Bob, I've got the Minolta Spotmeter, and it too uses a single AA battery and ain't all that heavy, atleast my pack mule hasn't complained as of late...:smile:
     
  9. BobF

    BobF Member

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    LOL - It's when you start carrying a couple of meters like I used to do that makes a LLama necessary . But I'm a wimp anyway as I only carry a little 4x5 and a lot of you real men are hefting around some big stuff.

    Bob
     
  10. George

    George Restricted Access

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    Bob, didn't you get tired of the different readings between the incident and the spot readings of your Sekonic 508? Also, I hated the constant underexposure the spot readings were giving. I changed for the Sekonic 608 where I can independently correct the spot (or the incident) readings, see the values in the viewfinder and be happy again... In fact, I suppose that Sekonic put there the independent corrections because they heard the criticism of fellow photographers over the spot underexposure and were tired to explain that it is "normal" for this product.
     
  11. BobF

    BobF Member

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    </span><table border='0' align='center' width='95%' cellpadding='3' cellspacing='1'><tr><td>QUOTE (George @ Dec 6 2002, 03:15 PM)</td></tr><tr><td id='QUOTE'>Bob, didn't you get tired of the different readings between the incident and the spot readings of your Sekonic 508? Also, I hated the constant underexposure the spot readings were giving. </td></tr></table><span id='postcolor'>

    No, but I had adjusted personal technique before I became aware of the problem and it works ok for me. I am not real scientific about exposure and developing and have developed a "system" with this meter that would all have to be changed if I got a different meter. Keep in mind that I shoot mostly B&W with very occasional Quickload Provia.
     
  12. Jorge

    Jorge Inactive

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    I dont know what is it about the L508, I have heard this underexposre complaint but mine does great. I think they had QC problems with this meter, as the work/does not work ratio seems to be 50/50......
    I am surprised at Sekonic, I always thouhgt they were good meters. I guess I got lucky. If anything I get constant overexposure when I use filters, I had to actually take a pic of a gray card and see which one was the correct factor. Inavariably I get lower factors than the recommended ones, but with my gossen ultra spot I did not have this problem...go figure....
     
  13. SteveGangi

    SteveGangi Member

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    It's not that hard to convert digital readouts to Zones at all. Just get a fine point pen, a strip of paper and some Scotch tape. Then, make a little Zone scale (cheat sheet) with numbers 3, 5, and 7 appropriately spaced, and stick it up against the little ring these spotmeters have. I had to do it because of a tendency to forget which "direction" to go. Now if I take a highlight reading (for slides), I just put that reading on the little number 7. If I take a shadow reading for print film, I put that reading across from the little number 3. If I was reading from a graycard or a somewhat middle tone, I just stick it in the middle on the number 5.
     
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  15. BobF

    BobF Member

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    </span><table border='0' align='center' width='95%' cellpadding='3' cellspacing='1'><tr><td>QUOTE (Jorge @ Dec 6 2002, 08:45 PM)</td></tr><tr><td id='QUOTE'>I dont know what is it about the L508, I have heard this underexposre complaint but mine does great. I think they had QC problems with this meter, as the work/does not work ratio seems to be 50/50......
    </td></tr></table><span id='postcolor'>
    That's good to hear Jorge and may be why it has not bothered me. I had just assumed mine had the same problems so often talked about and I had personally compensated somehow. Now I am intriqued enough to test it to find out. Suggestions on a good home testing procedure would be welcomed. Something that will eliminate the variables such as meters beings set to 12% at factory instead of the 18% cards I have, and the angle of the card to the light source etc.

    Meters to me have always been a bit of a mystery as the Sekonics/Gossen/Minoltas I have owned have all reacted differently in different light. Shade-direct sun-indoor and like you said with filters. Sometimes a half stop difference from meter to meter. I have just assumed it was differences in cells and angle of view or flare and of course my technique. Maybe I should get more scientific about this so I won't be such a loose Zoner. Then I can get a densitometer and really get scientific.........not.

    SteveGangi, no it's not that hard but if you are an "old guy" like me you fondly yearn for the old days of analog meters that were so natural or intuitive to use. Another 20yrs of digital readings and I'll get it down. [​IMG]

    Bob
     
  16. SteveGangi

    SteveGangi Member

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    Well. I am pushing 50 so I suppose some people would group me with the "old guys" too. So far, I still feel young except on Monday mornings (maybe I am allergic to work).
     
  17. fineart

    fineart Member

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    Looking for a good meter for us to carry was a nightmare - couldn't find anything I liked. And I asked someone who owned a light measurement company to advise me, what I found out about the quality of most available meters was horrifying.

    If you buy the Pentax meter, it won't be any good for color work, or Polaroid Black and White. Polaroid is wildly sensitive to ultraviolet and the Zone VI Pentax won't read that. I spoke to a Pentax tech guy about the modification too...

    If you want to e-mail me directly I'll give you specifics. I don't like to mention other manufacturers on this forum.

    There is a lot of discussion about spectral response and meters in our E-Newsletters and I'd be glad to send them to you if you like -------------- or anyone on this forum.

    Anthony Guidice, Fine Art Photo Supply
     
  18. fineart

    fineart Member

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    Looking for a good meter for us to carry was a nightmare - couldn't find anything I liked. And I asked someone who owned a light measurement company to advise me, what I found out about the quality of most available meters was horrifying.

    If you buy the Pentax meter, it won't be any good for color work, or Polaroid Black and White. Polaroid is wildly sensitive to ultraviolet and the Zone VI Pentax won't read that. I spoke to a Pentax tech guy about the modification too...

    If you want to e-mail me directly I'll give you specifics. I don't like to mention other manufacturers on this forum.

    There is a lot of discussion about spectral response and meters in our E-Newsletters and I'd be glad to send them to you if you like -------------- or anyone on this forum.

    Anthony Guidice, Fine Art Photo Supply
     
  19. George

    George Restricted Access

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    </span><table border='0' align='center' width='95%' cellpadding='3' cellspacing='1'><tr><td>QUOTE (Jorge @ Dec 6 2002, 06:45 PM)</td></tr><tr><td id='QUOTE'>I dont know what is it about the L508, I have heard this underexposre complaint but mine does great. I think they had QC problems with this meter, as the work/does not work ratio seems to be 50/50......
    .</td></tr></table><span id='postcolor'>
    Jorge, there was more into it than just a QC problem. My L508 went into repair for the constant underexposure (2/3 of a stop), came back with no change (all normal!). I asked Sekonic about it and was told that 2/3 is in the manufacturing tolerances - as if that were any consolation! Of course I used the second button to change the film sensitivity and get the right values but then I couldn't use it for filter corrections or another ASA film. The L508 had simply a construction defect which Sekonic tried to hide behind various answers until they came out with the 608. At least you can now calibrate it yourself!
    Another wrong construction was the Luna Pro F (Gossen) which is leaking slight current even when switched off... After a month of no use the battery is flat - but there they acknowledged it instead of hiding it.
     
  20. Jorge

    Jorge Inactive

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    </span><table border='0' align='center' width='95%' cellpadding='3' cellspacing='1'><tr><td>QUOTE (George @ Dec 8 2002, 04:37 PM)</td></tr><tr><td id='QUOTE'></span><table border='0' align='center' width='95%' cellpadding='3' cellspacing='1'><tr><td>QUOTE (Jorge @ Dec 6 2002, 06:45 PM)</td></tr><tr><td id='QUOTE'>I dont know what is it about the L508, I have heard this underexposre complaint but mine does great. I think they had QC problems with this meter, as the work/does not work ratio seems to be 50/50......
    .</td></tr></table><span id='postcolor'>
    Jorge, there was more into it than just a QC problem. My L508 went into repair for the constant underexposure (2/3 of a stop), came back with no change (all normal!). I asked Sekonic about it and was told that 2/3 is in the manufacturing tolerances - as if that were any consolation! Of course I used the second button to change the film sensitivity and get the right values but then I couldn't use it for filter corrections or another ASA film. The L508 had simply a construction defect which Sekonic tried to hide behind various answers until they came out with the 608. At least you can now calibrate it yourself!
    Another wrong construction was the Luna Pro F (Gossen) which is leaking slight current even when switched off... After a month of no use the battery is flat - but there they acknowledged it instead of hiding it.</td></tr></table><span id='postcolor'>
    George you are not alone, it is this exact complaint I heard many times. I kind of think it is half assed manufacturing when you put out meters that sometimes measure ok, and sometimes measure 2/3 under. As I said I got lucky and my meter is dead on with my gossen ultra spot, but I would not buy it again, or the 608....maybe they are following the lead of the sofware manufacturers, if it does not work the first time, just make a new version that does and charge more!
    As to the buttons I am not sure what you mean, you mean the iso1 and iso2? you know that if you press both at the same time you can put a "factor" so that the meter under or over exposes always, right?


    But we have gotten off topic, Brian, most meters will have some "quirck" and you will have to test them for your particular situation, I beleive the Zone VI is "corrected" for tri-x, but I suppose this is better than nothing. I would worry more about flare than "consistency" as you can always adjust the EI rating for your particular method. The Zone VI appears to be well protected against flare and not as expensive as the Sekonic or Gossen spot meters.
     
  21. George

    George Restricted Access

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    As to the buttons I am not sure what you mean, you mean the iso1 and iso2? you know that if you press both at the same time you can put a "factor" so that the meter under or over exposes always, right?

    Yes, I meant that. But if I remember well the correction with 2 buttons pressed at the same time was then valid for both the spot and the incident measuring? (I sold it some year ago.) My 508 had correct incident measuring, incorrect was just the spot .
     
  22. Jorge

    Jorge Inactive

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    You are right George the "factor" input applied to all the functions of the meter. If you sold it, what did you get?
     
  23. George

    George Restricted Access

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    </span><table border='0' align='center' width='95%' cellpadding='3' cellspacing='1'><tr><td>QUOTE (Jorge @ Dec 8 2002, 05:05 PM)</td></tr><tr><td id='QUOTE'>You are right George the "factor" input &nbsp;applied to all the functions of the meter. If you sold it, what did you get?</td></tr></table><span id='postcolor'>
    330 $, sold after 2 years. Not bad, I bought it for about 480$.
     
  24. Les McLean

    Les McLean Subscriber

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    Brian

    I have not used this meter but I have a friend who has, in fact I have the meter in my home as I write, just to have a look at it for my current spot meter is getting old and I am thinking of buying the Adorama meter. I can tell you with certainty that the Adorama meter is a Soligor with the Adorama name plate on the side. I have used a Soligor analog spot meter for over 20 years without any problems so I would be happy to recommend the Adorama meter.
     
  25. bmac

    bmac Member

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    Thanks for the info Less. I am going to grab an audorama one, I can always return it if I don't like it.I'll keep you posted.

    Brian
     
  26. Aggie

    Aggie Member

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