Low Light Meter Advice

Discussion in 'Lighting' started by R/D, Jan 14, 2009.

  1. R/D

    R/D Member

    Messages:
    19
    Joined:
    Jan 7, 2009
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    Hello, this is my first post here. I first learned about this amazing site from the owner of a darkroom/studio I am currently taking a darkroom class at. http://www.thedarkroomstudios.com/index.html

    I am a digital shooter about to delve into the wonderful and sometimes confounding world of MF photography. I just received a beautiful RB67 ( I don't think they're all that heavy) :smile: and all I need now is a light meter. I went through many of the "light meter" threads in this section and have learned quite a bit. My concern is that my subject matter is a bit different from most shooters here. Many of my exposure times will need to be upwards of 4,6 and 8 seconds and possibly more. I will not be using flash but eventually I would like to get into the studio for some portraits. Here are a few digital examples of what I will be shooting:

    http://s3.photobucket.com/albums/y6...?action=view&current=BeigeWardArchVertweb.jpg


    http://s3.photobucket.com/albums/y6...tentiary/?action=view&current=_MG_5524web.jpg


    http://s3.photobucket.com/albums/y6...le Company/?action=view&current=Looms1web.jpg


    Another like minded photographer suggested the Gossen Luna Pro, would this be a good choice ? The least expensive the better. I also like the old school look of the analog meters and they seem to be readily available used online.

    Any advice would be great. Thank You.


    Joe
     
  2. Kevin Caulfield

    Kevin Caulfield Subscriber

    Messages:
    3,386
    Joined:
    Aug 3, 2004
    Location:
    Melbourne, A
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Hi and welcome, Joe. Most resaonable light meters won't have problems with low light scenes like that. You can usually get a reading which you may need to extrapolate back to the settings you wish to use, but once you get into the longish exposures, you should also take account of reciprocity failure (you will find a lot of info about that).
     
  3. keithwms

    keithwms Member

    Messages:
    6,073
    Joined:
    Oct 14, 2006
    Location:
    Charlottesvi
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I sometimes use a dslr as a meter... hey, you get colour matrix metering, colour temp, histogram etc. Best meter money can buy :wink: I consider it very useful when metering for colour slide.

    The gossen you mention would be a good 'traditional' choice. You can make up some reciprocity charts to take in the field. I use a gossen digipro and like it. Simple and easy, can do flash metering and contrast etc.

    One side note on the rb: you can actually shoot 3.25" sheet film with it. There is a back for that. In situations that metering is tough, sheet film is your friend! You can take two shots, use one to determine the optimal dev time, and then nail the development on the 2nd. Of course you can do clip tests on roll film too but developing individual sheets by hand is very easy.

    One final comment is that since you are new to MF, let me advise getting an instant packfilm back for the rb, with which you can shoot the fuji stuff. This can remove any doubt you have about metering and it may be important for you to play a bit if you've not worked with a bellows-focusing camera before. Now, the instant film will not have the same reciprocity as the film, but for many situations instant film is very helpful.

    Yet another final comment... I really like the metering prism on my rb. Quite useful, especially for macro. I just don't have the patience to look at the little bellows factor indicator every time I recompose. With a metering prism the rb is even bigger and badder... and quicker!
     
  4. waileong

    waileong Member

    Messages:
    91
    Joined:
    Apr 1, 2005
    Shooter:
    35mm RF
    Actually any modern battery powered light meter should be able to meter in very low light. Much better than the selenium meters of old.
     
  5. jd callow

    jd callow Moderator Staff Member Moderator

    Messages:
    8,003
    Joined:
    Jan 31, 2003
    Location:
    Milan
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    the Luna pro SBC is what I use.
     
  6. Ralph Javins

    Ralph Javins Member

    Messages:
    832
    Joined:
    Jul 4, 2008
    Location:
    Latte Land,
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Good morning, R/D;

    JD Callow's suggestion for the Gossen LunaPro SBC is one I can echo. It will certainly go low enough.

    From your comment about exposures of 4 to 8 seconds, my initial reaction was; "Is he doing astrophotography?" Now I see that you are doing low light level architectural photography in older unoccupied buildings, perhaps f 16 for 4 to 8 seconds. For that light level, just about any of the Gossen light meters in the "Luna" series will work fine at that exposure value. Sekonic has some similar meters also.

    When you need a flashlight (or a torch) to read the light meter is when you need to worry about the low light level sensitivity of the more recent light leters with cadmium-sulfide (CdS) or silicon photo cells.
     
  7. AgX

    AgX Member

    Messages:
    11,936
    Joined:
    Apr 5, 2007
    Location:
    Germany
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    The Luna Pro (Lunasix 3s), the Luna SBC (Profisix) and the Mastersix are the most sensitive meters out of the Gossen range. They are the most sensitive meters anyway, except for a Minolta meter with added Booster.

    THe Luna SBC has a very intuitive zero-adjust balance reading.



    (`intuitive´ just means that I'm too idiot to read the other type of displays...)
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 15, 2009
  8. R/D

    R/D Member

    Messages:
    19
    Joined:
    Jan 7, 2009
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    Thanks for the advice folks. I think Im going to go with the Luna Pro SBC. Wish me luck !
     
  9. Phillip P. Dimor

    Phillip P. Dimor Member

    Messages:
    1,063
    Joined:
    Oct 25, 2004
    Location:
    Westport, MA
    Shooter:
    Large Format
    I'll second Mr. Ralph Javins advice. It's spot on.
    I use a Minola Autometer IVF. I wish the LCD display had a backlight. Otherwise it's a great meter. It'll calculate your exposure down to 30 minutes.
    Also with the autometer ivf, after you take your reading you can indeed use a flashlight and not have the stray light affect your reading.

    There's a gossen luna star or digipro that has a beautiful backlit lcd screen.
     
  10. JRJacobs

    JRJacobs Member

    Messages:
    238
    Joined:
    Feb 28, 2008
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    Another vote for the LunaPro. I have many meters new and old, but none are as good for low light as the LunaPro. It can measure in moonlight and can measure up to 8 hour exposures. For night shooting it can't be beat. I wish my newfangled Pentax digital spotmeter could measure nearly as low.
     
  11. Venchka

    Venchka Member

    Messages:
    692
    Joined:
    Sep 9, 2006
    Shooter:
    35mm
    2 votes for Gossen SBC meters. APUG member wclavey owns 2 SBC meters and I have a third. As I recall, Westley has a Luna-Pro SBC and a Lunasix SBC. I have the Luna-Pro SBC. They work and they work without benefit of light. Well, almost.

    I also have an original Luna-Pro with cds cell as a backup. I haven't used it since I got the Luna-Pro SBC.
     
  12. R/D

    R/D Member

    Messages:
    19
    Joined:
    Jan 7, 2009
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    Thanks again for all the great advice in this thread. I actually put a bid in on an SBC on Ebay last night, but it was snatched away at literally the last second. I love to do super long, moonlit, night shots and infrared digital photos but for now I'll settle for proper film exposures in broad daylight. :wink:
     
  13. tac

    tac Member

    Messages:
    246
    Joined:
    Aug 12, 2007
    Location:
    Appalachia
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    An old trick for low light, when your meter won't record *any* 'available murk;'
    set the ASA/ISO as high as it will go, make your reading, (e.g., 30 sec at f0.7) then extrapolate back to your working ISO. Don't forget reciprocity!
     
  14. Q.G.

    Q.G. Inactive

    Messages:
    5,682
    Joined:
    Jul 23, 2007
    Location:
    Netherlands
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    Usually, when it is too dark for the meter to register anything, it is too dark for the meter to register anything. Fiddling the display won't help. :wink:
     
  15. Chan Tran

    Chan Tran Member

    Messages:
    2,374
    Joined:
    May 10, 2006
    Location:
    Aurora, IL
    Shooter:
    35mm
    Your photos don't seem to be taken in very low light. It seems the lighting conditions in your photos weren't too low for most meters. I think a spotmeter of some source would be good as your subjects don't seem to lend themselves to incident metering well.
     
  16. Bob Eskridge

    Bob Eskridge Member

    Messages:
    161
    Joined:
    Jul 30, 2005
    Location:
    Southern USA
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    You may do just as well with a chart of suggested exposures for night situations. These are avialable from several sources. Also, allow for recipricity(sp?)failure.
     
  17. alanrockwood

    alanrockwood Member

    Messages:
    809
    Joined:
    Oct 11, 2006
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    If you want to eventually use studio flash then consider the Luna Pro F. By the way, I believe the original Luna Pro used a battery that you can no longer buy, and you have to fiddle with work-arounds.

    Others, such as the Luna Pro F use plain old ordinary 9V batteries. Try to get one of the 9V models. Just be aware of an apparent error in the English version of the owners manual regarding the battery test function.
     
  18. cooltouch

    cooltouch Member

    Messages:
    570
    Joined:
    Jan 4, 2009
    Location:
    Houston, Tex
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    You won't go wrong with an SBC. I have one, and I also have a LP F. The F is nice for flash metering, of course, but it doesn't take the attachments that the SBC does, except for the variable angle attachment, which I believe all analog LP models will take.

    One nice thing about the SBC (and the F far as that goes) is it takes a 9v battery, not one of the mercury ones you can't find anymore.

    Best,

    Michael
     
  19. Venchka

    Venchka Member

    Messages:
    692
    Joined:
    Sep 9, 2006
    Shooter:
    35mm
    The Winner!

    OOPS! I already plugged the Luna-Pro sbc.

    Luna-Pro sbc in the USA. Or whatever it's called in the rest of world. A most useful meter for many reasons. The analog display is TOPS! The undisputed low light King! Generally available for $50 (+ or -) in EXC+ condition.
     
  20. grahamp

    grahamp Subscriber

    Messages:
    960
    Joined:
    Mar 2, 2004
    Location:
    San Francisc
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    One trick that can help when your meter is near the bottom of its range is to use a white card and increase the exposure by the difference from a standard grey card. You can get 2-3 stops more response over a general reflected reading. All it takes is enough planning to measure the offset of your particular 'white' card.

    I have had a couple of meters whose response is non-linear at low light levels, and this helps a lot.
     
  21. MattKing

    MattKing Subscriber

    Messages:
    16,824
    Joined:
    Apr 24, 2005
    Location:
    Delta, BC, Canada
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Here is a link for the manual for the Luna-Pro SBC (known as the Profisix in most of the world):

    http://www.gossen-photo.de/pdf/ba_profisix_e.pdf

    There is all sorts of good stuff on the Gossen website - although it can be a little hard to locate. This particular example is in the "collectors" section :smile:.

    Matt