Need Help Deciding on Light Meter

Discussion in 'Exposure Discussion' started by jaydub, Sep 2, 2012.

  1. jaydub

    jaydub Member

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    I'm trying to decide between the following light meters:
    - Sekonic L758DR
    - Kenko KFM-2100 (identical to the Minolta Flash Meter VI)
    - Gossen Starlight 2

    One differentiating factor is how the Kenko measures indicident light for lighting ratios and flat subjects. For the Kenko, you take off the half-dome diffuser disk and put on a flat diffuser disk; for the Sekonic and Gossen, you retract the half-dome diffuser disk into the body of the meter. I currently use a Minolta AutoMeter III, which uses dedicated flat and half-dome diffuser disks, same as the Kenko. A lot of my subjects are flat (macro, artwork, etc.) and so I use the flat diffuser quite a bit. The Sekonic/Gossen retraction method seems fine for measuring lighting contrast ratios wherein you point the meter directly at the light, and in circumstances where light is falling directly on the subject more or less from camera angle. However, if you are measuring a flat subject and the light is coming in at an oblique angle (i.e. sidelit), the retracted half-dome would be partially in shade from the collar that surrounds the half-dome and from the half-dome itself. In such cases, the Sekonic and Gossen would seem to inject a lot of error into the measuring process.

    - Am I wrong about the flat vs. retracted half-dome issue in side-lit setups, and if so, why?
    - When Kenko cloned the Minolta AutoMeter VI, it made no changes to the original design. In what way would it be dated relative to the newer offerings from Sekonic and Gossen.
    - Any other factors to consider?
    - Any recommendations?

    Any insight would be very helpful, and thanks in advance.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 2, 2012
  2. markbarendt

    markbarendt Subscriber

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    Welcome to APUG.

    I have a Seconic L-358 that I really enjoy, as I understand it the L-758 basically just adds spot metering on top of what I have, and I do my best not to spot meter so I kept the price difference in my wallet.

    Using the meter per Sekonics instructions has always given me great exposures.
     
  3. wiltw

    wiltw Subscriber

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    Sekonic has the retractable hemisphere primarily for convenience, when needing to measure the relative intensity of light sources (without turning of the lights off). But Sekonic does offer an accessory specifically for meauring light falling upon flat art.

    [edit: Uh-oh, the L758 does not offer that flat disk option!]

    Essentially you can somewhat mimic the retracted hemisphere simply by shielding the meter hemisphere from the unmeasured light source simply with your hand as a gobo!


    I recently learned that the Sekonic L358 (and, after reading its owner manual, the L758) cannot be set for 1/3EV increments of shutter speed while also supporting 0.1EV increments of f/stop...the f/stop assumes the 1/3EV increment as well. Not terrific if you have 0.1EV precision on studio light power, since it would always round to the nearest 1/3EV. This is not merely speculation, but one member on another forum bought and returned the Sekonic meter for that very reason.
     
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  4. Chan Tran

    Chan Tran Member

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    I am kind of wondering about the same thing with the retracted dome.
    The flashmeter VI doesn't have digital curve function like the L758DR. I don't know what Sekonic calls it but basically you program the response curve of your digital camera into the meter.
    The flashmeter VI which I have only has what Sekonic calls shutter priority mode and to measure flash with the spot meter it has to be in cord mode. Spotmeter doesn't work in non-cord mode. Also you can't install a pocket wizard unit in the flashmeter VI. Ambient/flash ratio is rather crude.
    My recommendation is that all 3 meters are about the same in quality (I think the Sekonic is a bit less built quality but you should check it out for yourself). Accuracy I think they are about the same. So check them out in the store for ergonomic and built quality. Download the manuals, check their specs, learn how to use them and then you can decide which is best for you.
     
  5. Poisson Du Jour

    Poisson Du Jour Member

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    The Sekonic L758 can be flash-metered either in corded or non-corded mode. All flashmeters are incident reading types.
    Kenko's flashmeter is an interesting beast, but having toyed with it in the dealer's, it's not a patch on the highly variable and customised functions of the L758.

    Speaking of which, read the instructions for the L758; there is no design shortfall regarding the dome being retracted for specific flat-plane work — it's the skill one should have to use it correctly.
     
  6. Chan Tran

    Chan Tran Member

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    All flashmeters that I know of do have incident reading but many do offer flash reading in reflective and spot. I have owned the Minolta flashmeter II, flashmeter III and flashmeter VI. Both the II and III can take 40 degree reflective flash reading. The VI can take 1 degree spot flash reading. The Minolta spotmeter F also can read flash (uh oh this is a flash meter that can't do incident) of course in spot mode. I just read the manual for the L758 and yes it does flash reading also in spot mode. So flash metering isn't something that is in incident mode only although flash metering is often used in incident mode.
     
  7. wiltw

    wiltw Subscriber

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    It makes no sense to offer a spotmeter function, when you are at the flash to trigger the flash, and not able to aim the meter where you want!
     
  8. Poisson Du Jour

    Poisson Du Jour Member

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    Spot metering would be reflected readings.
     
  9. Chan Tran

    Chan Tran Member

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    Yes it is reflective but what's your point?
     
  10. Poisson Du Jour

    Poisson Du Jour Member

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    Why a spot meter? It has its place in non-flash for measuring individual luminances, but why do that with ambient/flash illumination?
     
  11. Leigh B

    Leigh B Member

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    Irrelevant as regards the Sekonic meters, since they have wireless trigger capability and can fire the flash from anywhere.

    The same function is available with these and other spot meters using wired trigger.

    - Leigh
     
  12. Leigh B

    Leigh B Member

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    I very much prefer and recommend the Sekonic L-558 (or L-558R) meter*.

    It does everything, including incident and 1° spot, for ambient, flash, or a combination thereof.

    The L-758 is similar but with many unneeded bells and whistles (e.g. USB interface), at a much higher price.

    The L-558 is unfortunately no longer made (replaced by the L-758) but is readily available used for around $350.

    - Leigh

    *Note:
    The basic L-558 requires an optional plug-in radio transmitter to trigger flash in wireless mode (PocketWizard compatible).
    That transmitter is factory-installed in the L-558R (that's what the R suffix means).
    As with the PocketWizard itself, different transmitters are used in different parts of the world. Be sure to get the right one.
     
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  13. Leigh B

    Leigh B Member

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    For measuring lighting ratios. This can be done with any type of light, or mix of light types.

    - Leigh
     
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  15. CGW

    CGW Restricted Access

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    I'd add that you need to be clear on the trigger frequencies of the gear involved: "CE" spec meters need CE -spec trigger modules+triggers; same goes for FCC spec meters+modules. CE and FCC stickers appear on the backs of meters--FCC is the standard for N. America. Mix-n-match isn't an option. No worries if you don't intend to use a wireless trigger system.
     
  16. Chan Tran

    Chan Tran Member

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    Why a flash spot meter? I know it has limited uses. I used it for testing more than anything. I don't want to elaborate in that. I once needed the spot flash meter because I lighted a large aquarium from the top but I couldn't put the incident meter where the fish are. Poisson if I am not mistaken, you seemed to indicate that flash meters are only incident type? Flashmeters are available in both spot and wide angle reflective although they are not very useful but I wouldn't say there is no use for them.
     
  17. jaydub

    jaydub Member

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    Excellent suggestion. After reading your post I checked out the manual and did not pick up on anything that would seem to dispel, clarify or correct my suspicions about the retracting half-dome. Is there a page in this manual that I can be referred to? Really, I am not trying to be a butt head, I just want to drive to the best answer. The manual is too fat to upload, so here is a link:

    http://www.maranatha.it/photo/L-758.pdf
     
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  18. Leigh B

    Leigh B Member

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    L-758 manual (English) page 13:

    4. Basic Operation
    .. 3. Incident Measurement Mode
    "3. When the Lumisphere is retracted (flat diffuser function)
    This is used to measure manuscripts, paintings or other flat copy."

    Not exactly hidden or encrypted.

    - Leigh
     
  19. jaydub

    jaydub Member

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    Well, I understand the mechanics. Read my original post regarding retracted half dome vs. flat diffuser and why the earlier might not be very accurate. Your response doesn't really answer the question and the manual sheds very little light. Most useful answer will probably come from someone tests their equipment in a similar way. Again, not trying to be a butt head. But easy answers to complex questions just don't satisfy. Otherwise, I could have figured it out.
     
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  20. Leigh B

    Leigh B Member

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    The most useful answer comes from the manufacturer's manual.

    The product was designed and tested by individuals far more competent than any on this board,
    using calibrated test equipment and standardized facilities and procedures.

    What is your basis for questioning their results? What qualifications do you have for doing so?

    - Leigh
     
  21. Poisson Du Jour

    Poisson Du Jour Member

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    I can barely get my head around why this (retracted dome) is or could be perceived as an issue or something likely to give rise to errors. I have to agree with Leigh, above. Have errors actually been observed through using the flashmeter this way? If so, how were the results qualified as directly related to the collar around the retracted dome? Or are we boxing at shadows?

    I am particularly intrigued by this:

    Speculation is one thing, but results from actively experimenting should answer the question.
     
  22. jaydub

    jaydub Member

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    It seems to me that Sekonic and Gossen both approached the challenge the same way, in the name of user friendliness. What's easier to do: 1) twist a knob or 2) remove one disk and replace it with another. The answer is obvious. If I were a product designer thinking about the end user, I would be tempted to go with the knob solution myself. But just think of the physics of the problem. Oblique lighting.....and a diffuser hiding in a well? Does that sound like a like the best solution possible? Maybe they've got it all figured out, they've done the physics, implemented the calculus, and I'm being too smart. I admit, this is speculation on my part as I've not done tests. That's why I'm posting this question, before I buy. Perhaps I should shut up.
     
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  23. Leigh B

    Leigh B Member

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    Stop and think about what you're saying.

    You're asserting that two of the most experienced, highly-respected and proficient manufacturers of light meters
    in the world made fundamental design errors in their products.

    And your assertion is based on idle speculation.

    Would you care to wager some money on who's right?

    - Leigh
     
  24. jaydub

    jaydub Member

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    Chrysler and Ford thought they had winners with the K-car and Pinto. User experience tells us something different.
     
  25. Leigh B

    Leigh B Member

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    Consumer demand for a car model has absolutely nothing to do with proper design. I had a K-car and it was a fine auto.

    - Leigh
     
  26. jaydub

    jaydub Member

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    He he he. If you believe that a K-Car was a fine auto, then, pretty much, end of discussion. At the same time, I do appreciate the dialogue. I guess I'll just have to buy and find out for myself. But honestly, what is your intuition, on a design basis. Let's assume your next door neighbor designed it, not Sekonic or Gossen. Does it, on the surface, seem like a logical design?