Now it's time to look for a lightmeter

Discussion in 'Medium Format Cameras and Accessories' started by marcello.brussard, Mar 31, 2004.

  1. marcello.brussard

    marcello.brussard Member

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    I'm rather new to MF and having the start-up phase (learn to use my new-veryold Hassy) I'd like to produce some more consistent job (i.e. being able to predict the exposure of the film as I do with 35 mm).

    In brief I need an hand held lightmeter, but I do not know where to start (types, makers, prices). Any post that will point me in the right direction will be welcomed.


    Ciao,

    Marcello
     
  2. David A. Goldfarb

    David A. Goldfarb Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    Do you need to meter flash or just ambient light?

    Do you want to use the zone system and be able to determine contrast ratios (favors a spot meter), or is that unnecessary for the way you work?

    Do you want a meter with lots of features and ability to make instant calculations and store values, etc., or do you prefer something simple and uncluttered?

    Do you prefer a digital readout or match needle readout?

    Is size/weight important?

    What's your budget?

    New or used?
     
  3. marcello.brussard

    marcello.brussard Member

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    Thank you David, I believe the questions you've posed will be very helpfull to position my needs, so I'll try to answer to the best of my present knowledge:

    Q: Do you need to meter flash or just ambient light?
    A: At the moment I do not have a flash, but probably in the future I will have one.

    Q: Do you want to use the zone system and be able to determine contrast ratios (favors a spot meter), or is that unnecessary for the way you work?
    A: In 35 mm I often use the spot metering feature of my contax 167, but it is not a narrow spot, it is more a very pronunced centre weight. I do not plan to use zone system.

    Q: Do you want a meter with lots of features and ability to make instant calculations and store values, etc., or do you prefer something simple and uncluttered?
    A: The math behind photography is usually very simple I can do it by myself.

    Q: Do you prefer a digital readout or match needle readout?
    A: it does not matter.

    Q: Is size/weight important?
    A: it does not matter.

    Q: What's your budget?
    A: not defined yet

    Q: New or used?
    A: I do not care.
     
  4. clogz

    clogz Subscriber

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    I have got a Minolta VF ambient/flash meter and i'm rather happy with it. It's dead on compared to several other meters (Pentax spormeter etc.)
     
  5. blansky

    blansky Subscriber

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    You didn't say what you like to photograph. If it is scenics you would find a spotmeter very handy. If it is people, then not really necessary.

    I use a couple of Minolta IV flash/ambient meters. There is also a spotmeter attachment available.

    Price is about $218 without the spotmeter attachment.



    Michael MCBlane
     
  6. Jeremy

    Jeremy Member

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    I use the same meter at Michael and the price he quoted is actually for a new Minolta V so you could probably find a IV for around $150-160 used if you wish to save some money.
     
  7. Donald Miller

    Donald Miller Member

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    What Michael has failed to elaborate on is that he really only keeps the meters laying around to impress the mothers of the youngsters that he photographs. Michael has developed his sensitivity to light to such an extent that he can "feel' the light intensity to within a 1/3 of a stop.

    For a lot less money (mostly for beer...or wine in Michaels case) one can spend a couple of afternoons laying out getting a tan and develop this sensitivity to light, from what Michael tells me.

    Michael tells me that the tan he has gotten, as a result of this, impresses the hell out of his wife. I guess that is because she doesn't get nearly as much sun as Michael.She is usually found in some dark and dank hospital operating suite slaving away to "bring home the bacon".
     
  8. David A. Goldfarb

    David A. Goldfarb Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    Sounds like you don't really need a dedicated spotmeter, but you might want a flash meter capable of incident and reflective readings.

    The Minolta flashmeters are a good choice. I like my old Minolta Flashmeter III, which is simple and accurate and good at handling low light levels, and the IV that Michael recommends and V are good too. The new VI doesn't accept all the accessories of the older ones, but it has a built-in spotmeter, so those accessories like the 5-degree finder aren't really as necessary. Later versions have more features like calculation of contrast ratio or storing multiple ISO values (handy if you switch between two film types, like Polaroid and transparency), but like you, I do these things in my head, so I haven't felt a need to upgrade from the III. The new VI doesn't accept the Booster II unit, but unless you shoot large format or through a microscope, it's probably not something you'll need.

    Sekonic is now making some nice flash/ambient meters that compete with Minolta, so you should look at those as well.
     
  9. David A. Goldfarb

    David A. Goldfarb Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    Just to be clear about model numbers of Minolta meters. There is the Flashmeter series and the Autometer series, and some of the Autometers come in ambient-only and flash/ambient versions. Both are good and have similar features, but the Flashmeters are more expensive. I'm not sure whether the Flashmeters are more robust or have some more sophisticated circuitry, but in some cases they are more accurate in low light than their Autometer counterparts of the same generation. I think I paid around $100 used for the Flashmeter III some years ago.
     
  10. Bruce Osgood

    Bruce Osgood Membership Council Council

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    Interesting but a little off topic:
    I was walking the dog the other night about 10pm and came upon a young woman with a 4X5 camera making a picture from a building.
    I immediately began picking her brain and as to light meters she doesn't use one.
    She uses a Fuji color film and 90% of her photography is at night. She knows the film so well she doesn't need to meter a scene. Her exposures are anywhere from 6 to 30 minutes depending. AND, she sells her work through galleries and has dealers.
    What does it mean? Know your tools.
     
  11. blansky

    blansky Subscriber

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    Donald wrote

    Actually Donald that was a while ago. You are right, I can ascertain the light to within a 50th of a stop merely by glancing at the subject.

    However now I have developed a special disposable meter that I have clients swallow, so that I can get a better reading of their " inner glow" or their "essence" if you will.

    This has always been a challenge for us portrait types that feel the need to capture their subjects "essence". A portrait with an underexposed essence has always been a pet peeve of mine.

    With this new meter, I'm now better able to balance the strobes with this essence and make a far more revealing portrait.

    I'm planning to put this invention on the market soon and will market it under the name "the Glow Worm".

    In our early trials, some people were experiencing a phenomena we called the "Glow Worm Squirm" but since most were kids we didn't see anything unusual. Trouble was, adults started to experience the same thing so we reworked the device a little.

    Now, with a glass of Metamucil, most people pass the device within a few days. Just in time to look at their glowing proofs.

    Thanks for allowing me to get this free advertising in.



    MIchael MCBlane
     
  12. jnanian

    jnanian Advertiser Advertiser

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    you might look into a luna pro sbc. it is able to tell you pretty much everything you need to know, including very low asa film / paper and exposures that last for minutes :smile: ( not a digital meter & not a flash meter.) the good thing is the battery is a regular olde 9 volt. i have seen them used for not too much money ... maybe $150 tops.

    good luck!

    -john
     
  13. veriwide

    veriwide Member

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    I'd like to also suggest the GOSSEN LUNA PRO SBC. I came kicking and screaming into modern times two years ago, when I bought the LUNA PRO. Before that I was quite proud to say that my camera bag did not have one thing in it that required batteries, and that included my Weston Master II meter.

    The Luna Pro has become a trusted friend. It is a fantastic reflective/incedint meter by itself. It does have other options to expand it's value to the photographer. I use several attachments for it: the 1/5/10 degree spot meter, the microscope attachment,and the copy attachment.

    You can find them on used eBay, and at most camera shops around the web.
     
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  15. mark

    mark Member

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    How come michael get's to advertise his product so blatantly.

    I vote for the Luna Pro as well as the Sekonic L718, just wish it had a one degree spot attachment instead of a 5 degree.
     
  16. clogz

    clogz Subscriber

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    I dunno what this metering fuss is all about.I just walk to the pond and ask the Koi for advice on camera settings.
     
  17. Karl Chapman

    Karl Chapman Member

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    I am sure that I am at a similar stage to you - new to MF and learning my way around a Rolleiflex. I bought a Gossen Lunasix on ebay for a reasonable price and it has been very accurate. It can do reflected and incident readings, not flash, and can take attachments if required. It is particularly good at low light readings and goes way beyond what a 35mm can offer. (Don't forget to increase exposure when using filters though).

    From personal experience, I would go for something like this and not get too bogged in zone systems, etc, until you are more comfortable with the basics of exposure. My exposures went a bit haywire as I dived head first into complicated manuals and advice. I have since gone back to basics, with occasional bracketing, and my exposures are more stable now.

    As a side note, my Rolleiflex has an exposure table on the back, a more advanced version of what used to come on the inside of film boxes. In most general outdoor scenarios it matches the reading given by the light meter exactly.
     
  18. mark

    mark Member

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    Karl

    I disagree that he should not worry about getting bogged down by zone system stuff until he gets the idea of exposure down. I went that route and then had to relearn everything when I realized I wanted more from my negatives. If I had actively pursued a method of exposing such as the Zone System or BTZS from the outset I would not have spent a number of years unhappy with my prints.

    Those prints lacked something that did not show up until I began to actively make my negatives meet my vision. In BW this is done by intentionally making certain objects match specific grey tones. If a person is cobnscious of this from the beginning I think they would have much more successes early on. I know I would have.
     
  19. dr bob

    dr bob Member

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  20. dr bob

    dr bob Member

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  21. jovo

    jovo Membership Council Council

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    fwiw, if you choose to buy a meter you need to look into (a spot meter usually requires this) the one distinct advantage of a digital model is that the ev will be easy to read in low light whereas the analog needle may be very difficult to see in that circumstance.

    though the 'zone system' can seem enormously intimidating in its worst and most densitometric moments, it's really just a way of understanding how the film will record the various tonalities of the scene. you can get a great deal out of this method of visualizing without ever having to run a test or calibrate a thing...though such efforts will obviously be worth it in obtaining the utmost precision....by thinking this way about exposure.
     
  22. photomc

    photomc Member

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    I use a Polaris Flash meter with a pseudo spot attachment. It is a good meter, and easy to work with. Also, for zone work a put together a zone dial from an old issue of View Camera - not perfect, but it works.
     
  23. photomc

    photomc Member

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    I use a Polaris Flash meter with a pseudo spot attachment. It is a good meter, and easy to work with. Also, for zone work a put together a zone dial from an old issue of View Camera - not perfect, but it works.
     
  24. Ed Sukach

    Ed Sukach Member

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    It is fairly easy to go overboard in the choice of a Light Meter. I use a Gossen "Ultra-Pro". I do *LOT* of studio work, and most of my metering involves incident metering with the Gossen Studio (swivelling) Incident Attachment, in *Flash* mode.

    I am giving *serious* thought towards purchasing the ARAX - modified Prism with intergal spot and averaging meter to expand "out-of-studio" mtering capabilities.

    I would think your choice should be influenced by your modes of work ... If Studio Flash units are involved, the major concern would be flash metering capabilites... Flash combined with Spot metering might be interesting ... but I've never thought that it would be useful in the "heat-of-battle" atmosphere of studio work --- there is just not enough spare time to be *really* precise.

    I would imagine that a Large Format photographer - involved in landscape - and "psuedo-landscape" work, where a lot of time for each exposure - and in applying the Zone System to single sheet exposures - would find spot metereing to be supremely useful.

    Other than those considerations - the choices, Gossen, Sekonic, Minolta, Pentax -- and probably lots more -- all appear to be reliable and cost effective.

    One thing I might suggest - as would be a good idea with any high-priced gear ... If you can, borrow or rent a prospective meter and "see how it feels" in real life.
     
  25. glbeas

    glbeas Member

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    I have a Minolta III incident and a Minolta Spotmeter F and one thing I learned between them is I love the fact that the Spotmeter F takes a AA cell. The incident takes a 6 volt something or other thats a PITA to find though it lasts a good while. It would be interesting to know what the other brands use, it's one good factor in the user friendly aspect of the meters.
     
  26. David Ruby

    David Ruby Member

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    I too have the Luna Pro. I found one used, in great condition on Ebay a year or so ago for $30. Same thing for sale at the mall, albeit new, for $250. I'm an amateur for sure, but it is very easy for me and seems pretty accurate.

    I have the manual in digital format if you end up needing one.