Pentax Digital Spot Meter vs. Zone System

Discussion in 'Medium Format Cameras and Accessories' started by bonk, Apr 16, 2007.

  1. bonk

    bonk Member

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    I am thinking about buying a Pentax Digital Spot Meter as a companion for my Pentax 67. I make a lot of pictures in low-light situation at night and thought that the LED-Display of the meter would help me there. Also I am currently looking into getting used to the Zone System. What do you think about this meter in my situation? Is it good with the Zone System? What about its low light sensitivity? What are generally the downsides (if any) of this meter? Is it worth its money?
     
  2. Roger Hicks

    Roger Hicks Member

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    Arguably, if you use the I.R.E. 1 index for shadow readings, your need for the Zone System will be reduced. If you decide to use the Zone System as well, the I.R.E. 1 to 10 scales will tell you almost all you need to know about exposure; very roughly, if it's well within the range, use N+ development, if it's much outside, try N-.

    It's a very good meter. My wife uses hers all the time. For very low light (i.e. shadow readings in poor light), however, ANY spot-meter is pushed hard, even the legendary SEI.

    Cheers,

    R.
     
  3. dpurdy

    dpurdy Member

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    I use the Pentax digital spot and have been using the same one for 17 years since my analog one was stolen. I use it for everything. Pentax 67 rolleiflex nikon 4x5 and 8x10. In the 70s I went to a photography school started by Glen Fishback who was the guy that wrote the original manual for the pentax spot detailing his own zone system. I have used it for everything since then. As to the Zone system, it is good to be aware of it and think in those terms. But with variable contrast papers and inflexible films it isn't really worth it to develop all the exact n--- to n+++ times unless you are doing something really extreme. It is very useful however to be aware of the threshold of useful exposure on your film and to know where to place that "Zone" in your exposure calculation. I use the spot meter to measure the darkest area I want detail in and the brightest area I want detail in and also measure whatever subject and see where in the scale it falls. Then make a decision for exposure thinking of what I can do in printing. You can't print what isn't there on the bottom end. And if the density it too high on the top end you can't print that either. So you try to visualize what it is going to look like if you give up tones on one end or the other and decide if you still want to take the photo.

    bit long winded. The short of it is that I wouldn't exactly be lost without my spot meter but I feel a lot more like I know what I am doing if I have it.
     
  4. bgilwee

    bgilwee Member

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    I've had my pentex spot meter for ten years, worried over the cost, got it anyway...LOVE IT...lost without it.
    Brian
     
  5. Christopher Walrath

    Christopher Walrath Subscriber

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    I use a Lekonic L358 digital meter and apply my readings to the Zone System with great success. I am not familiar with your model, however, definitely learn the Zone System. It will help your mental processes and a great place to start is Ansel Adams' 'The Negative', chapter 3-4. It is laid out in a concise manner that was a cinch for me to pick up after checking various other sources for about four years without it taking.
     
  6. jamie

    jamie Member

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    Pentax spot meters are excellent! I got mine for $50 and at the time I didn't even realize how much of a bargain it was.
     
  7. Roger Hicks

    Roger Hicks Member

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    If it works for you, it works for you, but don't necessarily assume that it's a good idea for everyone. I find it a tedious and far from concise recitation of basic sensitometry, over-simplified in some places and over-complicated in others. My advice to the OP would be the exact opposite of yours.

    This doesn't mean you're wrong or that I'm right: it's just worth putting the other side of the argument.

    Cheers,

    R.
     
  8. CPorter

    CPorter Member

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    Bonk,

    I would get the Pentax for sure, especially if you are going to learn to expose and develop via ZS method. Becoming proficient in the use of a spot meter is important when using the ZS.

    Chuck
     
  9. bonk

    bonk Member

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    Too bad it is so darn expensive. Is ebay really the cheapest way to get one, or do you have another suggestion?
     
  10. DODDATO

    DODDATO Member

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    Yes, buy the Pentax it's the finest meter out there. Learn the Zone system, it will help you to think and visualize as to how the film responds to light. Exposing for shadows and developing for highlights. It's a very simple system that is quite effective.