Trying to get a light meter that does what I want !

Discussion in 'Medium Format Cameras and Accessories' started by digiconvert, Dec 28, 2006.

  1. digiconvert

    digiconvert Member

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    After playing at MF for a year now and with some cash from relatives for Christmas (Seasons greetings all :D ) I have been looking at the possibility of getting a meter to complement/replace my Weston III/Calcuflash gear.
    I mainly shoot landscapes, architecture (particularly 'ex-architecture') and occasionally photograph people and still life indoors. I only shoot studio flash at college and use the Calcuflash for thinking about fill in most of the time.
    I have decided that I want a meter that will give a reading at a lower light level than the Weston (not too difficult !) and in order to make things worthwhile I should be able to use it to get spot readings when I am doing landscapes, those who know them will understand that the Weston is not at its best trying to meter a tree against a bright sky 100 yards away (IMHO).

    So I get excited and start looking and find the following;
    Gossen - The lunastar is still going but the price is realy extortionatw, and getting a spot attachment is not going to be easy. The Variosix F2 (Luna six in N America ?) has a 5 deg spot attachment and a reasonable feature set but a lot of stuff I don't need and with a spot attachment it's close to £300.
    It also seems to be identical to the digipro F if I don't want the spot but is over £100 dearer. (there is a non flash version but it has no spot facility)

    Sekonic- Some very basic, cheapish meters and of course the Studio but that offers nothing over the Weston. The High end stuff is designed around studio work , the basic model being the 358 which offers lots of flash analysis bu needs another £100 for the spot attachment.

    The onlyother thing I even feel is worth consideration is the Polaris Dual 5 which has a built in 5 deg finder and costs £160 or so, but a friend at college has one and I dread the thought of taking it out into a muddy field - I suspect it will not take the abuse the Weston does.

    Are meters a dying item now that digi allows you to shoot and delete until you get it right ? I ENJOY taking the time to meter a scene , usually by reflected light since now I like to get some contrast into the shot as my experience has grown.

    So anyone any suggestions as to my dream meter ? Looks like second hand again ! I've seen a couple of Soligor's on e-bay and a few MinoltaAuto III/IV at dealers in my price range (£150 - 200) (with 5 deg spot attachments cheap) and I am also considering an L228 and a Mastersix (I know the latter has bells and whistles but it looks like fun !) or do I take the plunge and get the L-608 that a dealer has lurking for just shy of £300 even if I'll never use most of the functions.

    Cheers and Happy Shooting;
    Chris Benton
     
  2. PatTrent

    PatTrent Subscriber

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    Sounds complicated. :confused:

    Personally, I just use my 10-year old (or is it older than that???) Sekonic Flashmate L-308B (always in incident mode for daylight). It's never let me down, the AA battery lasts forever, and it's bang-on in flash mode.

    I ceased using spot meters and went entirely "incident" when I realized how much easier and faster it is, and all the frames on the proof sheet are consistent. Works well for me.

    Good luck in finding the meter of your dreams. To each his own. :tongue:

    Pat
     
  3. Nick Zentena

    Nick Zentena Member

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    I wouldn't suggest the 358 with the add on spot. The combined cost will be pretty close to the 558 or the new model. No idea about UK prices but the 558 or the newer model [758DR??] aren't much more then $450 US or about 200 pounds. If you can handle buying from the USA I'd consider that option.
     
  4. Bob F.

    Bob F. Member

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    I have a Sekonic L-558 and use it for landscape and interior flash (in fact, I was using it 5 mins ago to shoot a still-life). It is water resistant (sealed buttons) but I'm not sure I would want to drop it on to concrete (too many bits sticking out) but it does give 1 degree spot and incident in both ambient and flash (and mixed) lighting. The memories can be useful when checking subject brightness range etc. I think the new L-758 is much the same but with a few more bells and whistles thrown in for what looks like much the same price (a smidgeon over 340 beer tokens). You may be able to find a deal on an L-558 if you can find one.

    Good luck, Bob.
     
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  5. Lopaka

    Lopaka Member

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    I'll add to the recommendation for the Sekonic. I have a slightly older L-508 that does everything I can want it to do. The only difference between the L-508 and L-558 is the L-508 does not have the option of installing a pocketwizard transmitter.

    Bob
     
  6. resummerfield

    resummerfield Subscriber

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    Hi Bob F--

    Do you know if your 558 has a receptacle that would accept the Minolta Booster II--it is a 3.5mm plug. Helen mentioned in an earlier post that her 508 has this receptacle, but the newer 758 did not. I was wondering about the 558.

    Thanks!
     
  7. JBrunner

    JBrunner Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    The best advice I can give is to ditch the incident meter all together, and get a dedicated spot meter. I use a Pentax. You will be a much better photographer in short order. (After screwing the pooch a few times.) Yes, this is totally contrary to the advice above.:smile: Incident meters can be faster and easier at first, but correspondingly less accurate for a given situation, in general terms. I now find spot metering to be as convienient and easy as using the bubble. You sound like you have flash metering covered, for what you do.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 28, 2006
  8. Bob F.

    Bob F. Member

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    Nope: the 558 does not have the facility for an accessory for metering off the GG screen like the 508 has (Sekonic sold an accessory for the 508 - there isn't one, nor a socket for one, on the 558).

    Cheers, Bob.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 28, 2006
  9. digiconvert

    digiconvert Member

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    Thanks for the addvice folks, amazing how sekonic seems to have taken over the world in terms of flash metering - what hapenned to Gossen ? Presumably you use them as incident meters for 'close up' work and switch to spot for landscapes etc. One meter that does it all does sound nice.

    Just missed out on an L-228 from the states by $1 to a sniper :-( it was only $50 including postage too. It's keep looking I guess !

    Cheers ; Chris Benton
     
  10. Ranger Bob

    Ranger Bob Member

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    Unless you know how to make adjustments to exposure using an incident meter. Which is quite easy to do even on the fly. Quite simple actually.
     
  11. TheFlyingCamera

    TheFlyingCamera Membership Council Council

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    Look for a pre-owned Sekonic L408 - they're a few years old now, came in between the 308 and the 508/558/etc. It has a 5degree spot (close enough unless you're trying to meter individual leaves on said tree at 100 yards), has the waterproof feature, is smaller/lighter/more robust than the 558 and cousins, will cost a fair bit less, and it CAN be dropped on hard surfaces and survive (I know - I've done it more than once). It will do incident AND reflected, as well as the aforementioned 5 degree spot, and it will do ambient, flash, or mixed. I ended up getting a Minolta spot-meter IV that doesn't have flash metering to use as a compliment to the Sekonic when I'm strictly shooting in the field.
     
  12. Roger Hicks

    Roger Hicks Member

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    I'll second the recommendation for spot meters wholeheartedly: for negatives, spot is infinitely superior, though I still prefer incident for colour slide.

    'Screwing the pooch' is a new one on me and as far as I know is llegal in most jurisdictions...

    Finally, I'll add that sometimes, it's better to accept that you just have to spend what it takes to get the right kit. Second-best can sometimes be as much use as no good at all.

    Cheers,

    R.
     
  13. r-brian

    r-brian Member

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    My 'go to' meter is the Polaris. Don't sell it short. I think it's the best meter on the market FOR THE MONEY. I have the original model with the snap-on 10 degree attachment and I've never had a problem with it. I's accurate, easy to use and does what it's supposed to. It's worked fine in the New Mexico heat and sand and worked fine at below zero above 10,000 feet.

    Buy the Polaris.


    Brian
     
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  15. Chan Tran

    Chan Tran Member

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    Gossen Starlite is a very nice meter. The Sekonic 558 like many have recommended also has all the features you need. For years, I use a Minolta flashmeter III for flash and incident and the Minolta spotmeter M for spot. I gave my brother the spotmeter M and now I have the Minolta flashmeter VI which does offer the 1 degree spot mode.
     
  16. JBrunner

    JBrunner Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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  17. tony lockerbie

    tony lockerbie Subscriber

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    I bought a Gossen Starlite so I could have spot and incident + flash. This is a really nice meter but cost an arm and a leg.
    But you know what? I find that I still prefer my Lunasix 111 for most of my work, I guess old habits die hard and the Lunasix is just so good in low light.
    Tony
     
  18. Peter Black

    Peter Black Subscriber

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    Chris, I've PM'd you.
     
  19. digiconvert

    digiconvert Member

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    Anyone any ideas on this beast ? Going on the auction site at a place that knows little about it. Serial number apears to be '33169' and it's described as a "vintage asahi pentax spotmeter" Apparently Hi and Lo meters respond to light. Does it predate the Honywell partnership or is it likely to be later ?

    Cheers ; Chris
     

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  20. craigclu

    craigclu Subscriber

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    I can identify with Pat, here.... I'll also add a plug for the discontinued Sekonic L-718. Incident metering with a moderate amount of common sense and understanding of your materials can deliver very consistent results. The 718 also has a spot attachment. I have the attachment and have used it in extreme cases but don't know that I'd repurchase for the little use I give it.... Here's the operating manual and info:

    http://www.sekonic.com/images/files/L-718.pdf

    These tend to show up in the auction site from time to time at moderate prices.
     
  21. Roger Hicks

    Roger Hicks Member

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  22. CPorter

    CPorter Member

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    I don't think there is a "dream meter".

    The use of any meter still requires the same amount of thought. That said, I much prefer the spot meter as there is really no other way to precisely determine the subject brightness range. I have a Pentax V 1 degtree spot meter and I recently bought a Gaussen Luna Pro F for incident metering.
     
  23. Cheryl Jacobs

    Cheryl Jacobs Member

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    Hell, I just use my little Polaris for everything. I paid around $150 for it and it works great. It's not what it does but what you do with it.

    - CJ
     
  24. digiconvert

    digiconvert Member

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    The Polaris looks really good on paper but as I said the only one I've seen in the flesh is a bit flimsy. You're the second person to recommend one though. Do you use yours for location or studio work or both ?
    Thanks ; Chris
     
  25. Cheryl Jacobs

    Cheryl Jacobs Member

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    Chris, I use it for everything. My primary career is on-location natural light portraiture, which I usually shoot indoors in low light. On rare occasions, I have used my dusty old studio light (my band shots from a month or two ago) and it works fine for that. When I travel or shoot a (rare) wedding, I set it to spot meter, and it does that well, too.

    It's sort of like the difference between a hassey and a bronica. IMO one feels more expensive, but both work equally well. Frankly, I'm very ADD and constantly misplacing things -- if I lose the Polaris, I can replace it without breaking the bank.

    I used to have a simple Gossen meter, and liked it fine, too.

    - CJ
     
  26. digiconvert

    digiconvert Member

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    I shoot Bronnie for the reason you give and am a great believer in performance over 'brand'. Thanks for the information I guess it deserves a second look, especially with the spot attachment.

    Isn't this a wonderful place :D