Why use a light meter: somebody persuade me.

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous Equipment' started by rawhead, Dec 18, 2012.

  1. rawhead

    rawhead Subscriber

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    OK, so here's the thing. I have here three light meters that I got as part of a huge bundle of equipment, all capable of (or being) spot metering: Gossen Luna Pro SBC + Spot attachment, Minolta Auto Meter IV F + spot attachment, and Pentax Spotmeter V.

    As they are more or less coveted items, and all seem to be pretty accurate (all within 1/3 stop from each other including metering with my 5Dmk2), and especially since the Minolta is in a great condition, I have an urge to keep at least one of these guys.

    But the thing is, would I use it?

    For quick & dirty metering, I use Pocket Light Meter App on my iPhone (which does a great job, BTW); for mission critical shots, I'll just use the meter, Live View, and test shots on my 5Dmk2 or NEX-6. I would never leave home without at least one of those digital cameras. Is there room for a dedicated piece of hardware?

    Can any of you persuade me to keep one of these (and if so, which one would it be?).


    If I can't be persuaded, you'll soon see all three in the classifieds :smile:
     
  2. bdial

    bdial Subscriber

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    If you are getting the results on the film that you need with the stuff you actually use, then start a thread in the classifieds with no hesitation :smile:

    It's heresy, but IMHO the usefulness of spot meters is a little over-rated, and certainly, three are two more than enough. I would keep the Luna Pro, as it has nice sensitivty for low light work, and you also get incident reading which none of the other stuff can do. It's also convienient for zone placement. Then sell the rest.
     
  3. Marc B.

    Marc B. Member

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    Please...Do sell them. Sell them all.
    You have clearly stated your metering preference.
    Sell the meters, so they can be put to good use by those who may want/need them.

    Marc
     
  4. CPorter

    CPorter Member

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    First, I don't necessarily say this to persuade the OP to use a light meter, it's a tool, use it or not, IMO. But if not, and one is continuously not pleased with their pictures, perhaps they should revisit the idea.

    But spot meters, over rated? Not if you want to measure a spot, right?........especially at some distance from the camera. There is quite a lot of incompetent useage of spot meters, IMHO.
     
  5. Two23

    Two23 Member

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    I do a fair amount of tricky flash--I light up trains at night. A flashmeter is essential for me. Remember, the trains aren't there yet when I'm setting up my camera. With a digital camera I generally don't use a meter in the daytime. With my vintage cameras I almost always do. It's quicker than fooling with getting an exposure from a DSLR, and I like the vintage work flow when using these cameras.


    Kent in SD
     
  6. TheFlyingCamera

    TheFlyingCamera Membership Council Council

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    Another note- the Minolta Auto-Meter is most certainly an incident meter. It becomes a reflected or spot meter with adding accessories or changing out the incident dome.

    As to metering using your Canon dSLR, you may be lucky and getting good results that way, but in my experience, digital camera meters are calibrated for digital sensors, and ISO 100 does not mean the same thing as ISO 100 for film. What it means is 1/2 the sensitivity of the ISO 200 setting. I have two meters - a Minolta Spotmeter-F and a Sekonic 408. Both of them agree to within 1/4 stop, perhaps even closer. My film exposures with them are dead on. I have yet to find a dSLR sensor that matches them. Most dSLR exposures I've found are way overexposed if you go with the handheld meter reading (I've observed this with studio strobes - I don't really have call to use the handheld meter when shooting digital in natural light or with TTL flash). And frankly I'd rather carry a handheld meter than a second camera system to serve as just a meter.

    If I were going to keep one of those meters, I'd keep the Minolta because it has the spot attachment and because should you ever want it, there are additional accessories for it (at one point they made a probe you could use to spot meter off the ground glass of a view camera, IIRC). I don't know about the Gossen, but the Minolta definitely can meter flash exposures and ambient/flash combination. That's something that none of your dSLRs can do for you. So should you ever want to shoot an interior and balance the lighting with off-camera non-TTL flash, the Minolta will be extremely helpful.
     
  7. kbrede

    kbrede Member

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    I'd keep at least one of the meters. Your idea of carrying around a digital camera all the time might change. I know I want to carry less and less gear the longer I shoot.
     
  8. BrianShaw

    BrianShaw Member

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    It appears to me that you haven't yet found the right meter for you. Don't sell... BUY MORE!
     
  9. Timestep

    Timestep Member

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    ‚ÄčIt's a question of being in control.
     
  10. Chan Tran

    Chan Tran Member

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    Get rid of them as you have determined that you don't need them. If I were you I would keep them all.
    1. The Pentax is the only true spotmeter of the bunch so it would work as the spotmeter.
    2. The Minolta is a great incident meter and it can measure flash too.
    3. The Gossen can measure very low light, can be good for low light situation as well as for darkroom work.

    I also use the light meter to measure light not just for exposure.

    with that said, I actually have very good result using the a cheap digital camera (coolpix 5000) to do test shot and it works for both flash and ambient light and mixed light.
     
  11. E. von Hoegh

    E. von Hoegh Member

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    +10
     
  12. BradS

    BradS Subscriber

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    I haveto agree with others...
    Sell them all...i could definitely use at least one of them

    Also agree that the necessity/usefulness of spotmeters is highly overrated.
     
  13. wiltw

    wiltw Subscriber

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    Spot meters are so overrated that
    1. I have some form of spotmetering in six of seven metered cameras (Olympus OM-4, Bronica ETRSi, Olympus G2, Canon S95 ...all except the Olympus OM-1 which I purchased new 35 years ago, Canon 40D, Canon 5D).
    2. with my handheld meters, my Minolta Autometer Vf incident meter has a 5 degree spot attachment, and my Minolta Spotmeter F reads one degree, so when I have these along, virtually every camera I own is accompanied by spotmetering.

    When one understands how meters work, spotmetering is very useful to have.
     
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  15. Terry Christian

    Terry Christian Subscriber

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    Although it can be handy to everyone, spot metering is done primarily in large format photography, where it is absolutely indispensable. Your mileage in 35mm or medium format may vary. If I were you, I'd still keep them.
     
  16. E. von Hoegh

    E. von Hoegh Member

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    You may want to reconsider that claim.
    While the necessity is certainly overblown, the usefulness is just as certainly not.
    Just because you don't value a spot meter doesn't mean others don't find one very useful indeed.:wink:
     
  17. BradS

    BradS Subscriber

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    Yes. Obviously.
     
  18. E. von Hoegh

    E. von Hoegh Member

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    Of course it isn't "absolutely indespensable" on large format or any other format.

    But a spotmeter is very useful for establishing brightness range, and sometimes a spotmeter is the only way (inaccesible scene) to do so. A spotmeter is of value on any size piece of film.
     
  19. ntenny

    ntenny Member

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    If I understand correctly, the options mentioned by the OP don't cover incident metering, right? If the meters on your d*g*t*l cameras are reading the same as the separate ones, then that's a perfectly good substitute for reflected metering, and I assume the 5D can do spot metering as well. I get a lot of use out of incident metering, but not everyone does (though there are those who would argue that everyone *should*).

    Also, the 5D is a pretty bulky load compared to even a large light meter, has more things that could go wrong, and is a major expense to replace if you drop it in the lake while metering that tricky shot off the edge of the boat, or whatever. (I'm not sure what the other d*g*t*l camera mentioned is, so maybe it addresses some of these issues.)

    If I were you, I'd take one of the meters out and use it for a day, then decide if you feel like it offers advantages over what you've been doing.

    -NT
     
  20. LJH

    LJH Member

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    At $20 per sheet of film, I'll use the most accurate tool I can get.

    I don't have the option to bracket, nor do I have the room/weight/desire available to carry a digital, so I learned how to use a spot.
     
  21. Pioneer

    Pioneer Member

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    If I absolutely need to ensure that something is properly exposed then I use a meter. If I can get next to it I much prefer to use an incident reading. If it is too far away for that then I use a spotmeter to get the reading. Otherwise I just use Sunny 16.

    Please keep in mind though that I usually shoot negative film, mostly black and white, some color. Slides are entirely different. If you shoot slides you need a really good meter, otherwise you are not getting the best you can get.
     
  22. Poisson Du Jour

    Poisson Du Jour Member

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    Fancy using a digital camera meter to compare a scene with a hand held meter. There is a lot to learn, obviously, with just that...
     
  23. rawhead

    rawhead Subscriber

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    Thanks all for your suggestions, ideas, etc! It's great to hear, though I don't know if I'm closer to reach a decision or not :D

    I guess a topic like this can have two aspects: one, kind words of advice to one member (me) and two, an aspect of more general utility.

    With that said, I wanted to clarify my own personal position a little bit more.

    I shoot both digital and film. For digital, I have a 5Dmk2, which I will most likely upgrade to a mk3 (or 6D) probably next year (read: I'm not ditching digital). My "having fun cam" is the newly acquired NEX-6, which replaced my Lumix GF-1 as "it can adapt pretty much any lens that's in existence, and can do a lot of tilt/shift with it, too!" camera. The NEX may or may not accompany me. It is rare that my 5Dmk2 is not thrown in the bag, though, since one of the things I like to do is long exposure photography, and no amount of metering is going to give me good estimates on exposure when it comes to 5 - 10 minute exposures. So I will almost always shoot LE with my 5D before I move onto my film cameras.

    For film, I shoot medium format and large format. 903SWC is my go-to MF for landscape, and for portraits, etc., I have my 67II, 203FE, Norita 66, and SL66E. All have a meters (though not spot in most of them). For LF, I shoot a lot of 4x5 with my Speed Graphic and Aero Ektar for portraits, and a SA 75/5.6 for landscape. I'm going to be expanding a lot on the lenses (Nikkor SW90, Symmar 180, and maybe something wider, like a 58XL) and I'm looking to get a proper field cam, currently salivating over the Chamonix 45-2. I did recently acquire a B&J 8x10 monorail, but I won't be jumping into that pond head-on for a while.

    Getting back on topic: Size/weight of a handheld over a DSLR is a non-issue, as I will always travel with a digital on me. And no, it's not *just* as an expensive & heavy lightmeter; about 50% of what I do is still digital. Incidence metering, I guess, is something I've never done, and don't quite yet understand the utility of. Yes, the Minolta has a cone. I'm wondering, if I'm to get more into shooting portraits (models, nudes, etc.) incidence could come in handy and/or indispensable (this is the kind of question I want to ask most)?

    I'm also interested in speed, accuracy, etc. For example, say I really wanted to travel light. I decide to just take my Moskva-5, without a digital camera. But I'll always have my iPhone 5 on me with the Pocket Light Meter app. So the question here would be, if the point is to travel light, is there an insurmounatble advantage in me, say, bridging along the Minolta meter (adding to the bulk) than just saying "heck if I'm going light, why not just use the iPhone app?".

    One more thing to clarify: I'm fairly new to this game. I got serious about photography 4 years ago, and serious about film photography about 3 years ago. So I haven't "ditched" light meters: I've never had the chance to use them in the first place, having come in from the digital side of things and getting into film afterwards. So what I'm wondering about is whether or not there are huge advantages to using them that I just don't know about!

    Anyway, sorry about the rambling, but I didn't want to pose the question and appear uninterested in the conversation, because I am!! Thanks!
     
  24. pentaxuser

    pentaxuser Subscriber

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    Here's a simple test. Use the D camera and then the Pentax spotmeter to take an exposure reading and take the shot on film. Then do the same again, taking the shot on digital. Should tell you all you need to know about the meters and film exposure and the meters and digital exposure.

    Then the way is clear for a decision on selling or keeping the meters.

    pentaxuser
     
  25. Ian Grant

    Ian Grant Subscriber

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    This thread seems more about the OP's digital camera than anything Analog.

    I use my hand held meters which ironically are the same as his regardless of the type or make of camera and get consistently good exposures.

    Ian
     
  26. tkamiya

    tkamiya Member

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    Sounds like you are already getting the result you want without using dedicated light meters. Also sounds like you don't expect situations your current method won't be adequate.

    Then why complicate your process with additional pieces of gear?

    The end goal is, to get a photograph that you like - and you already get that.