View Full Version : The best light meter for street?

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01-25-2010, 08:58 PM
Hi all,
I shoot traditional black and white manual rangefinder street pictures. Up to the present I have been using my Granddads Westonmeter II which works well metering off my hand. However the other day its needle got stuck, I nocked it and it came good, but I'm afraid it bumping around in my pocket is slowly killing it. Granddad would much rather see it die in battle but I don't want to kill such a beautiful antique. Therefore I need a new or reasonable second hand meter, preferably something that works well in low light but probably not a spot meter for my style of shooting (through that would be good for when I do landscapes). It also need to be small and indestructible.
Any suggestions, what do you guys use? am on a bit of a budget.


jd callow
01-25-2010, 11:15 PM
I think a good spot meter is the best thing for street or anywhere you can't get into the scene to meter. Gossen sbc is an excellent all around meter.

Colin Corneau
01-25-2010, 11:18 PM
Spot is pretty specific - not sure it'd be as quick as an incident.

01-25-2010, 11:29 PM
Your brain. It works faster and is usually more accurate. Sunny 16. It won't take long to get used to it.

01-25-2010, 11:35 PM
I don't know any meter that does well being knocked around, but I suppose some are more durable than others. With the Gossen Luna Pro you can choose incident or reflective at a moment's notice, and the dial is large and easy to read, much easier than a Weston II. Really, the Gossen is such a great meter.

I also use a Weston IV and V, and these are easier to read than the Weston II. But the Gossen gets the most use, by far.

The Voigtlander VCII is very small (fits on your hot or cold shoe) and super accurate, and could also be a winner.

01-25-2010, 11:57 PM
And if you do like your Weston, there is no need for it to die, as these are still being repaired by Quality Light Metric, where they check and address the following points: calibration, balance, jewels, switch, hairspring, front glass, pointer, coil, selenium cell, resistor, and more.
323-467-2265, in North Hollywood, California.

01-26-2010, 12:10 AM
A mixture of sunny 16-based exposure (AKA educated guessing) and a Sekonic incident meter with a direct-reading high slide is what I would suggest.

01-26-2010, 01:41 AM
Use a lightmeter that can be used with one hand, it's much, much better than holding the meter, pressing a button and using the other hand to turn a wheel. Many modern Sekonics and Gossens have much better ergonomics than that. Incident metering is my standard method, too.

01-26-2010, 04:50 AM
If you're metering off your hand now, then you are reading incident light. So you might as well get an incident meter. I agree with 2F/2F; a Sekonic incident with the slide kit is a great option. It's simple, uses no batteries and it fast to use. Only downside is that sensitivity in low light is not that great.

01-27-2010, 08:33 AM
Thanks guys. Love the look of the Sekonic as it resembles my western meter, Gossen looks a little confusing but i'll be sure to keep an eye out to have a look at one. I would love a spot meter, but not for street -as I like my combination of sunny 16 and hand metering. I do have an old SEI comparison meter for landscapes, but am having no luck getting hold of the Led conversion kit, I think the website is abandoned :(


Jim Edmond
01-27-2010, 12:27 PM
I have a Gossen Digisix which I use for this purpose. It will do incident or reflected measurements and is very small. It also has some other functions like a clock, temperature, stop watch, and alarm clock so is useful for travel.

I wouldn't give up on the Weston, though.

Joe Grodis
01-27-2010, 12:45 PM
I do similar photography and have settled on two specific meters. First, I use the Kodak Kodalux-L which is a bullet proof shoe mount meter that fits all of my range finders. Second, I use a Leica-M meter which is very nice and still to be had relatively cheap which is also a shoe mount but is rather large and doesn't fit all.
I got both from KEH.

01-27-2010, 12:56 PM
I bought a Sekonic L-778 spot meter (got a really good deal) but I keep the Gossen SBC just in case I want to shoot r-e-a-l-l-y low light.

01-27-2010, 08:54 PM
Interesting, my Western Meter is terrible in low light. I had to do a lot of educated guessing at the Australia Day fire works earlier this week, my trusty Western Meter was very little help at dusk!

Existing Light
01-27-2010, 09:35 PM
I use one of these. It's an inexpensive yet reliable incident/reflective meter ( http://cgi.ebay.com/Polaris-SPD100-Digital-Exposure-Meter-NEW_W0QQitemZ300318313784QQcmdZViewItemQQptZLH_Def aultDomain_0?hash=item45ec5dcd38 )

It's made of plastic, but seems to be fairly durable. I've dropped mine quite a few times, and it still works perfectly. Probably shouldnt drop it in water, though :)

01-27-2010, 11:57 PM
Polaris SPD100 Digital Exposure Meter looks interesting! How big is it, will it comfortably fit in the pocket of my pants I wonder...? (innocent question for those with a dirty mind ;)

Sirius Glass
01-28-2010, 09:37 AM
I reread the title of this thread and realized that you do not need a light meter just for the street. Light meters whether incident or reflective can be used for any subject! You do not need a special one to take reading of streets and roads. ;)

I hope this helps.


01-28-2010, 07:49 PM
Cheers Steve,
It's use will be almost solely for the street, as mentioned I have a SEI comparison spot meter for landscape or the spot meter in my DSLR / SLR's.
I meant the title to refer to the type of use I expect to put it too. When doing street I only meter off my hand, never off the scene, the problem is my Western meter is in danger of wearing out and i want one to replace it that will with stand the constant knocks occasional drops and general jiggerling of being in my pocket while i walk around without breaking. Problem with these posts i find is giving too much or not enough information!

Sounds like this Polaris SPD100, might be the way to go, has anyone used it for street, how large is it and can it be easily operated with one hand?
My normal practice is to walk around taking readings in light and shade so I can calibrate my head, then I put away the meter and use my brain until i feel the need to check a different light situation. I enjoy doing this, and yes on occasion when a light meter has let me down, I have gone for a day or so with out one and had good results. However for difficult and extreme lighting (pretty extreme variation in Western Australia's summer between out door hard light and shadow, unlike soft light I recall in England) I like to occasionally consult my meter and take pride in having an educated guess first. Thankfully HP5 gives me a lot of latitude, but you know what... my street films come out with much more consistent density when developed than my landscapes do relying on my slrs internal meter vs my manual street metering!

Please keep giving me advice, i really appreciate it!

David A. Goldfarb
01-28-2010, 08:37 PM
I like the Gossen Digisix as a pocket meter (fitting in a pocket is an attraction for street photographers), but if you carry it all the time without its case, as I do, plan on opening it up and cleaning it every six months or so. It's not well sealed against lint, and the buttons won't function properly as dust works its way into the case.

01-28-2010, 09:45 PM
I've been using a Minolta III Incident meter for my street shooting. Just measure the shadow and shoot.