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  1. #51
    Diapositivo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by David Allen View Post
    I would avoid cheap light meters, especially selenium ones, such as the Gossen Sixtino II I have, as they tend to be quite unreliable and flirt with uselessness.

    Lots of technical and theory stuff in this thread. However, I have happily used Weston (Selenium) meters for over 40 years to good effect and will remain so. They are (now) very cheap, suit my needs and respond to light the same as B&W film.

    You should also consider whether you plan to use the light meter in low light conditions.

    No meter can be accurate at low light levels because you need to accommodate for reciprocity. For all my city night photography, I use the Weston to meter the brightest highlight, place it on Zone VIII and then apply the reciprocity factor. Using this method, I have never had a (technically) dud image.
    For cheap meters I mean meters which were cheap in their own time. Good "professional" meters which are now cheap are exactly what I suggest to buy.

    Reciprocity is maintained by certain films (such as Fuji Astia) even at 1 minute exposure. Some selenium light meters don't go below EV4 @ 100 ISO. Between EV4 @ 100 ISO an EV 0 @ 100 ISO there's a lot of difference. With 100 ISO, EV0 means 4 seconds at f/2 which can well be within the normal reciprocity behaviour. The same light level with 400 ISO yields 1 second @ f/2.

    In any case, you have to have a measure to "accommodate" for reciprocity. Your assumption that placing the highlights in Zone VIII is enough presumes you are in a position when you can actually use your light meter so as to meter "zone VIII". In a dark church where Zone VIII is a very dark cloud on a roof painting lighted by high windows it's not easy to move the light meter to measure "zone VIII".

    Your point that light meters are not accurate in low lights because film suffer from reciprocity does not make much sense here. Precision of a light meter has nothing to do with reciprocity of a film. You start from a measure given by the light meter, and then you "do the math" for reciprocity defect if need be, and that depends from your film and the couple you are using. A light meter which does not read in low light simply does not give you a measure to start with.

    So I agree with you: lots of theory in this thread

    To the OP I repeat that better light meter specifications never go wasted.
    Last edited by Diapositivo; 08-13-2012 at 05:55 AM. Click to view previous post history.
    Fabrizio Ruggeri fine art photography site: http://fabrizio-ruggeri.artistwebsites.com
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  2. #52

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    Quote Originally Posted by David Allen View Post
    ... (you also need to be aware of the fact that, up to and including the Weston III, the settings are for Weston film speeds not ASA/ISO ...
    I know that is true for Master II, but my Master III is in ASA (both of them).

    I think that is the difference between the black Master IIIs and the chrome Master IIIs.

  3. #53

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    I have a Polaris SPD100, about $170 on Amazon. Works great for me. I only shoot color neg and B&W neg, and it works great for those. Can't speak to it's absolute accuracy, but my negatives shot using strobes and the Polaris as a meter came out wonderfully.
    Pentax MZ-S, Calumet 4x5 Monorail

    Favorite Films: Foma 100, Acros 100, Delta 400, Portra 400.

  4. #54
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    [QUOTE=Diapositivo;1379771]For cheap meters I mean meters which were cheap in their own time. Good "professional" meters which are now cheap are exactly what I suggest to buy.

    Reciprocity is maintained by certain films (such as Fuji Astia) even at 1 minute exposure. Some selenium light meters don't go below EV4 @ 100 ISO. Between EV4 @ 100 ISO an EV 0 @ 100 ISO there's a lot of difference. With 100 ISO, EV0 means 4 seconds at f/2 which can well be within the normal reciprocity behaviour. The same light level with 400 ISO yields 1 second @ f/2.

    In any case, you have to have a measure to "accommodate" for reciprocity. Your assumption that placing the highlights in Zone VIII is enough presumes you are in a position when you can actually use your light meter so as to meter "zone VIII". In a dark church where Zone VIII is a very dark cloud on a roof painting lighted by high windows it's not easy to move the light meter to measure "zone VIII".

    Your point that light meters are not accurate in low lights because film suffer from reciprocity does not make much sense here. Precision of a light meter has nothing to do with reciprocity of a film. You start from a measure given by the light meter, and then you "do the math" for reciprocity defect if need be, and that depends from your film and the couple you are using. A light meter which does not read in low light simply does not give you a measure to start with.

    Indeed my point - you have to interpret the information that your light meter gives you.

    If you understand the Zone System you only need to know where a particular zone should be and you can interpret where all other values should fall.

    End results are the real test as far as I am concerned. My system works 100% of the time technically although 'seeing' is not always so successful.

    Final questions:

    Does Michael Kenna use a spot digital meter, did Edward Weston, Cartier-Bresson, Lee Friedlander, Diane Arbus, Frederick Summer, Gary Winnogrand, Bill Brandt, Stephen Shore, Robert Adams, Mario Giacomelli, Weegee, et all, use a digital meter - what is the point in the question ??????? - they all made great images.

    Best,

    David
    www.dsallen.de

  5. #55

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    [QUOTE=David Allen;1380065]
    Quote Originally Posted by Diapositivo View Post
    Final questions:

    Does Michael Kenna use a spot digital meter, did Edward Weston, Cartier-Bresson, Lee Friedlander, Diane Arbus, Frederick Summer, Gary Winnogrand, Bill Brandt, Stephen Shore, Robert Adams, Mario Giacomelli, Weegee, et all, use a digital meter - what is the point in the question ??????? - they all made great images.

    Best,

    David
    www.dsallen.de
    for this final questions I would say one can make great images without a meter. One can estimate exposure, distance even field of view for the lens when one is shooting from the hip. When I use an instrument to make measurement I want it to be accurate.

  6. #56
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    Quote Originally Posted by BrianShaw View Post
    I know that is true for Master II, but my Master III is in ASA (both of them).

    I think that is the difference between the black Master IIIs and the chrome Master IIIs.
    The chrome (actually stainless steel) Weston IIIs were made in Newark NJ in the USA and the black Weston IIIs were made by Sangamo Weston/Ilford in Enfield, Middlesex, United Kingdom.

  7. #57
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    Post #55 reports a quote by David Allen attributed to me.

    To David Allen: I did not mention spot light metering. Sometimes one has to have recourse to reflected light metering and good old averaging, and there is no way out.

    I agree with you that a selenium spot metering with enough sensitivity to correctly read the brightest portion of the subject (the above mentioned cloud in the church ceiling) might save the day. That would imply buying and going around with two light meters though.

    A normal "wide" reflected light meter with enough sensitivity will evaluate the nave ceiling by just pointing at it. The typical selenium meter would be at the bottom of the scale, just when also the internal camera light meter would often be at the bottom of the scale (depending on the camera).

    Going back to the OP, I would suggest, if it isn't too expensive, to look for one of those modern light meters which in the same instrument have both the 1° spot reflected metering, the incident light metering, and the "wide" reflected light metering. Although fairly expensive they allow to solve all photographic situations with only one instrument. Maybe some second-hand bargain can be found with a bit of patience.
    Fabrizio Ruggeri fine art photography site: http://fabrizio-ruggeri.artistwebsites.com
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  8. #58
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    Thank you all for your replies, lots of food for thought.

    I let an electronics-minded friend of mine have a look at the meter, after some internal cleaning of the button contacts, the meter works again (seems the rubber buttons didn't make decent contact inside). I will "keep in mind" second hand meters (maybe even one that can do spot metering too ) for a later purchase in the future, but for now I am set again.

    My thoughts on older (Selenium cell and the like) meters are rather blunt, I tend to break meters that have needles, so I avoid them, cheap as they may be. I find it easier to read the lcd readouts of digital meters.

    Thank you all again.

  9. #59
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    A few belated observations.

    1) I had one of the original Lunasixes which I remember as being pretty quick to respond and settle on a reading even though it was CdS. However, in a few years the actual meter movement died. I spent the price of a lesser meter to get it repaired, after which it worked for a few months past the repair warranty! That was in the 1960s/70s and I would certainly be reluctant to buy one of them at this late date.

    2) Its replacement for me was a Super Pilot, a CdS meter that also used mercury batteries. It was much more of a slug to make readings with. When I went back to manual metering, circa 2006, I tried to use it, but the Cris adapter wouldn't seat properly because of very flimsy contacts in the battery compartment. I opened it and wired in a Schottky diode but tired quickly of sluggish readings.

    3) There are silicon photovoltaic cells that could probably make a self-powered meter - they have been a major part of the solar energy industry - I'm not sure if they are used in any light meters.

    4) An old Waltz selenium meter I have would stop reading after being unused for a week or two. Pressing on the plastic honeycomb over the cell would snap it to life, at which time it appeared to give correct readings. Apparently the electrical contact was made by pressure, there was no good way to attach ("solder") an electrical connection and over time, temperature and humidity excursions and/or corrosion would weaken/open the connection. I've no idea if all were made that way, but that would be another reason I would shy away from old selenium meters.

    5) After my frustration with resurrecting the Super Pilot, I bought a Digisix. It's super compact, easy to use, and I like it. Battery life is a bit disappointing -- and variable -- I sometimes wonder if its rather tight fitted case results in it being pushed into read mode when it's packed away. It uses a CR2032 lithium coin cell which is also used in glucose meters and such, consequently found in any drug store.

    6) My go to meter for "serious" work is now a Sekonic L508 I picked up used for about $250. It uses a single AA cell which seems to last a long time (if I remember to turn the meter off when I'm not using it!)

    7) In general, to get low light sensitivity with an analog meter requires a meter movement that is inherently on the fragile side; thus my reluctance to go that way (in this here golly gee whiz modern age ).

  10. #60

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    The original LunaSix is my main meter, along with a Weston Master III that I like using with the Invercone.

    A meter movement is very difficult to get repaired properly, it's a job for a watchmaker really. The LunaSix has been in my hands since the late 80s or early 90s, it's still accurate and reliable after being recalibrated ca. 1995 by Gossen. I have a LunaSix 3 and a LunaPro NIB for backups, along with an NIB Master III.

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