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  1. #1

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    Life of selenium lightmeters

    I recently acquired a Sekonic auto-lumi 86, it's been out of action and stored for the past 27 years. It is in mint condition and would of been looked after well in its working days days.

    Do the selenium cells fail to work accurately over time or should this small and handy meter still be a reliable addition to my pocket?

    Thank you
    S Raff

  2. #2
    Muihlinn's Avatar
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    I have one too, it has been in service since 1971 and still dandy.
    Selenium cells give up reactivity with exposure to light, so keep it with a dark cap over the cells when you're not using it. Anyhoo I compare its readings with my other light meters and no significative deviation is happening, but there are a number of factors involving accurate reading apart the cells itself, so better check its readings often, and do not ask so much to this meter under low light conditions!
    Luis Miguel Castañeda Navas
    http://imaginarymagnitude.net/

  3. #3
    IloveTLRs's Avatar
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    I got a "junk" Olympus Pen D the other day and it has a selenium light meter. Luckily it is working fine. Just to be safe however, I cut out a piece of a film box and taped it over the meter like a flap. Whenever I'm not using, I keep it covered.
    Those who know, shoot film

  4. #4

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    Thanks, luckily it has alway been kept in a fitted leather case.

    Any good links known for these? I've found a couple of basic spec pages but nothing of detail.
    S Raff

  5. #5
    benjiboy's Avatar
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    I have a Weston Euro master that uses a selenium cell that I've had for about twenty five years that's in semi retirement , I just checked it against my Sekonic L358 Flash master and they give the same reading, although as you remark, I have heard that selenium cells deteriorate with age.
    Ben

  6. #6

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    I have had a Sekonic 398 operating since the 70s and it is doing fine. One thing, however, is that I live at 5K elevation and the UV at this altitude suggests closing down another half stop. If I put a UV filter in front of the cell, it reads the same as my battery models.

    Just one of the peculiarities of the selenium cell although their spectral response is superior to SBC meters and is unaffected by IR.

    -Fred

  7. #7

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    I've had a couple of old models - different brands - that were given to me. They were from the early 50s and were off by 2-3 stops; reading low.
    "Pictures are not incidental frills to a text; they are essences of our distinctive way of knowing." Stephen J. Gould

  8. #8
    Jim Noel's Avatar
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    I have both a Weston Master (Weston speeds) and a Weston Master II (ASA speeds). When I compare them with my modern meters they are still accurate. The disadvantage of selenium meters is that they are not sensitive enough for very low light.
    [FONT=Comic Sans MS]Films NOT Dead - Just getting fixed![/FONT]

  9. #9
    Nicholas Lindan's Avatar
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    Selenium cells will work for a very long time if they are well made and sealed from moisture. There is a perception they wear out with exposure to light, this isn't the case: the culprit is moisture getting to the cell in combination with exposure to light - the light sets up a current and the moisture then 'corrodes' the cell.
    DARKROOM AUTOMATION
    f-Stop Timers - Enlarging Meters
    http://www.darkroomautomation.com/da-main.htm

  10. #10
    Jim Jones's Avatar
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    I regularly use and rely on Weston, GE, and Norwood selenium meters from the 1950s or a little later. Over several decades I've also accumulated quite a few such meters that either don't work or have weak cells. Like all electrical measuring instruments, light meters should occasionally be checked for accuracy. Analog meters should also be checked for meter armature balance.

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