I'm rather new to MF and having the start-up phase (learn to use my new-veryold Hassy) I'd like to produce some more consistent job (i.e. being able to predict the exposure of the film as I do with 35 mm).
In brief I need an hand held lightmeter, but I do not know where to start (types, makers, prices). Any post that will point me in the right direction will be welcomed.
Do you need to meter flash or just ambient light?
Do you want to use the zone system and be able to determine contrast ratios (favors a spot meter), or is that unnecessary for the way you work?
Do you want a meter with lots of features and ability to make instant calculations and store values, etc., or do you prefer something simple and uncluttered?
Do you prefer a digital readout or match needle readout?
Is size/weight important?
What's your budget?
New or used?
Thank you David, I believe the questions you've posed will be very helpfull to position my needs, so I'll try to answer to the best of my present knowledge:
Q: Do you need to meter flash or just ambient light?
A: At the moment I do not have a flash, but probably in the future I will have one.
Q: Do you want to use the zone system and be able to determine contrast ratios (favors a spot meter), or is that unnecessary for the way you work?
A: In 35 mm I often use the spot metering feature of my contax 167, but it is not a narrow spot, it is more a very pronunced centre weight. I do not plan to use zone system.
Q: Do you want a meter with lots of features and ability to make instant calculations and store values, etc., or do you prefer something simple and uncluttered?
A: The math behind photography is usually very simple I can do it by myself.
Q: Do you prefer a digital readout or match needle readout?
A: it does not matter.
Q: Is size/weight important?
A: it does not matter.
Q: What's your budget?
A: not defined yet
Q: New or used?
A: I do not care.
I have got a Minolta VF ambient/flash meter and i'm rather happy with it. It's dead on compared to several other meters (Pentax spormeter etc.)
Digital is best taken with a grain of silver.
You didn't say what you like to photograph. If it is scenics you would find a spotmeter very handy. If it is people, then not really necessary.
I use a couple of Minolta IV flash/ambient meters. There is also a spotmeter attachment available.
Price is about $218 without the spotmeter attachment.
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I use the same meter at Michael and the price he quoted is actually for a new Minolta V so you could probably find a IV for around $150-160 used if you wish to save some money.
Let's see what I've got in the magic trash can for Mateo!
What Michael has failed to elaborate on is that he really only keeps the meters laying around to impress the mothers of the youngsters that he photographs. Michael has developed his sensitivity to light to such an extent that he can "feel' the light intensity to within a 1/3 of a stop.
Originally Posted by blansky
For a lot less money (mostly for beer...or wine in Michaels case) one can spend a couple of afternoons laying out getting a tan and develop this sensitivity to light, from what Michael tells me.
Michael tells me that the tan he has gotten, as a result of this, impresses the hell out of his wife. I guess that is because she doesn't get nearly as much sun as Michael.She is usually found in some dark and dank hospital operating suite slaving away to "bring home the bacon".
Sounds like you don't really need a dedicated spotmeter, but you might want a flash meter capable of incident and reflective readings.
The Minolta flashmeters are a good choice. I like my old Minolta Flashmeter III, which is simple and accurate and good at handling low light levels, and the IV that Michael recommends and V are good too. The new VI doesn't accept all the accessories of the older ones, but it has a built-in spotmeter, so those accessories like the 5-degree finder aren't really as necessary. Later versions have more features like calculation of contrast ratio or storing multiple ISO values (handy if you switch between two film types, like Polaroid and transparency), but like you, I do these things in my head, so I haven't felt a need to upgrade from the III. The new VI doesn't accept the Booster II unit, but unless you shoot large format or through a microscope, it's probably not something you'll need.
Sekonic is now making some nice flash/ambient meters that compete with Minolta, so you should look at those as well.
Just to be clear about model numbers of Minolta meters. There is the Flashmeter series and the Autometer series, and some of the Autometers come in ambient-only and flash/ambient versions. Both are good and have similar features, but the Flashmeters are more expensive. I'm not sure whether the Flashmeters are more robust or have some more sophisticated circuitry, but in some cases they are more accurate in low light than their Autometer counterparts of the same generation. I think I paid around $100 used for the Flashmeter III some years ago.
Interesting but a little off topic:
I was walking the dog the other night about 10pm and came upon a young woman with a 4X5 camera making a picture from a building.
I immediately began picking her brain and as to light meters she doesn't use one.
She uses a Fuji color film and 90% of her photography is at night. She knows the film so well she doesn't need to meter a scene. Her exposures are anywhere from 6 to 30 minutes depending. AND, she sells her work through galleries and has dealers.
What does it mean? Know your tools.
If you can't find the answer in APUG then it probably is a really dumb question.