handheld light meters
I realize that this topic has probably been beat to death, but as a novice, I just had to ask. I'm taking another digital class this semester, and trying to get into a 35mm film photography class. The latter is a prerequiste for a large format class that I eventually hope to take. Any way, I know I will need to obtain a light meter at some point.
I'm assuming that whatever model I end up with, it should be multifunctional e.g. be able to measure, incident, relected, flash, etc.
Problem is: which model/brand? Sekonic vs. Gossen vs. ?? Analog vs. Digital
Is this a personal preference, one of those brand loyalty choices, or All the above?
I think that mostly it is an issue of preference when choosing which brand. The ones you mention are good, along with Minolta. Pentax also made awesome spot meters. Many large format photographers use spot metering which is really useful for the zone system, so that might be something to consider. From what I know, there is not really a good solution the includes flash metering and spot metering, but most good flash meters do include ambient as well as flash and can be used for both incident and reflected metering, sometimes with an added accessory.
Edit: As for me, I have a little cheapie Sekonic that I use with my Rolleiflex and when I want to travel light and a pretty large digital Minolta Flash Meter IV when I am carrying everything and when I am using strobes, of course. I got the Sekonic because I was tired of carrying the large Minolta when I was carrying a walk around camera.
It's all of the above. I use an old analog Gossen Luna Six for which I was lucky enough to find a battery adapter (the meter uses the now banned 1.35v mercury cells). I like it because it's accurate, convenient and I'm used to it. Sekonic is just as good as Gossen, digital is as good as analog -- it's a matter of personal preference.
Sekonic, Gossen, Minolta are all good.
Analogue is faster to read (just glance at it to confirm your idea of aperture and shutterspeed)
I have both a Gossen ProfiSix and a Minolta Flashmeter IV and they are both good.
The ProfiSix (called diferent in the US) does not have flash metering, you will need an extra attachment for it (I have one).
In the future I want a Sekonic Studio for walking around with anything from D upto 4x5 inch LF.
Some will say a spotmeter, but not for me, allthough I have a 5 degree spot att for my Minolta.
There are some light meters that "do it all" but I have never been able to afford one. Well, that isn't totally true - it is just that I would rather spend that much money on something else. Don't get too carried away with all of the features on the fancy lightmeters because for most photography, you won't need them. Define your needs first. If you do get just one meter with a lot of features, make sure it can also do spot metering (1 degree - you will need it that narrow for zone metering).
I shoot mainly large format with some medium format, both black and white and colour, and I use two light meters
1) A very simple and old Minolta digital digital meter that can do both incident and reflected. I use it almost exclusively in incident mode for colour. It is also a flash meter.
2) A very simple and old Pentax spotmeter, analogue. I prefer the analogue for spot metering so I can see the zones more easily.
You can get a good used meter for not a lot of money.
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I have the Sekonic L-208 which is a small somewhat inexpensive analog meter and I love it!
Helping to save analog photography one exposure at a time
As others have mentioned, you really can't go too wrong between Gossen, Sekonic & Minolta.
I've gone through many meters and tend to prefer Sekonic to Gossen for reliability & ergonomics.
Currently my main meter is a Sekonic L-308B, which is light, compact and does everything except spot metering.
Digital meters have the (at least theoretical) advantage of being less sensitive to knocks than analogue (needle-equipped) ones, though to be fair, I've never managed to knock a analogue needle out of place or seriously out of adjustment.
M6, SL, SL2, R5, P6x7, SL3003, SL35-E, F, F2, FM, FE-2, Varex IIa
First decision is whether you want a spotmeter or not. Then, assuming you don't, whether you want flash capability (I'm not aware of a spotmeter that also meters flash, but I could be wrong). I would not consider a meter without incident reading unless it's a small meter, or a spotmeter.
I like my Minolta IVF (takes a single AA battery, digital), and my older Pentax Spotmeter V (analog), but many good options out there. Note that some of the earlier Gossen Luna Pros take the obsolete 624 mercury battery (although there are ways to deal with this).
Like Paul, I also have a small Gossen Pilot (Selenium, so no battery) for casual use with my older folders.
In my book, it should be simple/quick, have a analog scale, have mechanical controls for changing EI, etc., and be extremely durable.
I personally do not like multimeters because none of the ones I have seen meet any of these requirements in my eyes. I like to have separate incident, spot, and flash meters. They seem to be more specialized, more simple/quick, more well built, and seem to be available with analog scales and the ability to make setting mechanically (i.e. twisting a dial until a number lines up with a dash, instead of pushing a button and rolling a wheel until a number comes up on an LCD).
Digital readouts on an ambient light meter make no sense to me whatsoever. I find them most unhelpful. I see it as a complete waste and unnecessary application of technology to something that was already just as good as it could ever get. It does nothing but get in my way. (I do put up with the red dots inside my Pentax Digital Spot Meter, though.)
I have not found a flash meter that feels like it fits the "durable" description, and I don't mind a digital readout on a flash meter, as it is not a hindrance when using flash. For as little as I use flash, I usually borrow a flash meter, though I am probably going to end up getting a Minolta soon. I like a brick that has nothing but an EI dial, a PC port, and a button. That also probably means that it is less likely to break, and that when I do break it, I can either fix it myself or be able to easily get quality work done on it for a reasonable price.
For me, they have to be durable, because they tend to get beat to hell in actual "field" use, the way I use them.
My incident is what I use probably 3/4 of the time that I use a light meter.
I have a Brockway, which is an early version of the Sekonic L-398, which is still made.
It has survived a lot just since I obtained it, and it still reads perfectly at almost 60 years old.
Based on my own experience, I would suggest a Sekonic Studio L-398 from Freestyle. They are under $200. They are best bargain out there in a light meter, as far as I am concerned...and not only are they the best bargain, but the best bargain in this case also happens to be for the "best" meter, IMO. You will never need another incident ambient meter if you get this thing (and do not destroy it).
There is also a cheaper Sekonic caried by Freestyle that probably works just as well. It is about $100. (See Ektagraphic's post below.)
You can get a worthwhile student discount on both of these meters if you are a full timer. The L-398 goes down to below $150 this way. You can apply through Mac Group, which is the distributor, I believe. Once you are signed up, you also get the discount on Toyo, Mamiya, ProFoto, and some other stuff.
Last edited by 2F/2F; 08-26-2009 at 04:40 PM. Click to view previous post history.
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It is the L-208 Twinmate. Great meter.
Helping to save analog photography one exposure at a time