Spot meters are great, but really specialize in a few things: Tonal placement, measuring relative luminance values of elements in the composition, and measuring the luminance range of the composition.
If these are not things you will be doing, and just want the most accurate and foolproof way to get a direct-reading exposure, I would opt for a different type of meter: an incident meter. With these, you point the dome on the meter at your light source. They are very difficult to fool, like all reflected meters are. You can get a direct reading exposure that will render a grey card as a middle grey, and you can also measure lighting ratios. If you use one of these in conjunction with a good eye for luminance range and knowledge of your film and paper, you can also decide when to give more or less exposure (followed by less or more development) than the meter recommends.
My favorites are the Sekonic L-398A Studio Deluxe III (or any of the earlier versions of it) for $180 brand new, or the Sekonic L-208 Twinmaster for $100 brand new.
These are ambient meters. If you want a meter that will measure flash as well, get one of those. They usually measure ambient light as well.
If you want a meter that can do all three, look at the higher-end Sekonics. They are pricey, but not a whole lot more than the Pentax digital spot meter.
I personally use a Sekonic Studio Deluxe predecessor backed up by a Pentax digital spot meter for most things I do.
Last edited by 2F/2F; 04-16-2009 at 08:15 PM. Click to view previous post history.
"Truth and love are my law and worship. Form and conscience are my manifestation and guide. Nature and peace are my shelter and companions. Order is my attitude. Beauty and perfection are my attack."
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Thanks everyone! I have allot of choices now and will bring the model numbers you guys mentioned to the shop and compare the features and prices. Thanks again for all of your help!
That's where I keep mine!
Originally Posted by jeroldharter
Hmm ... that may be why people keep asking me if I'm pleased to see them ...
Silliness aside, I personally am a staunch adherent of the Pentax Spotmeter. I use a Sekonic L-758D in situations where I want both spot and incident metering, and of course when I'm metering flash, but for just straight-out landscape shooting in medium or large format the Pentax Spotmeter really hits the spot (<-sorry about that one).
Why? Part of the reason is the meter's simplicity. No bells and whistles. It just does what it says on the label.
Another big one for me is comfort: the handle, trigger, and eyepiece are exactly in the right place for me. The L-758D, which also does spot metering with more features than I care to learn about, is an absolute dog to hold, aim, and trigger.
One more minor difference is that with the Sekonic, you hit the trigger and the reading is fixed, frozen. With the Pentax you can hold the trigger and sweep around the scene and the reading will follow. Not essential, but I find it nice and smooth that way.
One thing some people don't like about the Pentax is that it reads in EV, and you have to get the shutter speed and aperture off the dial. But if you think in zones that can actually be preferable. If you want direct shutter speed and aperture readings, then give the Pentax a pass.
I tried a lot of meter and the Pentax Digital SPotmeter was what I ended up with. It is easy to use, and has practically no advanced features to accidentally get set. Simply set the film speed and take a reading. Then place that reading on the zone I want it at. Read to the shutter/aperture combination. For this to work you need to add a sticker showing the zones. Mine is simply marker on a postage label. Others get fancy. Take a look at http://www.largeformatphotography.in...s/ZoneDial.pdf to get an idea. When you look at the store it won't have this, and it is what makes all the difference to me.
If I am shooting portraits or close up I also like an incidence meter, but I have trouble getting it into the subject's light for landscapes so it isn't 100% useful for me. A spot meter can be used anywhere, and if you are only going have one meter type this should be it (in my not so humble opinion).
I am also (somewhat) of a fan of the Digisix's size, if not the ergonomics of the buttons, etc. The fact that is small & light & modern & accurate was the deciding factor for me, because as the old adage re: cameras also applies to meters, i.e., they're only good if you have them w/you when the need arises. The only serious quirk that a user should be aware of is that the location of the sensor & incident dome, on top & facing outward & away from you when holding it flat in your hand, make it more awkward to to use in incident mode than the Sekonics, which have the incident dome facing up towards you when held in the hand.
Originally Posted by jeroldharter
"Unequalled in the quality and scope of its lenses . . . the performance of its shutter . . . the perfection of its film system . . . the adaptability contributed by its interchangeable backs . . . the efficiency of its coupled range finder . . . the convenience and precision of its variable-power view finder, the Ektra can produce finer results, throughout a wider range, than any other existing camera."
--Eastman Kodak prospectus
for Ektra, 1940
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Check ebay. You can find some amazing deals there. I got a Sekonic L-508 Zoom master meter, which can do 1 degree spot metering, Incident metering, Flash metering, and a major bonus over the L-308 is that it uses standard AA batteries, instead of some weird one. 200 bucks used, expensive for me at the moment, but a good buy, and definately something I needed. It's a great machine, so If you can find a L-508 for a good price, I can tell you it's worth getting.
I own both the Pentax Digital Spotmeter and the Gossen LunaPro SBC. Both are useful meters and serve different purposes.
If I could only keep one, it would be the Gossen. I also have the "variable angle attachment", which allows the Gossen to be used as a spot meter. The reason I like the Gossen better: A) More versatile (reflected, incident and spot), B) Can measure very low light levels - the Pentax poops out in low light conditions.
I should add that I also use a Sekonic 308 in the studio for measuring flash. It also works well as an incident meter in available light, but is very poor to use as a reflected type meter.
If you are only doing zone system work, you might appreciate the Pentax more. If you like to do all sorts of photography, the Gossen is a better choice (and it can also be used for zone work with the vari-angle attachment).