Spot meter advice please
First, I can't afford anything in the B&H catalogue. So, searching e-bay, I'm attracted to the Minolta "F" because it uses "AA" batteries. I see some Pentax Spot Meter V on the "Bay", but I wonder what kind of battery availability. Looks like it takes the old "button" batteries that have been discontinued requiring some kind of adaptation. I've seen a Soligor listed at attracive prices, but what about quality and battery type. I see a Honeywell Pentax 1/21 at a low price, but I'm leary of the battery situation. So, I'd appreciate your advice. I want to try "Zone System" exposure, so I think I need reflective rather than incident. I think the 1 degree spot is required to pick out the specific areas for metering. Looks like the Soligor is the least expensive, but what are the drawbacks? Is the Pentax V a low cost because of the batteries? What would be a current production battery choice? I currently use Wein Cell batteries with an adapter for my HiMatic 7s. Maybe there's a similar solution for the Pentax V?
Thank you all for your input.
No connection with the seller, but this is a meter much like one I have. The three button cells MS-76 are readily available and proper for the meter.
The characteristic of this meter is that the needle snaps immediately to a reading. This makes it a very satisfying experience to use it. I had a Soligor analog meter where the needle jumped around because the trigger button was a metal sliding contact. The Pentax has a microswitch type switch I think, that just "clicks"
I use a Gossen Luna Pro F with the semi-spot attachment. It takes a regular 9v battery. The attachment allows a a 5 degree view, so it is not as precise as a 1 degree view, but it does the job. Usually any errors are more likely in my judgement than the meter's.
The Pentax Spotmeter V takes SR44 silver oxide cells, just like many cameras like the Nikon F3 and the Olympus OM4T. They're sold all over, even Walmart sells them. Beware, though, that older Pentax meters, like the 1/21, use Mercury batteries that are no longer made.
I have a Minolta Spotmeter F and I love it. It is very accurate, small, and reliable, and as you noted it takes AA batteries.
Another vote for the Minolta F or if you don't need the flash metering the Minolta M.
I have used the M for years and find it accurate and easy to use. If you do shot in a low light setting or at night it may not be the best for what you are doing.
Batteries last a very long time.
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The Spotmeter V is a great meter and like said earlier the button cells are easy to find. Stay away from the older Pentax spotmeters. With some the batteries are hard to find and the earliest ones are impossible to find.
I shoot large format and the Pentax spotmeters are so easy to use with the zone system. I own a Spotmeter V and two digital Pentax spotmeters. The digitals are smaller and easier to pack but the analog Spotmeter V's have their own special charm.
There are other quality meters out there but the Pentax is the benchmark for good reason. It's very easy to use and very reliable.
Another vote for the Spotmeter F/M. The difference is that the Spotmeter F reads flash as well as ambient light, takes a AA battery. The M reads ambient light only, takes an SR-44 6v silver-oxide or 2CR 1/3N 6v lithium battery. They are otherwise extremely similar. These days the F sells for maybe $50 more than the M, so opting for it over the M is not a big deal. Also, it has a dedicated off/on switch, it is easier to preserve the battery life. I had an M and found that the rather expensive SR44 battery did not last nearly as long as I would have liked (I was replacing it every 6 months, which is a pain in the ass if it dies on you when you're 40 miles from the nearest camera store), so I switched to an F and have been very happy ever since.
The Soligor meter has worked splendidly for me for years. In fact, I have two of them with one being re-branded by Adorama. Both of mine are digital, and both take 9 volt batteries you can get by the case! (although the battery life in these meters is quite long.) Brand new, they were about $250. You should be able to get one for less than $200 without much trouble.
I have a Sekonic L-428 which was designed for 1.5 volt mercury batteries but it works great with modern batteries, I also have the viewfinder attachment which has a light receiving angle of 10 degrees (don't have manual in front of me but believe its 10 degrees). I bought it about 2 years ago and use it often, have not had to change batteries yet.
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Batteries are not really an issue. Anybody using hearing aids (except me!) will have no trouble finding the much-vaunted "button cell batteries" for any spotmeter that needs them.
1° spot meters are very, very, very accurate when you know what you are doing with them e.g. at a base leel, highlights, shadow, mid-tones, average of all of them and additional compensation for filtration etc (critical for polarisers). Your metering technique will get a solid workout (you might even lose a few hairs...) using transparency film which is less forgiving of mistakes than neg film, but is really an excellent way of mastering spot metering.
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