Handheld Meter hands down
Handheld Meter hands down
Perhaps the last one featured is not a true incident meter, but the apps are useful as you probably always carry a phone. I do anyway. Although I raerly use it for phonecalls ;) I detest phones. But the apps and email are handy
If you can have only one meter, I would choose a handheld meter. That said, it is handy sometimes to have a built in meter, however, I have more confidense when I use a handheld meter or can check the built in meter with it, if time permits.
One of the advantages of hand held meters is that you only have to learn one meter and the guessing goes away.
To use an analogy think of it this way.
If you have one clock you know the time, if you have two and they disagree, there is doubt as to which to believe.
I have an F100, several N90s's, an FM, an RB with a metered prism, the "i" apps, and a Sekonic L358.
Make no mistake, all are capable of good readings with proper understanding.
But by a significant margin, the Sekonic incident meter is the most reliable at producing good negatives. In fact almost I find it almost infallible in my little world. I literally can't remember a single exposure failure when I have used it in the last few years.
With everyone pushing the hand held meters it's no wonder I haven't sold my metering prisms for the Mamiya RZ or 645. I bought them mostly for macro and close up work where having a ttl meter really helps. In general I use a hand held meter, mostly my Pentax spot.
Thank you so much all of you for your input. Some of this is a bit overwhelming as I am photo-technology-challenged!!
When I am doing portraits, as I mentioned in my initial post, I usually use my DSLR which gives me a somewhat accurate reading and also helps me see what to expect before switching to film. But I understand if I'm shooting with a busy backdrop then having a handheld meter may be unbeatable.
The only reason I was hoping for something built in is for the quick photos. For example, I'm in the city, or attending an event, and need to quickly capture something. Usually in this situation I revert to my basic beginner's camera (Pentax MV1 35mm) as it is light, and the built in meter lets me make a quick judgement.
Problems with Pentax MV1: First of all, it's basic. Photos either come out right or they don't. Also, lately I am finding 35mm sort of boring.
For these situation I thought may be having a built in meter would be helpful than a handheld one. So I think metered prism is the answer? May be I should try out several options and see which works better before making a purchase though. I mean by now I have an okay idea as to what shutter speed and ISO combo work in outdoor situation, but guesswork is just that... guesswork... no guarantee it will be perfect in any situation.
As I am shooting more and more I am finding more and more obstacles... shouldn't it have been the opposite? Sigh...
Also, I'm using an android phone... may be I should look into light meter apps for android? That might help and save me some bucks too!! I mean, I'm not a pro shooter, so sometimes I feel guilty spending so much when there may be other alternatives available.
A TTL (metered Prism) is avaliable for the pentax 6x7 KEH has them for about $100.00 you should also be able to get one from $BAY
Well one other possibility that no one has posted yet is to use a thyristor flash unit. It wont be as good as a hand held light meter, or a built in meter of a camera, but since you said you mostly have problems guessing exposure indoors, this type of automatic flash could work for you. Just read off the back exposure guide number diagrams which would indicate what settings you should be near to get good exposure. All you have to know is aperture, distance, and film speed. Syncing speeds vary though. The thyristor automatically calculates how much flash is needed for proper exposure.
This could be 2 birds with one stone if you dont have a flash unit as well.
That being said, I would recommend the light meter I use routinely, the Polaris 5. It comes with all accessories and case included, backlit screen, 1 AA battery powered, 5 degree spot meter(would have been much nicer if it was 1 degree), and is very compact. I got it LNIB for around $160 or so a bit back.
The apps are easy and cheap and workable. Much better than nothing.
The metered prisms have the advantage of being part of the camera.
Hand held incident meters, once learned, really take the guessing out.