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Matus Kalisky
20-Sep-2007, 07:55
Hello,

After unsuccesfull trial with an older Sekonic Zoom Spotmeter (L-438, was off by ~ 1.5 stops) I am seriously (this time really) considering getting used Pentax Digital Spotmeter. I have actually never hold one in hand but it has stellar name in terms of usability and durability and other abilities.

I can not afford a new one here in Germany (650 euro !! ~ $850 !!) and ordering one from US together with taxes would still be aroung $600 what I can not afford so I consider a used one.

Still - if I plug out $200 - $300 (or more) I would better prefere to get one that is 5 years old than one that is 25 years old. I know these are durable but the thing has limited lifetime as everything else does (lightcell, contacts, etc).

Now - most of the sellers out there do not know the age but can let me know the serial number. So - would you be so kind to let me know the serial nuber and approxiamte age of yours so that I could get and idea?

At the moment I know about one with SN: 119919

I gues to expect somebody selling his meter on this forum might be considered immoral ... :o

Brian Ellis
20-Sep-2007, 08:45
Serial # of mine is 153899. It's about 10 - 11 years old.

Don Miller
20-Sep-2007, 09:38
Mines about four years old #162455

Matus Kalisky
21-Sep-2007, 00:41
thank you guys.

.. any more data on some older ones - to fix the bottom part of the scale ?

Peter Lewin
21-Sep-2007, 07:23
#114928 from ZoneVI in the early 1980s (by the way, still my main meter!)

Rick Rosen
21-Sep-2007, 20:33
Hey Matus,

That is a great meter. I would suggest looking for one that was modified by Zone VI. They occasionally show up on Ebay. The modified meter last sold new for around $625 here in the states, by Calumet. They usually go for $450-$550 on Ebay. If you go that route make sure to look for one that has a "Modified by Zone VI" plate on the meter.

Rick

ken
22-Sep-2007, 04:25
Matus, you state your present is off by approximately 1.5 stops. Is this consistent throughout the range? If not consistent, you do have a problem. However, if the difference is consistent, all you need to do is adjust the film speed.

Ken

Matus Kalisky
24-Sep-2007, 02:36
- ken -

I know and you are right, but I did not feel too comfortable with that meter either. Also - it is one more variable to screw up - especially with BW where I alredy do not shoot the film at its standard ISO. It's low light abilities were also not too impressive.

- rick -

there have a been a lot of discussion about the Zone VI modified Pentax Digital Spotmeters and rather often without any significant conclusion (some Infra red precision or so - I appologize if I am wrong here). I personaly would not put out $450 or more for 10 - 20 years old meter just because of the ZONE VI sticker as new one costs $450 without it.
One "plain" one will get sold today for $360 or more and it is cca 20 years old. I will not be the winning bidder for sure.
I will either find some (not too old) that I can get up to 250 euro shipped or ask my friend to bring me a new one for Christmas (If I will be still - or - again employed by that time :o ).

--

The age scale is basically fixed but if anyone would be willing share "his numbers" :D it would be appreciated

ken
24-Sep-2007, 03:12
Matus, if you do not like your present meter, that's ok. However, I believe you are overemphasizing the problems with resetting the ISO. A simple adhesive paper label stuck onto part of the meter would remind you. With any film and any meter, one should make personal tests to determine what works well. The actual number (ISO) is of no importance except to match with your meter. The film speed is the same whether the meter works best with 50 or 400.

The key is consistency. If your meter is erratic, you have a problem. If, from experience, you know it reads consistently high or low in low light situations, you can adjust. Exposure is less critical in very low light situations.

Whether or not you replace your present meter is entirely up to you. I would hope you are honest with yourself. If the meter is in fact defective or unreliable, so be it. If, on the other hand, the real problem is operator inexperience, the euros might be better spent on increasing your skill. You alone are the judge.

If you choose to get another meter, pay careful attention to the battery situation. Some older meters were designed with mercury betteries. My old Soligor II analog spot meter uses one 9 volt battery, which is available anywhere.

Ken

Matus Kalisky
24-Sep-2007, 04:21
- ken -

Yes , you are right. I might have kept the meter (I've already sent it back to the seller alrady as he agreed on reimbursement).

Yes - the battery situation is to be taken care about with the older meters. One of the reasons I got the Sekonic L-438 was that it takes one AA battery. I was considering the Gossen Profisix/Lunasix meters at some point but have given up because of the battery problem.

The investment into Petanx Digital Spotmeter is something I am considering a long time already. There are other spotmeters that can be had for less mony (Soligor Digital II, Minolta M, etc)m but I consider getting the Pentax as a long term investment. It is also one of the few spotmeters being produced and the chance to get it repaired or calibrated in some years from now is quite good. I also want to use it wiht my Rolleiflex so the size and easyness of the operatin matters. I was actually having problems to hande the mentined Seconic just with one hand..

I fully agree that it is the skill that needs to be improved (and invested in - I still keep in mind your words although the appliciation is harder than I expected) much more than the gear. So often am I tempted by some lens (or filmholders, darkcoth, tripod, you name it) but that I get the bill from the photolab. So I put the temtations aside so that I can go for another photosession.

I could keep using my DSLR as a lightmeter but I realized that I too much rely on what I get on the screen and gain very little experience or intuitivness. The DLSR takes some part of the thinking out of the game.

thank you again

Ted Harris
24-Sep-2007, 04:34
If you want accurate information on the meter then contact Richard Ritter. He did the original Zone VI modifications before Calumet bought the company and he still repairs the meters (both modified and unmodified). You can reach him at rrlg4mat@sover.net.

Skorzen
24-Sep-2007, 16:54
I don't know what the market is like in Europe, but I was able to find one (sn 125305) at a local shop here for $150. I let the guys know I was in the market for a spotmeter and they held it for me when it came in used. Prices on ebay for some things are a lot higher than what I have been able to find at a local shop/swap. I might call around and see what you can find, even if it means driving an hour or more.

Matus Kalisky
25-Sep-2007, 01:31
Thanks..

- Skorzen -

there are NO local shops that would be even aware of the the existence of LF. Not they would actually sell some used stuff. I was not even able to find a lab in Frankfurt that would be developing both color positives and negatives 4x5 film (forget the BW). I am sending my stuff to Koeln!

So - for the Gods sake - where on earth is there a shop in Europe that will find for me a Pentax Digital Spotmeter for $150 that is in nice condition and fully working... ? :eek:

ken
25-Sep-2007, 03:11
Matus,
My nephew has recently developed an interest in 4x5 photography. He wanted to get a spot meter. I recommended the Pentax Digital Spot Meter, which he purchased and has put to good use. You are correct; a good meter is a valuable long-term investment. Meters last a long time, both good ones and not so good ones. I have used my Soligor since 1981. If I ever need to replace it, it will be with the Pentax meter.

You will find your spot meter much more useful if you purchase or make a zone dial for it. Zone VI (alas now defunct) sold them, as did Calumet. You will probably have to make one. This is easily done. (Do a search on this forum and you will find instructions.)

I highly recommend you buy the book The Zone VI Workshop by Fred Picker. It is very readily available used through amazon. It is, in my opinion, the best first book on the Zone System. Whether you use black and white or color, a basic knowledge of the Zone System will benefit you.

To really get full value from your meter, use it as a second opinion. After you have chosen your image and set up your camera, use your eyes to judge the light. Make some brief notes in a pocket notebook and set the exposure on your camera. Expose a negative with this exposure. Then, pull out your meter and use it. Make sure you note the meter readings and, if they differ from your eye, make a second exposure. You will soon develop a proficiency at this which will help your seeing. The meter will become a valued second opinion to your eyes. In this way your meter will also be an investment in your skill.

Ken

Matus Kalisky
25-Sep-2007, 06:53
Ken

I am jut rading the "The Negative" from AA. I will consider getting the Fred Pickers book as well.

It is a very interesting idea to first to try to judge the light without the lightmeter and make one exposure like that - and only then to take out the lighemter. I will defenitely try that.

Skorzen
25-Sep-2007, 07:38
Thanks..

- Skorzen -

there are NO local shops that would be even aware of the the existence of LF. Not they would actually sell some used stuff. I was not even able to find a lab in Frankfurt that would be developing both color positives and negatives 4x5 film (forget the BW). I am sending my stuff to Koeln!

So - for the Gods sake - where on earth is there a shop in Europe that will find for me a Pentax Digital Spotmeter for $150 that is in nice condition and fully working... ? :eek:

I got lucky with mine, I guess things are a little more barren over there then they are here in the States (and their pretty bad here). The only LF camera I have seen in a shop is a very old pre anniversary speed graphic in bad shape. I am fortunate to have found a shop that dealt with a lot of film and "real" photography gear back int he day so they still have some stuff from that era and have a clue about it.

William Gregory
25-Sep-2007, 09:11
I have the Sekonic L438 and love it!

Carsten Wolff
26-Sep-2007, 03:29
I've got a really old and now scruffy looking Pentax analogue spot meter (Pre "V"). My guess is it's about 30 years old.
Casing had a crack in it. Works fine. (it's the only meter I have). Gets new batteries annually. Cost: may be 80$ on that auction site....

Joseph O'Neil
26-Sep-2007, 08:56
I've got a really old and now scruffy looking Pentax analogue spot meter (Pre "V"). My guess is it's about 30 years old.
Casing had a crack in it. Works fine. (it's the only meter I have). Gets new batteries annually. Cost: may be 80$ on that auction site....

Mine is perhaps the same age, but I had it rebuilt by Pentax about 7-8 years ago - when such things were still possible. I love my analog meter, and don't personally understand the attraction of a digital spot meter. Even my incident light meter is an analog Sekonic.

Sarcasm mode = ON
Mind you, I prefer analog clocks - you know, the ones with a little hand for hours and big hand for minutes - whereas my son seems to prefer digital clocks. Perhaps this new, younger generation never learned in school how to use complex machines like dials and meters- they have to be held by the hand and have everything explained out to them.

:D

Matus Kalisky
26-Sep-2007, 10:04
- Carsten -

Yes - I was considering the Analog Pentax Spotmeter V. The prices are somewhat lower, but what keeps me aside is larger size and - well - the age. I gues that a possibility that such a meter will need at least a calibration after a year or two would quickly equal the higher price of the Digital version.

- Joseph -

Shoul I understand that it is not possible to have the Pentax V overhauled by the Pentax anymore?

Ah .. you are using clocks .. ? .. I do not use any ;)


Perhaps this new, younger generation never learned in school how to use complex machines like dials and meters- they have to be held by the hand and have everything explained out to them.

That's why I returned the Sekonic. It required two hands for the operation :D

Joseph O'Neil
26-Sep-2007, 13:00
Shoul I understand that it is not possible to have the Pentax V overhauled by the Pentax anymore?

-snip-

Good question - I simply do not know anymore. A lot of the major camera brands used to have a full service depots here in Canada, but some them have been shutting down, or in other cases, certain lines of products are no longer repairable due to lack or parts.

Not just cameras either, but mechanical watches & mechanical clocks, TVs and other electronics, heck, and so forth all seem to have no parts or in some cases, no places left you can get any repairs. We seem to live in a throw away society.

Heck, just a couple months ago I tried to find some replacement blades for an older commercial quality food processor my wife has, only to find out that there is only *one*
place in all of North America (that's Canada, USA and Mexico folks) that has replacement parts. Yet, the unit works great, better than new ones - but there you go.

David Karp
26-Sep-2007, 15:40
I gues that a possibility that such a meter will need at least a calibration after a year or two would quickly equal the higher price of the Digital version.

For what it is worth, I have a Pentax Spotmeter V and a digital. Quality Light Metric in Hollywood calibrated the analog meter years ago, right after I purchased it. It definitely had some problems, which they corrected. I used it as my primary meter for many years. Recently, I purchased a used digital and had it calibrated by Quality Light Metric. They did not have my analog meter when they did the work on the digital. They match exactly. I did not baby that analog meter, and I know I have dropped it more than once. It seems to have maintained its calibration very well.

Carsten Wolff
26-Sep-2007, 23:02
Mine has never been calibrated and never had to be, as it is always spot on, when compared to my friends recent and calibrated Pentax Digital.
Also, wouldn't e.g. Richard Ritter still do maintenance/Zone mod. work on older Vs?

I'm not too fussed if mine dies on me one day on a trip, or such; one can always make do with something else.

ken
27-Sep-2007, 03:42
In my work in the telecommunications industry, I have long preferred analog meters to digital. I have the same preference with light meters. (Soligor II analog and Luna Pro) However, I don't feel that preference as strongly as in the past. Having no moving parts and being noticably smaller seem definite advantages to me. My next meter (someday in the distant future) will probably be digital. The Pentax is the front runner, unless the Pocket Spot should become available again.

Meters last a very long time, both good and bad. I believe my Soligor meter cost about $120 in 1981. It has paid for itself many tomes over the years. If I were buying a meter today, I would find the extra money for a new Pentax Digital and add a zone dial.

Ken

Matus Kalisky
7-Dec-2011, 11:32
2 years later ...

After longer time using my DSLR as lightmeter and later adding the Gossen Digisix (little great meter actually) I decided that I really want to get a dedicated spotmeter - the Pentax Digital one.

What I would like to ask is - how doe these meters age. On the used marked most sellers/buyers do not know about the age of the meter they are selling/buying so one may pay the same for meter from early 80' as well as mid 90'. Now - to me it seems to make sense to get - if possible - a later model, but still I would like to ask what is your experience - in particular in regards to material stability and calibration.

Of course - if anybody could also add some data (age versus serial numbers) of his/hers Pentax Digital Spotmeter it would be great too :) - I have only 3 data points up to now:

#114928 - early 80'
#153899 - around 1996
#162455 - around 2003

emh
7-Dec-2011, 15:59
I've had mine at least 30 years (can't remember, but I bought it in late '79, or very early '80's). The serial number is 5 digits- 96xxx.
It's been banged about, dropped, traveled around a lot... It's never been recalibrated and, based on usage, seems as accurate today as it was when purchased. I wouldn't trade it for any other meter.

Drew Wiley
7-Dec-2011, 16:21
Condition and calibration is more important than date of mfg. I have several of these
digital spotmeters and they all read absolutely the same. The oldest one is downright
beat up, and the newest one is kept in storage virtually brand new, just for checking
the user meters, or for when I need to put it into field service. Quality Light Metric
does a good job servicing and calibrating them. Seems that about every ten years
they need a checkup if given hard use.

Matus Kalisky
25-Feb-2012, 13:54
I thought that it was about the time to put this thread in peace: I have just pulled a trigger on "like new" (8 years old, nearly unused) Minolta Spotmeter F - should arrive in a few days. It popped for a reasonable BIN. I would have probably preferred the Pentax, but one in a good condition costs more and did not cross my way. And I think I will find my way with the F :)

Matus Kalisky
26-May-2012, 15:01
So as I mentioned I got the Minolta Spotmeter F and it is in really good condition and works fine. But I somehow find it a bit confusing. I am not (yet) using the more clever modes - just simply pointing at a subject and pushing a button. But it seems like the meter works in a 'shutter priority mode'. I have to set the shutter and then I get different F/stops for different part of scene. Then I have to do the math in my head (deciding on exposure based on 2 or more readings - figuring what the 'medium gray' would be and).

I am probably spoiled by (used to) my Digisix which simply shows the EV and has the wheel with all the combinations of shutter speed and f/stop. I find that more intuitive.

I guess it is time to really read the manual and find the best way to use this spotmeter.

jhorvat
11-Jun-2012, 06:06
Hi Matus,

I've been having Minolta spotmeter F for a few years now. The fact that it gives only the shutter priority exposure is also something I dislike most about it. I used to have a Gossen Lunasix, with nice big dial, where I could read the apperture and shutter speed combinations easily. That's why all these years I have been eyeing a Pentax spotmeter-it has an easy to read dial...however...
There are some advantages of Minolta spotmeter F over Pentax that I cannot ignore (thus I still don't have a Pentax):

-Spotmeter F uses a single AA battery-easy to find and I always carry some of them with me
-Pentax spotmeters suffer with battery problem: the reading depends on the battery voltage, which changes over time. It amazes me how people keep claiming that the accuracy of Pentax spotmeter is the main reason for choosing it, when the reading can vary by 1/2 stop as the battery ages. This necessitates changing the batteries regularly (but without having an indicator to tell you when to do it). For B&W, this is actually more or less irrelevant.
-the batteries for ALL pentax spotmeters are more difficult to find than the standard AA batteries, especially for the older models
Spotmeter F is easy to calibrate-it has a potentiometer in battery compartment.
-Minolta spotmeter gives you true EV reading (Pentax only for EI 100) and it stores up to 3 readings. These reading are displayed on the f-stop bar, so you can see the exposure range of your scene as you scan around. It also tells you how many stops is the read spot away from the chosen exposure (i.e. zone 5). This in a way works similarly to the analogue dial on Pentax (but not as nicely) and is very helpful when using the zone system.
-spotmeter F is smaller and lighter than Pentax spotmeters (digital one is smaller than the older versions, but I am not sure by how much)
-the digital Pentax spotmeter seems to have quite small dial, which may be difficult to see.

Well, one day I will probably get a Pentax just for fun, but I cannot ignore the fact the spotmeter F works (almost) perfectly well for me (I do landscapes with 4x5 and 8x10 and regularly walk kilometers from car). I found the best way to use it is to first read the darkest spot in the scene and then press "Shadow" button. This places the darkest shadows to zone 2 and displays 2 bars at the aperture scale corresponding to the shadow reading and zone 5 (mid-grey). Then I scan the scene for the brightest spots-the viewfinder reading tells me by how many stops each spot is from zone 5. On the display I get the third bar then, corresponding to the latest reading (chosen as the brightest). If the brightest spot is more than 3-4 stops from zone 5, I take care of that during development.
This all works great, I dare say better than a Pentax would (it cannot memorize the readings, as far as I understand). The problem is that now I have to push the buttons on spotmeter F to change to the exposure time which will give me the aperture for the desired depth of field (because the meter works in shutter-priority mode only). I am considering sticking an exposure dial on it, which would make it just right spotmeter for me.
Joseph

Drew Wiley
11-Jun-2012, 08:17
I once had three Pentax meters and the Minolta at the same time. They read exactly the
same. I never had battery problems with any of them unless the battery was outright frozen due to near-zero temperatures in the mtns (sometimes I kept the meter in the sleeping bag at night to keep it warm). Here I've never had any problem finding batteries.
Even the drugstores typically carry the correct one (PX28). They last a long time. I have a
very high opinion of both meters, but find the Pentax quite a bit faster to use. You just
read the outer ring rather than punching buttons. My Minolta meter eventually got stolen.
My Pentax meters still read exactly the same, many years later, with a recalibration maybe
once a decade.