PDA

View Full Version : Gossen vs Pentax Spot Meter



Greg Liscio
30-Dec-2007, 17:22
I've read all the many posts. Still am leaning towards the Pentax Spot meter because of its simplicity. Not sure I need all the features on the Gossen Starlite.

I already have a Gossen Luna Pro, but it only has a 5 degree spot.

I'm an experienced photog, but new to LF. Is there any helpful/important feature I lose by getting the Pentax Spot instead of the Gossen Starlite? Also, I don't believe the zone wheel is available from Calumet.

Thankee

Capocheny
30-Dec-2007, 17:33
I've read all the many posts. Still am leaning towards the Pentax Spot meter because of its simplicity. Not sure I need all the features on the Gossen Starlite.

I already have a Gossen Luna Pro, but it only has a 5 degree spot.

I'm an experienced photog, but new to LF. Is there any helpful/important feature I lose by getting the Pentax Spot instead of the Gossen Starlite? Also, I don't believe the zone wheel is available from Calumet.

Thankee

Greg,

I'm a big fan of the Pentax digital spot meter... it doesn't matter whether it's the analog or digital version. They're both great meters and will serve you well.

I also have a Luna Pro with the spot attachment but it stays home much of the time.

As for the Zone scale... one of the members here on the forum has them on his website but I can't seem to locate the url at the moment.

Cheers

Anupam
30-Dec-2007, 17:35
The Gossen will give you a flash meter if you need one for other photography. The incident reading is also convenient, but you can just spot meter a gray card if you want.

Unless you need the flash meter, the Pentax would be my recommendation.

-A

Maretzo
30-Dec-2007, 17:38
Go for the Pentax spot meter 1 degree and a gray card. Better spend your time on framing and focussing than fiddling with buttons.
Serge

Ed Richards
30-Dec-2007, 17:46
I am a tech geek, but opted for the Pentax. Works beautifully for zone system stuff - there are lots of places to get the little zone strip to tape to the meter. No flash metering, no low light metering, and no incident metering when that is the best choice. Also no multiple ISOs for different films.

If you are a B&W photographer who shoots one film and uses the zone system, it is hard to beat. The only thing that would be better is if it were wind up so you would not need a battery.:-) The only thing I have missed (I have a separate flash meter) is low light. I would like to get down to at least -5 EV, but the Starlight does not do any better in spot mode.

lenser
30-Dec-2007, 17:47
I use both the Luna Pro and the Analog Pentax spot meters as well as a Soligor Analog Spot meter. The two spot meters work extremely well and match perfectly, so if I'm in a dicey situation, the inexpensive Soligor goes in the bag in case something happens.

The Luna pro is reserved almost totally for incident readings. It is dead accurate on reflected readings, but the fact that so many "zones" are included makes me lean toward the spot meters for anything other than incident situations.

All three have been calibrated to match so I never need to worry about switching from one to another as far as matching exposure readings.

Mark Woods
30-Dec-2007, 18:06
I have 2 Minolta Spot Meter Fs that I love dearly, unfortunately Minolta no longer make meters. :-( Now I'm leaning toward the Sekonic combo meter, although it reads the gray card as 12.5% instead of 18%. Another interpolation. :-( I'm going to keep the Minolta's running as long as I can.

Jeff Conrad
30-Dec-2007, 19:40
I agree with the others on the simplicity of the Pentax meter (I have both the analog and digital models), especially if you use the Zone System. I'd like to have the Sekonic's illuminated readouts when shooting in dim light, but I've found that meter extremely cumbersome to use with the Zone System. YMMV, of course.

Incidentally, the Sekonic does not read a gray card as 12.5%. Despite popular myth, the Sekonic's reflected-light calibration constant of 12.5 has nothing whatsoever to do with reflectance. For comparison, the calibration constant for the Pentax is 14, a difference of 1/6 step, which would not be a factor in determining whether I would choose it.

lenser
30-Dec-2007, 19:53
I forgot to mention that Calumet still offers the Zone VI conversion for the Pentax spot meter (or at least they did six months ago when I asked). If I remember correctly, this service is about $180.00 and allegedly resets the meter so that it "reads" all color tones in terms of accurate reflected gray scale zones.

I haven't yet noticed enough exposure variations when metering different colors to make a difference, but the old Zone VI literature claimed that this would increase accuracy to a very important degree.

Tim

Mark Woods
30-Dec-2007, 19:56
I had the Hollywood Sekonic representative tell my American Film Institute class that on spot mode the meter responds at 12.5% to an 18% gray card. On incident mode it reads 18%. I dunno what to say. He was in my class and said the above when confronted by my class. Take it for what it's worth.

Bob Gentile
30-Dec-2007, 20:48
I forgot to mention that Calumet still offers the Zone VI conversion for the Pentax spot meter (or at least they did six months ago when I asked). If I remember correctly, this service is about $180.00 and allegedly resets the meter so that it "reads" all color tones in terms of accurate reflected gray scale zones.

I haven't yet noticed enough exposure variations when metering different colors to make a difference, but the old Zone VI literature claimed that this would increase accuracy to a very important degree.

Tim
I've seen the old Zone VI literature and it made a lot of sense. The Paul Butzi (http://www.butzi.net/articles/zone%20VI%20worth%20it.htm) website claims there's very little difference. Who knows!

Brian Ellis
30-Dec-2007, 22:13
I used a Minolta Spot Meter F for a while and changed to the Pentax digital spot meter about 10 years ago and haven't used any other meter since then. Like almost everyone else here, I think that for zone system photography the Pentax is hard to beat. The Minolta had a lot of features that the Pentax doesn't have but I didn't use any of them so all they did was unnecessarily complicate things for me. I suspect the Gossen would be the same though I've never used it.

As far as the Zone VI modification is concerned, I have it on mine but I don't know that anyone has conclusively established that it really accomplishes anything. I remember years ago Photo Techniques (I think) ran an article in which the author maintained that it didn't do anything. Then in the following issue Paul Horowitz, the inventor of the modifications (I think) followed up with a lengthy letter disputing the author's conclusions. So who knows. I'm not sorry I have the modification but if I had it to do over I think I'd save the $180 or whatever I paid 10 years ago.

Witold Grabiec
30-Dec-2007, 22:16
In spite of my great appreciation of what Fred Picker had given the photographic community in terms of helpful devices and modifications of the existing ones, he had to somehow justify the quite high a price for meter modification.

I never made my own tests (and I don't doubt there was an improvement in laboratory tests), but the truth is that my "unmodified" Minolta F has given me years of dead-on accuracy supported by reading consistency I mostly care for. It appears its price has gone up again on ebay, perhaps a sign of recognized quality (or depleting quantity).

Jeff Conrad
30-Dec-2007, 22:35
I had the Hollywood Sekonic representative tell my American Film Institute class that on spot mode the meter responds at 12.5% to an 18% gray card.
With all due respect for the Sekonic rep, I don't think he really understands meter calibration, and most likely has not read ISO-2720, the ISO standard that covers handheld exposure meters. The calibration of reflected-light meters has nothing to do with reflectance, which becomes an issue only when you try to relate the calibration of reflected-light meters to that of incident-light meters. If you don't want to purchase that standard (and I could think of many ways to better spend the money), I cover the topic fairly extensively at Exposure Metering and Zone system calibration (http://www.largeformatphotography.info/articles/conrad-meter-cal.pdf) (PDF).

The argument certainly has been made that reflected-light exposure meters are based on a scene of 12.5% average reflectance, depending on one's definition of "average scene reflectance." Ctein did so in Post Exposure, and Doug Kerr makes a somewhat similar case from a very different approach in his paper Exposure Meter Calibration (http://doug.kerr.home.att.net/pumpkin/Exposure_Calibration.pdf) (PDF).

However one interprets the calibration, the differences among various manufacturers is minimal: Pentax (and formerly Minolta) use a K of 14, and most others use 12.5. As has been discussed in previous threads here, a far greater issue is the wildly varying spectral responses. The Pentax meter has quite a broad response, while Minolta meters had a response that roughly matched that of the 1932 CIE standard observer. I've compared the two in unusual conditions (e.g., a yellow-light room used for photolithography) and seen differences of 5-6 steps. In more normal circumstances, I've still seen differences of 2-3 steps when measuring objects of certain colors. I don't have much practical experience with Sekonic, so I can't say how it compares with the Pentax or Minolta.

Again, the nominal calibration of a Pentax or Sekonic meter shouldn't be a factor in choosing between the two.

Ed Richards
30-Dec-2007, 22:36
Even if there was something to the modification, films have different sensitivity, so it would make little real difference. You still need to figure out what works for you.

Sheldon N
30-Dec-2007, 23:12
As a side note, there's one feature of the Sekonic L558 that I absolutely love.

You can do multiple spot meter readings (midtone, highlight, shadow, etc) and save them into memory (a simple two button press operation, don't need to remove the meter from your eye) then hit the average button which gives you a recommended exposure reading.

Of course most photographers shooting LF wouldn't trust the meter to make the exposure decision for them (myself included), but it actually does a pretty good job of choosing the exposure.

Now the really cool feature is that after you have your recommended exposure, you can then spot meter the scene while holding down the metering button, and the readout in the spot meter viewfinder gives you the exact exposure differential between the "Averaged" reading and the item you are spot metering, with real time continuous update.

This effectively means that I can scan through the scene and see that my selected midtone is 0.2 stops above the averaged reading, that the shadow detail is 1.8 stops below the averaged reading, and that the highlight is 1.7 stops above the averaged reading. If there's any discrepency it's immediately apparent how much I need to revise the exposure.

It is incredibly cool, a feature definitely worth having. I also use the flash meter and incident meter readings quite a bit, so I'd be lost without my Sekonic.

Mark Woods
30-Dec-2007, 23:56
Sheldon's response is incredibly accurate in the way that I also work. If you would like to see an article about color temperature response with meter sensors like the Minolta Spot Meter F, you can go to markwoods.com, click on articles, and click on archives. Look for an article "Candlelight to Daylight." I think you'll find it most interesting. As for the difference, Ed mentions a very valid point. If you do your test with a given shutter, a given meter, a given F/Stop, and a given development time while exposing an 18% gray card. If everything is constant, you will get constant results. That's really what AA's, and others, tests are about. How many different shutters are accurate? One probably needs to test them all. That said, I generally work in cinema, and the tolerances are very tight. A meter that reads incident at 18% and spot at 12.5% is something that needs to be brought to the attention of the user. If it's no problem for the user. Cool. But that person should be aware of it, the same as the color temperature affecting the incident/reflected reading of a meter. No right. No wrong. Just what is going on with the meters.

Donald Miller
31-Dec-2007, 01:41
I vote for the Sekonic. I used the modified Pentax digital for twenty years and it truly is an adequate meter to ZS practitioners. However if someone will ever consider using BTZS the Pentax meter is not as easily amendable to BTZS since it is restricted to reflective readings. I switched to the Sekonic after I switched exposure methodology. Beyond having both incident and reflective capabilities the Sekonic that I have has flash capability and radio triggering capability that makes it more of a full featured meter from where I saw it. The price difference was a non issue when I considered the inherent value of the two meters.

Alan Davenport
31-Dec-2007, 02:53
I haven't yet noticed enough exposure variations when metering different colors to make a difference, but the old Zone VI literature claimed that this would increase accuracy to a very important degree.


I've seen the old Zone VI literature and it made a lot of sense. The Paul Butzi (http://www.butzi.net/articles/zone%20VI%20worth%20it.htm) website claims there's very little difference. Who knows!

Makes perfect sense to me! Everyone dreams of a magic bullet, and Z6 was offering one. I'm sure the modified meter gave/gives excellent exposure accuracy. Just like the unmodified version...

I use a Gossen Luna Pro F with the spot attachment. I find the 7 spot to be perfectly adequate for anything I've metered with it -- exposures are 100% dead accurate unless I screw up. Much more important than one's choice of meter, is being familiar with the tool in your hand and knowing how to interpret it.

Andrew_4548
31-Dec-2007, 05:37
Mark, if you like Minolta meters - are the Kenko range any use? There's not a true spotmeter in there but the others have 'similarities'

To the original topic, I have both - a Pentax digital spotmeter and a Gossen Starlite. I'd unfortunately have to say that the Starlite was one of the worst purchases I made with respect to the low light photography I was doing - it used to take a lot of repeat button presses for it to wake up and get a stable reading and would quite often give up the ghost on 1° readings and just show 'Err.' It was great for flash metering but that's only a minute percentage of the requirements for me. It was flimsy and was sent back to Gossen for repair (front screen cracked and battery compartment door lugs snapped and I wasn't being heavy-handed)

I bought a Pentax Digital and haven't looked back - OK it won't do all the things of the Starlite as it's not a digital whizzbang gadget meter but it's bulletproof in what it can do. One reason I bought the Starlite was for the ZS measurements but I've got a zone sticker on the Pentax and it's a lot more intuitive (or it's me that's simple... ;) )

I've sometimes looked round for a second Pentax as backup but for some of the exorbitant prices they're selling for new and on the auction site, I'm considering the Kenko KFM2100 as I know someone with the Minolta original and they tend to get decent exposures. I already have a Minolta colour meter and that's accurate / well made for what I want so hopefully the Kenko stuff is as well.

Bruce Barlow
31-Dec-2007, 06:57
Pentax. It's fabulous and esay to work with. Get the Zone VI mod if you can, but if you can't the world probably won't end and you'll be just fine and very happy.

Here's where the zone dial for it is:

http://www.largeformatphotography.info/articles/ZoneDial.pdf

At least I think it's still there. Too lazy this morning to check it out first. Print it, cut it out, put it on your meter, and wrap a sliced length or transparent tape around it.

Enjoy!

Justin Cormack
31-Dec-2007, 08:08
Mark, if you like Minolta meters - are the Kenko range any use? There's not a true spotmeter in there but the others have 'similarities'

To the original topic, I have both - a Pentax digital spotmeter and a Gossen Starlite. I'd unfortunately have to say that the Starlite was one of the worst purchases I made with respect to the low light photography I was doing - it used to take a lot of repeat button presses for it to wake up and get a stable reading and would quite often give up the ghost on 1 readings and just show 'Err.' It was great for flash metering but that's only a minute percentage of the requirements for me. It was flimsy and was sent back to Gossen for repair (front screen cracked and battery compartment door lugs snapped and I wasn't being heavy-handed)

I bought a Pentax Digital and haven't looked back - OK it won't do all the things of the Starlite as it's not a digital whizzbang gadget meter but it's bulletproof in what it can do. One reason I bought the Starlite was for the ZS measurements but I've got a zone sticker on the Pentax and it's a lot more intuitive (or it's me that's simple... ;) )

I've sometimes looked round for a second Pentax as backup but for some of the exorbitant prices they're selling for new and on the auction site, I'm considering the Kenko KFM2100 as I know someone with the Minolta original and they tend to get decent exposures. I already have a Minolta colour meter and that's accurate / well made for what I want so hopefully the Kenko stuff is as well.

In what way isnt the Kenko KFM-2100 a true spotmeter? It claims to be. Given that the Pentax is pretty much unavailable (and 500-600 in the UK it seems) I was wondering about this or the Sekonic at some point.

Andrew_4548
31-Dec-2007, 10:35
In what way isnt the Kenko KFM-2100 a true spotmeter? It claims to be. Given that the Pentax is pretty much unavailable (and 500-600 in the UK it seems) I was wondering about this or the Sekonic at some point.

My mistake - I think I'm getting the Minolta confused with the old Gossen Spotmaster 2 - the big and expensive one that's the dedicated spotmeter rather than a do-it-all type...

The prices I've seen for the Pentax over here range from 480 (Speedgraphic) to approx 600 (Calumet.) Calumet US sells it for 399 USD which brings it a bit more in line. I paid 280 for mine approx 7 years ago. One's just gone on eBay for 400 in 'as new' condition. For this price it seems worth looking for alternatives...

Andrew

Brian Ellis
31-Dec-2007, 10:54
I vote for the Sekonic. I used the modified Pentax digital for twenty years and it truly is an adequate meter to ZS practitioners. However if someone will ever consider using BTZS the Pentax meter is not as easily amendable to BTZS since it is restricted to reflective readings. I switched to the Sekonic after I switched exposure methodology. Beyond having both incident and reflective capabilities the Sekonic that I have has flash capability and radio triggering capability that makes it more of a full featured meter from where I saw it. The price difference was a non issue when I considered the inherent value of the two meters.

I used the BTZS system for about five years with a Pentax spot meter. I know Phil had a personal preference for the use of incident meters but he knew that many people didn't share his preference so he programmed the BTZS calculator to work with either and in fact it worked fine with a reflection meter such as the Pentax. I don't understand why using the BTZS system would influence anyone one way or the other as to choice of meters.

Mark Woods
31-Dec-2007, 21:26
I don't understand why using the BTZS system would influence anyone one way or the other as to choice of meters.[/QUOTE]

It makes a difference in terms of how one works in the field or studio, and in the subsequent work flow. The meter is HUGE in terms of methodology in photography.

Frank Petronio
1-Jan-2008, 01:16
I used a Pentax 1 degree spot for 20 years, as well as several Minolta and Gossen meters for flash and as all-around meters. I no longer use the Zone system tied to darkroom work since I use a lab to process my film, but I was as anal as any of 'em when I had darkrooms. A third of a stop mattered somehow....

For the money, I would get a cheap digital slr instead. And maybe a simple, inexpensive Gossen Digi-flash or whatever they call their tiny pocket-sized meter.

Sure I miss my Pentax's little zone scale sometimes... for about 5/10ths of a second. Then my brain remembers that I have 3 stops headroom for highlights and 2 stops bottom room for shadows and everything else is in the margins... and that minor metal calculation helps prevents elderly dementia... and my exposures have been right on and consistent ever since.

I wouldn't fret so much about the Zone system. Just go shoot. Bracket a few if you must. Use Polaroid tests for the life and death stuff.

Renato Tonelli
1-Jan-2008, 07:53
Pentax. The combination Sekonic seemed like a fantastic solution and I used it for all of my cinematography work. But I feel that the meter is too delicate and I've had to have it re-calibrated too. For B&W I have reverted to using the Pentax and for cinematography I've gone back to the old reliable Spectra, augmented by the Pentax. The end result has been peace of mind.