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View Full Version : How good is the Pentax V Spotmeter?



Jay Abramson
9-Feb-2010, 13:35
I'm looking into getting a spot meter, and came across this one, in good condition with original accessories.

I've cosidered the Sekonic 758 DR, as I have several digital SLRs, and like the idea of profiling to the camera, but now with the addition of the Toyo 45AX, I'm not sure which way to go.

Your opinions and comments have been exceedingly helpful, so I'm turning to the group once again!

Thanks!

Jay

Jeremy Moore
9-Feb-2010, 14:05
Good enough.

You should be able to pick up the Pentax V for a lot less $$$ than the Sekonic 758 DR so it has that going for it, but definitely no bells or whistles.

Like my Soligor Spot II, the Pentax V does one thing and does it well: meters a 1 degree spot.

Jay Abramson
9-Feb-2010, 14:19
Thank you!

David Karp
9-Feb-2010, 14:34
I have had one for a long time, and it is a fine meter.

CarstenW
9-Feb-2010, 14:38
It is minimal, but good. I am fond of mine, although I prefer my Pentax Digital Spotmeter, which is much more compact.

mikebarger
9-Feb-2010, 15:24
Find a pentax V zone VI modified and I'll trade you a Pentax digital in like new condition. It backs up my pentax V so it see's little action.

Mike

Michael Kadillak
9-Feb-2010, 16:43
The Pentax Spot meter is no longer made.

Do yourself a favor and get a Pocket Spotmeter. It is tiny, machined out of solid aluminum and never needs a calibration and currently produced. I have both an analog and digital Pentax and never use them after I got a Pocket Spot. Fits in the palm of my hand. Plus I had to pay $75+ for a calibration every year +/- for my Pentax meters as they do in fact drift at one or both ends of their range as a function of time. The Pocket Spot is hard wired in calibration forever and is absolutely marvelous piece of engineering that will last a lifetime.

Brian Ellis
9-Feb-2010, 16:59
Just to let you know - Michael's experience with the digital Pentax is unusual, at least compared to my own and that of all other people I've ever heard of who used that meter. I had one for 12 or so years and never needed to have it calibrated once much less every year or so. Every time I went to a workshop I used to check it against other participants meters and we were always within a half stop of each other and usually dead on. I mention this not to urge you to buy one or to question Michael - I don't know anything about your needs or his situation - but just so that if you're otherwise inclined to buy one you aren't put off by one person's unusual experience.

srbphoto
9-Feb-2010, 17:06
I have had mine for over 15 years (and I bought it used) and love it. The only problem I had was the nuts that hold the dial on the body fell off (they are in the body). So I have to hold it together until I send it off to have it fixed.

Michael Kadillak
9-Feb-2010, 17:33
Just to let you know - Michael's experience with the digital Pentax is unusual, at least compared to my own and that of all other people I've ever heard of who used that meter. I had one for 12 or so years and never needed to have it calibrated once much less every year or so. Every time I went to a workshop I used to check it against other participants meters and we were always within a half stop of each other and usually dead on. I mention this not to urge you to buy one or to question Michael - I don't know anything about your needs or his situation - but just so that if you're otherwise inclined to buy one you aren't put off by one person's unusual experience.

The attachment from Alan Ross is concurrent with my experience. Fact. When you have one meter it is never out of calibration because you do not have a valid reference point to make that determination. All you need to do is get two of the same meters and calibrate them at the same time and put one in your closet and shoot with the other. Check them against each other after six months across the response scale and again at one year and you will in fact see the differences because it is not unusual. Calibration linearity is another issue to contend with. Call Quality Light Metric and speak to their technician and get a sample of the real world.

While Pentax had their corporate headquarters in Englewood, Colorado I had a long conversation with their company technical representative. He confirmed to me in oerson that all of their their spot meters are subject to calibration drift drift depending upon how they are used. From dropping the meter to micro vibrations on an airplane the adverse effects on the meter are real.

Eric, one of the engineers that produce the Pocket Spot told me that the calibration of each meter is hard wired in and can't ever drift or need a calibration.

Cheers!

John T
9-Feb-2010, 17:35
Jay,

I had the pleasure of using the 758DR pretty extensively when I was teaching at Brooks. It was an amazing meter because you could profile it to the cameras and that it was also an incident meter. In the studio, this meter could do everything. On location, it was a little clunky-lot of settings/controls to go through.

I've used the Pentax Digital Spot for 20 or so years (that's just a guess-let's just say, a long time). I used to use the Pentax V, but liked the smaller size of the Digital spot. Both, like the other have stated are basic meters that work well. In talking to a meter repairman, I found that meters like the Pentax V can go out of calibration rather easily if there is some impact-throws off the needle, but otherwise are pretty rugged, but he recommended the Digital Spot.

I recently took my Pentax meter and my newly acquired Pocket Spot (Thanks Eric-I know you are out there) to get the meters calibrated to each other. The repairman was impressed with the Pocket Spot and managed to adjust the Pentax meter to it. BTW, it was 3 years since I last had the Pentax calibrated and it had changed 1/3 stop higher than the previous time.

Any of the meters mentioned work well for a view camera in the field. The Sekonic is an all-in-one that works great in the studio (and with digital) and good in the field.
The Pentax meters are both standards that others compare their meter against.

The Pocket Spot is a completely different design/attitude that I found to be fantastic, but if you ordered one now, I don't know if you would receive it this year. I ordered mine in early 2008, saw Eric (the designer and builder) in mid-2008 and saw the meter in action, and met with him when I visited Santa Barbara this Christmas break and picked up my meter.

He has hired someone to assemble the meters to speed up delivery, but it is an EXTREMELY small company. However, I consider my almost 2 year wait to be worth it, but I had a meter to use until I received mine.

John T
9-Feb-2010, 17:37
Also, QLM (Quality Light Metric) is the place I take my meters.

John T
9-Feb-2010, 17:38
Michael,

Are you in the Denver area?

I run the Photo department at UNC in Greeley.

mikebarger
9-Feb-2010, 17:39
Richard Ritter has serviced my Pentax, and I've been very happy with his work.

Mike

Jay Abramson
9-Feb-2010, 18:03
This is a wonderful source of info. I really appreciate your time and input.

What has come of this is I did not pick up the meter I saw, and will continue to investigate my options.

I guess for now, my F5 will get some use - as a meter! :)

Thanks again,

Jay

Kevin Crisp
9-Feb-2010, 20:15
The last time Mr. Ritter calibrated my digital one I got it back and put a new 100 watt bulb in the darkroom overhead socket, then metered four light and dark areas in the darkroom. I wrote the read number on the spots I metered. 5 years later it is still dead on. If they drift I sure haven't seen it.

The Model V is just effective as the digital, just bigger.

David Karp
9-Feb-2010, 20:34
It seems that people have different experiences.

I have a Spotmeter V and a Pentax digital spotmeter. I owned the V for many years before I obtained the digital. I had Quality Light Metric service and calibrate the V when I first got it and used it for years and years without calibrating it again. When I bought the digital spot, I took it to Quality Light Metric and had them calibrate it. When I got it back, I compared the readings from the recently calibrated spot to those from the V over a wide range of subjects. As far as I could tell, they were dead on. This was a surprise to me - totally unexpected. I think it says something about both the meters and Quality Light Metric. I would not hesitate to use either of these meters or the Pocket Spot if I were you. Lots of people have been using the Pentax meters for many years, with great results.

Steve Barber
10-Feb-2010, 06:13
A Pocket Spot sounds great, if for no other reason than for its smaller size.

However, if you want a spot meter and are not willing to wait years for it, the Pentax digital spot meter is a better choice. As to it being subject to drift, the Pentax and all the other meters I have access to, including another Pentax digital spot meter, all seem to drift together, even if they are not made from permanently calibrated unobtainium. Drifting along with them are two densitometers and my eyes in judging results obtained with exposures made using a Pentax spot meter.

The Pentax is what I bought when I was unable to obtain a Pocket Spot after being promised one and waiting months for it. That was years ago and, despite having sent several messages to Metered Light, using whatever means they were currently saying on their website would insure that they would actually see it, I have never heard another word from them regarding the one I was promised nor any of the messages I sent later saying I was still interested in purchasing one.

Until I saw this thread, I had forgotten about Metered Light and their mythical Pocket Spot and I think you would be better off if you forgot about them, as well.

Brian Ellis
10-Feb-2010, 06:43
The attachment from Alan Ross is concurrent with my experience. Fact. When you have one meter it is never out of calibration because you do not have a valid reference point to make that determination. All you need to do is get two of the same meters and calibrate them at the same time and put one in your closet and shoot with the other. Check them against each other after six months across the response scale and again at one year and you will in fact see the differences because it is not unusual. Calibration linearity is another issue to contend with. Call Quality Light Metric and speak to their technician and get a sample of the real world.

While Pentax had their corporate headquarters in Englewood, Colorado I had a long conversation with their company technical representative. He confirmed to me in oerson that all of their their spot meters are subject to calibration drift drift depending upon how they are used. From dropping the meter to micro vibrations on an airplane the adverse effects on the meter are real.

Eric, one of the engineers that produce the Pocket Spot told me that the calibration of each meter is hard wired in and can't ever drift or need a calibration.

Cheers!

As I mentioned in my original post, I compared meter readings with other participants every time I attended a workshop. Probably compared with at least 50 other meters over a period of 12 or so years. So I had plenty of reference points. But my main reference point was my photographs and my occasional densitometer readings, which told me that the meter was working fine. And as long as it isn't showing up as a problem in one of those places I'm not about to spring for two Pentax spot meters so I can keep one in the closet.

I'm not trying to convince the OP that he should buy the Pentax Spot meter. He hasn't said anything about what or how he photographs so I have no idea whether it would be a good choice for him or not. I just don't think he should be put off from buying one by someone telling him he's going to have to spend $60 a year every year he owns the meter to have it calibrated because in my experience that isn't necessary.

Michael Kadillak
10-Feb-2010, 07:56
As I mentioned in my original post, I compared meter readings with other participants every time I attended a workshop. Probably compared with at least 50 other meters over a period of 12 or so years. So I had plenty of reference points. But my main reference point was my photographs and my occasional densitometer readings, which told me that the meter was working fine. And as long as it isn't showing up as a problem in one of those places I'm not about to spring for two Pentax spot meters so I can keep one in the closet.

I'm not trying to convince the OP that he should buy the Pentax Spot meter. He hasn't said anything about what or how he photographs so I have no idea whether it would be a good choice for him or not. I just don't think he should be put off from buying one by someone telling him he's going to have to spend $60 a year every year he owns the meter to have it calibrated because in my experience that isn't necessary.

I feel the OP will make a good decision for him and I have no problem with your observations or conclusions. I am pleased that you have been able to go that long with no problems or additional expenses. For me a 1/3 drift is terribly concerning and a 1/2 stop variance is simply unacceptable. I use my Metrolux to check all of my shutters for the same fundamental reason. All I am trying to do is add some alternative experiences to the mix. Once an engineer - always an engineer.

If a meter is mechanically subject to calibration drift as the Pentax is, it is a possibility that drift could occur. The variable is very likely a function to how it is used. If a calibration is hardwired into the meter as is the case with the Pocket Spot, calibration drift is eliminated from the equation because it cannot occur. It is no more complicated than that.

Film is expensive particularly in ULF sizes. I just want to make the best use of it.

Cheers!

srbphoto
10-Feb-2010, 08:00
When you have one meter it is never out of calibration because you do not have a valid reference point to make that determination.

Which is why I'm afraid to send mine off to fix the dial. I'm afraid they will "calibrate" it and mess me up:D

Robert Hughes
10-Feb-2010, 09:18
When you have only one lawyer in a town, he'll go broke. When you have two lawyers, there's lots of business!

ki6mf
10-Feb-2010, 09:57
I have both the Pentax V and the Sekonic 758. I use the Pentax V everyday. I use the Sekonic for Flash. I learned how to do zone system on this meter and never moved off. It does measure EV and you do have to rotate a dial to get the exposure. I have never had an issue with the meter or its readings. I did test the readings of the two meters and my standard ISO for HP5 on the Pentax is 300 while on the Sekonic its 200! Also I noticed the Pentax V have held their value. I paid $285 in 1977 and this is close to the price on the used market today. I prefer the analog dial showing all the combination of exposure as opposed to the digital read out.

Does this make me any better a photographer? No-- its what I an familiar with. I would not get the Zone V modified meters, they are slightly more accurate however you can compensate by a slight change in ISO to achieve the same results!

Jay Abramson
10-Feb-2010, 13:17
So what is it that Zone VI does to a meter besides putting a Zone Scale on the dial?

Forgive my ignorance, I'm just new to the waters.

Thanks!

Jay

ki6mf
10-Feb-2010, 13:28
The Zone VI modified meter added some internal baffles and was re-calibrated. It was sold by Fred Pickers company prior to being acquired by Calumet. There may have been other modifications too. It was claimed to offer greater accuracy. Paul Bitzi on his blog tested a modified and non modified meter and found the difference to be half a stop, if memory serves me correct. Do you need a modified meter? I think not and if you do film tests can compensate for the difference via ISO setting or with experience by opening or closing half a stop.

ki6mf
10-Feb-2010, 13:30
In my prior post I meant to say I would not necessarily get a Zone VI modified meter. I would definitely recommend a Pentax V meter!

Jay Abramson
10-Feb-2010, 14:02
In my prior post I meant to say I would not necessarily get a Zone VI modified meter. I would definitely recommend a Pentax V meter!

The Zone VI modified meter added some internal baffles and was re-calibrated. It was sold by Fred Pickers company prior to being acquired by Calumet. There may have been other modifications too. It was claimed to offer greater accuracy. Paul Bitzi on his blog tested a modified and non modified meter and found the difference to be half a stop, if memory serves me correct. Do you need a modified meter? I think not and if you do film tests can compensate for the difference via ISO setting or with experience by opening or closing half a stop.


Thanks Wally!

Bill Burk
10-Feb-2010, 23:56
Fred Picker also added an infrared cutoff filter to address the problem that high infrared reflectance threw off his previsualization of foliage.

Ben Calwell
11-Feb-2010, 05:40
I've used my Pentax V since I bought it new in 1984, with nary a problem.