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Thread: What is the Zone VI modified pentax spotmeter?

  1. #1
    Confidently Agnostic!
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    What is the Zone VI modified pentax spotmeter?

    What's the modification here? These things go for a small fortune on ebay, and the only noticable thing is the little zone system paper strip that's always taped to the barrel. Anybody know what this modification is?

  2. #2
    Dave Karp
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    Re: What is the Zone VI modified pentax spotmeter?

    Check the archives on this one. There have been a ton of postings on this, and different perspectives on whether the extras on the Zone VI version are worthwhile.

  3. #3
    Eric Woodbury
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    Re: What is the Zone VI modified pentax spotmeter?

    The modification results in the meter 'seeing' the same as BW film, thus metering through filters for proper filter factors is possible and metering scenes with strong color accurately. Additional baffles were once included, too, to increase contrast in tough lighting situations. I believe the modifications have changed over the years, but if this changed the result, I do not know.

    Photogs I know considered the extra cost worth it.

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    Re: What is the Zone VI modified pentax spotmeter?

    Here's a pretty good article by Paul Butzi on the Z6 Modified Meter. As an earlier poster mentioned, there are different opinions on whether the modifications are effective, so Mr. Butzi's view may be contradicted by others. For what its worth, I have and use the modified meter, but I've never tested it against an unmodified Pentax. http://www.butzi.net/articles/zone%2...worth%20it.htm

  5. #5
    Kirk Gittings's Avatar
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    Re: What is the Zone VI modified pentax spotmeter?

    You will note in Butzi's update of his article http://www.butzi.net/articles/zone%20VI%20reprise.htm
    numerous references to my claims that the modifications are worth it. Understand, I am a working photographer and I have no time for equipment that doesn't perform, but because I am an actual working photographer I don't have the time (or the interest) to respond in kind to Paul's extensive testing. Mine work as per Alan Ross' claims and that is enough for me. I currently have two, one modified and one originally was regular when I got it. The modified out performed the regular so I had it modified too. It now works as well as the originally modified one. These are the 4th and fifth Pentax Spot meters I have owned and the only ones modified. They do the job. I can now meter accurately thru filters which I could not do as well on any of the unmodified meters. If these were stolen, I would replace them with ZVI modified meters.

    Personally, in photography, when I am confronted with contradictory technical information, I look at the actual work of the claimants. Alan Ross and Richard Ritter are perfectionists and it shows in their work. They also have no time for crap that doesn't do the job.
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    Kirk

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  6. #6

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    Re: What is the Zone VI modified pentax spotmeter?

    The paper strip has nothing to do with the Zone VI modifications. The strip can be bought from Calumet (or used to be, I haven't checked to see if they still sell it or not) for about $5 and is just an easy way of applying the zone system with this meter. The modifications, on the other hand, involve physical changes to the meter. Here's what Zone VI Studios said they did in making the modifications: Installation of superior photo-electric cells; installation of a series of step-down baffles to eliminate flare; installation of a braod-spectrum (ultra-black) infrared absorbent coating to eliminate reflections; design and installation of four corrective filters, intended to match the meter's spectral response to the spectral response of the film.

    I've owned used a modified Pentax digital spot meter for many years. I have no idea whether it performs better than an unmodified meter. I accepted Zone VI Studio's claims for it on faith.
    Brian Ellis
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    a mile away and you'll have their shoes.

  7. #7

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    Re: What is the Zone VI modified pentax spotmeter?

    Is there anything preventing someone from offering a DIY version of the spectral response modifications? Would there be any demand for such a kit, perhaps for a different meter? You wouldn't have to reverse engineer a Zone VI meter, all you would have to do is to decide which B&W film to imitate, and you would only have to do it approximately.

    Best,
    Helen

  8. #8

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    Re: What is the Zone VI modified pentax spotmeter?

    I owned 3 meters at one point in time. All Pentax digital spot meters, one being modified. I believe it was modified about 10 years ago or so. The only difference I saw between them was the Z6 meter showed 2/3 stop difference between the others. I was given a very odd explanation for this including a line about the true speed of Tri-X (please don't ask). I've sold off two of the meters. Now I only use the unmodified meter that I bought new. My negs are as good as ever.

  9. #9
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    Re: What is the Zone VI modified pentax spotmeter?

    Quote Originally Posted by Helen Bach View Post
    Is there anything preventing someone from offering a DIY version of the spectral response modifications? Would there be any demand for such a kit, perhaps for a different meter? You wouldn't have to reverse engineer a Zone VI meter, all you would have to do is to decide which B&W film to imitate, and you would only have to do it approximately.

    Best,
    Helen
    There are probably scientific / optics companies that could build you a custom filter with the right spectral transmission characteristics. Might be fairly expensive though, and I bet there would also be an electronics correction (ie, a hard wired exposure correction) in the meter because there would probably be an overall loss of light from such a filter.

    Anyway, now it makes sense. For awhile I honestly thought maybe the "Zone VI" modification was just taping a zone strip to the barrel for convenience and that people were being suckered or something

  10. #10
    All metric sizes to 24x30 Ole Tjugen's Avatar
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    Re: What is the Zone VI modified pentax spotmeter?

    Quote Originally Posted by Brian Ellis View Post
    ... design and installation of four corrective filters, intended to match the meter's spectral response to the spectral response of the film. ...
    Which film? And would it be equally well matched to other films?

    All BW films have slightly different spectral response. IMO it makes more sense to learn the characteristics of the film you are using than to buy a meter perfectly matched to one specific film.

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