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Thread: Choice of meter/metering method for landscape/scenic work

  1. #1

    Choice of meter/metering method for landscape/scenic work

    First off, thanks again for everyone's help on my previous questions.

    I'm trying to round out the necessary equipment for my large format entry and am down to a decision on a light meter. I'm trying to limit the cash outlay, but want to make a purchase I'll be happy with for the medium to long term. Also, I don't really care about having a lot of bells and whistles - I just want a good basic meter. For example, I don't ever see myself needing flash metering capab ility - I would probably just use my F100 any for flash photography I would do. FYI, I am limited in my searching ability by the lack of well-stocked stores in my area - I have no real opportunity to go handle the choices.

    If I were less concerned about the $, I think I would go for the Pentax Digital Spotmeter, based on my reading in threads and books. But, if I can figure a way to do the right thing but spend less, I want to. I've looked at eBay and other used equipment places and am not seeing a large enough difference in prices to make me eager go that route (i.e., the $ difference is small enough that I proba bly would just default to the new Pentax). So here are the questions I have.

    1. From my reading, it looks like I could effectively use an incident meter, bu t with more difficulty or less effectiveness for my purpose. Is this an accurat e opinion? What are the challenges of incident metering for my purposes?

    2. I could use my Nikon F100, but I think this would be limiting given my longe st lens there is a 50mm (e.g., I think trying to use it as a spot meter wouldn't work well because of too large an angle of coverage). Plus there is the weight consideration. Plus it's not a long term fix (at least I don't think it is). Thoughts?

    3. I also think a meter without a viewfinder display (e.g. the Sekonic?) would a nnoy me, but this proceeds from a question - if you aim it and then have to pull your face away to read it, how do you know you haven't changed the aiming in th e process?

    4. I've looked at the Adorama web site at their private label spotmeters. Do yo u think the ~$150 savings (versus the Pentax meters) is worth it?

    5. Is digital meaningfully more durable than analog?

    As always, comments on things I haven't thought of are welcome as well. Thanks in advance.


  2. #2

    Choice of meter/metering method for landscape/scenic work

    The Adorama meter is a Soligor meter. These work, but they have a cheap plastic feel and flare can lead to inaccurate readings, as the lens is uncoated.

    I have a Sekonic L-508. Not having a viewfinder display is a bit annoying, but not much. This meter also remembers readings and displays them on a scale. I meter the shadows and save the reading. Then, I meter a highlight and save the reading. Then, I look at the display to decide on exposure. The Sekonic, of course, is not a cheap option.

    My suggestions:

    1) Don't buy an Adorama/Soligor spotmeter because of the flare problem.

    2) Find a high-quality used (maybe well-used but working) spotmeter at a good price, one made by Pentax, Minolta, Gossen, or Sekonic.

    3) Use your Nikon until you can afford a quality meter.

  3. #3

    Choice of meter/metering method for landscape/scenic work

    Chris, You can use your Nikon for metering for awhile and it will be fine but there are alot of fine meters out there for what may seem to be a small amout of money (relatively). Gossen, Minolta and Sekonic make some nice lowend meters that are pretty good as far as usefullness. Polaris is also fairly decent but I would stay with the main manufacturers.

  4. #4

    Choice of meter/metering method for landscape/scenic work

    Chris, If I were you I would hang on for the Pentax digital spotmeter its the on e I'm waiting to purchase to replace my ageing Pentax Spotmeter V. Which is itse lf a very capable piece of equipment but rather bulky and not as robust as their digital meter. Robert White ( currently list the digital meter at about $ 363 (#245) plus shipping. This is the cheapist source I've seen here in the UK. Hope this is of some help, regards, Trevor.

  5. #5

    Join Date
    Nov 1999

    Choice of meter/metering method for landscape/scenic work

    Chris, I have been using the SEkonic L 508 for a while now and I am very pleased with it!! I don't use flash but the facility is there should I need to, also the meter is very robust and weatherproof and although a "whistles and bells" bit of kit, IMHO it is very easy to use and very accurate. Regards Paul

  6. #6

    Choice of meter/metering method for landscape/scenic work

    On the Soligor/Adorama meters: I've used one for several years, and think that it's just fine. It may be marginally more flare-prone than a coated Pentax, but the lens has few air/glass surfaces, so any differences are probably minimal. I tend to get the same readings as photographers standing next to me with Pentax meters. In practice, using a little bit of common-sense (e.g., shield it from direct sunlight when possible), I have had consistent and good results. The Pentax is more compact and elegant, and when my Soligor gives out I might get one. But if price is an issue, I wouldn't spurn the Soligor because it's not coated.

  7. #7

    Choice of meter/metering method for landscape/scenic work


    I agree with Trevor. I've been using a Pentax V spotmeter for nearly 15 years. I had it modified by Zone VI a few years after I got it.

    It's a great, basic spot meter, very accurate and easy to use, and it's still going strong after all these years. I've never had a problem with it, and I've used it in extreme conditions. It is big and bulky, though.

    When it finally passes on to meter heaven, I'll likely replace it with the digital version, which is smaller, and probably more robust and durable due to fewer moving parts.

    Good luck, Sergio.

  8. #8

    Choice of meter/metering method for landscape/scenic work

    Hi Chris,

    I used a Sekonic-L508 for a year. I shoot the zone system and it was always a struggle for me with this meter. You have to continually take the meter away for your eye to see what it reads and it is hard to visualize the various zones on the LCD. I recently switched to a digital Pentax and it now takes me half the time to get my exposure and I make less mistakes with placement of zones. The main reason I went digital was weight. Mine is Zone VI modified and cost me $360 on Ebay. I wasn't stuck on getting the modified version, but it was in my price range so I got it. Have fun.

  9. #9

    Choice of meter/metering method for landscape/scenic work

    1.) Yes, absolutley. It requires you to think/interpret more. I would recommend getting an incident meter that allows reflected readings as well. I would recommend something like the Skeonic L398M or the Weston Master series as they require no batteries and are small and relatively inexpensive. If you need more precise reflected readings, walk closer to the subject or find a nearby substitute. With incident readings you can get in the ball park fast and then with the reflected readings you can establish the extremes of your range more precisely for development purposes.

    Then again, the Pentax digital costs more new than I have paid for any of my 8 X 10 lenses.

    2.) You certainly could use the Nikon, but if you're committed, you'll want a hand held meter that is lighter, smaller, etc.

    3). It depends on the meter design. The majority have an activation switch that holds the reading made when you release it. In other words, hold it to your eye, press the button, release the button - the reading is maintained/saved. Take it from your eye, transfer the reading from the indicator to the calculator dial. The original Pentax and the non-digital Soligor as well as the Gossen Luna Pro have this arrangement.

    The Gossen also allows you to see the E.V. range graphically represented. It has a 1/5/15 degree spot attachment available that allows you to use the meter as a incident or spot reflected. The down side to it is that it is bulky, awkward and ludicrously expensive new - more than the cost of the digital Soligor - and damnably hard to find used.

    4.) Hell Yes! If the flare is a problem, use a lens shade or a toilet paper tube painted black.

    5>) I can't speak to this from experience, all my meters have been analog. My car still has points, too. However, it depends on how well made the unit is to begin with, how much you use it, and the conditions you use it under. I will say you should invest in a good lanyard and a padded belt pouch regardless.

  10. #10

    Choice of meter/metering method for landscape/scenic work

    I've had good luck with the Minolta Spot Meter F, but this meter seems to be absent from any of the above recommendations. You might consider it as an option.

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