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macandal
22-May-2013, 08:40
I am looking for a light/flash meter. Something that I can use out in the field, for example, for shooting landscapes, architecture, etc, and another for studio work (think: strobes), portraits, still life, table-top, you get the idea. I have also read that, if one is planning to use the Zone System, which I am, a special meter is needed.

Anyway, I guess what I'm looking for is a meter that "does it all". Does such a thing exist? I don't have the room to store too much stuff, so I'd rather get something I can use for all kinds of photography. I don't want to put a price tag on this because if there is something good that meets my needs, I don't want the money to stop me from getting it. Cheaper is always better, but if something expensive exists, I am willing to make the investment.

Thanks.

Dave Gesell
22-May-2013, 08:53
Sekonic makes an all-in-one exposure meter (flash, ambient, reflected, incident and spot), the L-758, in a few variants. Previous models that do (mostly) the same stuff are the L-608 and L-508 and there might have been an L-558 as well, which you should be able to find used. Another option would be an ambient/flash meter that accepts a spot attachment. Gossen at least used to make such attachments for the old Luna-Pro meters, and Sekonic makes a spot attachment for the L-358.

JeRuFo
22-May-2013, 08:54
For landscapes with the zone system most people would probably recommend getting a 1 degree spotmeter. The real big differences between meters for landscape is the amount of memory functions and if you want your meter to be able to average a scene etc.

With strobes it's kind of up to you how many functions you want. Newer meters have all kinds of metering modes, but if you do all the calculations yourself you can get by with a pretty simple meter that has a flash function. But I'm not the one to give advice for studio use. I have used mine in the studio, but are not in the studio daily.

I got a sekonic 558 about six months ago that I'm very happy with. It's easy to use and so far very reliable. It probably does all the stuff you want. It is an older model, but still reasonably easy to find. Probably goes for about $200-250.

Daniel Stone
22-May-2013, 09:44
Mario,

I 2nd the recommendation of Sekonic's offerings for meters.
Personally, I use the L-358, and also have the pocketwizard module so I can wirelessly trigger strobes using PW's.
You make mention about the "Zone System". Traditionally this is done with a SPOT METER. Usually a 5degree or less(1degree is preferred by many) is ideal. I have owned a few separate meters over the past few years, and in all honesty, the ones I enjoyed the most were the following:

Minolta IVf
(f= ability to take flash readings, albeit no pocketwizard module, so manual triggering or via a PC cord connected to the meter)
this meter takes AA battery(ies), very convenient and cheap compared to the cost of CR-123's on average.
Sekonic L-358
This is the meter I use primarily now. It is a very capable meter, and Sekonic makes some accessory attachments for it, including a few SPOT meter ones to use in lieu of the ambient white dome. I use this for both work(I'm a photo assistant here in LA) and for personal work(even with a view camera), and its delivered very consistent results in the time that I've owned it.
Pentax Digital Spot
Great meter, very accurate if calibrated correctly(as is the case with ANY meter, many neglect having their equipment calibrated correctly on a consistent, regular basis!). AMBIENT ONLY, NO FLASH METERING CAPABILITY. This limited its usefulness to me in some cases, where I NEEDED the ability to meter flash, in spot mode. For ambient, non-flash use, it would be my #1 choice.
Sekonic L-778
(NOT 758/758DR)
This is one of those "got it all, almost" meters. It is a spot meter, but has a hotshoe, so if you use pocketwizards, you can just pop the PW in the hot shoe and meter away :)! I had one, and sold it, but I plan on buying another. Its BIG, but it takes AA batteries, and is a nice compliment to the L-358.

My two picks if I was getting some meters:
Sekonic L-778 + L-358
Both are available on the used market, albeit the 778's don't come up very often anymore it seems.

cheers,
Dan

macandal
22-May-2013, 10:09
Mario... (NOT 758/758DR) ...
DanThanks Daniel. Very informative.

Now, a question, why do you emphasize "not 758/758dr"? Are those two not good meters or what?

macandal
22-May-2013, 10:10
Thanks Dave and JeRuFo as well.

Peter Lewin
22-May-2013, 10:36
Just to be slightly contrarian, there are advantages to having two meters, most obviously back-up if one breaks. I also have a suspicion that to make a "do everything" meter, one must make compromises over a more specifically designed one. But hypotheticals aside, my approach is to have two. I have a simple Sekonic L-308 meter for both incident and flash readings (but no spot attachments that I know of). Very small, convenient to use, they run $233 new at most of the big-name dealers, quite a bit less on eBay if you trust "direct from the Far East." I also have a Pentax Digital 1-degree spot meter, actually the original ZoneVI modified one that I've used for something like 30+ years. The Pentax is my "go-to" large format meter, the Sekonic is for flash, or when I can meter just as well with incident light as with the spot meter. I always carry both, "just in case." The Pentax pops up periodically in this forum's "For Sale" threads. I would probably recommend the Sekonic first, since they are easier to find, and cover all of your needs (you can do zone system with them, many of us simply find a spot meter easier, but the original zone system books were all based on incident meters.) The Pentax would come when you have the money, and the luck to find one first in the "for sale" threads.

macandal
22-May-2013, 11:21
Just to be slightly contrarian, there are advantages to having two meters, most obviously back-up if one breaks. I also have a suspicion that to make a "do everything" meter, one must make compromises over a more specifically designed one. But hypotheticals aside, my approach is to have two. I have a simple Sekonic L-308 meter for both incident and flash readings (but no spot attachments that I know of). Very small, convenient to use, they run $233 new at most of the big-name dealers, quite a bit less on eBay if you trust "direct from the Far East." I also have a Pentax Digital 1-degree spot meter, actually the original ZoneVI modified one that I've used for something like 30+ years. The Pentax is my "go-to" large format meter, the Sekonic is for flash, or when I can meter just as well with incident light as with the spot meter. I always carry both, "just in case." The Pentax pops up periodically in this forum's "For Sale" threads. I would probably recommend the Sekonic first, since they are easier to find, and cover all of your needs (you can do zone system with them, many of us simply find a spot meter easier, but the original zone system books were all based on incident meters.) The Pentax would come when you have the money, and the luck to find one first in the "for sale" threads.Peter, I understand about having two meters and using one as a backup. I have a Gossen Luna Pro that I intend to keep. So far, this has been my meter, but I do intend to work in the studio using the strobes, so you understand why I need a flash meter as well. However, I do want this new meter I'm getting to be able to "do it all."

Thanks.

Laurent
22-May-2013, 11:56
I just gave up on my spotmeter (Capital/Soligor) and Lunasix to use a Sekonic 408, and might even sell the tiny L208, as the 408 does it all, including flash, and uses an AA cell. I had it for a few months an could not be happier.

Leigh
22-May-2013, 13:49
Sekonic makes an all-in-one exposure meter (flash, ambient, reflected, incident and spot), the L-758, in a few variants. Previous models that do (mostly) the same stuff are the L-608 and L-508 and there might have been an L-558 as well, which you should be able to find used.I have a Sekonic L-558. It's an extremely good and versatile meter.

It does every kind of metering you might want, including ambient, reflected, flash, and mixed (ratio).
It can integrate flash & ambient.
It has both a broad view sensor and a 1 spot meter.

- Leigh

Daniel Stone
22-May-2013, 14:03
Thanks Daniel. Very informative.

Now, a question, why do you emphasize "not 758/758dr"? Are those two not good meters or what?

Absolutely not, they're great "all in one" meters. I've never owned one, but have operated them a lot on jobs. Frankly, they're over-complicated IMO. TO ME, a meter should be simple. Yes, "averaging" capability might come in handy to some, but to be quite frank; I DO NOT WANT "AVERAGE". I get my meters re-calibrated 1x/yr(some do it 2-3x/yr, but I've found mine doesn't drift with 1x/yr servicing), and since I use both meters as a work-related tool, I can write off the small expense of the re-cal's on each(well, the 358 since I don't currently have a 778, I'm looking for one though :)).

The 758/758DR are nice though, if you want an "all in one". Be 'warned' though, they have a lot of stuff built-in that 95% of people NEVER use.
And if I want a spot meter, I feel the readings from my (former) Pentax Digital's and the 778 were more accurate than the ones from the newer "all in one"(558/558R/758/758DR) combo meters.

Just my experience on the matter.

-Dan

macandal
22-May-2013, 14:14
I got a sekonic 558 about six months ago that I'm very happy with. It's easy to use and so far very reliable. It probably does all the stuff you want. It is an older model, but still reasonably easy to find. Probably goes for about $200-250.The price you quote, $200-$250, is this for a used one or new?

Also, what's the difference between the 558 and the 558R? And how do these two meters stack up against the 358? Just trying to come to a final decision now that I know that I don't need the 758DR.

Thanks.

Leigh
22-May-2013, 14:19
The price you quote, $200-$250, is this for a used one or new?
Also, what's the difference between the 558 and the 558R?
The L-558 went out of production a few years ago, when the over-priced 758 was introduced as its replacement.
You can find the L-558 on the used market, but probably not new.

The 558 (and the 358) have the ability to trigger a PocketWizard II radio remote. This requires an internal module.
The module was sold as a separate accessory for the 358 and 558.
It's included with the 558R (at I believe a higher price when originally sold as new).

Note that the radio trigger module is unique to the country/area in which it's used, different for the USA and EU for example.
If you're using one here in the US, make sure it has an FCC identification sticker, meaning it will work with US remotes.
The EU version won't work with US remotes because it uses the wrong frequency.

- Leigh

JeRuFo
22-May-2013, 15:15
Yes, you can only get the 558 used. I got mine for about $250, but I had little patience in finding a better deal.

The 358 doesn't have a spot meter. See http://www.sekonic.com/products/l-358/overview.aspx
The 758 is a sort of updated 558 I believe.

I use average metering quite a lot. If you put that in you can use the spotmeter to see the deviation in the finder in f-stops. Even though the average is usually wrong, I find it easier to add or subtract one or several stops and don't have to think in shutter speeds. I make a rough average of a highlight a shadow and a few midtones first and place my zones while looking through the spotmeter and metering more precisely. This way it is easier to mentally remember all the tones.

Daniel Stone
22-May-2013, 15:27
The 358 doesn't have a spot meter. See http://www.sekonic.com/products/l-358/overview.aspx


Yes, the L-358 isn't a "spot meter, but it has spot "accoutrements" :p

1 degree:
http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/232358-REG/Sekonic_401_361_1_Degree_Viewfinder.html

5 degree:
http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/232359-REG/Sekonic_401_362_5_Degree_Viewfinder.html

10degree:
http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/232360-REG/Sekonic_401_363_10_Degree_Viewfinder.html

there have been many who have expressed a distaste for the attachments, but its an option if you want it.

-Dan

JeRuFo
22-May-2013, 15:34
I stand corrected.
Still, probably an expensive and cumbersome route to take if you know up front you want a meter that has both.

Leigh
22-May-2013, 15:37
I don't like the supposed "spot" metering attachments for ambient meters (any brand/model).

That's why I sold my L-358 and bought an L-558.

- Leigh

Joseph Dickerson
22-May-2013, 16:07
Mario,

I 2nd the recommendation of Sekonic's offerings for meters.
Personally, I use the L-358, and also have the pocketwizard module so I can wirelessly trigger strobes using PW's.
You make mention about the "Zone System". Traditionally this is done with a SPOT METER. Usually a 5degree or less(1degree is preferred by many) is ideal. I have owned a few separate meters over the past few years, and in all honesty, the ones I enjoyed the most were the following:

Minolta IVf
(f= ability to take flash readings, albeit no pocketwizard module, so manual triggering or via a PC cord connected to the meter)
this meter takes AA battery(ies), very convenient and cheap compared to the cost of CR-123's on average.
Sekonic L-358
This is the meter I use primarily now. It is a very capable meter, and Sekonic makes some accessory attachments for it, including a few SPOT meter ones to use in lieu of the ambient white dome. I use this for both work(I'm a photo assistant here in LA) and for personal work(even with a view camera), and its delivered very consistent results in the time that I've owned it.
Pentax Digital Spot
Great meter, very accurate if calibrated correctly(as is the case with ANY meter, many neglect having their equipment calibrated correctly on a consistent, regular basis!). AMBIENT ONLY, NO FLASH METERING CAPABILITY. This limited its usefulness to me in some cases, where I NEEDED the ability to meter flash, in spot mode. For ambient, non-flash use, it would be my #1 choice.
Sekonic L-778
(NOT 758/758DR)
This is one of those "got it all, almost" meters. It is a spot meter, but has a hotshoe, so if you use pocketwizards, you can just pop the PW in the hot shoe and meter away :)! I had one, and sold it, but I plan on buying another. Its BIG, but it takes AA batteries, and is a nice compliment to the L-358.

My two picks if I was getting some meters:
Sekonic L-778 + L-358
Both are available on the used market, albeit the 778's don't come up very often anymore it seems.

cheers,
Dan

In addition to what Dan has said about the L-778, it was discontinued some time ago, it reads ambient and flash, and can be "set up" to make the zone system super simple. It doesn't do incident readings so for flash you'll likely want to read off a gray card but that's no biggie, and I love it for zone system use. Even more than the Pentax digital (watch me get flamed for that :p)

Down load the manual from Sekonic's web site and read up on using it with the zone system I think you'll be impressed.

The only draw back is it's size, although it's no larger than many of the multi-use meters with a spot attachment.

Big advantage, AA batteries.

JD

Alan Gales
22-May-2013, 16:17
I use a Pentax digital spotmeter and a Minolta Flash Meter lV.

I have never used one but the Sekonic L-558 earlier recommended sure looks intriguing.

Otto Seaman
22-May-2013, 16:19
I find Sekonics and the other feature-burdened meters too damn complex, I would never have another one.

A simple Minolta Autometer IVF or it's modern Kenko clone is all you really need. They are rugged and use AA batteries, great all-around general purpose meters.

As for a spot meter, most people love the old Pentax Digital Spot because it is similarly very simple and reliable.

Don't forget that most digital cameras have excellent metering systems onboard, and with a little experience matching real-world situations you can make them work for you just as well, even if the purists get their panties twisted at the notion.

welly
22-May-2013, 17:55
I've got a Sekonic 758 and it's a amazingly featured light meter... of which I use very little of its functionality.

I don't use:

- Digital Photography: Boundless Possibilities
- Determining the Dynamic Range of your camera.
- Entering Data
- Programming Meter
- Flash Light Metering
- Built-in Radio Flash Triggering
- Flash Analyzing Function

I do use:

- Reflected Light Spot Metering
- Incident Light Metering

Would I buy another one of these? No. It's brilliant but for me, it's too much (both feature-wise and looking back, financially). Would I get rid of it? No. I'm used to it now and can use it pretty quickly. Given what I know now (which isn't that much more than before), I'd have got a Pentax digital spot meter. Good enough for Sir Ansel and many of the top photographers on this forum, good enough for me.

And I've got a Gossen Digi-six as backup.

Sean Chilibeck
23-May-2013, 08:26
I haven't seen it on here yet, but I use the Polaris Dual 5 (http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/247140-REG/Shepherd_Polaris_SPD500_Polaris_Dual_5_Flash.html). It isn't the 1% spot meter, but I find that the 5% does just fine for me. It's light weight and small, I think at least half the size of the L-758 which is important for me because I do a lot of backpacking.

I can get my 3-4 spots quickly and just do some mental math to figure out what my exposure should be. Long exposures I just meter up to a minute then extrapolate from there and use the reciprocity curves to adjust. Nice thing is that it is quite cheep and has everything I need, and not much I don't, I got it used for under $100 if I remember correctly.

macandal
3-Aug-2013, 13:30
That's it! I've had it! I've been bidding on an L-558R on eBay and I keep losing. Today I went as high as bidding $300 and I lost! I am now including in my search the L-558, the one without the PW attachment because as long as I can fire the strobes with a cord, I'm fine with that. I have two questions for you:

1. What's the most you would pay for an L-558R? L-558?
2. What other option do I have for a meter since the L-558/R is proving so elusive? One of the 758 or 778?

My requirements remain the same, I'm looking for that meter that "does it all" and that has a 1 degree spot meter.

FYI, KEH has a 558R rated excellent for $380? Is that too much to pay for one of these or is it okay? eBay has an L-558 listed as Buy it Now for $418. In the box but opened. I need a spot meter.

Thanks.

Leigh
3-Aug-2013, 13:38
You can buy the PW transmitter block and install it in the L-558. That's what I did with one of mine.

There are different versions used in different areas of the world. That's why it's not a built-in function.

- Leigh

macandal
4-Aug-2013, 14:29
So, how about my questions? Do you think the meters KEH and eBay are selling are too expensive? How about my other two questions? Thanks.

Bill Burk
4-Aug-2013, 19:48
Mario, I've had four spotmeters.

Analog Soligor, which at the store had been demo'd so much that the trigger was worn beyond belief.

Pentax Spotmeter V which is what I wanted anyway. But since it weighs a pound, I had to replace it for backpacking.

SEI Photometer, which I just had to buy because I was so intrigued by the concept. Such an amazing backwards technology like Steampunk.

And the L-758DR.

Of the batch, the only one I wouldn't do again was the Soligor Analog. Though I hear their Digital meter is great.

macandal
5-Aug-2013, 08:20
Mario, I've had four spotmeters.

[....]Thanks Bill. Do you know enough about the L-558/R meters to know what's the most you would pay for one of those? Is the price charged for KEH way too much?

Thanks.

Leigh
5-Aug-2013, 08:55
I paid $325 for an L-558R in BGN condition from KEH. I could not find a flaw or issue of any kind with the meter.

It came with the case, strap, and lens cap.

- Leigh

macandal
5-Aug-2013, 08:56
I paid $325 for an L-558R in BGN condition from KEH. I could not find a flaw or issue of any kind with the meter.

- LeighThanks Leigh. How long ago was that?

Leigh
5-Aug-2013, 08:58
Thanks Leigh. How long ago was that?
14 months ago.

- Leigh

macandal
5-Aug-2013, 09:02
14 months ago.

- LeighThanks.

Someone retracted his bid on a meter I lost on eBay. The seller is still waiting to hear from the winner. If the winner doesn't come through I'll buy that one. If not, I'll go the KEH route. I can't wait any longer. Went out shooting yesterday but it was so frustrating to do so without a spot meter.

Thanks.

macandal
6-Aug-2013, 09:53
Unfreaking-believable!! I lost once again. This time I decided I was going to go all out in order to win the meter, so I bid $300 for it. The meter was sold for $330. Suddenly, that "deal" at KEH for $300+ doesn't sound that bad.

How frustrating.

:(

Leigh
6-Aug-2013, 10:02
If you place a bid on the bay more than 5 seconds before the auction ends, you're throwing your money away.

I prefer to snipe at 2 seconds. Won over 2,000 auctions, and never lost one.

- Leigh

macandal
6-Aug-2013, 10:13
If you place a bid on the bay more than 5 seconds before the auction ends, you're throwing your money away.

I prefer to snipe at 2 seconds. Won over 2,000 auctions, and never lost one.

- LeighI'm through, Leigh. I'm buying from a regular store/person. No more auction sites.

I used snipe once or twice. That's a paid service, right? I didn't pay when I used it.

amoebahyda
24-Aug-2013, 23:54
If you want through the lens meter, then Horseman 45 meter for average reading but cannot handle strobe, Sinar booster together with Minolta IV meter for spot reading including strobe and Sinar Expolux for spot/zone reading ...

Horseman 45 meter
100837

Sinar booster
100838

Sinar Expolux
100839

Drew Bedo
25-Aug-2013, 06:28
I have been very happy with my (now OLD) Minolta Autometer IV F. There is a 9 deg spot attachment for it and it hasen't let me down since I bought it new in the early 19910s. It now hase a companion Booster-1 Probe that plugs into it and allows focal plane spott etering. this meter is the only piece of my current shooting kit that was bought new at retail.

Shopped around for a sew meter from time-to-time, but they all seem to have a bewildering pile of complex options, and are bulkier and heavier—and cost enough o buy film for a year. Afterall, It's not about the grar, LF is about the images we make.

So, I still have my old Minolta—but Mario, go for it. Buy a new meter and learn how to make it do what you want.

Thats right . . .NEW. This is an instrument that you will use to make critical decisions about photography for years to come. Sure there are deals to be had out there, but with all the anxiety, uncertanty and potential drama I ask, "Is the juice really worth the squeeze?"