View Full Version : Film plane metering in the field - is it practical?

Richard Mahoney
7-Jun-2010, 17:09
A short while back someone kindly gave me an elderly Gossen MasterSix together with its 4x5 PROFI-select TTL attachment (roughly a SinarSix by another name). It's in good order and works splendidly so for difficult conditions I'd very much like to take it into the field -- currently I'm using an F4 for most of my spot metering. The weight and bulk of all the equipment doesn't really bother me as I generally work out of the back -- or on top ;) -- of a Land Rover. I've found, though, that the meter's darkslide is very awkward to use under a darkcloth. Possibly dropping the darkcloth and using binocs is the answer -- I'm using a Cambo Legend -- but I like the insurance that the cloth gives in minimising the effects of light leaks and so on. Does anyone have any experience of this problem ... and perhaps a solution?

Best regards,


Ben Syverson
7-Jun-2010, 19:12
Richard, are you shooting chrome? And is the MasterSix absolutely necessary in terms of the specific situations you want to shoot? I can definitely see how that kind of device would be useful, but can't personally imagine using it outside of a studio tabletop scenario.

If you can find a decent spotmeter that you trust, it will save you time, hassle and weight.

If you can shoot negative, you can even skip the spot meter in favor of a cheap incident meter.

David McNiven
8-Jun-2010, 09:11
You're right, it is a real pain if you use a darkcloth, so I use a reflex viewer. For me the main problem though is the "darkslide" which is needed with the Cambo and other backs. I use the ProfiSelect with a Sinar metering back and it's great. The probe is in front of the focus screen and the screen is in its correct position while metering, so with the binocular reflex viewer you can see exactly what you're metering and the image stays in focus.
I also have a Cambo Master for which I may one day make an adapter so that I can use a Sinar back with it, specifically so that I can use the Profiselect conveniently.
There is, though, a Cambo monocular reflex viewer which is smaller & lighter than the Sinar - and usually cheaper - so another option I've considered is to modify the Cambo back and also to make a much smaller, slimmer probe. The cell itself is tiny so the idea is that the new probe would swivel to the front centre of the screen in a similar manner to the old Mamiya chimney finder.
I expect you already know this but the MasterSix is still one of the best meters ever made, works perfectly well in incident mode, and attachments are available to cover just about any metering situation.

Clive Gray
8-Jun-2010, 10:02
I use metering probes the way David does with the binocular viewer on the Sinar back and use them all the time in the field personally I do not understand the reoccurring theme of use a spot meter why? with the metering probe you are spot metering and further more not having to even think about corrections for filters / extension etc.

The only caveat I would mention is that the plastic of the profi select probes is old and can be fragile you really need to look after them, I have stopped using my much and no use the later Booster one with a Minolta flash meter IV this has the advantage of a longer reach for 10X8 and the probe is metal and I have found far more robust (also has a narrower measuring area).

The advantage of the profi select is it's greater sensitivity.

Richard Mahoney
9-Jun-2010, 03:09
Ben -- I'm using Astia mostly and mostly with high contrast. I'm often finding myself shooting from the outside of buildings into the interior. The trouble is balancing what can be seen of the exterior with the darkness inside. It' inevitable that I'll have to thrown away detail at the extremes but metering on the film plane at least gives me a sense of control. I'm convinced that the MasterSix with its probe is really just the tool for this sort of work, its just finding the most convenient and least painful way of using it in the field. From what Clive and David have said binocs or a reflex viewer might just be what's needed. Thanks for your suggestions ...

Kind regards,


Glenn Goldapp
9-Jun-2010, 20:11
My 810 and 45 Sinars have metering backs. I have a Broncolor meter and probe and a pentax spot. I have come to use the pentax spot almost exclusively in the field because it has a better exposure range. I also find that using a spotmeter is faster - even when using filters. And almost as accurate.

Clive Gray
9-Jun-2010, 22:14
The Broncolor probe while superficially similar is only really intended for use with flash.