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psychoanalyst
25-Sep-2011, 21:30
Hello All,

I am a recent entrant to the wonderful world of LF. I went out for my second outing today (with Fomapan 100).

I have been using my Nikon D300 as a pseudo spot-meter, but it is extremely frustrating to use in the field.

I wonder if you could recommend a decent starter light meter (cheaper the better of course, but if this is a one time investment that will serve me for a long time, I will think about spending the money).

Is a spot meter absolutely essential (I am learning the Zone System and would like to implement it) or can I make do with ordinary meters like the Sekonic L-358?

I would appreciate your advice.

Thanks!

Avi

cyrus
25-Sep-2011, 22:07
Depends by what you mean by "Zone system" - to some is merely means "expose for shadows develop for highlights" in which case any handheld incident light meter will work. If you want to get into flash photography etc you may want a fancier one. But if you want to do the FULL Zone system then you'll need a 1 degree spotmeter like the L-578 and they're not cheap. However, note that implementing the full zone system requires meticulous testing and calibrating of your equipment and process. Many LF photographers use just an incident light meter and do just fine. In fact over time they can eyeball an exposure, with experience. Most don't use more than 2-4 settings anyway.

Darin Boville
25-Sep-2011, 23:06
The standard choice in spot meters in LF is probably still the Pentax Digital Spot. On the used market for about $300 in excellent condition. With the Zone System you can add (or buy pre-made) a little sticker marking the zones on the dial.

In the end the meter is very easy to use without any clutter. There are more advanced meters and some people swear by them. I've tried a few and find them bewildering and/or the extra features of little value in my work.

For a film/scanning hybrid workflow I don't think you need the extreme level of control practiced by hard core Zone System enthusiasts. Plus you'll probably get more shadow detail than you expect when scanning, compared too what it says in the film-based texts. So it pays to know what process you plan to use and how much technical overhead you want or need.

--Darin

banjo
25-Sep-2011, 23:08
they say that the ZONE VI Pentax is the best!!$$$$$
I use a Gossen luna-pro F with gossen spot meter attachument it make it in to a
Variable angle spot meter with a 7.5* or a 15*
or Sekonic L508 or up to the L778 but that $$$$$$

Richard Mahoney
26-Sep-2011, 02:47
I wonder if you could recommend a decent starter light meter (cheaper the better of course, but if this is a one time investment that will serve me for a long time, I will think about spending the money).

Avi, I'm very fond of my Gossen - MasterSix. It's incident and reflective and modular, with all kinds of attachments, including various spotmeters, including film plane, if you think you need one. Although I initially thought my F4 was good enough, once I'd used the MasterSix for half an hour there was no going back. I've seen them for sale at KEH, including some attachments, for next to nothing.


Kind regards,

Richard

chassis
26-Sep-2011, 04:28
I also am new to LF. I found a Sekonic L-758DR on craigslist and got it for a reasonable price, in like new condition. It has both spot and incident capabilities. It has been a good tool in the short time I have had it.

Mark Barendt
26-Sep-2011, 05:00
I have been using my Nikon D300 as a pseudo spot-meter, but it is extremely frustrating to use in the field.


The frustrations of reflective metering don't disappear just because you get better tools.


Is a spot meter absolutely essential (I am learning the Zone System and would like to implement it) or can I make do with ordinary meters like the Sekonic L-358?


Not essential, IMO. Meters simply provide a reference point

The L-358 is a great meter.

psychoanalyst
26-Sep-2011, 05:06
All,

Thanks for your recommendations so far. I should have made my workflow clear.

I don't print and I simply scan my sheets after development, although I would like to have the option of printing the odd sheet if I really like it.

I don't think I need (at least right now) the extreme level of control over the Zone System.

Thanks.

Avi

psychoanalyst
26-Sep-2011, 05:26
Avi, I'm very fond of my Gossen - MasterSix. It's incident and reflective and modular, with all kinds of attachments, including various spotmeters, including film plane, if you think you need one. Although I initially thought my F4 was good enough, once I'd used the MasterSix for half an hour there was no going back. I've seen them for sale at KEH, including some attachments, for next to nothing.
Kind regards,
Richard

Richard, that seems like a good option. But can't seem to be find it anywhere right now. Thanks for pointing that out.


Depends by what you mean by "Zone system" - to some is merely means "expose for shadows develop for highlights" in which case any handheld incident light meter will work. If you want to get into flash photography etc you may want a fancier one. But if you want to do the FULL Zone system then you'll need a 1 degree spotmeter like the L-578 and they're not cheap. However, note that implementing the full zone system requires meticulous testing and calibrating of your equipment and process. Many LF photographers use just an incident light meter and do just fine. In fact over time they can eyeball an exposure, with experience. Most don't use more than 2-4 settings anyway.

Cyrus.....you are right. I don't intend to become a meticulous Zone system shooter. So, thanks for the great advice. I believe a standard incident meter will be good enough for me.


For a film/scanning hybrid workflow I don't think you need the extreme level of control practiced by hard core Zone System enthusiasts. Plus you'll probably get more shadow detail than you expect when scanning, compared too what it says in the film-based texts. So it pays to know what process you plan to use and how much technical overhead you want or need.

--Darin

Darin.....I think as you pointed out, I will be more than happy with the film/scanning hybrid workflow. Though I would like to print the odd good shot in between.

Thanks once again.

Avi

Marc B.
26-Sep-2011, 05:47
I am a multi-format shooter.
I too, wanted a 1 degree, digital spot meter, but the price was too high; as noted $300.00 or more, used.

I went a different route.
Found an excellent condition Pentax V(5), analog, 1 degree spot meter, used for $100.00.
Then I also acquired a Gossen Luna Pro, digital flash meter, used for $100.00, for checking/popping my flash exposures.

I use the Gossen almost exclusively indoors for flash photography, and the Pentax spot mostly outdoors for landscapes.

It may seem that having two separate meters means carrying an extra piece of equipment around, but the Gossen is very small. I now have [two] quality light meters that I can compare against each other, and/or should one meter fail, I have another in reserve, and I saved $100.00 bucks (or more), compared to the price of [one] digital spot meter.

The Gossen takes common AAA batteries. My Pentax V, is a more recent model that takes modern available 1.5 volt, button cell batteries. Some older models of the Pentax V, take the now defunct, 1.3 volt, Mercury batteries.
Avoid those models.

The Gossen is very easy to use, (a very short learning curve) compared with other digital flash meters on the market, (darn near idiot-proof) which, works well for me.

Marc

AnselAdamsX
26-Sep-2011, 06:43
I have the L-358. You can get a spot meter attachment for it as well. I have it but tend to rely on just incident most of the time.

Chris

Ari
26-Sep-2011, 07:19
I like incident as well, and I've had the same Minolta IVf for almost 15 years.
Simple and reliable; these days it will set you back anywhere from $100-$200 if the spot attachment is included.

BrianShaw
26-Sep-2011, 09:39
Some older models of the Pentax V, take the now defunct, 1.3 volt, Mercury batteries.

Marc, I too am an avid Luna Pro user (despite having a Sekonic L-558). Please note that the older Luna Pros also used the 1.3v mercury battery but that is easily overcome with a battery converter. I think the Gossen version costs about $40, which I feel negates the need to avoid and is well worth the price.

John Koehrer
26-Sep-2011, 16:47
Currently using a Gossen Digi-flash. it has an analog display that I like. it does OK but it's a little on the small side. previously a Sekonic 308s(s?) digital display, compact. Buyers regret?

Lachlan 717
26-Sep-2011, 17:00
You can get spot metering apps for a couple of $$ if you have an iPhone.

banjo
26-Sep-2011, 17:16
like some of us have said Gossen are good & used on ebay are not to bad price
I just buynow on a Gossen Luna-Lux $35. + S&H & it uses a 9v battery
there is a Gossen Luna Six F buynow $109. 9v battery
Gossen Luna Pro F buynow from $65. to $ 150. 9v battery

Bill_1856
26-Sep-2011, 18:40
I find it very difficult to beat the WESTON MASTER meter. They go for under $20. Be sure to get a model 3 or later (earlier models didn't use ASA/ISO settings).

jeroldharter
26-Sep-2011, 19:36
Currently using a Gossen Digi-flash. it has an analog display that I like. it does OK but it's a little on the small side. previously a Sekonic 308s(s?) digital display, compact. Buyers regret?

These are great meters. They are inexpensive, available new, almost weightless, tiny enough to fit in a shirt pocket easily, ultra-simple, and give digital EV readings. Also it takes inexpensive button batteries. I tape a spare to the back of the meter just in case.

I use it for BTZS incident metering and it works very well. It has mostly replaced my Sekonic spot meter.

If you use strobes for portraits, it has a flash meter function too.

Ivan J. Eberle
26-Sep-2011, 19:37
Ari, if you can't get the excellent spot meter in a modern Nikon to work for you, you're just chasing magic bullets to buy a dedicated spot meter that might cost hundreds of dollars and yet not be as accurate. Arguably, your D300 with it's 1003 pixel RGB metering array is subject to fewer color temperature-based metering errors than just about anything that's ever been made available as a standalone handheld meter. (There's a whole and rather long thread here somewhere about all this, if you're so inclined to search for it.)

Incidentally, while I appreciate using a spot meter in tricky light with transparency films or digital sensors, I could probably do the remainder of my life's LF work with the old c.1948 selenium cell GE DW-48 that came bundled with my first 4x5. 60 years old and battery free and it still agrees with all my Nikon and Pentax cameras with built in meters. I'm shooting color negative film for the most part nowadays and it's quite accurate enough for that, or for B&W film. Of course, I've been in photography more than 30 years and could also probably guess close enough with Sunny 16 for print film from sun-up to sun-down, too, with anything but transparency film.

psychoanalyst
26-Sep-2011, 20:29
Ari, if you can't get the excellent spot meter in a modern Nikon to work for you, you're just chasing magic bullets to buy a dedicated spot meter that might cost hundreds of dollars and yet not be as accurate.

Of course, I've been in photography more than 30 years and could also probably guess close enough with Sunny 16 for print film from sun-up to sun-down, too, with anything but transparency film.

Ivan, I should have been clearer. I did not mean to imply that my meter readings were off... I was really referring to the convenience factor.

But I hear you....I think I am going to start with an el-cheapo meter to get the hang of the process and then decide which route I want to take.

Thanks.

Avi

jayabbas
26-Sep-2011, 20:29
I wuv my Luna- Pro SBC, just not quite as much as my wifey!

Michael Nagl
27-Sep-2011, 05:36
I chose the Kenko KFM-2100. Unlike other meters that combine incident and spot metering, it shows the EVs in the finder. I liked that. Quality is the same as a Minolta meter. Not so cheap, though.

yuexiachou29
31-May-2012, 17:12
I also am new to LF. I found a Sekonic L-758DR on craigslist and got it for a reasonable price, in like new condition. It has both spot and incident capabilities. It has been a good tool in the short time I have had it.

What's the price range you would consider it as "reasonable"?
Thank you!

BrianShaw
1-Jun-2012, 07:00
"Reasonable" is what it is worth to the buyer. A lot of people shy away from the "top end" Sekonic models because of hte price. So did I, but hten I bought one. It is a high-tech solution to metering... not that anything it does couldn't be done some other way but the price paid is to buy convenience.

chopsteeks
1-Jun-2012, 09:39
I use battery less Sekonic L398A. Has not failed me yet....

E. von Hoegh
1-Jun-2012, 10:46
I use battery less Sekonic L398A. Has not failed me yet....

That's a great meter. I keep an old Weston Master II around with the Invercone for all my incident readings. I have a NIB spare just in case. My main meter is an old Lunasix, the pre Lunasix 3 version.

TheDeardorffGuy
1-Jun-2012, 10:54
I have 4 Meters. A pentax analog Spot meter , a Soligor Digital Spot, A Weston Master III and a Sekonic L398A. The weston is fine but old and still works. The L388A Gets the most use. I keep them Calibrated to each other. The Pentax and Soligor use batteries that must be removed when not in use.

RichardSperry
1-Jun-2012, 11:54
The Sekonic 558.
Spotmeter.
Incident flash meter(the Minolta F is reflected flash).
Ambient meter.
Has a power wizard transmitter in it if you ever need that(508 if you don't).
Smaller than carrying an SLR around as a meter.
About $300 used mint. The 508 is about a hundred less than that used mint. So about 200 less than the 758 used, 300 less than new price.

RichardSperry
1-Jun-2012, 12:10
"Reasonable" is what it is worth to the buyer.

Perhaps.

I think that mindset was perfectly fine before eBay and craiglslist. I had it then too.

My view is different now. What something can be sold for again to another buyer enters into what I am willing to pay for something. Before I knew there was an effective used market, I never considered buying used stuff(at that time your view made sense to me).

Reasonably priced used means that I can easily sell it again for close to what I paid for it. EI that there is a reasonably good chance that there are other buyers who believe the price is reasonable. It is a three party belief now, no longer a two party matter.

And almost all of those potential buyers have this mindset, not yours, which needs to be taken into consideration of value, as well. Especially with the completed price data that EBay provides now.

BrianShaw
1-Jun-2012, 13:33
... so how does any of that change what I said?

If I price X at $Y and you don't think the price is reasonable, then you won't buy. if someone else think it reasonable they will buy. I don't care who buys stuff I'm selling. It doesn't matter to me as a seller how you determine what your viewpoint and value of a resonable price. Nor does it matter to another buyer who has a different viewpoint or value.

But you are right if you are saying that you determine "reasonable" based on your criteria and someone else determines "resaonable" based on their criteria. Neither needs to justify tehir criteria nor do they need to negotiate a joint opinion.

The completed prices at eBay are ignorant about the mindset of the buyer... it is just a statement of how much someone chose to spend on a specific item at a specific time. Value is all about "comps", and that is what ebay completed sales contributes to the value-determination.

RichardSperry
1-Jun-2012, 14:05
It doesn't change what you said. What you wrote was true, but incomplete.

There's more to it.

Just like when people say, "It's worth what someone is willing to pay for it", is incomplete. Someone has to be willing to sell it at that price too. There is a seller value, in addition to the buyer value. Saying that the buyer value is the only value is valueless(if something does not sell does that mean it has no value?). Before something sells a "joint opinion" must be formed.

As a buyer, which makes me included in your statement, the value of something is also determined by what I can sell it for. Not just what I have to pay for it. Your statement alone has little value to me as a reader or buyer.

"The completed prices at eBay are ignorant about the mindset of the buyer"

What I meant here is that you can post your Sekonic 758DR for sale at $1000(like there are), and completed listings show that they can sell for $300 mint(rare deal), you can predict that it will not sell at $1000. You say that you don't care about what a potential buyer is thinking, I do as a seller. In this case if I were the seller of the $1000 758, I could predict with certainty that all potential buyers think I'm an idiot. And the meter will not sell.

BrianShaw
1-Jun-2012, 14:28
Huh?

BrianShaw
1-Jun-2012, 14:37
... perhaps my comment in post 24 should have been, "If you have to ask then you can't afford it". ;)

RichardSperry
1-Jun-2012, 14:41
Huh?

Nm

The 758 is $635 new. They sell used mint between $300 and $500. Most in the 450+ range.

If you can get one closer to the $300 side, it's a good deal. If you use it and don't like it you can sell it for 450, that's reasonable to me.

RichardSperry
1-Jun-2012, 14:44
... perhaps my comment in post 24 should have been, "If you have to ask then you can't afford it". ;)

That quote is about a yacht, coined by an elitist snobbish @hole.

Not meters you can buy on EBay for 400 bucks.

BrianShaw
1-Jun-2012, 14:47
No, I use it when referring to cars too... and real estate... and women.

Y'know Richard... I can respect your opinion but really don't have the energy to go down a rabbit hole with you.

Good day.

Leigh
1-Jun-2012, 19:35
Another vote for the Sekonic L-558.
It's a great meter, with incident and 1 spot readings of ambient, flash, and combinations thereof.

It's less expensive than the L-758, and will do everything anyone would need in the way of exposure determination.

The RT-32 transmitter (to trigger PW+II slaves) was an option on the original L-558, but is factory-installed in the L-558R.
(The RT-32 can also be installed in the L-358 meter.)

- Leigh

RichardSperry
1-Jun-2012, 21:27
No, I use it when referring to cars too... and real estate... and women.

I was referring to JP Morgan. Who is credited with popularizing the phrase, regarding yachts or yachting.

I was not referring to you. I doubt he originated the quote himself, as most memorable quotes often originate previously to those we remember stating them 'first'.

JP Morgan was an elitist snobbish condescending @hole, just for clarification of my point.

neil poulsen
3-Jun-2012, 11:43
If one is using the zone system for black and white photography, they need to be able to separately meter individual areas of the scene. An incident meter simply will not do that.

Whether one needs a spot meter depends on how distant these points of interest are from the camera. (Or, how high!) Having a spot meter gives one the best chance of being able to do this kind of individual area metering.

With that said, it can be possible to substitute a meter reading of an area within reach that appears to have the same reflective value as a point of interest that might be out of reach. But, this can be error prone.

Kodachrome25
3-Jun-2012, 19:21
Neil, shoot for 20+ years professionally and you can see the zones sans meter with ease...

I have a Minolta spot, Sekonic L358, IR converted Minolta IIIF and a Gossen Digisix. I use the tiny Gossen by far the most, even for large format. The EV readings across a large dial make extrapolating for 6 and 10 stop ND filters a breeze and it fits in any pocket, battery last a long time, it is by far my favorite meter. I had the Digi-flash too, but it sucked down batteries at 10X the rate of the non-flash version.

E. von Hoegh
4-Jun-2012, 06:48
Perhaps.

I think that mindset was perfectly fine before eBay and craiglslist. I had it then too.

My view is different now. What something can be sold for again to another buyer enters into what I am willing to pay for something. Before I knew there was an effective used market, I never considered buying used stuff(at that time your view made sense to me).

Reasonably priced used means that I can easily sell it again for close to what I paid for it. EI that there is a reasonably good chance that there are other buyers who believe the price is reasonable. It is a three party belief now, no longer a two party matter.

And almost all of those potential buyers have this mindset, not yours, which needs to be taken into consideration of value, as well. Especially with the completed price data that EBay provides now.

That matters only if you forsee the desire/need to resell it. Nor is it neccesary or desireable to pay more than fair market value. I puchased almost all of my gear used, back when the main markets were printed ads in Shutterbug and camera shows. It was not difficult to ascertain what the market value was, and there were many great deals to be had, especially at the end of a camera show.
Since that time I have sold precisely one item. I don't buy with an eye to resale, that is the outlook of a speculator, possibly a modern abberration.

RichardSperry
4-Jun-2012, 07:39
That matters only if you forsee the desire/need to resell it. Nor is it neccesary or I don't buy with an eye to resale, that is the outlook of a speculator, possibly a modern abberration.

How would I know what I like until after I use it? I foresee selling anything I buy now. People have always factored in resale value into car, boat, or home purchases. I just do it for camera stuff, who wouldn't?

Without a viable resale market, I would not have the confidence to buy used stuff in the first place. And the price of new, what new is left, is prohibitive to me. It's not really speculation. Almost all film stuff now is used, and since we are quoting quotes in this thread, the one I always believed was, "When you buy used, you're buying someone else's problems".

I've been through 4 meters before settling on the L558R, as the Goldilocks solution for me. It's been out of production for years(a decade?). And the price of the 758DR, it's replacement, is $635. There is just no way I can justify spending that kind of money on a single purpose item. It's an affective block for me, a decent DSLR with lens, and kit, with a meter far superior to the 758 included, can be bought for that amount(and used just for the metering function alone).

If I were a pro, or if someone else were footing the bill, then sure I would invest in it. This is a hobby for me, and there is just not justification I can find to pay that. That said, if and when my print sales ever, hypothertically, ever do get to the point to justify buying a $635 meter, if the 558 is still working I would not; it does everything I need or conceivably would need. If there was one to come on the market for that price that did out of the box IR readings and read to -5EV, that would be different.

It's not an abberation, it is the result of a modern efficient viable resale market, most notably EBay and Craigslist. If I had to rely on retailers(consignment), pawn shops, garage sales, ie the 'old' way to sell used items, this would not exist for me. I would not be in film at all, honestly.

Old-N-Feeble
4-Jun-2012, 07:46
FWIW: I bought my L758 a few years ago for about $450 shipped. I too am fairly careful with my purchases and try to never lose much money but I also value my time so, provided I have the disposable cash, I won't hesitate to buy something at a reasonable price if I really want it and if it will take a lot of time to find another one like it.

E. von Hoegh
4-Jun-2012, 07:57
How would I know what I like until after I use it?

By doing research, borrowing one to try if possible, and most of all knowing what one needs in the first place. I've been using the same two exposure meters for going on three decades. Not the same models, the same meters. They do exactly what I need them to do. The Lunasix was an upgrade from the selenium meter an uncle gave me when I was 12; I wanted low light metering capability. The Weston Master II I use mostly for incident readings was an upgrade from the first 1930s vintage Weston (which is still functional) which doesn't accept an Invercone. I had a spotmeter once and traded it off because I don't really need one.

Now, it is often impossible to actually see and handle an item before one purchases it. Not many folks are using film, and fewer still use large format equipment, so borrowing one is often out of the question as well.

$635 for a meter? Eeek! Insanity. That's a nice used 4x5 outfit, and maybe some left over for film.

BrianShaw
4-Jun-2012, 08:01
By doing research, borrowing one to try if possible, and most of all knowing what one needs in the first place.

My experiene ahs been that THIS is the modern abberration - some folks just don't want to do this anymore... and they want to do the trial-and-error methodolology at no cost to them. I totally agree with minimizing wasted effort/money so I do the research and soul-searching before buying.

E. von Hoegh
4-Jun-2012, 08:07
My experiene ahs been that THIS is the modern abberration - some folks just don't want to do this anymore... and they want to do the trial-and-error methodolology at no cost to them. I totally agree with minimizing wasted effort/money so I do the research and soul-searching before buying.

Yes, I think the "knowing what one needs" part is the hardest for a beginner. And many others...

RichardSperry
4-Jun-2012, 08:57
By doing research, borrowing one to try if possible, and most of all knowing what one needs in the first place.

Years ago I bought the Simmon book.
I knew I wanted an LF camera after that research.
I bought a Toyo 45G. I wanted all of the movements, right, that's what I needed.
Too heavy, too big. Never took it out to shoot.
Sold it.

Bought a Toyo 45CX, it's smaller than the G.
Still too bulky, too big, and it's too unstable.
Sold that too.

Bought a Toyo Field 45AII.
Just right(so far).
I didn't know I really don't need the rear rise until I used it.
It's small, fits in a small Lowepro bag. Heavy duty, stable and rigid.

I have never been to a camera show, don't know where they are. Camera stores are all closed.
I have zero friends who knew what LF was or is until after I show them mine, so borrowing is really out of the equation. But, I did not lose very much by buying or selling the rejects, so one could view that as a form of borrowing, I suppose.

The vast majority of all the film stuff ever made is out, and it's used. And it will float around from person to person to person, in a big huge recycling process, until it all degrades to unusability or depreciates to unsellability.

E. von Hoegh
4-Jun-2012, 09:07
Years ago I bought the Simmon book.
I knew I wanted an LF camera after that research.
I bought a Toyo 45G. I wanted all of the movements, right, that's what I needed.
Too heavy, too big. Never took it out to shoot.
Sold it.

Bought a Toyo 45CX, it's smaller than the G.
Still too bulky, too big, and it's too unstable.
Sold that too.

Bought a Toyo Field 45AII.
Just right(so far).
I didn't know I really don't need the rear rise until I used it.
It's small, fits in a small Lowepro bag. Heavy duty, stable and rigid.

I have never been to a camera show, don't know where they are.
I have zero friends who knew what LF was or is until after I show them mine, so borrowing is really out of the equation. But, I did not lose very much by buying or selling the rejects, so one could view that as a form of borrowing, I suppose.

The vast majority of all the film stuff ever made is out, and it's used. And it will float around from person to person to person, in a big huge recycling process, until it all degrades to unusability or depreciates to unsellability.

Years ago, late 1980s, I had an opportunity to buy a Linhof STIV factory matched 3 lens outfit, with many Linhof accessories. I had wanted to get into LF for a few years. I read up on the camera and bought it. Still have it. Still use it. A year after buying the Linhof, I wanted an 8x10. Did my research. Bought a very well used Deardorff V8, refinished it and added a baseplate. Still have it. Still use it. All but one of the lenses for the 8x10 were purchased used, in non-working shutters which I repaired. I've touched none of the shutters since, they still run reliably.

There's a big difference between getting what you think you need and getting what you need.