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Thread: First Meter advice

  1. #1

    Join Date
    Mar 2016
    Blowing Rock, NC, USA

    Question First Meter advice

    Hey everyone. My first post was here, asking if there was anything I was missing. Many chimed in suggesting a light meter, and I fully expected that, but I didn't expect how strongly it would be needed. I've read MANY posts and articles on different meters, but asking for personal opinion. Its also a little difficult to understand fully some of it as the only experience I have with a light meter is the in camera meter in my A99 and Minolta A9 as well as the MyLightMeter (Pro) app I just installed on my iPhone 6+.

    I was planning on using the iPhone meter (I've read its quite accurate and its something I use with me anyway for a timer and reciprocity failure data on 35mm. I plan to shoot 95% landscape type shots with my 4x5, and I know there will eventually be a need for a real light meter, but has anyone used this app for this purpose?

    Currently I have 3 spot meters I've been looking at the best (Minolta spot meter was eliminated due to being shutter priority instead of Aperture priority).

    1) Sekonic 558 - Most modern, I don't mind digital/buttons (I'm an IT at work and do web programming on the side as well), but I think this might be overkill for me as I use ZERO flash. I do like the ability to measure the range of a scene to see which film I should shoot (normally Ektar if outside the +/- 2 range of Velvia 50).

    2) Pentax Digital spot meter - I see this one being the most popular on this form, and I have to say I really do like the simplicity of it, though I don't understand how to use it yet (I'm sure I could figure it out if I actually got to see one). The down side is these are quite pricey.

    3) Soligor spot meter - I don't find much of these, but those I hear like them. They look very similar to the Pentax, and best of all seem to go for around $75-$100 range on eBay.

    Thanks everyone!

  2. #2
    fishbulb's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2014

    Re: First Meter advice

    Another option would be the Pentax Spotmeter V, which is the analog version of of the Pentax Digital Spotmeter. If you search eBay for just "Pentax Spotmeter" you will see them with an analog dial on the side.

    They look like this (tan, grey, and black version are out there) and can be had used for $100-150. Higher end of that for nice condition ones with the original leather case and lens cap. Less for beat up ones missing the case and cap. They use three small hearing-aid batteries that you can get at any drug store.

    Click image for larger version. 

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    This is the only spot meter I've used, so I can't speak to the others, but it's a good option on a budget anyway. You just look through the lens, point the marked circle at what you want to meter, pull the trigger and it reads the EV of the scene (1 to 19). Then you turn the dial on the side to match up your meter reading vs. the desired zone of the target.

    So if you meter a scene ranging from 8EV in the shadows to 12EV in the highlights, you turn the dial on the side and line those up with say, zones 4 to 8. Then the dial will tell you what shutter speed and aperture combinations will get you that exposure, given the ISO you pick. So, it's great for the zone system.

  3. #3

    Join Date
    Dec 2001
    San Joaquin Valley, California

    Re: First Meter advice

    We can all recommend our favorite light meters, but what I think is good might not be what you think is good.
    You can spend all kinds of money on light meters, and unless you're going to follow Ansel's zone system from the get go (in which case you'll need a spot meter,) I'd suggest something simple and economical to start out with. Once you start making pictures, you'll better know what you want and can spend your hard earned moolah where it will give you the best return.
    Light meters are like wire coat hangers----they tend to multiply when you're not looking!
    I have at least three: a Gossen Luna Pro SBC, a Weston Ranger 9, and a Weston V (or is it a IV or VI? I should really pay more attention to these things)
    I steal time at 1/125th of a second, so I don't consider my photography to be Fine Art as much as it is petty larceny.
    I'm not OCD. I'm CDO which is alphabetically correct.

  4. #4

    Join Date
    Dec 2005
    Los Angeles, CA

    Re: First Meter advice

    You can't go wrong with any of the 3 you are thinking about. The 558 will give you the most flexibility - flash metering when you need it but more importantly it gives you incident metering capability. Plus it allows for multiple measures, which helps for scene analysis, and averaging if that is appropriate. For me the 558 was an outrageous amount of money to spend on a meter but was one of the best gear purchases I ever made.

  5. #5

    Join Date
    Dec 2005
    Los Angeles, CA

    Re: First Meter advice

    ... But as John said, do some soul searching to determine how you want to do your exposure determination. For most flexibility I'd say the 558; for zone system I'd say either of the other two. Truth be told, I can do most photography with a much less expensive meter as long as it will do incident metering.

  6. #6

    Join Date
    May 2010
    St. Louis, Mo.

    Re: First Meter advice

    Read up on the Zone system and decide if you want to follow it. If you do then the Pentax spot meters are very easy to use. I own 2 digital versions and 1 of the older analog versions.

    It you are not interested in the Zone system then pick up an incident meter.

    How you meter is a personal thing. You use the meter that works best for you. I wouldn't say one type is best always. I've seen plenty of great photographs that were taken without a meter and using the Sunny F16 rule although I wouldn't recommend it for expensive large format film.

  7. #7

    Join Date
    Jan 2013
    Madisonville, LA

    Re: First Meter advice

    Put a zone scale on the Pentx Digital and it's a no brained. L

  8. #8

    Re: First Meter advice

    Pentax digital rules!

  9. #9
    Jim Jones's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2006
    Chillicothe Missouri USA

    Re: First Meter advice

    The brand or style of meter isn't as important as how well it is used. My preferred meter for the past many decades has always a Weston Master II, although many newer meters are more versatile.

  10. #10

    Re: First Meter advice

    If you do look at an older meter that takes a battery that is no longer manufactured, the substitute battery can have a voltage difference that must be compensated for mathematically or electrically.

    That was a really short explanation for something that could have taken paragraphs, if you are going to get used, and there is nothing wrong with used, your probably want to check the battery requirements.

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