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Thread: Can anyone here help me understand how to use the Sekonic L-778 Dual Spot Meter?

  1. #1

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    Can anyone here help me understand how to use the Sekonic L-778 Dual Spot Meter?

    I have the instructions and read it a few times, but because itís a rather poor translation and somewhat vague, I still have really little idea of how to use it.

    Itís a dual spot meter, with 1 degree and 3 degrees of view. Itís capable of memorizing 5 readings.

    Anyway, for example, this is how I use it. Tell me what Iím doing wrong.

    1. I set the ISO
    2. I measure a mid tone (like my subject at, say, f/16 at 1/8 second) and hit the memory function.
    3. I measure the darkest tone (at, say, f/8 at 1/8 second) and hit the memory function.
    4. I measure the lightest tone (like a very bright cloudy sky at, say, f/32 at 1/8 second) and hit the memory function.

    Now I obviously canít just add these f/stops up and divide by 3; the lightest tone will drag the setting to become over exposed.

    So how do I properly calculate this? Can anyone here explain what Iím doing wrong and help me figure this meter out?

    Hereís the somewhat vague instruction manual: https://www.cameramanuals.org/flashe...onic_L-778.pdf

    If anyone can help me understand how to properly use this step by step, thatíd be greatly appreciated.

    Iím getting worried that Iím relying too much on the averaging light meter on my iPhone. :/

  2. #2
    Mark Sawyer's Avatar
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    Re: Can anyone here help me understand how to use the Sekonic L-778 Dual Spot Meter?

    Quote Originally Posted by manfrominternet View Post
    It’s capable of memorizing 5 readings...
    As a rule, I never use anything smarter than me.
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    Re: Can anyone here help me understand how to use the Sekonic L-778 Dual Spot Meter?

    Go with the average the meter gives you, but as you know what that will do for your highlights or shadows, adjust accordingly. Or handle (part of it) it in the darkroom, when developing the film, I assume B&W film.
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    Re: Can anyone here help me understand how to use the Sekonic L-778 Dual Spot Meter?

    Change the mode to EVs - The averaging makes more sense and it will still show you the f-stop and time, pick either based on desired DOF or shutter quirks. EV8 , EV12.2 = AVG 10.1 . @iso 100 ~ f22 0.5 seconds.

    Or use the darkest tone to set your f-stop on Zone 3 and closedown two stops (F and or T). Example as above Meter EV8 f16 1 seconds ~ Taking f22 .5 seconds.

    I keep an EV chart to double check myself sometimes when I stray from the meter. ev-exposure-chart/
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  5. #5
    Alan Klein's Avatar
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    Re: Can anyone here help me understand how to use the Sekonic L-778 Dual Spot Meter?

    Do you develop your own film? Do you use the zone system? Are you shooting black and white negative film? Do you shoot sheet film? If the answer to any of these questions is No, then why are you complicating your life with a spot meter? Maybe an incident light meter or average reflective light meter is better.

  6. #6
    ic-racer's Avatar
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    Re: Can anyone here help me understand how to use the Sekonic L-778 Dual Spot Meter?

    Page 47 of the manual is a little misleading because it shows print values and B&W photographers, when exposing negatives, usually think in terms of negative values (which would be the mirror image curve).
    Anyway, if you made your three readings (low, middle and high) and you get the three little triangles, you use the triangle most to the LEFT for your exposure. Set the lens aperture where the LEFT triangle points. Again this is for B&W Negative exposure.

    The later meters left off the little triangles but do allow one to use a low value other than zone 2.5 or so. This is how I do it on my Sekonic. I usually use zone 2.5, unless I have something really big in the picture that falls totally in the one-degree view.
    Zone 2.5 on my meter works out to a 2.5 factor on the screen. But Zone 1 would be 4.0 on the screen and Zone 5 would be 0.0 (the numbers go in the opposite direction, etc.)

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  7. #7

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    Re: Can anyone here help me understand how to use the Sekonic L-778 Dual Spot Meter?

    Averaging readings to get to your final exposure setting is not always the best approach. It will fail on the side of underexposure for any scene contrastier than "normal." Learn to take a shadow reading and base your exposure on that a lŗ Zone System for negative materials. Then read your highlights and midtones just to see where they fall. Why have a sophisticated piece of equipment with lots of capability when you're just going to use it like a cheap in-camera averaging meter?

    Basing exposure on an important shadow value is easy, especially with a spot meter that allows you to read a very small area of the scene: you just have to know where you want the value to be on the scale, say two stops under the midtone that the meter is calibrated to (Zone III in ZS parlance) and make the appropriate compensation. I imagine your meter may even have a function that does this for you. Basing your exposure on a shadow value ensures that you rarely underexpose. Average metering almost always underexposes for contrasty scenes and overexposes for flat scenes (not so serious, since we can print through the added density).

    Dealing with highlights is done either at the printing stage with contrast controls (variable contrast paper, etc.) or earlier, at the film development stage. Zone System users have many different development times for scenes with different contrast ranges (subject brightness ranges), but many simply rely on the controls available at the printing stage. The mistake is to reduce your initial exposure to get a highlight "in the scale." This always sacrifices shadows.

    Best,

    Doremus

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    Re: Can anyone here help me understand how to use the Sekonic L-778 Dual Spot Meter?

    Quote Originally Posted by fotopfw View Post
    Go with the average the meter gives you, but as you know what that will do for your highlights or shadows, adjust accordingly. Or handle (part of it) it in the darkroom, when developing the film, I assume B&W film.
    I should have mentioned that I'm using color negatives and transparencies, Kodak Ektar (100 ISO) and Fuji Provia (100 ISO) and Velvia (50 ISO), respectively to be exact.

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    Re: Can anyone here help me understand how to use the Sekonic L-778 Dual Spot Meter?

    Quote Originally Posted by Alan Klein View Post
    Do you develop your own film? Do you use the zone system? Are you shooting black and white negative film? Do you shoot sheet film? If the answer to any of these questions is No, then why are you complicating your life with a spot meter? Maybe an incident light meter or average reflective light meter is better.

    Unfortunately, I don't develop my own film. (I wish I did, but, being a student, I still don't have the means to.) I try to use the zone system and do understand it. I'm using color negatives and transparencies 4x5 and 120 medium format, Kodak Ektar (100 ISO) and Fuji Provia (100 ISO) and Velvia (50 ISO), respectively to be exact.

  10. #10

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    Re: Can anyone here help me understand how to use the Sekonic L-778 Dual Spot Meter?

    Quote Originally Posted by manfrominternet View Post
    Unfortunately, I don't develop my own film. (I wish I did, but, being a student, I still don't have the means to.) I try to use the zone system and do understand it. I'm using color negatives and transparencies 4x5 and 120 medium format, Kodak Ektar (100 ISO) and Fuji Provia (100 ISO) and Velvia (50 ISO), respectively to be exact.
    Using the Zone System with color materials is very similar to using it with black-and-white, it's just that you don't have as many development controls and contrast controls at the printing stage are more limited. With color negative film, you still should base your exposure on a shadow value. Then you have to check your highlights to see if they fall within the dynamic range of the process. If they are too high, rethinking the shadow placement (a compromise that works sometime, essentially sacrificing detail in the shadow for detail in an important highlight) or changing lighting or waiting for the light or abandoning the shot altogether. Having a really good idea of what values end up where in the final print is crucial.

    With transparency materials, the Zone System gets turned on its head; you need to base your exposure on a highlight value. And, since the film's dynamic range is more limited, usually the textured highlight value falls in Zone VII. Then you check the shadows and see what you can get there. Often, it turns out to be a case of sacrificing shadow detail for the highlights, since the dynamic range of transparency materials is more limited than color negative. Lighting ratio, type of lighting and choice of camera position in relation to the light source(s) is even more important than with negative film. There's a good reason most effective transparencies of landscapes are made with overcast skies...

    Using the memory function of your meter to just average values and exposing at the mean value is even less effective with color materials than with black-and-white. What it can do, however, is show you the dynamic range of the scene you are photographing and help you decide where possible compromises lay when the scene's brightness range exceeds the reproduction range of the process.

    Best,

    Doremus

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