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Thread: Low light metering ... ?

  1. #1

    Join Date
    Sep 2005
    Germany, Aalen

    Question Low light metering ... ?

    Hello, just very recently I acquired a Gossen Digisix lightmeter (mostly for my Rolleiflex). It goes down to EV 0 at ISO 100. It is OK for most of the situations, but yesterday when I tried to take some late evening photographs iluminated nearly entirely by street lamps with the level of light around EV-2 - EV-3 (I guess) I had no chance to measure it properly. An there are also lower light situations.

    I had a look on the market and to my surprise that only following lightmeters go bellow EV 0. None goes bellow EV -2.5.

    Am I just expecting too much ? Sure - 1 degree spotmeters have a hard time but incident or large area reflected meters could do better than that ...

    So - how do you meter poorly lit rooms, streets, etc ...

  2. #2

    Join Date
    Apr 2006
    Hell's Kitchen, New York

    Re: Low light metering ... ?

    I have a Profisix which measures down to Ev -8 at ISO 100 and a Minolta Booster II that measures to about the same value. The Calculight XP is in the same ball park.

    If you only need a stop or two of extra sensitivity from a reflective meter then you can meter off a white card or piece of paper then open up a couple of stops. There is a rough-and-ready suggestion in old Sekonic manuals for using a large area reflective meter as an incident meter by multiplying the time by ten.


  3. #3

    Re: Low light metering ... ?

    I've got a Luna Pro SBC that supposedly goes down to -4EV but I haven't been down past 1 with it.


  4. #4

    Join Date
    May 2002

    Re: Low light metering ... ?

    The manual for my Luna-Pro F claims a range of EV -8 to 24.

    However, IIRC, I read somewhere that it's really only to EV -5 at ISO 100. FWIW.

  5. #5

    Re: Low light metering ... ?

    If I cannot meter with the pentax spot I use a luna pro digital f which goes from -2.5 to 18. And even then I am pushing it to the limit. I'd suggest trying to meter the lamps and place them in an upper zone. But even then you may be venturing into the N-4 to N-7 zone which requires special film development. I find it hard to do night photography without a spotmeter.

  6. #6
    Confidently Agnostic!
    Join Date
    Aug 2006
    Victoria BC

    Re: Low light metering ... ?

    Once it gets dark enough (say half hour or a bit more past sunset when only a faint bit of twilight illumination is left) metering is kind of irrelevant anyway because of reciprocity. Just open your shutter and leave it alone for 10 minutes, 20 minutes, half hour or even an hour and you'll probably get roughly the same results

    With the scenario you're describing (streetlights) you can meter the bright areas and lose your shadow detail or just accept that the lights are going to blow out and do as I described - open the shutter and leave it for as long as you want. It'll make hardly any difference.

  7. #7

    Join Date
    Sep 2006
    Geelong Victoria Australia

    Re: Low light metering ... ?

    Years ago I bought a Kodak publication which I think is called the Kodak professional photo guide. It contains stacks of info on a whole range of things. One of the turning wheel apparati(?) has film speed, F stop and exposure on it. Kodak has worked out a range of reciprocity corrected exposure times for a heap of possible scenarios, going from streetlight scenes to moonlight over Niagara falls. I've used this and never had a failure,whether I'm shooting trannies or B&W.
    If you can get your hands on one of these, it will make your life so much easier.
    BTW I bought mine in 1981 so I have no idea what it would cost now or if Kodak still produce them.

  8. #8

    Re: Low light metering ... ?

    Have a look here

  9. #9

    Join Date
    Jul 1998
    Lund, Sweden

    Re: Low light metering ... ?

    I have a Calculite-XP which supposedly goes down to EV -7. I have taken shots by moonlight when it read close to the limits of its sensitivity and they came out well, but I've never done a scientific test of its accuracy and linearity at those low values. Knowing how much a calibrated laboratory photodetector costs for that sort of light level, I suspect they suck.

    I like the meter because it lets me take reliable incident readings in twilight without having to worry about hitting the bottom of the scale. That's worth more to me than bragging rights over the lowest possible EV.

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