Which lightmeter?

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Apologies, if this query annoys any large format purists ...

I've been taking photographs since the 50s. I've used 35mm cameras for about 30 years, have recently extended down to APS, and up to medium format. I have a darkroom and do my own B&W processing.

Now I'm making a tentative foray into large format - I've just bought several second-hand 4 x 5 film holders, for use in a large format pinhole camera that I'm making!


My question is: what lightmeter would you recommend for this purpose?

It is many years since I used a lightmeter - all three of the cameras that I currently own have lightmeters built in. I vaguely remember owning a Weston (?) lightmeter long ago ...

-- Ron Hughes (rhcc@compuserve.com), February 02, 1998


Although I haven't done any pinhole work, I suspect that, unless you're a whiz when it comes to micro-machining, the diameter (and hence the f-number) of your pinholes is likely to be somewhat approximate. In addition, you might well be into exposures that are long enough so that you've got to do some guessing and experimenting to deal with reciprocity. Put this all together, and I would think that there's no real point to striving for a high degree of precision in measuring light--you'll just lose the precision anyway when it comes to making the exposure. Any meter (including the ones built into your 35mm cameras) would do.

Perhaps some people with pinhole experience can have a better suggestion, and will tell me that I'm totally off base here.

-- Rob Rothman (rrothman@riag.com), February 02, 1998.

Many thanks for your reply:

A search on the Yahoo! server returned an amazing number of URLs concerned with pinhole photography ...

Precision pinholes are available (http://www.yatcom.com/pinhole/PINHOLE.html). The Pinhole Resource offers 11 precision pinholes laser "drilled" in brass shim (ranging from 0.10mm - 0.76mm) and 12 micro-drilled in stainless steel (ranging from 0.0039" - 0.0276").

I take your point about reciprocity failure, and clearly some experimentation will be necessary. However, tables of optimum focal lengths, best aperture diameters, equivalent f-stops and exposure factor for f/22 are available (http://photo.net/photo/pinhole/pinhole.htm).

As regards using the lightmeters in my cameras, just for the record, they're not all 35mm models: (1) APS (2) 35mm (3) medium format. I suppose I could use the light meter in my Canon EOS, but it would be a bit cumbersome - however, I feel that a handheld lightmeter would be more useful.

-- Ron Hughes (rhcc@compuserve.com), February 02, 1998.

Might I suggest a Gossen Luna Pro, these can often be picked up used at a reasonable price. They are very sensitive, giving reading up to 8 hours. I use mine for determining the exposure at night for star trails and pre-dawn exposures.

-- Britt Leckman (bleckman@gmu.edu), February 02, 1998.

Many thanks for recommending a Gossen Luna Pro - it sounds ideal. What do you consider to be a "reasonable" price?

-- Ron Hughes (rhcc@compuserve.com), February 03, 1998.

By the way, I've discovered that there are at least two companies that market pinhole cameras on a commercial basis - one in the USA, and other is Rigby (www.bobrigby.com) in the UK. The latter specifically recommends the use of a good lightmeter. I think I would prefer to spend my money on a good lightmeter, and make my own camera.

-- Ron Hughes (rhcc@compuserve.com), February 03, 1998.

My wife uses a Leonardo pinhole camera (very nice!) and just guesses the exposure. Also, you might try T-Max 400 because of its superior reciprocity characteristics.

-- Peter Hughes (ravenart@redshift.com), February 09, 1998.

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