More questions on Spot Meters : LUSENET : Large format photography : One Thread

Sorry for bringing up this question again, but I'm planning to buy a new light meter. I currently have a Minolta Flash Meter 5 which I will keep for flash and incident readings. I did have a Booster II attachment that I only used once before it got lost, and I'm not sure whether to buy another Booster II or to buy a separate spotmeter.

The spot meters I'm considering are the Gossen SpotMaster (UK Name), Sekonic Dual Spot 778, and the Pentax digital (possibly with a Zone VI mod).

After reading the stuff on the Zone VI web site, I would be worried in case any of the other meters are not as accurate as the Pentax, but the Pentax looks as though it might be tricky to use with its analogue dial. It also only shows a "live" reading - ie it doesn't remember the last reading.

The Gossen looks like it might be ideal, but its very expensive, and I believe the Sekonic is meant to be very complicated to work, although it has a nice display. Someone also told me that the Sekonic has been discontinued, although I have seen it advertised by at least one dealer.

Are the Zone systems built into the Gossen and Sekonic worth bothering about?

Also, how do you cope with filter factors and bellows extensions and camera movements with a hand held meter? One of the reasons I initially bought the Booster attachment was that it was meant to answer all these problems. However, I am not totally convinced on the Booster II accuracy, its also a little tricky to hold - you need one hand for the meter and one for the Booster and you also need to cover the groundglass to stop ANY light from hitting it, and if the light changes when you've already got your darkslide loaded its a bit of a pain not being able to monitor the change.

As I say, sorry about asking some questions that have probably been answered before, and it's obviously a personal preferance type of subject, but I'd be interested to hear some further comments.

-- David Nash (, December 16, 1998


My choice would be the Zone VI Digital Spot Meter. I was interested in buying one for about 5 years and Master photographers that I knew always said it was over rated, although they personally used them. When I finally bought mine I found that it matched my Sekonic L488 or was it L448. I did the color tests that Zone VI advocates and found the Zone VI Pentax to be much more accurate with the different colors than my Sekonic. I think most of the meters today are very good but I do find the Zone VI meter to be the most accurate. Remember to have it recalibrated periodically. As for filter factors anf bellows extension, I meter through the filters with my Zone VI meter although I also know the filter factor if I want to figure it manually. Bellows extensions only take a matter of seconds to figure so I would not worry about that.

-- Jeff White (, December 16, 1998.

David you should get another meter: the Minolta Spot F.

You are already familiar with how the Minolta meters work, and the flash capabilities will you an alternative backup to your existing meter. It is also a simple meter to use and to compare readings from one point to the other. It is also reliable.

For filter factors I simply hold the filter in front of the meter. Bellow s extentions are best figured with a small calculator. But unless you are doing a lot of work that is in the 1:4 or greater magnification range you are worrying unnecessarily.

-- Ellis (, December 16, 1998.

I have had the Zone VI version of the Pantax digital for two years and have been very pleased with. Here are some things to considered:

1. It is very light and compact. I back pack all my 4x5 into remote areas of the Rockies 10,000 feet and above. Weight is a big deal for me.

2. Its electronics and exterior finish are very durable. My meter has been dropped and slammed into rocks and trees. It still does its job and looks brand new.

3. It uses a diode read out. This allows me to easily read exposure values when metering backlite subjects.

4. The meter reads exposures using EV numbers. This makes it easy to evluate the contrast metered in the scene. For example, if one reading is EV 10 and the other is EV6 then there is a 4 stop difference.

5. The Zone scale provided by Zone VI and outlined in the Negative by Ansel Adams makes it very easy to apply Zone placements and determine you exposures settings.

6. I take great pride in calibrating my system so that when I do a Zone III placement I can expect to get Zone III density value at the coresponding point on the negative. It makes little difference what color filter I meter through.

7. It is the simplest meter I have ever used. Simply aim, pull the trigger, and read. I have several other meters including the Sekonic L-508, but I love my Pentax best of all when in the field.

-- Stephen Willard (, December 16, 1998.

I use an off-the-shelf Pentax digital spot (without the Zone VI modification) and have been quite satisfied with it. You didn't mention what type of film you shoot. Since Zone VI modifies the meter to match the spectral response of black & white film, and since various color stocks have (presumably) totally different response curves, it doesn't seem to make sense to pay extra for the Zone VI version if you shoot color.

As for the general handling of the meter, it's as simple as can be: just point the meter, pull the trigger, and read the displayed number. Then, rotate the calculator dial to that number and read the exposure. Yes, you do have to compensate manaully for bellows and filter factors and you have to remember your resdings at various spots, but none of that is very difficult. Large format, by its very nature, requires a fair amount of direct involvement by you, the photographer, and keeping track of a few exposure-related factors becomes second nature before very long.

Among those of us who shoot landscapes, the Pentax is pretty much standard equipment. There must be some reason for its popularity.

-- Rob Rothman (, December 16, 1998.

I have had a Pentax (non-digital) spot meter for over 15 years. It has survive perfectly in the trunk of my car. It is very accurate & easy to use. I am considering getting the Sekonic spot/incident meter which does flash & constant lighting. That would make it so I did not have to carry two meters when I need spot & incident meters. It also gives the capability to spot meter with flash.

-- Guy (, December 20, 1998.

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