Relative advantages of digital spot meters? : LUSENET : Large format photography : One Thread

I am looking at digital spot meters. I have used a Pentax digital before. Any special advantages of either the Minolta or Sekonic. Also, any reason the Sekonic should cost 70% more ($670 vs $389) than both the Minolta and Pentax?

-- Glenn Kroeger (, September 04, 2000


I do not have any experience with the Minolta spot meter but I do with the Sekonic and Pentax. The Sekonic is a much more sopisticated meter. It meters normal reflected light and flash both corded and uncorded. The Sekonic also has some provision for measuring the contrast in a scene and remembering all of the readings. Bottom line, the Sekonic doesn't make anymore accurate exposure readings than the Pentax but if working with flash is of interest then you might consider it.

-- Jeff White (, September 04, 2000.

I have been using the Sekonic L508 zoom spot meter for some time now and I am very impressed with it in terms of accuracy, and build quality. It has some nice features and is well worth a look. Regards Paul

-- paul owen (, September 04, 2000.

I second Paul's entry! However the Seconic l-508 zoom spot is a "normal" exposure meter with very professional spot metering facilities added, the difference with a "proper" spot is that the readings cannot be read while measuring, it the viewer. Nevertheless it is a very fine and precise instument. Concerning prices. I didn't think that a Minolta spot flash II would have been so cheap are you maybe talking about the ancient Minolta which couldn't read flash? Make sure you are comparing alike with alike! Can't compare seconic l-508 with IV F or even V (they both miss a real spot feature!). Infact the Seconic is Unique. They have indeed a "proper" spot but cannot really comment on it. I have used a ni=umber of meters and now I own a Seconic!

-- andrea milano (, September 04, 2000.

Glenn, I have the same item described in the two previous posts. I am very happy with it. I went with a friend two weeks ago who had a Minolta digital spot meter. I couldn't get on using his tool. Very complicated. We made some comparative measures with both meters and had very similar results. The Sekonik L 508C is really two meters in one. I often switch from spot to incident to check my measures and it works well. The zoom feature is nice too. As it has been said, you have to quit the viewfinder to read the result but that's not bothering me. The only negative I found with this meter is that I can easily make a spot reading when I think I am making an incident reading, if I am not careful. A lens cap has been provided but I won't always place it. The funny results however will soon drive my attention. But otherwise a great tool that I wouldn'nt exchange for anything else. Check Sekonic prices in Europe. I bought mine at a lower price than it is sold in the States. I have heard good things about the 708, but have actually not seen one.

Regards, PaulS

-- Paul Schilliger (, September 04, 2000.

SEKONIC 508 VS PENTAX DIGITAL SPOT METER I have used the Sekonic 508 and the Pentax Digital SM and have in the past used Minoltas incident flash meter and Gossens incident meters. Some of the features in the Sekonic 508 and the Pentax DSM are not available in the other. As a spot meter I think the Pentax, wins hands down in spite of some of its limitations. 1) PDSMs viewfinder shows the meters readings; the 508, not only does not show the readings in the VF, it does not even tell you, you took one. With the PDSM, you can take several readings on various portions of the scene to measure the range of lighting while keeping your eye to the VF. In the Sekonic you must take your eye off the VF each time to look at the reading on the LCD on the front of the body. To make matters worse, the reading shown could have been from a reading from a previous scene. The 508s memory function does not overcome some of these problems. This is because the memory function only works on the shutter-preferred mode. I almost never use the shutter-preferred mode so to me that renders the meters memory function nearly useless. 2) The PDSM finder is optically superior because of its sharper and wider image than the 508s; Additionally, for eyeglass wearers, the PDSM has built-in dioptre compensation. The PDSMs wider image enables you to take several spot readings in sequence over various parts of the scene while keeping a large part of the scene in view. With the 508 you jump into an unseen part of the scene to take the next reading because its angle of view is so narrow. 3) The Pentax has a built-in zone system, which I find most useful. Frankly, I do not think that any reflected reading meter should be without one. In the Pentax zone calculations are completely intuitive with the help of the zone dial; in the 508 you have to do the zone calculations in your head. Zone metering is not strictly a B@W issue. Zone metering is a great tool for color. Some owners of the PDSM however do not seem to be aware of the zone feature in this meter, which to me is one of its best assets. (The Gossen spot meter also has zone provisions. I have not used it. Its price and bulk are both astronomical) There are features missing in the Pentax such as flash, but if flash is not an issue, nothing beats the Pentax as a spot meter. Having said that, the 508 is very convenient as it provides in one tool both incident and reflected light and flash metering. I find it very accurate. If weight and bulk are a problem with carrying two meters, the Sekonic is more practical because of its dual metering functions. I am still working exclusively with the Sekonic when backpacking because weight is the overriding issue. I would not carry an incident meter otherwise, yet, now that I frequently use it, because it is there, I would be reluctant to give it up. In the final analysis, your preferences will be dictated by the work you do and how you go about it.

-- Julio Fernandez (, September 04, 2000.

I had the Pentax Digital Spotmeter. I did not like the viewfinder. I then got the Minolta Spotmeter F and I like that much better. It is also more user friendly. Just my opinion...

-- Sol Campbell (, September 04, 2000.

I just sold my Sekonic L-508 for a Pentax Spotmeter V. I liked the Sekonic, but the Pentax is better as a spotmeter. What I like about the Pentax is the analog display in the viewfinder. I prefer the analog to the digital, since you can see the zones graphically. I also prefer the analog calculation dial on the side, which the digital has too, but around the lens.

-- William Marderness (, September 05, 2000.

I have to agree with the individuals preferring the Pentax over the Sekonic. I used the Sekonic for an year and found it adequate, but difficult to use. I did not realize how difficult until I switched to the Pentax. I hardly ever blow exposures anymore. I can check out the entire range of the scene without taking my eye away. I then simply place the zone I want on the dial and away you go. There was way too much thinking involved with the Sekonic. If you are shooting the Zone system and don't have a need for the flash exposure item and all the other bells an whistles associated with the Sekonic, get the Pentax.

-- Paul Mongillo (, September 05, 2000.

Glenn, oh yes I should have mentioned that I use the L 508 for color work only. It only takes two or three readings to do the job. When it comes to B&W and the zone system, then a true spot meter such as the Pentax is probably more adequate.B

-- Paul Schilliger (, September 05, 2000.

I've owned both the Minolta and the Pentax. I sold the Minolta to buy the Pentax. For pure zone system work, I find the Pentax much easier to use. OTOH, the Minolta had a lot of features that aren't present on the Pentax. Since I didn't need them, they just got in the way and made life more complicated. But if I didn't use the zone system, I might have preferred the Minolta.

-- Brian Ellis (, September 05, 2000.

Doesn't Calumet sell modified Pentax(?) spotmeters for zone system work? What capability do these modified meters provide that the vanilla Pentax doesn't? I've seen the picture of the Pentax spotmeter w/ pasted on zone scale in the Ansel Adams book (The Negative), and it seemed just fine on it's own.

-- Larry Huppert (, September 06, 2000.


No one seemed to be aware or at least familiar with the Sekonic 778. I have been using this meter for several years and although it's not the most compact meter I really like it's capabilities.

One advantage for the zone system practitioner is its ability to place (using the memory feature) shadows, highlights and midtones.

It also allows you to set just how far from the midtones the shadows and highlight are. IE you can set your shadow and highlight value to be exactly the number of f/stops (in half stops) you want from your zone V reading.

In short it is one of the easiest meters to use with the zone system once you have mastered it. It is more complicated than some of the others, but then it offers single and multiple flash, cord and cordless and several other modes.

If you don't plan to use flash, I shoot a lot of studio as well as outdoor, then it might be overkill.

If you do use flash on occasion then check out the 778. It's worth the extra bucks if you need its capabilities.

-- Joseph A. Dickerson (, September 11, 2000.

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