Spotmeters + a Zone System Mechanical Exposure Calculator? : LUSENET : Large format photography : One Thread

I've recently been doing an increased amount of personal work in B&W (color transparency & color negative have previously accounted for >95% of my images). This has gotten me interested in a real spotmeter. In following several previous notes on spotmeters, it seems like a large number of folks like the Pentax digital spotmeter because of it's built-in Zone System capabilities (i.e. Adams suggested zone scale from The Negative) and it's simplicity.

I recently tried one of these meters in a store, and can appreciate it's simplicity and direct relationship to the Zone System via the mechanical dials. I also tried the Minolta Spotmeter F, and experienced the out-of-the-box complexity others have talked about. I did like the Minolta viewfinder better because of the more centered spot view and the fact that the spot doesn't get lost when metering something black as it does on the Pentax. Given my color & B&W use of a spotmeter, it seems like the Minolta might be the better choice.

For Zone System use, the Minolta can be used in a very simplistic way - just have it readout EV values which is what the Pentax does. What is missing is a mechanical calculator which relates this EV value to a Zone and consequent exposure. In a very short amount of time I designed a simple calculator which does this, and also allows you to set a filter correction factor (which the Pentax DSM doesn't do). Does anyone know if such a mechanical calculator already exists? Such an item would probably have superior construction and longevity vs. any cardboard creation I made. Such a calculator could even have the grey shades relating to the zones printed on the calculator for reference. I know the downside of this approach is you end-up with one more thing to carry and keep track of, but the Minolta meter does seem superior for color work.

-- Larry Huppert (, September 14, 2000


There's a template for one at:

Neatly printed, just laminate, cut, pin, and spin away.

-- David Goldfarb (, September 14, 2000.


Thank you! That calculator is a good starting point. It doesn't "fix" exposure via EV since the EV portion of the dial rotates independently from everything else, but it could be modified to do the job.

-- Larry Huppert (, September 15, 2000.

Larry, Like you I examined the Pentax and then bought the Minolta Spot F. The reasons you cite in its favor I second, plus I use flash some in portraitures, so the meter saves me space and money. You might look into devising a chart/exposure log similar to that Adams presents in one of his texts. It would be somewhat slower than the wheel arrangement, but it could serve two purposes- aid to placing values in zones and log. You can, of course, integrate the filter factor directly into the ISO setting on the meter rather than calculate those later. Incidentally, the shadow and highlight buttons and the memory button are worth experimenting with in terms of getting exposure range in ev and quick and dirty placements. And the A button used after reading an initial subject area allows you to "scan" the values in the entire scene. It is a nice meter. One teacher of mine thought that Minolta should have expanded the S/H buttons to allow for full zone system placement. I guess that is too much for "the mind of minolta." bob

-- Bob Moulton (, September 15, 2000.

Larry. Ihave never used a minolta spot meter. I do own two Pentax digital spotmeters and a minolta IV flash/incident meter. One of the pentax meters I own has the Zone VI modifications to it. I can honestly say that those modifications work. You might want to check into it before you buy the minolta.

-- kevin kolosky (, September 16, 2000.

I had to LOL, I carry the carcass of an old Pentax 1 deg., just to have that dial and see the relationships -- the meter doesn't work other than the dial. I'm looking at a Sekonic L-608 or Gossen Starlight, but I think I'll keep my Pentax dial where I can nostalgically 'turn the wheel.' What can I say, it works...

-- paul chaplo (, May 15, 2001.

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