Sekonic L-508 vs three meters : LUSENET : Large format photography : One Thread

OK, here's my current issue. Spring quarter is starting and I'm required to have a flash meter for my current photo illustration class and pretty much everything after that. I currently am using a Zone VI modified spot meter and a Quantum Calcu-Light XP. The addition of a third meter to the mix seems a bit much, and at this point I'm considering trading in my two existing meters and going for a Sekonic L-508. It (seemingly) would replace my spot meter, ambient meter, and would supply the flash metering requirement. However, having not used one, and currently being in a situation where I can't just go out and try one out, I'd really appreciate some feedback on this meter and if this would be a good move on my part. Comments greatly appreciated in advance.

-- David Munson (, March 27, 2001


I bought one when they first came out and I really liked it, however it was not sensitive enough in low light for doing evening cityscapes and I ended up selling it and buying a Gossen Ultrapro and the spot meter attachment. The Gossen is great for low light, but it is large and bulky and doesn't have near as nice of a user interface as the Sekonic.

Unless you do a lot of twilight or dimly lit interiors ( I do both ) I would have to say that the 508 is an outstanding piece of engineering.

Hope this helps,

-- Harry Pluta (, March 27, 2001.

I don't know why you think having 3 meters is a bit much, since I have 3 meters myself. Each serves a purpose, and can act as a backup for normal ambient light metering.

If you give up your current meters, it will cost you a small fortune to replace them, so I don't recommend doing that.

I am not familiar with the L-508, but my impression of Sekonic is that they make very fine products.

When I needed a flash meter, I bought the Polaris for about $150. Today it is $180 from Adorama. For a basic flash meter it does everything I want. It has incident and reflectance modes, and calculates multi "pops". It also measures ambient light. It think it's a good deal at the price.

My other meters: a Zone VI modified digital Pentax (I would not want to be without this one) and a Sekonic L-398M selenium cell, incident meter. It's a great backup to have in case your batteries fail, since this meter doesn't use batteries.

-- Charlie Strack (, March 27, 2001.

I have used both for Zone system shooting. The Pentax wins hands down there for convenience and ease of use. However, the Sekonic is a great meter and does a whole bunch more than the Pentax. If I were in your situation I would get rid of the meters you have and get the Sekonic.

-- Paul Mongillo (, March 27, 2001.

Sekonic has just come out with the 608, which IMO improves upon the 508, including the ability to see the readings through the spot meter. In addition there is some great flash additions also. Check out the Sekondic website for details on it. As one poster mentioned above, low light levels are difficult to read, and this is one of the only shortcomings of most all mult purpose meters including the 608. For very low light levels, under 2 EV and under, I use a Quantum meter which is one of the few that read lighting levels down to -3EV.

-- Bill Glickman (, March 27, 2001.

I have used one for a year and wouldn't part from it. Much better than the Minolta IVF I had before. The main difference from a true spot meter is that you have to read the values on the LCD screen and not in the viewfinder. Harry is right about a certain lack of sensitivity in very low light situations. But it suits normal shooting lights. I often expose slides up to 5-10 minutes and the meter still works. Mine was an early L508C and the inscriptions started to wear away after less than a year. They replaced the cover under warranty. That's the only flaw I can find.

-- Paul Schilliger (, March 27, 2001.

I'd have bought a 508 in a minute if it went down to 1 EV @ ISO 100. Unfortunately, it doesn't, and *for my uses* I can't really rationalize a spot meter that conks out at EV 3. (Shadows? What shadows?)

I'd check out whether or not you'd run up against the low-light limit of the 508 based on your past experience and decide based on that. When I did that computation I ended up buying one of the -4 EV meters.

And its not all bad to have redundant meters.

-- John O'Connell (, March 27, 2001.


I have owned the L-508 for about three years and I love it! It gives me exposures I like, Is closely matched to my F100, and has been 100% reliable throughout that timeframe. It has a big bright display.

I carry enough things around with me to have the hassle of a couple more meters in my bag.


-- Jeff Rose (, March 27, 2001.

I have been using a 508 for a couple of years and I like it very much, and just as you are thinking, I got it when my old flash meter died (a 12 year old 328) and I thought "hey maybe I can go from two meters to one with the 508" my other meter is also a modified pentax. Well, I still have two meters, and I'm glad I do. The 508 is great and the new 608(?) may be even better, but the pentax is more straight foward to use for zone system work and as noted it is much better in low light. Since I didn't replace the zone VI should I have just purchaced a less expensive flash meter to replace the one that I had? I have found I really like having the spot/flash feature as well as the other features of the 508, plus it is very rugged and easy to read. I think you will like it, but don't give up the others. At the very least, having a backup is an important thing.

-- Erik Gould (, March 27, 2001.

Thanks to everybody for all the responses. You've all raised some good points. I can see how the low light capabilities of the L-508 could be a problem, especially since I do tend to shoot in rather dim conditions. However, chances are I'd be using it most when shooting 120 chromes in the studio, and assuming I hold onto my current meters (sounding more like a good idea all the time), I could just use them when I need to. Haven't made any big decisions yet, but this will certainly help. Thanks again to all.

-- David Munson (, March 27, 2001.

If you're not in need of the money, I would definitely recommend that you keep the Pentax, even if you get the Sekonic 508. I have the 508 and like many, purchased it thinking that it would solve the problem of carrying several meters. I had a Soligor spot meter that is similar in use to the Pentax. For all reflected readings and in particular outdoor, zone use, being able to view the EV scale in the finder and quickly determine placement by simply turning a dial is almost intuitive. Very fast and simple. Once you get used to that system and then use the 508 you will find yourself using your index finger to click the "trigger" which is not there, rather you click the memory button. I've done this countless times. You also have to always look at every light on the 508 to make sure something wasn't accidently pressed, etc. Way too many bells and whistles to be quick. I would look at the 608, since I understand you can view EV scales in the finder. Still, the 508 is good for other things but I sure wish I also had a Pentax.

-- John Wiemer (, March 28, 2001.

This is probably the best "on the road" meter on the market, any compromise leaves room for specialized items perfoming maybe better, You cannot find a better general purpose meter.

-- Andrea Milano (, March 28, 2001.

Correction to my above post... I wrote...

For very low light levels, under 2 EV and under, I use a Quantum meter which is one of the few that read lighting levels down to -3EV.

This meter, Calculite, actually reads down to -7EV. I would not reccomend this meter for regular use as it is very cumbersome and slow to acheive readings due to the digital readout / dial system. However, it is the only very low light meter I have found that works in the (-)EV range.

-- Bill Glickman (, March 29, 2001.

I have used Sekonic meters for 15 years now. I now have the 508 too. One word to the wise...they (Sekonic incidents) all underexpose by about 2/3s a stop (using the sunny 16 rule and other Minolta meters as a benchmark). The 508 has an EV compensation mode which I set at 7/10s of a stop to compensate for this. I have read other threads on this forum and on that confirm this problem.

-- Richard Stum (, April 03, 2001.

Richard, are you speaking of the incident light measures? I made comparisons with my Minolta IVF in spot mode and the differences were only about 0,1-0,2 f-stops. I had underexposed slides using the incident reading in sunlight though. But this happens with the Minolta as well.

-- Paul Schilliger (, April 04, 2001.

Sekonics off? Not been my experience.

I have a Sekonic L-398M and just had 3 Weston's CLA'd by QLM and when they came back they agreed SPOT ON with the Sekonic (which I've had since 89/90 I believe). It has also always agreed with my Gossen SBC which is roughly the same age.

-- Sean yates (, April 04, 2001.

I noticed you said "spring quarter". Well, Mamiya has a student purchase program. ( My photo teacher gave me a packet with an application in it. All I had to do was fill it out, get my teach to sign it, photocopy a student ID and current class schedule, and get it to my local photo dealer. I picked up my 508 for $350.

-- Mark Wiens (, November 30, 2001.

Moderation questions? read the FAQ