Is the Minolta Flashmeter IV /spot suitable for LF : LUSENET : Large format photography : One Thread

I am in the process of converting to LF colour landscape and 'fine art' B&W style photography work. I have been using the Minolta Flashmeter IV for many years for my 4x5/8x10 studio work and I am wondering whether the IV combined with the five degree spot attachment (which I also have) will be adequate for accurate metering in the field or should I perhaps look at the 1 degree Minolta spotmeter F or the Pentax digital spot? The IV has a fairly good 'highlight', 'average', 'shadow' reading capability, but would the five degree spot be as useful as a one degree meter when it comes to 'zone system' style technique?

Thanks in advance, Peter Brown

-- Peter Brown (, May 14, 2001


It'll work reasonably well. I'd strongly suggest you give that fairly inexpensive spot attachment a good tryout before spending the bucks for a spotmeter. It may be perfectly sufficient.

I haven't found the automatic shadow and highlight bias settings of the Minolta meters to be of much use simply because they're fixed in compensation value. They're very good meters otherwise, though; that's why I've accumulated a couple of Flashmeter IVs and a Spot F. I find the best meter for zone system work to be the older-style Pentax Spotmeter V, which has a calculator dial. It's much easier for me to figure zone placements etc while looking at the dial than looking at an LCD readout and thinking about it.

-- John Hicks (, May 14, 2001.


I own both a Minolta IV as you have and the Pentax Spotmeter. I also own the 5 degree attachment. This is just my humble opinion, but I think you would be far more happy with the Pentax meter if you are going to be doing landscape work. The 5 degree attachment is just too broad and you will be doing alot of walking to make your measurements if you start doing zone system work. By the way, I have the Pentax meter that I had modified by Zone VI. In my opinion it is more accurate than one that has not been modified as it is true that these meters are affected differently by different colors and by infared and ultraviolet light. the main thing in any meter is to get one that is linear. It is a nightmare to have one that gives accurate exposure information in the middle of the spectrum, but incorrect at the high and low ends. Make sure than whatever you buy is linear. Kevin

-- Kevin Kolosky (, May 14, 2001.

I agree with Kevin, I own a Soligor digital spot modified by Zone VI the Zone VI meters cannot be beat. Pat

-- pat krentz (, May 14, 2001.


I'm in agreement with the others. I also own the Minolta IV and the Pentax spotmeter.

The IV is an excellent incident and flash meter, and the little accessory reflected light disc allows for good reflected light readings, either as a normal-angle-of-view reflected light meter from a distance, or up close to your subject. I also tried Minolta's (5 degree is it?) spotmeter attachment and thought it too expensive for what it was and thought it provided limited usefulness as a spotmeter for distant subjects.

The Pentax is an excellent meter. Extremely simple and staightforward for zone system work. Mine's still going strong after fifteen years.

For distant spotmetering, which you'll find yourself doing constantly with LF landscape work, a one-degree spotmeter is really the only way to go, be it a Pentax or any other brand.

Good luck, Sergio.

-- Sergio Ortega (, May 14, 2001.

How about a Seconic 508-l? the best combined option! Regards

-- Andrea Milano (, May 14, 2001.

I'll second Andrea with the L 508!

-- paul owen (, May 14, 2001.

I would agree with the above posters. I have a Gossen VarioSix F with a 5 spot attachment. Fully adequate in the studio and for still life work. I can also get buy doing landscapes with it, but not without some guess work and a little frustration. If I were going to be doing more landscape work, I would definately go with a 1 spot. It will reduce the guesswork and allow you to take those really critical measurements at a much greater distance.

Good Luck!

-- Dominique Labrosse (, May 14, 2001.

Thanks to all the above posters. I think I might go for the Pentax as I have heard many good reports about it. Can anyone give me the address, email or web for the Zone IV people who do the conversion of the Pentax?

Thanks again Peter Brown

-- Peter Brown (, May 14, 2001.


Back when I bought mine Zone VI was on its own, but since that time I believe they were purchased by Calumet of Illinois. I believe that they still distribute some of the Zone VI Items. However, if you have a Pentax meter that you have purchased from someplace else, I believe that you can contact a man by the name of Richard Ritter. I believe he would be capable of doing the conversion for you. What I would do would be to watch Ebay and see if I could buy one in perfect shape for reasonable money because the conversion is going to cost you $150 or so. But in the end it will be worth it. Otherwise, just go to Calumet and see if they still offer it. Good luck. kevin

-- Kevin Kolosky (, May 16, 2001.

I've often noticed a distinct bias toward the Pentax spotmeter, from US posters on this and other forums. They might be correct - I know little of the Pentax - but I've used the Minolta Spotmeter F for years and it is highly accurate, very sensitive, and thoroughly reliable. One might add that if a meter measures more than one degree it isn't a spotmeter anyway.. But that's pedantic. The recommendations for the Sekonic 508 are outdated - the new 608 (I have one for review currently) is a clear improvement, with e.g. viewfinder readout, albeit a bit dim, and other features that make it an excellent, versatile meter. I might buy it. The Minolta is very good indeed, just showing its age somewhat. Wouldn't be surprised to see an update soon. Get a used Spot F, perhaps, or a new Sekonic 608.

-- Anthony Harrison (, May 20, 2001.

Sorry if this is jumping on your thread, Peter, but has anybody any experience with the Gossen Spotmaster 2 w.r.t. the zone system and how similar is the new starlite in this respect? Is it possible to specify what placement you want for multiple zones or does it work like the minolta with highlight / mid / shadow settings only? I like the idea of the starlite if the zs function is ok as it's an all-in- one meter but I have a multisix I could use with the spotmaster for incident work (yes, I know it's heavy and hellishly expensive but there aren't many pentax meters around here in the UK). I am moving away from sekonics due to them not handling low light as well but may consider the 778.

Any help would be appreciated and it might throw some more light on your choice, Peter.


-- Andrew Pell (, May 26, 2001.

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