Gossen Starlite

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Any expirience with thad new lightmeter?

Thanks Armin

-- Armin Seeholzer (armin.seeholzer@smile.ch), January 11, 2002


In short, works well and is easy to use.

Fits in the hand, with a nice rubber grip. The buttons and control wheel can all be operated with just one thumb. (May not be quite so easy for left handers)

Having one meter that does everything (everything that I need) is really quite pleasing. I like the freedom to choose how I meter, incident or reflected depending on the subject and situation, without the hassle and expense of carrying two meters. I know other meters have a zoom spot, but I have not felt the need to zoom when spot metering, selecting the 1 deg or the 5 deg spot is fine by me. Like most digital devices it has more functions than is strictly necessary, but most of this extra functionality, Zone mode, physical unit measurements etc. has to be selected using DIP switches in the battery compartment, which means that the basic photographic functions are not cluttered up with these special options.

Negative points ...

(1) Wheel control on side is not 100%, misses a click every now and then, not quite bad enough to send back and seems to be improving with use, but I would recommend you check this before you buy one.

(2) Stupid plastic cap for the flash sync socket. Once removed requires extreme skill and perseverance to reinsert. I suspect it will not be long before I cut it off.

(3) Lens cap on view finder pops off too easily. I think I lost mine within a month.

Minor points maybe, but a shame when the rest of it has been put together so well.

Would have been nice ...

A meter display in the view finder. The head rotates which makes this less of a problem. But it would have been nice not to have to move the light meter to my eye and then away again between each spot reading.

But to be honest, it does the job and I don't expect I shall be upgrading to another light meter for some time to come.

-- John D. Haughton (johnh@enterprise.net), January 11, 2002.

Very easy to use. Light weight and not ultra expensive.

-- Bill Henick (dhen1922@aol.com), January 12, 2002.

Arnim, shortly speaking my meter somewhere doesn't work as intended, but I almost don't need these modes, so my impressions are mixed.

I bought the Gossen Starlite (Fabr.Nr: 1C66380) several months ago at a Gossen's Russian dealer in Moscow, ordered a long time ago (Gossen several times delayed the shipment). May be my item is damaged or too raw (from the earliest batch?), but the flaws are the following:

Flaw #1. First of all the Starlite shows 0.8 stops more light than there really is, producing therefore the 0.8 stops underexposure. "Really" means: measured with Pentax Digital spotmeter modified by Zone VI (further "P6"). The P6 is pretty close (within 1/3 stop) to my N70 measurements for not over saturated surfaces. Strictly speaking the Starlite can be right, and P6, N70 and shutters in all my camera wrong, but I don't think this is the case. After adding the correction, the Starlight shows correct values in all the modes: incident/spot, flash/constant(ambient) light. If you don't have to make the Starlite coincident with other meters it is not a problem for you: just calibrate your process according the Starlite.

In the Starlite there is only one way to introduce the correction: to add a bellow extension factor. It worked fine, but if you occasionally happen to use LF camera with close subjects you will have to apply the bellow extension factor in your head.

Flaw #2. After a long pause, in incident (constant light) mode the very first reading is SEVERAL STOPS off. Second, third etc readings are ok, but very first is absurd low. Personally for me it is not a big problem since I always take several measurements, thus I easily ignore the very first. For flash modes there is no such problem.

Flaw #3. There is a brightness range measurement mode in the Starlite: in spot mode (constant light) you press the measurement button and, while keeping it pressed, pan the spot over the parts of the scene. After releasing the button you should be able to read the brightness range on the analog scale. It doesn't work: the displayed range is absurd wide. E.g. if I have 2 surfaces with only 1/3—1/2 brightness difference, the Starlite can show 3, 4, 5, 6 and more stops difference. It being noted, that the longer I keep the button pressed the more imaginative is the Starlite. Again, personally for me it is not a problem: I prefer to make several separate measurements and decide in my head.

Flaw #4. Incident mode, constant light. The low light limit declared to be - 2.5 EV100. (After my correction it = -3.3 EV100). The problem is that the measurements of TUNGSTEN light with illuminance below ca. 0 EV100 are not reliable at all. I don't speak about a linearity (it would be profusion), I tell that first reading shows –1, the second –2, the third –0.4, the fourth –1.7 and so on. Personally for me it IS a problem: I planned to use the Starlite and in the darkroom also, on the easel. Hopeless.

Minor production and/or design drawbacks:

The manual tells the Starlite is "color corrected". It probably means, that due to the fact that meter cell has different spectral sensitivity than the films, the reflected light measurements of saturated colors can be more or less off. The more saturated is the subject, the more wrong is measurements. – That's true. E.g. a saturated red: P6 tells 13.7 ev, Starlite tells 15 ev. (I trust to P6, it gives very correct results when I shot colors slides). Unfortunately, this is weak point of many spotmeters, so my point here is that the "color correction" could be better.

The both circles in the viewfinder (1 and 5 degree areas) are sometimes hard to see, especially in dim light.

No way to add a correction other than using bellow ext.factor correction. No way to make different corrections for the four metering modes (spot/incident, flash/constant light).

The ring that raises/lowers the diffusor is too tight. One needs to be extra careful to apply the force to the ring only, not to the connection between rotating head and the body of the meter.

It would be nice to have a sort of attachment between the viewfinder cap and the body. The cap is tight enough, but there is always a danger to lose it.

The flat diffuser mode. I cannot give detailed comment here since I never use this mode, but I suspect there is something wrong here. My understanding is that if we have a distant point light source and no side light (e.g. distant small flash in black studio), the incident light meter should tell the same illuminance does not matter is the diffusor in up position (hemisphere) or in down position (flat diffusor). But displayed values are different.

Finally a note about Gossen customer service. They can answer simple questions. But if you ask them something what you cannot find in the specifications they don't answer. They don't tell you "sorry, we don't have such a data" or "we didn't test it in this way", -- no, they just don’t bother to answer! You feel like speaking to black hole.

That's all about bad news. Good news is in the specifications and in AD.

I apologize for my broken English.

Andrey St-Petersburg, Russia.

-- Andrey Vorobyov (AndreyVorobyov@yahoo.com), January 14, 2002.

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