Flash meter/general purpose meter

Discussion in 'Lighting Equipment' started by ben_hutcherson, Oct 17, 2017.

  1. I've been getting by for a while with my Minolta IIIf for my "go to" incident meter. I use it indoors and out for portraits and for and kind of landscape/scenic photography where I can get close to the subject. I also use it as a flash meter, but it's a bit cumbersome in that role-basically you set it to "flash" mode then manually trip the flash and hope you've caught it before the meter blinked out of flash mode.

    I'm mostly using it now in flash applications with a Norman pack triggered by Quantum triggers, and it's become somewhat easier since the transmitter allows me to manually pop the flash.

    Still, I'd like something a bit better. As I understand it(maybe I'm wrong) many flash meters will allow you to plug in a PC cord and use the meter to trigger the flash so there's no juggling to get everything coordinated.

    In my quest for a "one size fits all" meter, I'd like something that can do incident and spot both, and it would be a GREAT bonus if it could also do color temperature.

    I'm working through "The Negative" and learning the zone system, so a good spot meter is on my necessity list(although I realize that's outside the scope of this forum). I know color temperature isn't as important in digital, but it is when I'm shooting transparency film.

    Does such a beast as I'm asking for exist?

    BTW, I'll also add that used is preferred(and I don't have an issue shopping on Ebay) but will also buy something new if that's the best way to get it.
  2. kendunton

    kendunton Edinburgh

    I have the 111f.
    Good meter. There is a 20 second allowance for you to trip your flash for a reading.
  3. Minoltas were good and still hold up well. I am still using a Minolta !V that I bought new 20 plus years ago. It has only the problem of being a bit complicated to use but has a lot of goodies and works with one AA cell. If you want to spend on a current model, I would suggest either a Sekonic or a Gossen. I also have a reflected light 10 degree semi spot attachment for the Minolta which is still out there as a good used model. It was a step up from the one you have..for simplicity of use I think the Sekonics are worth checking on for functions you desire.
  4. kendunton

    kendunton Edinburgh

    The 308s is probably the most economic option. They hold their value well, so not many bargains about - 2nd hand seem to go for the same as new :)
  5. AJG


    I would recommend two meters--a spot meter for zone system work and a flash/incident meter. Your Minolta is an adequate flash meter, although I prefer Sekonic meters to the Minolta offerings. I have used a Sekonic L-718 flash meter for going on 20 years now, and have only had to replace the 2 AA batteries that run it occasionally. I also have a 5 degree spot attachment that works well enough for what I need it for, but it isn't even close to the Soligor 1 degree spot meter that I use for zone system work. I would worry less about color temperature if you're using studio strobes--in my experience, decent ones are pretty accurate in color temperature. Be aware also that if you're tweaking color temperature on the basis of color temp meter readings that you will need an assortment of filters to match the readings. If you have some fairly large diameter lenses this will run into some $$$ if the filters are any good.
  6. Nothing wrong with the Minolta IIIf, but an affordable alternative with P-C socket would be a Shepherd FM 1000. This is capable of limited ambient (continuous) metering too, or metering the combination of continuous and flash in incident or wideangle reflective modes.

    They seem quite plentiful used. I've picked up a couple of them for under £25 UK. That's about $35 US.
    The manual is downloadable here.

    I'm quite fond of Quantum flashmeters too, but their battery contacts are a bit "iffy" and they're a bit less common. They also need a mini-jack adapter cable to fire the flash.
  7. Just noticed your comment about reading "The Negative" Ben.

    Be aware that Ansel's maths appears to be shaky, and that if zone 5 is 18% reflectance, as he asserts, then objects at zone 8 must have an impossible 144% reflectance. Consequently, if a half-stop error goes unnoticed, why be so picky about exposure at all?

    Pre-visualisation is a great idea. Turning exposure metering into an arcane ritual isn't. Especially if you can't add up properly!

    The old adage "Expose for the shadows and develop for the highlights" is about all you need. Except nobody develops individual plates these days. Maybe an updated adage should be used - "Expose to the right and dig the shadows out in post"
  8. Thanks Joe.

    I have been know to develop individual sheets, although admittedly I MOSTLY do 2 or 4 at a time.
  9. Hi,

    I am looking to buy a used, cheap flash meter, probably under 100 EUR.
    Mostly, I find old minoltas III or older, old sekonic (like the 458 from the 1980s), and some other strange types.

    My question: what flash meter should I look for in the used market, that is not an old model, but may cost less than 100 EUR?

  10. AJG


    I wouldn't worry too much about the age of the meter--I have a Sekonic L 518 that I bought nearly 30 years ago and it still works perfectly. In the US, these can typically be found for around $100 or less in decent condition.
  11. "I am looking to buy a used, cheap flash meter, probably under 100 EUR."

    The above recommendations still stand. Not much has changed in the last month!
    Nor in the last 30 years as far as light metering is concerned.

    My old Minolta IIIF, Shepherd FM1000 and Quantum flashmeters all work as well and accurately as any fancy "analyzing" meter you'll find being sold today.

    The latest "whistles and bells" are there to sell meters in a world where TTL metering is ubiquitous. Those fancy functions do nothing to better the basic purpose of a meter, which is to measure light.

    Stick whatever meter in incident mode, point it at the subject, press the button, read the aperture - job done!
    Last edited: Nov 9, 2017
  12. "Stick whatever meter in incident mode, point it at the subject, press the button, read the aperture - job done!"

    - Ooops! Sorry.
    That should have been:
    Stick whatever meter in incident mode, point it at the camera from the subject, press the button, read the aperture - job done!
  13. I have a Minolta IV-F.
    For flash work I hold a RF trigger in my opposite hand from the flash meter, then trigger the flash(es) with the RF trigger. This avoids the hassle with the PC cord.

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