Handheld Exposure Meter

Discussion in 'Medium Format' started by danac, Aug 17, 2021.

  1. After much study over the last week I can now appreciate the efficacy of a spot meter for landscapes. Deb always has her Canon T7i. It has a "spot" meter that covers 3.5% of the view so I can try it for a somewhat equivalent tool.
  2. david_henderson

    david_henderson www.photography001.com

    whilst I don't want to start into a reflected vs incident debate , or indeed a wide angle receptor vs a spot meter debate ( and however narrow a spot needs to be to be useful debate) there is one thing I'd like to say that is just so right I have to say it.

    If you want to use a spot meter get your own.

    It is not reasonable to expect someone who may be trying to set up their own photographs to meter for you or hand over her camera for you to play with.

    You don't need to buy/carry a dedicated spot meter. the Sekonic 508/558/608 and successors combine incident and spot facility . There are others that do the same.
  3. I would get one of the multi-function Sekonic meters.
    Then you can experiment with spot, averaging and incident.

    For a LONG time I used incident. I forget how I got into it, but incident metering became and still is my SOP.
    I did not get a spot meter until I got my 4x5 view camera. Although I did understand the zone system way before that, I just did not apply it to roll film.
  4. I wonder how many spotmeters there are languishing unused in drawers, or stuffed in forgotten pockets of gadget bags?
    Because I suspect the novelty quickly wears off as the realisation dawns that the exposures being given are near identical to an incident or average reading, got in a fraction of the time and with much less fuss.

    Maybe there's the occasional shot that has an important tone that needs to be got right. But if you're experienced enough to recognise that, then you're also experienced enough to add or subtract the required exposure without the aid of dithering about with a spotmeter.
  5. Amen Brother Joe !
  6. Ah yes, meters ... From about 1980 into this millennium most of my cameras in use had built in meters. So when I stumbled into medium format in 2005, my legacy collection of meters seemed pretty motley. I ended up buying a new Gossen Digisix, It weighs about two ounces and could get lost in a shirt pocket. It does incident and reflected, and there was also a flash version. (But I use flash about once every two years.) The only complaint I have is the battery (CR2032) seems to fade away rather rapidly even when it's stored away. There is now a Digisix II -- no idea if it's any better on electron consumption.

    I also later treated myself to a used Sekonic L-508 which does incident, 1 -- 4ยบ spot, and flash. It runs on a single AA cell which is just perfect. It can do some tricks like average multiple readings and such. But though I don't always agree with rodeo_joe, I have to admit my L-508 does not spend much time in the field.

    I have a couple of apps on my iPhone. I've not seriously tested them against "real" meters, and they do just feel a bit suspect. I suppose the apps could suffer from various phone and operating system variations, but the allure was being able to deal with the tiny apertures of pinhole cameras. Since the recent pinhole work is with X-ray film, and well -- uh -- pinholery, accuracy may not be too critical!

    There are several "cottage industry" sources of very small meters that mount in an accessory shoe. I might even look at them if I were again in the market.
  7. Yeah, right...Maybe I should just saw the spot meter off my Sekonic 558 to avoid whispers and dismissive looks. Funny but it does get used, especially when incident doesn't give the look I want. Guess I've got enough "experience" to know when and how to use a 1 degree meter. Same old pontification, Joe...
  8. ]


    I love the Luna Pros, the Luna-Pro SBC uses a 9V battery.
  9. I'm not seeking to get combative about this, but what exactly do you mean by 'look'?
    I keep seeing vague subjective descriptions like 'look', 'feel', 'creaminess', '3 dimensionality' and similar non-specific terms bandied about in support of one technique or another. All phrases that never get fully explained.

    Is that what you call expressing an opinion that doesn't agree with your own?
    laurencecochrane likes this.
  10. What could possibly be more subjective than how we want an image to look? Any wonder the language to describe it might be a bit too woolly for your taste? Who cares? Not me.

    Stating an opinion is one thing, being dismissive seems to be your habit hereabouts. Tiresome.
    Dave Luttmann likes this.
  11. david_henderson

    david_henderson www.photography001.com

    When I shot MF film I found a spot meter totally indispensible. But then I was using highly critical colour slide film, and I needed to be good with it. I used an identical exposure process for B&W, not because the medium required it, but because I was switching from colour to B&W in separate backs and was concerned that using two different metering processes was likely to lead to confusion and mistakes.

    If I'd only been using b&w neg- which is what Danac has said he intends- I'd probably have stuck with incident and made occasional use of my Bronicas' rather primitive averaging meter prisms simply because latitude is greater . I don't use my dslrs in spot mode at all and to be fair given instant feedback and the ability to re-shoot I can't see much point in moving far from evaluative metering. I've taken my share of poor photographs these last ten years or so, but I don't think poor exposure has cost me anything at all. The point I'm making is of course that choice of metering method should relate to what medium you're using not just an abstract view of whether one style of metering is better than another.

    For me there's one type of meter I just couldn't use , and that's a wide-angle reflected light meter such as a Sekonic 308. For me a 40 degree receptor means that I can't really tell where the readings are coming from and relate that to the lens in use. I bought one because my 508 broke on the first day of a longish trip, I'd forgotten my back-up 508 & a 308 was the best I could find locally. But I sold it as soon as I got home- the slightest hand movement sent the readings all over the place. I have no idea how people use this sort of meter well, it was beyond me and I worked hard at it. I ended up taking a reading from "sky" (insofar as I could tell) and another from "ground " and working out an exposure and grad filter combo that would possibly mean that I wasn't blasting anything into total over or under exposure. The only trip in my life where I've fretted a lot about exposure.
  12. I recently picked up a Spectra Combi-2, which can take incident, reflected, and average readings. This meter has two photocells, one facing forwards for the reflected reading, the other facing back for incident. You select which type of reading you want with a selector switch, and the meter displays a reminder to show which type of reading is currently selected. And It has a three-position dial to select high, medium, or low light levels. I sent it in to Spectra-Cine for calibration. They turned it around promptly, with a calibration sticker that shows the expiration date. They certify their calibrations for six months. I doubt I'll be sending it that often; but maybe every couple of years. At the price of slide film, it might be worth it, to feel confident in my exposures. Anyway, I tried it for the first time in Colorado two weeks ago and really liked using it. I'll have more to report when the film comes back from Mike at AgX Imaging! I'll try to give a follow-up report on the results in a few days. Only negative so far is that it is a rather bulky meter! My Gossen meter also has a choice of incident/reflected and is much smaller. (I will stay out of the spot meter debate for now!)
  13. With respect, the Sekonic 308 is an ambient-incident/flash meter and, as such, it's always delivered for me.
  14. At the price of slide film...

    That's a major consideration now along with the price and availability of solid E-6 processing. Long may it wave but if the old Spectra-Combi lets you down, I'd lean towards a newer meter. The little Sekonic 308 is killer for ambient. Long production run, strong seller=decent supply on the used market.
  15. The 308 is primarily an incident meter (and a good one), with a reflected option. I take it you were no able to use the incident option on your trip (because you were using chromes?)

    In reflected mode, it works well if you can take closeup readings. Pretty tricky on landscapes though, that's were the spot option is useful - and necessary if you use the Zone system. But I don't think a lot of people do that with medium format these days, and like Joe says, a lot of spot meters probably sit unused - maybe one of those people would sell me a Pentax Digital Spot Meter - I've always wanted one of those!
  16. William Michael

    William Michael Moderator Staff Member

    Excellent idea.
    Others will either choose to expand and explain the meaning of their commentaries when they are asked, or they will choose to not, simple as that.
  17. david_henderson

    david_henderson www.photography001.com

    Tom Chow. Your assumptions are pretty much right, plus I'd never found it necessary to learn incident metering and I was more than a little reluctant to do so on the hoof at the beginnings of a 3 week trip with no feedback available on whether I was getting it right or not. I only used the 308 as a wide-angle reflected light meter, and frankly it was that or nothing in a small town in northern New England.
  18. Incident is the easiest and quickest method to use and get a good reading. You'd really do yourself a huge favour if you would take the little time it takes to learn how to do it.
    laurencecochrane likes this.

  19. How about a quick tutorial?
  20. Hold the meter so the incident dome is lit by the light lighting your subject. Take reading. Perfect exposure.
    Last edited: Sep 28, 2021

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