Hasselblad PME prims, what do people think of it?

Discussion in 'Medium Format' started by maktime, May 24, 2004.

  1. Hi all!

    I was looking on ebay and their are some good deals for a hasselblad PME prism finder.
    What I wanted to know is what are the pros and cons of it. If people have had first hand
    experiences with it please also post their thoughts :D

    I would like a meter for macro and portraiture work. And maybe weddings someday.

    Thanks for everyones input!!


  2. Its heavy and accurate.
  3. If you have CFx lenses, a used 203 or 205 body is a better value than a new (or used) PME45. Used PME90 are a bargain by comparison, if 2x magnification is enough and you don't use a Polaroid back. If you don't have a prism, a used PME5/PM51 costs little more than an unmetered PM5, so the metering is a perk. If you already have a prism, a good spot/incident meter (Sekonic 508/558) is more useful than a metered prism.

    The PME metering will work with any body and lens. However, you have to pre-program the ISO value and the maximum f/stop of the lens. The readings are not automatic; they must be transfered to the shutter and aperture settings. You must use an Acute-Matte screen.

    Internal metering in the 200 series cameras controls the focal-plane shutter with aperture priority. The degree of automation depends on the lens, with the "CFE" and "FE" lenses most completely implemented. You could use "C" lenses, but not easily. Otherwise, the ergonomics are superb!

    The latest PME (45 and 90) prisms offer a choice of both center-weighted and spot metering. I find the latter particularly useful, given a certain amount of practice and deliberation.

    The older PME prisms (5 and 51) have a peculiar sensing area: center-weighted, but mostly above the actual center. The shape and area vary with focal length. This is explained in the Wildi manual. The readings are expressed in "EV" numbers, with an interpolated precision of 0.5 stops (two EV numbers illuminated simultaneously).

    The PME cannot be used for flash metering. Only built-in flash metering can be used, as in the 503 and 20x models. As a result, the PME metering is not particularly useful for weddings.

    Many flash units have an internal light sensor for "automatic" exposure. You simply match the f/stop setting on the flash and camera. It works pretty well once you learn how to compensate for subject and environment effects.

    Automatic metering is not particularly useful for portraiture, especially when multiple lights are used. The best process uses an incident light meter for light balancing and exposure, with a manual (focus and exposure) camera.

    Prism and internal metering are especially useful for macro work and the use of filters. The filter factor for a polarizer depends strongly on the subject, lighting and orientation of the filter. The mirror cutoff with long lenses and extension rings may affect the PME accuracy on older bodies. On the other hand, it's not so hard to calculate the exposure factors for extension rings, and the orientation effects of a polarizer are usually within 0.5 stops of a nominal -1.5 stop factor.
  4. Unless you are using a bellows or variable extension tube or 350-500mm teles the PME finders are a useless waste of money. Any narrow-angle handheld meter with some means of aiming it works just as quickly and efficiently and costs much less than the addition of the meter to the non-metered prisms, which are un-coupled.
  5. Hmm ok.

    I do have a sekonic L-608 super zoom master. But I haven't been able to work out how to
    add in the extension tube factor for macro shots. Well I haven't got the tubes yet but will
    do soon. I guess I should purchase a copy of wildis hasselblad book. Which one would be
    the one to get? I know their are about 2 different books am i right?

    I do also have black and white coloured filters as well as a polariser. Thats why i was also
    looking for a prism. I'd love to have a PME90 or a PME45 but the price is too high for me

    Thanks for the advice!

  6. I have both the 90 and 45 prisms. I find with the heavier lenses, such as the 40 or 250 that the 45-style prism is much easier to hold than the 90-style. That also goes for any lens if you are going to keep it at eye level for any length of time.

    As for the meter – it is quite accurate but except for macro work, I prefer to use a small Sekonic (#328 or 528) incident meter. They are quicker and better suited for complex lighting situations with or without flashes.
  7. enw


    I use a PME51 with my 501CM's and love it. No, it's not 100% accurate all the time, but neither are any of my stand-alone meters. I do echo many of the other statements, it's not a flash meter so its use during weddings is limited to the available light shots and you do have to transfer the exposure information to the lens -- but it still beats using a hand held in terms of convenience and the prism viewfinder's great too! I think you should give it a try.
  8. Could PME owners make some test and write results here? What is your minimal EV number in full dark (for example with 400 ISO and 2.8 on a prism)?
  9. I had a PME 45 that I liked. It was very expensive, and when it stopped working I discovered that it could not be fixed. I would not buy one again. Among other things I don't think the incident function is useful at the camera That would be better on a stand-alone meter. Now I happily use a PME 51 all the time. Works great and really helps to steady the camera hand held.
  10. I own the PME45 and the PME 51. I prefer the PME51 that uses EV values only. The PME 45 can read out in EV, of course, by setting it to that and it can read shutter speed/f stop combination. In reality, working in EV's is so much simpler. Either prism you have to take the reading, and set the lens manually. Since Hasselblad lenses are marked in EV it is so much simpler with the PME51. In other words, I found I didn't need all the bells and whistles of the PME45.
    arthur_gottschalk likes this.
  11. Had the original PME (aka VFC6) for several years, sold it a few months ago as I found I hardly ever used it vs the smaller, older, meterless NC2 prism. The lowest light I worked with it in was approx EV 6 at ISO 400, around f/2.8 and 1/8th with the 80 Planar. I may have gotten some accurate readings at EV 4 or 5, but I didn't trust it much below EV6 at ISO 400 due to a goofy design defect of the first-generation PME (it doesn't indicate when the combo of low light level and settings is out of its measuring range). IOW, it could display EV 2 or 3 as the correct reading despite that reading being beyond its ability at ISO 400.

    This flaw was corrected in all the later PME prisms that have a number after PME in the model name (they're also re-calibrated for the Acute Matte focus screens, my ancient PME/VFC6 required manual compensation).
    Last edited: Dec 21, 2020

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