Trusty cheap light meter?

Discussion in 'Beginner Questions' started by claire_jacoby, Dec 5, 2016.

  1. I'd love recommendations for a trusty and cheap (under $100 at least, under $50 even better!) light meter. I'm a beginner and I've (lately) had good luck with my own guessing and an iPhone Light Meter app, but I'd like something more accurate. I've had Sekonic, Minolta, and Pentax brands recommended to me before but I'm not really sure what I'm looking at... so I'd love more input.
  2. Most of the Gossen meters are good. They can be found in your price range on eBay if you are patient. They can sell for more.
    Look for light meter models of any brand that don't require mercury batteries .
    Gary Naka likes this.
  3. If you want a classic that does not require batteries, a Weston Master V or Euromaster uses a selenium cell. This has its own disadvantages, but with the Invercone can be used for incident readings as well as reflected. 11 results on Ebay from £5 upwards.
  4. Hi Claire, I have a sekonic meter I use for flash metering, but when I go out with one of my old film cameras I use a Gossen Pilot 2. It is a small ambient meter that measures direct or reflected light. It does not require batteries and comes with a small case.
  5. SCL


    Hello Claire - All the above are good suggestions. But honestly try this out before committing may well do the job for you unless you're shooting in unusual lighting situations, or slides. It's free. I've almost never needed my expensive exposure meter, and always keep a copy of this one in my bag and in my car. Google The New Jiffy Calculator-Stacken, download and print it out. It is a simple cut and paste.
  6. I love the accuracy and ease-of-use of the Minolta IV F. New, it's not cheap, but there are many available used for low prices.
  7. i have my old GE golden crown pr-3.
    it is easy to use and pretty much a universal meter.
    set the asa ( iso) with a magnifier and the rest is easy- wven with poor eyes.
    mine still seems ok after 40 years.
    pointer, as far as I recall, has no lock.
    the standard is the weston meter but the [
    I also buily a Knight-kit cd s meter.
    It needs some kid of mercury or zinc-oxide cell (2)
    it features a Honneywell taught-band meter.
    which makes it resistant to bumps.
    ( allies radio corp)
    an at the time was known as the "
    poor man s luna six)
    it sold for under $20.00
  8. I don't use smart phones so I can't understand how an iPhone app might lack accuracy.
    Back to meters: there are 3 types: Incident / spot / flash. - AFAIK Minolta and Sekonic offer(ed) all in one packages. Pentax was spot only. - Make sure to get one that does not require Mercury (replacemnet) cells! I have a Soligor clone and it sees very little use. "Scanning" a subject to apply Zone System simply takes too much time and brain for my taste and I am not carrying cameras or backs prepared for different film processing to benefit from it.
    I recommend getting a flash capable incident meter. Luna Pro F (2?) / Lunasix F are great and run on 9V batteries. If you are old enough to have some reading glasses somewhere but not always with you you might be happier with Gossen's new digital meters like Luna Pro 2 or Variosix F 2. They don't need to blow your budged and are quite decent. - While something else for continuous light only is surely cheaper you'll have to buy a flash meter later when you get into studio stuff.
    Getting a stand alone spot meter (if you really want one) should be cheaper than attachment + Gossen Profisix. The latter with TTL metering attachment might be handy for LF tabletops since it figures bellows draw in (I didn't get mine going yet).
  9. Of course, what no-one has asked yet is : 'What camera are you using ?'. No, not equipment fetishism, but if the camera has a built-in metering system, is that not easier (I won't say more accurate, as accuracy depends on how you are using it !). Or are you attempting to expose your subjects using the Zone System, and looking to make sure you have accurate mid-tones ?
  10. There is something to be said for having a reliable, known-good meter. You needn't break the bank, but I would get the newest meter you can afford. I like Sekonic - I find them to be very accurate and sturdy.
    For a little more than 100 US dollars, you can get the Sekonic L-208 brand new. This has everything you need to be your reference meter for a lifetime.
    If you would prefer digital, the L-308 is just under 200.
    Both can probably found at good used prices online (* bay).
  11. david_henderson


    I see you haven't answered MR Parsons' question about what sort of camera you use and what if any metering options it has. You should add to that info whether you shoot film or digital and if the former then neg film; slide film; or b&w neg film?
    I use Dslrs and I don't find any use whatsoever for a hand-held meter. I used to, when I shot medium format slide film, but not now, at all. I use the cameras meter, check the histograms and if I don't like what I see I'll shoot again. Having grown up photographically relying totally on an external meter, I now think a photograph in the camera is the best meter of all. Particularly for a beginner who probably isn't operating in particularly complex lighting situations.
    And if you do need one most people above are talking about brands. But the more important aspect is what type of metering does it support.
    Incident vs Reflective?
    and if reflective then
    Spot-meter vs wide -angle receptor vs something in between?
    They are all useful for particular circumstances, but I have never found meters taking in readings from a wide angle to be any use to me. A tiny wrist movement can very often produce a large swing in readings, and you can't see precisely where the meter is taking its reading from. Many cheap and used meters are of this type.
  12. m42dave

    m42dave Dave E.

    Claire, if you're on a budget and don't need anything too sophisticated, Vivitar had some good meters. I have an old Vivitar selenium-cell handheld meter which is accurate and reliable, doesn't require a battery, and it only cost a few dollars at a thrift shop. I also have one of their shoe-mounted meters which is nice to use with cameras lacking a built-in meter.
  13. Thanks so much for all the responses; I appreciate the input and you have all given me several options to consider.
    For those wondering: I shoot color negative film on an old Nikon FM (its meter is broken). Mostly landscape, some portraits. I'm not really doing anything fancy, I'm just interested in something more reliable than guessing/using my iPhone.
  14. One of the nicest old style selenium cell meters I've used is the Gossen Pilot 2. It's not terribly sensitive, but covers a decent range, and it's very tough, with a plastic shell, and a built in curtain for incident light. The Pilot 2, unlike the Pilot 1, has a little trim pot in it that allows you to calibrate it.
  15. Look for the old Gossen Luna Pro, but you will not get it for $ 30. The best cheap light meters are the SLR. It's easy to find an SLR with a big meter for 10 or 20 dollars.

  16. After nearly 18 months, I'd be surprised if the OP was still checking this thread or still looking for a meter. But while this thread is resurrected:

    "If you want a classic that does not require batteries, a Weston Master V or Euromaster uses a selenium cell."

    - Noooo! Those two models are among the most unreliable meters around.

    I come across dozens of them at camera fairs, and they're all dead or dying without exception. The issue is the selenium cell loses sensitivity over time, and replacement cells are no longer available.

    OTOH, the earlier Weston III model was obviously fitted with a far more robust cell, since these nearly all turn up in fully working order. The invercone kit for them is a bit rarer and harder to find though.

    Weston II models are also quite common in working condition, but were calibrated in Weston film speeds. Whereas the model III was the first to use the ASA (now ISO) film speeds.

    Anyway, in short; do not touch Weston IVs, Vs, or Euromasters with a barge-pole. Earlier models have a much better chance of being in working order.
  17. I always wonder... how does this happen.?
    Somebody asks a question...they get several responses...and then 20 Months later, some guy Bee-Bops along, and responds like the post is still on page one.
    You could not possibly, just stumble onto this. How do you find a question this old, and then respond to it as if the guy just asked it yesterday.?
  18. I suspect the late responder was looking for a place to plug his real estate photography blog.
  19. Well, in lot of cases it might come up in a site search and the resurrection may result from a failure to look at the OP date.
    Then again,
  20. I suppose, but I think interest in trusty cheap light meters should never go away.

    For one, some of us use cameras old enough not to have one. The OP has a camera with one that doesn't work.
    (Though the FM meter is simple enough that they should rarely fail, except for dead battery. Maybe a leaking battery ate through the contacts.)

    For the most part, I find selenium cell meters either work or don't, as the contacts to the cell are fragile.

    CdS needs a battery, and hopefully not Hg, as noted.

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