Using a Minolta Spotmeter F in general and in studio

Discussion in 'Lighting Equipment' started by melissa_eiselein, Aug 2, 2004.

  1. Garry's most-recent weekly lighting theme post got me thinking about
    my own light meter. Before I go any further, let me preface this
    post by saying: "Yes. I am indeed a light meter idiot." and "Yes. I
    should have immediately figured out if the meter worked." (that
    ought to save a few posters some valuable typing time.)

    Last year, I bought a used Minolta Spotmeter F. I tried to figure
    out how it worked, but failed. I finally bought a copy of the
    manual, but that didn't help my dilemma. Perhaps the problem is me,
    but I'm thinking it's probably the meter.

    I am able to set the ISO/Time values. But I can't change the Fno/EV
    value. It is stuck on 0. Is there a trick to this?

    Next question...I bought the Spotmeter F for outside ambient light
    photos. It does have a flash setting. But since it is a spot meter,
    how useful will it be in a mini "studio" type setting? Are incident
    light meters prefered for studio still life and portrait work?
  2. you set shutter speed ad f-stop is measured when you take the reading. with Spot F you
    can't choose f-stop and get a shutter speed reading.

    it can be useful in astudio to detrmine contrast ratios, also the highlight / shadow detail
    calculation can also be useful.

    I just sold my Spot F & Minolta Flash IV and replaced both with a Sekonic L-558. more
    versatile than the other two combined.
  3. Incident meters are easier to use in the studio for most people. You could use your spotmeter to read a grey card at your subject's position which will give you very similar results to using an incident meter.

    A spotmeter is a great tool, indoors and out. You can read very small areas of a scene and place your exposures precisely. If you are shooting digital capture or transparencies, you can read the brightest part of the scene (highlight) where you want detail and place that exposure accurately (1 to 2 stops above your meter reading). If shooting negative you can spotmeter the shadow area where you want detail and place that exposure 2 stops below your meter reading. Or you can read both highlight and shadow areas to check the exposure distance between the two. If the range is greater than 4-5 stops you can add fill to the shadows to bring the shadows up.

    The Spotmeter F will indicate where on the exposure scale your highlight and shadow measurements fall. There's so much you can do with a spotmeter.

    If you're shooting BW film and processing/printing it yourself, you can explore the world of the Zone System. And that can be very entertaining and teach you so much about exposure and tonal control. There are books in the library as well as in the bookstores about the Zone System. Even if you are just using the exposure part of the ZS you can fine-tune your technique and learn a lot.

    Just for grins, see if you can visually pick out the lightest and darkest tones in a scene. Use your spot meter so see how close you are to judging these tones by eye. Practise that and you'll find yourself much more aware of available light.

    Have fun !
  4. Ellis: Thank you! You solved the first step in my problem. The ISO/Time values are to be used in conjuction with one another, not either/or as I first thought. As soon as I figure out which safe place I stashed my manual, I'll take the meter out and experiment with it.

    Brooks: Great suggestions. I like the idea of guessing the highlight and shadow differences as a way to gain a better understanding of the zone system. I have a 1OD and Elan IIe, so I can play with film and digital. I'm one of those silly people with a few nice toys but lack of knowledge and extended periods of free time to use them. Worse, technical manuals cause my eyes to glaze over and my brain to shift into neutral.

    I guess what I need is a photo buddy, someone to encourage, practice with and help clarify technical instructions. I considered a photography club, but the closest one is about a 40 minute drive and in a seniors community. I don't have anything against seniors, but I've been around them enough to know that they don't always like pre-seniors butting into their fun and games. Still, I might give it a try and see what happens.
  5. Melissa,

    If you've got the time, do the drive, and check out the camera club in the seniors community.

    I'm 52 years old. Got my AARP card on the exact day that I turned 50 which kinda freaked me out. So I might be considered a senior by some. Is that so wrong ? Well, I guess it could be. #8^) My wife is a graphic designer and I'm a commercial photographer but we both do BW landscape photography for fun.

    A fellow on PhotoNet who lives near us turned us on to a Large Format Photo Club nearby. Most all of the guys in the club (there are two other women also) are great.

    There's some geekiness and a few camera fondlers, both of which irritate my wife, but they are really great at sharing information.

    Though they still shoot large format BW, for the most part their prints are done digitally after scanning their negs. There's some good information to be had from their experiences.

    The best thing IMO is looking at everyones photos. You can learn quite a bit just by looking at other peoples work.

    Give the club a try. If you don't care for it then just don't go back. If the senior members are old enough, they won't even remember that you were there ! #8^)
  6. Senior at 50? George Blanda played quarterback and kicked for the Oakland Raiders when he was that age.
  7. Andre,

    You don't spend twenty-some years humping 46 lb. Speedotron packs on location without learning a little something about old age ! #8^)
  8. I'm 45 and my age doesn't bother me a bit...except for that day three years ago when I went into a Burger King and the young gal at the front counter asked me if I wanted the senior discount. I should have taken it! I forgive her, the BK was smack in the senior community I mentioned earlier in this thread. She's probably been chewed out many times for not offering it. The community is a clicky place with blocks and blocks of senior-only houses (not rental apartments or mobile homes--but houses) and there are clubs and activities that you must be 62 to join. And if you're not 62, they're not shy about telling you that you don't belong.

    I probably won't even check out that club to see who's in it. I found a phone number for another group that's just as close but in a neighboring county. I called tonight and was told to come on down for tonight's SC4 slide show presentation. (Don't ask what SC4 is 'cause I don't know.) All the photos were good, many were fantastic. Next meeting is member night where club members show their own work. I'm looking forward to attending. I really hope artistic talent is contageous because I'd like to catch a bout of it.
  9. Mellisa,

    Wow ! You've got some militant seniors in that community.

    Reminds me of the "Grey Dawn" episode of South Park when the seniors parachuted into town to take over the government. The only way the town was able to defeat them was by padlocking the doors to the Kountry Kitchen Buffet. With no early bird specials available the seniors were too weak to fight. #8^)

    Let us know how the camera club meeting goes.
  10. Melissa,

    If you can't find your manual, it's available as a PDF file at the Minolta site.

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