Using a Pentax Digital Zone VI modified Spotmeter

Discussion in 'Large Format' started by rick_dal_porto, Aug 28, 2003.

  1. I just purchased a mint condition Pentax Digital Zone VI modified
    Spotmeter via eBay. I was hoping someone had resources I can be
    directed to better understand how to use the device within the Zone
    system. I'm new to B&W photography. Thanks.

  2. Try:
  3. Rick,
    I have owned and used this meter for over 15 years. The manner in which it is used is that the front ring is turned to the ISO that you assign to the film that you use (either the mfg published or your self determined rating). Pressing the trigger initiates the display. This will be a number and possibly one or two dots (these are indicators of 1/3 stops). This numerical display will be the luminance measured with the center round circle (1 degree spot).

    I normally meter the lower value and the highest value (deepest shadow and high light value of the scene). I place the low value on a Zone III by aligning the Zone III indicator on the rear ring to the number assigned to the low value. Any of the F Stop and shutter speeds aligned with each other should give you a proper exposure. If the high numerical rating does not exceed Zone VIII then the film will either be N developed or N+ developed (if the high reading falls on Zone VI or VII). If the high number is beyond Zone VIII then the film will need to be N- developed. Good luck.
  4. Rick, getting a copy of The Zone VI Workshop by Fred Picker would be a very good starting point. It is out of print now, but very readily available used. Eventually you will probably want to acquire the Ansel Adams technical series. However, the Picker book is an excellent book to get you up and running.
  5. I have the analog version of that Pentax meter, and in its use for the zone system, there's really no difference. One reads an index number through the viewfinder that can be cross-referenced to the dial outside the meter.

    I don't mess with the gray scale that one can obtain for these meters. I rather choose to use the following simple approach.

    In using my meter, I might place an area of a scene as a Zone IV. If that area is a "13" in the meter's viewfinder, subtracting, one obtains 13-IV = 9. Thereafter, subtract the "9" from the meter's reading at any other portion of the scene, and you've identified that portion's Zone value with respect to your Zone IV placement.

    Subtracting in this fashion is useful, because once I place an area as a particular zone, I want to know how other areas of the scene stack up with respect to that original placement.

    Let's assume that I liked my placement of the original area as a Zone IV. Add the number "V" to the "9", and one obtains 9+V=14. Then, use the "14" on the dial to obtain the correct f-stop and shutter speed for that original Zone IV placement.

    Regardless of the original zone that you placed, always add "V" to obtain the number that you use on the dial to determine the correct f-stop and shutter speed.

    While it may sound a little complicated to read, it's actually a very simple and intuitive system to use in practice. Try it a couple of times, and I think that you will see the simple logic behind this system's use.

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