Which hand held exposure meter?

Discussion in 'Leica and Rangefinders' started by hal, Jul 19, 2002.

  1. hal


    I'm shooting in natural light and thought I might try out one of those hand held
    digital meters. The Sekonic 308 is appealing since it is small and does
    everything I need. My dealer says go for the 358. I'd appreciate your advice.
  2. I went for the slightly larger L-408. It has a 5 degree spot meter with viewfinder. So you know exactly what it is you're metering. To me, that makes it far more useful than the L-308.

  3. Hal - I'd go to < http://www.sekonic com > and check the specs for both meters yourself. The 358 has almost every bell and whistle imaginable. If you need its capabilities, then it's the meter for you. If you just want a meter that will give you an accurate incident reading and a reflective reading - - and runs on a AA alkaline battery - - the the 308 will meet your requirements. One is large, one fits into your shirt pocket. I'm biased, as the 308 has served me well for several years.
  4. I second the L-408. I also have a Gossen Lunapro Digital F and the problem with it, like the 308, is I can't ever be sure of what it's reading. For use with a Leica M camera, the Sekonic L208 fits in the shoe and you can use the 90 framelines to aim the meter, but the readout is analog. I understand Gossen is now making a digital shoe-mount meter but I don't know the specs.
  5. pentax digital spot. the only way to make accurate readings AND the quickest way to go. want to preserve hilight detail -- point it brightest spot that still has detail and open two stops. want shadow detail -- point it at darkest sport that retains detail and close two stops. or just point it at a middle tone and you're good to go. what do people do with averaging meters?? with ambient meters??
  6. The Pentax Digital spot meter seems to me the only one which gives any real advantage over in-camera (or Leicameter) meters.
  7. if u think u will need a spot meter with incident capability, try the
    L608. it has a 1 degree spot and its viewfinder is so sharp and
    crisp. it has a dual reading mode and although it is larger than
    what i was intending to buy, i got used to carrying it around all
    over vietnam and cambodia. i had 2 M6TTL's and the dual iso
    reading mode was perfect. to get the 2nd iso reading u just hit
    one button with the equivalent f-stop or shutter setting, but u have
    to mess around a little when u want to roll around the other
    f-stops/s-speeds. it has a 9 spot averaging feature also and has
    a backlit reading in low-light/dark conditions. the reason i went
    for it was that for me when youre travelling i find a spot meter
    capability is more useful than the incident, as most time u just
    can't run up to the subject for whatever reason. i decide to go for
    the L608 instead of the 508 as it was a difference of only £40.00
    extra and the viewfinder zoom is a million miles sharper than the
    one in the 508. It is 'the most advanced and latest handheld
    light-measuring instrument available in the photographic
    industry' - well, that statement was true when i bought it 3
    months ago. nothing came close to it for size, features, usability
    and styling. pricey - as you'd expect!
  8. You can never go wrong with Minolta Flash meter V. This spot meter measures ambient and flash light.You can take eight readings and it gives you the average,you can covert speed(30mins to 1/16,000sec)(Flash:30mins to 1/1,000sec, of f.stops(f.0.7 to f/90+0.9 (in 0.1 stop increments) or ASA(ISO rating 3 to 8000 in 1/3 stop increments).You can fix the optional accessory Viewfinder 5 degree or 10 degree for spot metering.This is a top range meter and worth investing your $$$$.
  9. mike dixon

    mike dixon Moderator

    I'm also a 408 user, but if you don't need the 5-degree "spot," the 308 should do the job for you in a smaller package.
  10. My, my, what a plethora of opinions.

    1. Why are you thinking you want to try a handleld meter? If you have a modern in-camera meter, it's right the vast majority of the time.

    2. (Confession, I have and use both spot meters and handhelds)

    3. Most of the spot-only meters are very similar: Pentax, Minolta, or the other one...... was it Sekonic?

    4. Most of the handheld meters made these days fall into two main categories: with spot meter and every doo-dad known to man, and basic incident/reflected meters. All the main manufacturers make good models and have dedicated fans: Gossen, Sekonic, Minolta, and Polaris (did I leave one out?). There are also underwater, color temperture, and some other specialized meters.

    Decide with the following questions:
    - Do you want a larger meter with the spot feature?
    - Do you want flash metering capability: corded or cordless?
    - Do you want digital or analog?
    - Do you need camera-shoe mounting?

    Then take your pick. For a basic meter, pick an incident with cordless flash and digital readout. If you think you might want spot metering, get one of the combo meters ($$$) or a used spot meter.
  11. Spearhead

    Spearhead Moderator Staff Member

    Like so many other choices in photography, it really depends on what you want to do with it. For example, if you are shooting in very low light, in-camera meters (except maybe in Olympus SLRs) aren't very useful. Older Gossen meters and the now-discontinued Quantum meter get down to light levels well below other meters.

    If you are going to be shooting portraits, you may want an incident meter, landscapes a spot meter. This is driven in part by where you have to stand relative to the subject.

    So figure out what you are trying to do first, then ask the question.
  12. Whew! I've ben waiting at the old forum for the last two months for somebody to show up. Why didn't you tell me you moved? This is exactly what my parents did to me as a child.

    At any rate, the type of hand-held meter to use, like many other things in life, is completely a matter of personal preference. What type of photography one does can be a factor in deciding.

    My personal preference is the Voigtlander clip-on meter. It is very accurate, even in low light, along with being quick and easy to use. I usually keep one in my pocket when using my M3 or M2. It's a great buy in my opinion.

    Nice being back again...

    Dennis Couvillion
  13. Natural light often means outdoors. So, in addition to all the advice above, you might ask yourself whether you need some kind of tolerance to humidity (Sekonics says the 308 is weather resistant) or not (a lot of the ones with every bell and whistle don't : Sekonic does not say anything about weather resistance of the 408).
  14. Actually, it seems to me that anyone using a Leica should pick up a Kodak Dataguide with the little cardboard calculator dial for daylight on one side, and for low light levels on the reverse. (Meter???? I don't need no stinkin' meter!!!!)
  15. mike dixon

    mike dixon Moderator

    The 408 is also quite weather-resistant. Mine has been completely drenched on several occasions with no adverse effects. It's also tough--it has survived impacts that would have sent the Leica into the shop.
  16. Mike, you are right, I double checked and Sekonic does say the 358 and 408 are weather proof.
  17. I've become a fan of the 358- great display, and the functions I want, without a ton of junk I wont use, small(ish), and Ive gotten it pretty wet with no ill consequences. I think its a good way to go, good balance betwen features and simplicity.
  18. Hal: You have ellicited quite a response!! Personally, I have gone
    with the Sekonic 308 as it is a small incident lightmeter that fits
    in my shirt pocket. If you need something more sophisticated,
    then try the 358 or L408.
  19. Ahhh, the meter wars. Frankly Hal, if you're not going to ever use
    the meter for Flash work why pay for all that technology? Even a
    L-358 has the ability to remote trigger radio slaves, and now the
    Profoto Acute 2 generators have the receiver built right in.
    However, the point about spot readings is a good one. More
    control. These meters cost an arm and a leg these days. Look
    for a Minolta IVf with a detachable spot accesory. True, it's also
    still a flash meter, but you don't have to pay through the nose for
    a used one.
  20. The Sekonisc 308 is a nice little meter, but drives me up the wall when I have to use it. I like to wave the meter about a bit to see where the readings are coming from, like grass, concrete etc. But the 308 has the readout on the same side as the photocell, so its great for incidence readings, but rubbish for reflected light. Each time you have to lock the exposure and turn it around to see your shutter only priority reading. So I got a second hand Gossen Lunasix, which does both, and you can see the needle move around the scale and can make up your mind much quicker.
  21. Steve - The reflective included angle of the 308 approximates that of my old Weston Master V. I never waved it around, but deliberately pointed it to grass and took a reading. Alternatively, I took the reading from the palm of my hand and adjusted. I still do the same thing with the 308, and it works. In cathedrals, I point it at the stained glass windows - - and then bracket to ensure a decent exposure. The 308 is primarily a very accurate, shirt pocket incident meter, with a reflective capability that can be used when / if you need it. It's not a primary reflective meter. For those of us who want a small accurate incident meter, it's an excellent device. Unless you get into the very high dollar meters, it's difficult to combine an incident, reflective, 1 degree spot, flash, and contrast meter into one package. And, when you do, it's a large handful.
  22. My personal vote is for a Quantum CalcuLight XP. I have 3
    meters including one of these plus a Sekonic L-508 and a Zone
    VI modified Pentax Spotmeter, but the Quantum stands out as
    being the most dependable, incredibly accurate, completely
    linear meter I have ever used. Unless I need spot or flash
    metering, the Quantum is my choice every time. Unfortunately, I
    don't think they're being made any more. But if you can find one
    used, snap it up. It was a bargain new and should be worth
    every penny used.
  23. Wow! Opinions all over the place. I'll disagree with many here, and vote for the Old Gossen Luna Pro, CdS.
    It's very sensitive, perhaps the most sensitive meter you can buy.
    It's very accurate, albeit a bit slow to register.
    It sees light in a 1 - 22 scale, each number representing light as half or double that of the numbers preceeding or succeeding it. After about a year of serious use, you just start seeing light in terms of that scale. I've dumped my later "improved" Luna Pros, Sekonics, Minolta spots, etc. This is the one, for me. Just an opinion, mind, but I've been decades coming to it.
    I tend to use it in incident mode, the spot attachment was never used.
  24. I have been using my Gossen Lunasix-F for the last 20 years, still
    working fine. Very accurate at low light level, best meter to go
    with Noctilux. However the latest Digisix is great, the very small
    and cost about USD100.

    I guess we are using Leica because we treasure the tradition of
    photography, why should we get our exposure from a digital display.
  25. George - You obviously love your 308. I would question the value of a primarily incident meter for 'typical' Leica photography, where it is rarely appropriate to meter near your subject. A reflected reading from grass etc, is far more discreet. But the point about 'waving it about' is that you can quickly get a sense of the contrast range, and not just an 18% reading. This helps bracking considerably and gives you the intelectual ammunition for an inspired guess if the action hots up. But even with an incident reading from the 308, I would argue that in order not to shield the invercone at one side or the other, you have to stand 'behind' the meter, and therefore need to turn it around every time you want to read your light reading. I am not suggesting you need an all bells and whistles meter with spot attachments etc, but a Weston, or Lunasix is more ergonomic for incident or reflected use.
  26. The Sekonic 508, period.
  27. Surprisingly evident some posters haven't a clue about how to use an incident meter, much less its advantages over a reflective meter. I love the 308 for its ergonomics, large read-out, size and dead-on accuracy.The only meter worth having is one you actually use. Spots are great(not goofy tack-on attachment thingies)but aren't small and do require fiddling that's not exactly conducive to nailing a candid shot.The 358 seemed over-optioned and no more capable than the 308 for what I use it for, not to mention pricier.
  28. Spearhead

    Spearhead Moderator Staff Member

    The Sekonic 508, period.
    Answers like this are what make photo.net boards look like usenet.
    Tell me something, what photos at my web site would be better if I used a 508 instead of my Quantum Calculite XP and Minolta Autometer 3F? How about your web site? I looked for some photos that would demonstrate the superiority of the 508 for photography, but I couldn't find any. That wasn't much of a surprise.
    And hey, what if I like to shoot in the dark? Is it still The Sekonic 508, period.? The Calculite and older Gossen light meters go much lower in light level.
    There is no it's xyz, period in photography. It's about the tools someone needs and the tools that work for specific needs.
  29. mike dixon

    mike dixon Moderator

    I would question the value of a primarily incident meter for 'typical' Leica photography, where it is rarely appropriate to meter near your subject.
    At least 90% of my metering for candid/documentary/"street" shooting is done in incident mode (I have M3s, so if I'm using a meter, it's a handheld). You don't stick the meter in you're subjects face, but it's generally quite easy to meter the same kind of light that's falling on your subject.
  30. I agree with David Munson above. For sure the Calculite XP. It's one sweet meter and can read in darned near darkness. Truly!!!!

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