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04-04-2011, 03:10 PM   #1
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Is there a cheap light meter for usage with manual lenses?

I read on another discussion on here (see I do search) that with manual lenses a light meter could be helpful. Is that accurate? Could someone recommend a cheap one that I could use?

Would I ever need to use this with full auto lenses or just with manual ones?

Thanks.

04-04-2011, 03:21 PM   #2
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Your camera has a built-in light meter, and that's the one I'd recommend using.
04-04-2011, 03:24 PM   #3
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QuoteOriginally posted by justtakingpics Quote
I read on another discussion on here (see I do search) that with manual lenses a light meter could be helpful. Is that accurate? Could someone recommend a cheap one that I could use?

Would I ever need to use this with full auto lenses or just with manual ones?

Thanks.
You have a light meter in your camera. With 'A' aperture lenses, you should have no problems whatsoever. With 'K', 'M' lenses you will need to either buy and install a focus screen that measures exposure correctly at every aperture (I chose this route with an LL-60 screen on my K10) or find the aperture that is accurate with the particular lens, meter at that aperture then manually select the exposure settings that recreate the same exposure.

e.g. at f/8 your lens meters correctly. Meter at f/8, but your shutter speed (1/125) is a stop slower than you need, so change the shutter speed one stop faster to 1/250 and change the f/stop down to f/5.6.
04-04-2011, 03:49 PM   #4
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A handheld light meter is always useful regardless of the camera or lens used. I liken learning to use an external meter to the advantages one finds going beyond basic math to geometry, trigonometry and algebra for understanding and solving practical problems.

They solve lighting and exposure problems, not equipment issues by solving or simplifying some of the exposure issues attributed to modern in-camera metering you see addressed on the forums. And learning to use the meter is the basis for understanding exposure in all forms.

In-camera metering is sort of like used car salesmen -- you can only trust 'em so far without falling back on common sense and experience.

Here's two meters that are especially useful -- but not inexpensive. The comments regarding use are pertinent.

Light Meters - Pentax Accessory Review Database - Flashes, Grips, Camera Bags

There are many used meters on auction sites and some of the high end meters of yesterday are available for pennies on the original dollar now. Just select one that uses "modern" button batteries; avoid those that use out of production mercury batteries to make life simpler.

Do expect to learn to calibrate an external meter to your own shooting needs for best results.

Wesson, Sekonic, Gossen, and GE are a few of the generally available brands you can rely on. You might want to explore -- Electronic flash, 35mm camera flash, 35mm light meter instruction manual, user manual, free PFD camera manuals -- for downloadable manuals for meters that interest you.

Search here and on the web for the phrase "light meter" for extensive discussion and advice on specific techniques and meters.

One of the many books on exposure and basic photography available through Amazon.com would be helpful.

H2

04-04-2011, 04:40 PM   #5
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I have 2 which I have picked up along the way (over 30 years)

Both are seconic, one is an incident light meter (including the dome, but missing most of the slide in filters, the other is a reflected light meter,

I have not used them much, other than when testing lenses, because they give me an indication of consistency, where some lenses have considerably different transmission behavior. My worst case, under identical lighting is a ricoh 135F2.8 that is 1 full stop slower than other lenses, The light meter is useful to check things like that,
04-04-2011, 06:26 PM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by Lowell Goudge Quote
I have 2 which I have picked up along the way (over 30 years)

Both are seconic, one is an incident light meter (including the dome, but missing most of the slide in filters, the other is a reflected light meter,

I have not used them much, other than when testing lenses, because they give me an indication of consistency, where some lenses have considerably different transmission behavior. My worst case, under identical lighting is a ricoh 135F2.8 that is 1 full stop slower than other lenses, The light meter is useful to check things like that,
Lowell,
One question, would a light meter solve the metering problems the K**D's have with K and M lenses? It seems to me that that would be the ideal situation for an external meter.
The other application I think might be good would be a spot meter if you have a Katzeye (or knockoff) focusing screen.

NaCl(I've been eyeing meters for those very reasons)H2O
04-04-2011, 06:41 PM   #7
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I have a few good light meters (Minolta Auto Meter IV-F with 5 (or 10?)-degree viewfinder, Pentax 1-degree spot meter, ....).

But I don't use them for day to day shooting, even with K10D & manual lenses.

Partly because my K10D has an LL-60 screen.

Even without the LL-60 screen, I find it more efficient to characterize each lens and find the aperture setting at which the metering is accurate, then in the field, use that aperture to meter by the camera's light meter, and adjust shutter/aperture combination from there.

Last edited by SOldBear; 04-04-2011 at 06:48 PM.
04-04-2011, 09:22 PM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by NaClH2O Quote
Lowell,
One question, would a light meter solve the metering problems the K**D's have with K and M lenses?
No light meter, hand held or internal, is truly reliable when paired with specific equipment until it's calibrated to that set of components (including film, processing, sensor, etc).

The two practical and useful variables are your personal satisfaction with the results through experimentation and the use of ASA/ISO offset as the variable EV adjustment tool.

Even the problems with certain types of lenses with TTL meters yields to custom EV calibration although it can be inconvenient. Unfortunately, most of us don't shoot in those conditions consistently enough to feel comfortable with experimental results.

I've found that center-weighted, TTL metering with those lenses gives good results with a little experimentation. Spot metering is adversely affected to some degree by split prism VF screens and is generally unpredictable IME.

A primary cause of inconsistency with M42 and -M class lenses is that the aperture is set linearly by diameter rather than by area of the aperture. Makes no difference in metering results since EV is standardized, but the mechanical aperture control of the older lenses 'marches to a slightly different drummer' than the modern K/A mount mechanism which is usually most evident at the extreme ends of the aperture scales.

I'm not diligent enough to thoroughly calibrate each of my older lenses so I take the lazy way out and go-ugly-early by using whatever metering is convenient and adjust on the spot with histogram and EV button 'til I'm satisfied. A few preliminary "sighting rounds" with an incident meter reading, or even Sunny Sixteen rules, plus a histogram check usually covers the local action.

H2

04-05-2011, 02:23 AM   #9
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My few cents...
For the effort to take one out of the bag and use one its probably faster to just meter with green button and review the histogram/highlight warnings on the LCD.
04-05-2011, 04:33 AM   #10
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If you own an Android phone, or an iPhone/iPod Touch, there are free light meter applications that you can use. I have one for my iPod touch (4G, of course, you need the camera) and I've used it from time to time. Impressively reliable.
04-05-2011, 07:57 AM   #11
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Stealth metering

QuoteOriginally posted by bdery Quote
If you own an Android phone, or an iPhone/iPod Touch, there are free light meter applications that you can use. .
There's a lot to be learned by simply carrying a pocket-able LM around with you and discretely challenging yourself to estimate exposures for the situations you encounter in your daily activities. Over time you build up pre-set exposure scenarios similar to what was used by the famous documentary/news shooters of the pre-TTL metering era.

It's ironic that today most people assume you're manipulating a cell phone and occasionally want to see just what sort of new gadget you have! One comment I've heard more than once is, "Huh, never seen one a them things before! How do you text with it?"

H2
04-05-2011, 11:33 AM   #12
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I have a 1 degree Minolta Spot meter and never use it. Can't even sell it.

With digital, and the ability to knock off 20 bracketed shots of the same static scene at zero cost, what's the point?

And if the scene isn't static, what's the point of wasting time reaching for a separate meter?

The times they are 'a changing.

BTW:

What's a good link/resource to learn how to read a histogram? I don't know how.
04-05-2011, 01:45 PM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by Ira Quote
BTW:

What's a good link/resource to learn how to read a histogram? I don't know how.
Ira, I turned on the "blinkies" and use them instead of the histogram. Just two days ago, I went to snap a shot of the house across the street showing our lovely (NOT!) latest snowfall for the lady who owns the home, and who is in Poland. Lot's of snow, but I was not going outside, thank you very much. Took a shot with the 16-50 in pattern metering. Too dark - yellow blinkies. +2 stops, red blinkies! +1 stop no blinkies. Works for me.
04-05-2011, 02:26 PM   #14
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Some confessions:

* I carry a light meter, sometimes two (little Sekonic direct meter, big Minolta incident meter). But I also carry a primitive film camera, sometimes two (135/6x6/6x9 folders, etc). So, there IS a methedrine to my madness. But sometimes the K20D becomes a handy, fancy, expensive spotmeter for my US$5 Kodak Monitor.

* I don't read histograms when shooting. I'll chimp the image and adjust exposure accordingly, but I don't need a histogram to tell me it's too light or dark. I ain't THAT blind. Yet.

* Of my (too-)many manual lenses, just a few are A-type, a few more are M-type, and most are screwmount or otherwise don't do auto-stopdown. And I've a few AF's too. I might use M(anual) mode and the Green button for metering with ANY of them, yes, even the AF's, especially if I'm in situations with consistent lighting, or that call for consistent exposures. Thus for some 'scape sequences, especially for stitched panos, find an optimal exposure and stay with it -- any AE will change exposures for varying amounts of surface and sky.

* Similarly, there are times when the Sunny Sixteen rule actually works. We don't need no stinking meters! Here's an exercise: Set camera in M(anual) mode. Work WITHOUT metering. Use eyes. Look at light. Use brain. Judge light. Guess (intuit) exposure. Now meter to see how well you saw/judged/guessed. Now adjust your THINKING to match the metering. Repeat until you can outsmart the meter. (You ARE smarter than a meter, right? Oh I hope so...) This is a very traditional method -- Guess-timation, it's called. If it was good enough for Daguerre and Brady and Muybridge, it should be good enough for you, right?

Off-topic: If you shoot pictures of noodles, are you a pho-tographer?
04-05-2011, 02:45 PM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by NaClH2O Quote
Lowell,
One question, would a light meter solve the metering problems the K**D's have with K and M lenses? It seems to me that that would be the ideal situation for an external meter.
The other application I think might be good would be a spot meter if you have a Katzeye (or knockoff) focusing screen.

NaCl(I've been eyeing meters for those very reasons)H2O
I would think that is the only reason to use a meter today is legacy lenses where we know there are metering issues. After all that's why they exist anyway. but if you know how to use a histogram you don't really need one
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