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08-20-2013, 06:14 PM   #1
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Spotmeter Comparisons

I am in the market for a spotmeter for use with film cameras. I use a Sekonic L358 meter handheld for close-in work and overall scene metering (when not using the TTL in my KM), but occasionally I can't meter exactly how I want to expose a scene when I can't reach the thing I want to meter (metering shadows etc.). I am unclear on whether I should be considering a Pentax Digital Spotmeter as opposed to a Spotmeter V.

I feel like a well-tuned Spotmeter V will do what I need it to, without the added expense of the Digital, but I was hoping to get a more clear sense of the differences (minus the Ansel Adams cachet). Or for that mater is it better to just go for the more affordable Soligors since I'm not a pro?

Sorry if this has been asked before, I couldn't find a thread with a clear comparison.

08-20-2013, 07:54 PM   #2
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Ask @Tuco. He is the resident Pentax Spotmeter expert.


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08-20-2013, 09:26 PM   #3
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Why thanks for that endorsement, Steve.

I own both the Pentax Spotmeter V and the Digital Spotmeter. I pretty much meter with them all the time even if the camera has a built in meter or not for film. I don't know what is really "digital" about the Digital Spotmeter though apart from the old, vector-style lights in the viewfinder. It, like the Spotmeter V, use a analog-style dial you rotate to see all the combinations of exposures for a given EV reading. And that is a GOOD thing if you practice the zone system of metering.

So the biggest differences between the Spotmeter V and the Digital version in practice to me is the physical size. The Digital can fit in your pocket. I have a Sekonic light meter with a spot meter attachment but light meters with that kind of readout are more frustrating to use for my style.

Once you get some experience under your belt with a one-degree, you can meter most scenes both extremely fast and to your liking. And by that I mean, when you, say, place a shadow 3 stops below your middle gray exposure, it comes out close to that after development. When you know the range of light you can typically capture, it is easy to walk up to a scene, pick one thing out, meter and place it - done. No need to scan high and low values and figure an average out kind of thing. And more often than not I do that while walking up to a scene before I've got the camera out.

Last edited by tuco; 08-20-2013 at 09:36 PM.
08-20-2013, 10:35 PM   #4
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Thanks!! The way I grew up choosing exposure was to meter (dad just did it by eye) the shadows and decide how much I wanted them exposed, then adjust from there. We usually went on instinct for the difference between high and low. It was very much the lazy man's zone system. I'd like to be able to do this a bit more precisely. (We also had the advantage of being able to develop, of course.)

I do feel the digital spot meter may have an advantage at night because of the LEDs. For example I actually live a couple blocks from the Space Needle. If I had a spot meter I could expose for the monument and not guess how much to adjust down from metering the scene. I suspect that is hard to do on the V because it is hard to see the needle of the meter.

08-20-2013, 10:50 PM   #5
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The Spotmeter V has a light. It only lights up the lower EV values in the display when you push the button on the side. It is somewhat effective and better than nothing. But you're right. The digital is easier to see at night.
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