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10-06-2015, 08:05 AM   #1
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Durability of Pentax spotmeter V vs digital?

I've already done my homework and determined that the Pentax spotmeter V is everything I need and there is no reason to pay at least double for the Pentax digital spotmeter with the exception of one issue.

In the many threads on the topic several threads mention that the spotmeter V is more prone to get knocked out of calibration by bumps and bangs than the digital.

Does anyone have actual experience to back that up or is it just one of those things that everybody knows because people keep repeating it?
I'm not expecting to drop it on concrete but it would be nice to not have to worry about it as much since it will be carried on a lanyard around my neck and probably bounced all over the place and smacked into things in mishaps.

10-06-2015, 08:19 AM   #2
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My guess is that the analog Spotmeter V is better built than the newer digital version.

I have not banged my analog one to test it's durability, but it does have some metal on it and the rest is hard plastic. It's built very well.

10-06-2015, 08:20 AM   #3
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You might want to PM tuco (forum user). I think he has and uses a Spotmeter V.

10-06-2015, 08:33 AM   #4

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I have both a Pentax Spotmeter V and the Pentax "digital" spot meter. I use the digital spot meter mostly when I do use a light meter. I can't say how delicate either of the two meters are. But both seem rugged enough and have passed my test of field use and I have been hard on both of them. But I have never dropped them in a way that tests their durability. If money is not a consideration then I'd recommend the "digital" spot meter instead.

It is compact and much easier to fit in pockets. And I don't know what is "digital" about it. Perhaps the internals ( which might more durable than a delicate, counterbalanced arm that moves and points to an EV value on a scale) but the meter has old, vector-style lights for a readout and you still use an analog scale set to ISO and to find equivalent exposures once the meter gives you a EV reading. The Spotmeter V dial is much larger and easier to see because they put that big dial on the barrel of the lens on the the digital spot meter.

I actually have 2 Pentax digital spot meters and all 3 of these spot meters do not agreed exactly when aimed at the same surface but close enough for BW and color negative film where +/- 1/2 stop or more does not mean much to their exposures.

Edit: The Spotmeter V looks to be a layered fiberglass body in lieu of plastic.

Last edited by tuco; 10-06-2015 at 08:50 AM.
10-06-2015, 09:41 AM   #5
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The innards of a SpotmeterV:

The electronics are like my vintage ( a little rough and old, but still repairable)
The mirror/meter box is of die cast aluminum, machined.

I acquired two of these as parts. One day I will make a good one out of the two.
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10-06-2015, 11:45 AM   #6
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If you decide to pick up the Spotmeter V try to get one that was modified by the old Zone VI of Newfane VT. Now defunct after founder Fred Picker died, they used to modify the meter to make it more accurate across a wide spectrum of colors and the ability to meter accurately through filters amongst other mods. Then they'd slap a Zone System scale on the dial so you can select what part of Ansel Adam's Zone system you would want your metered object to be. Very cool stuff especially for B +W shooters.

They also made a fitted belt case for the meter with the Zone VI logo stitched to it.

While you will get all sorts of debate on the modification's worth (like anything to do with opinions on photography) this may be help for your core question:

To you and whom it may concern:
The zone vi meter does have an advantage in some circumstances. It is set to the curve for tri-x or general black and white films. I notice that my
exposures were much more consistent with the mod meter. I use a sensitometer to test exposure and development time for the zone system.
I will also say that due to the modification of my meter, it is not consistent when shooting color transparency material. I use an unmodified for color if I shoot that film. As noted above the B&W curve setting seems to be somewhat divergent from the color curve.
In B&W verses my students meters, I note I tend to get more exposure in the shadows than they do with the unmodified meters.
I have had mine for 20 years + and have hauled it from Canada to Antarctica with never a glitch, even after a couple of drops.
So you have, for B&W or color negative, a great meter. Take great care of it.

Rod Klukas
US Representative
Arca-Swiss International

Last edited by eddaytona; 10-06-2015 at 02:09 PM.
10-07-2015, 06:01 AM   #7
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I have a really old, original, analog Spotmeter that has maintained consistent operation over many years of use. I would note however that I do periodically cross-check ALL meters against a blue-sky standard exposure and occasionally apply custom off-sets for convenience. Consequently, I compensate for any tendency for sensors, batteries or electronics to age over time.

The only mechanical defect is that the internal lamp has finally failed - not a issue for my use.

A meter's only as good as your ability to comprehend the application of a gray card generic standard to actual practice.

10-07-2015, 09:26 AM   #8

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The funny thing about a one-degree spot meter and BW film. The more you use the meter, the more you might realize you don't need a meter for BW film and daylight exposure at all very often. The EV value of shadows starts to become pretty predictable looking at the scene.

I've have posted many examples of what would be complicated metering for average meters and placed my shadows and got all my highlights without a meter at all. BW film has so much latitude with a figital work flow that it can be a moot point to be concerned with 1/2 or even 1-stop accuracy because you are no longer targeting the density of the middle gray to fit a graded paper in this process.

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