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12-21-2008, 09:07 AM   #1
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Who uses a 1 degree spot meter nowadays?

Folks:

Anyone here have experience using a 1 degree spotmeter in concert with a DSLR, say the K10D?

I have the opportunity to purchase a Minolta Spotmeter F for a very small cost, as long as I actually put it to use. Otherwise, the owner would rather donate it to a local school.

Upon reading several website regarding the meter's use and the adoption of the zone system, my interest is high. However, it seem that most of the material written is intended for transparency and negatives, not with modern DSLRS like the K10D and the K20D.

I would like to use the spotmeter to give me more exposure control over landscapes and flash portrait work. I have always been unhappy with the flat, "averaged" exposures I seem to get from my K10D's meter.

Can a "modern" digital photographer really use a spot meter? Have most abandoned it in favor of post processing software? Who among us here use one on a regular basis?

Thanks for your comments!

germar

12-21-2008, 10:24 AM   #2
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I still use one on a semi irregular basis, but with digital, I think the time has pretty much passed for external meters (the major exception being studio work).

With general landscape photography, I trust the histogram over metering, but in studio work, the histogram is of very limited use, only telling you that you have a good or bad exposure, but saying nothing about lighting ratios.

Spotmeters are useless in the studio though.
12-21-2008, 10:57 AM   #3
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QuoteOriginally posted by Wheatfield Quote
I still use one on a semi irregular basis, but with digital, I think the time has pretty much passed for external meters (the major exception being studio work).

With general landscape photography, I trust the histogram over metering, but in studio work, the histogram is of very limited use, only telling you that you have a good or bad exposure, but saying nothing about lighting ratios.

Spotmeters are useless in the studio though.
Thanks, Wheatfield!

Do others agree? Any "zone system" enthusiasts out there still peering through spot meters, or has your time passed as well? Does Ansel's tombstone have a histogram carved on it?

More importantly, am I wasting my time learning how to use a spotmeter?
12-21-2008, 11:11 AM   #4
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If you know how to meter correctly (spot meter, knowing exaclty where and how to meter) can be an invaluable tool.

About being for slide or negative film, I wouldn't even bother trying to compare to DSLR. Just remember to treat your digital exposure as if it is slide film. Maybe with a bit more latitud but never as wide as negative film.

I often find myself using spot metering (K20D) to specific "spots" withing my picture scene, especially when large chunks of sky are involved. I do have an old Gosssen Luna Pro SBC hand meter (still working, very accurate and bullet proof) but If I had the chance to get my hand on a specialized spot meter, I wouldn't think it twice.

12-21-2008, 12:51 PM   #5
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Spot meters can be invaluable to determine the dynamic range of a scene before taking the picture. It can be used to determine the brightest and darkest point of a scene to determine if you need one or more than one exposure to get the complete dynamic range of the scene. Unlike Wheatfield who says (last line of his post) that they are useless in studio work, I find they are among the most important accessory.
12-21-2008, 01:09 PM   #6
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If your unhappy with the average meter as you suggest, you will love a spot meter.

As rburgoss says, you will have to learn how to use it effectively in order to get the best from it.
12-21-2008, 03:38 PM   #7
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yes I use one, but with B&W negatives, shooting a simplified 'zone system' methodolgy. I don't have a problem with my K10D's exposure... do have to override it slightly on occasion or to get the effect you desire (eg. under expose to force a silohette).

Spot meter with flash portrait work... not sure how that will work? My spotmeter is an old analogue one so doesn't do anything fancy, don't know if new ones do anything with strobes either. Could imagine using it with hotlights (and I have with still lifes), but not strobes, want a flash meter for that.

12-21-2008, 05:25 PM   #8
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If you can learn to use a spot meter, you should be able to use your camera's meter.

A spot meter will not help with flash exposure, and for landscapes, you should be able to meter off blue sky, or even the palm of your hand and make the appropriate exposure compensation - or just bracket until you dial-in your metering. With RAW, instant review and a histogram, another exposure device seems redundant.
12-21-2008, 08:22 PM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by SpecialK Quote
A spot meter will not help with flash exposure...
Any others agree with Special K's comment? I find this confusing, the spot meter has a corded flash connection and the manual goes into detail about how to meter for flash. Do others agree that it's not useful for finding flash exposure in actual practice?


germar
12-21-2008, 08:29 PM   #10
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I think the camera spot meter works for me, and 1 less item to bring in the field. The only concern is the spot meter might not be aligned precisely on Pentax DSLRs so always check first.
12-21-2008, 09:13 PM   #11
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The best way to use a spot meter, I think, is to meter the brightest part of the scene that you want to retain detail in, and the darkest. This will tell you whether or not you can actually capture the image the way you envision it in a single exposure. If you cannot, then you need to do the HDR multi image trick.
12-21-2008, 09:45 PM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by germar Quote
... the spot meter has a corded flash connection and the manual goes into detail about how to meter for flash. Do others agree that it's not useful for finding flash exposure in actual practice?


germar
If it has this then maybe it measures a strobe. Just remember you will need to aim it accurately while firing off the flash strobes. BTW, does it actually say to use the spotmeter (standing at camera position aimed at subject) or is it a multi-purpose meter and acts like a normal flashmeter?
12-21-2008, 10:29 PM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by germar Quote
Any others agree with Special K's comment? I find this confusing, the spot meter has a corded flash connection and the manual goes into detail about how to meter for flash. Do others agree that it's not useful for finding flash exposure in actual practice?


germar
Sorry, I don't know the operational details of the one you are looking at. Always used incident meters with flash :-)
12-22-2008, 05:57 AM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by HGMonaro Quote
If it has this then maybe it measures a strobe. Just remember you will need to aim it accurately while firing off the flash strobes. BTW, does it actually say to use the spotmeter (standing at camera position aimed at subject) or is it a multi-purpose meter and acts like a normal flashmeter?
HGMonaro, yes, the manual says to put it into a special "flash" mode, attach a PC cord to it's jack and then use it as you would in a constant light environment. This particular meter is a dedicated spot meter, shaped like a little gun with a finder you peer through to use it.
12-22-2008, 06:46 AM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by germar Quote
Any others agree with Special K's comment? I find this confusing, the spot meter has a corded flash connection and the manual goes into detail about how to meter for flash. Do others agree that it's not useful for finding flash exposure in actual practice?


germar
I generally think "studio" when talking about flash and hand meters in the same sentence. For this, I prefer a good ambient flash meter rather than a reflected meter, hence my comment about spot meters being useless in the studio.
I get far more accurate metering by tripping the flash and measuring what falls on the scene than I ever could taking numerous spot readings and trying to collate this into an exposure.
Even were I using hot lights, my answer would be the same. Walk into the scene and measure it with an ambient meter.

Last edited by Wheatfield; 12-22-2008 at 08:16 AM. Reason: spelling
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