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04-25-2013, 01:41 PM   #1
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spot meter

I'm a beginner and wondering what is a spot meter used for ?

04-25-2013, 02:26 PM   #2
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Do you mean a handhold spot meter or one of the metering modes in a camera?

A handhold one-degree spot meter ( like the Pentax Spotmeter V and Pentax Digital Spotmeter) measures the reflected light falling in its one-degree circle thereby giving you the the middle gray exposure value of selected areas of a scene. That is, instead of averaging all the reflected or incident light visible to a meter, it measures a small, selective area that you are pointing it at. Similarly with one built into a camera.

I doubt anyone would really use one for their digital camera but they are more popular with large format film and people practicing the "zone system" of metering. But you can use it for any film format. With experience, they beat an average meter hands down because it has a human brain connected to it and isn't fooled by scenes that otherwise give average meters a difficult time. And they can tell you a lot more information than an average meter.
04-25-2013, 02:41 PM   #3
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It is very difficult to explain if you are really a beginner, as even experienced photographers (and some professionals) had problems to make the most of it.

It does what the name implies: measuring the light for a certain spot instead of a bigger area. Depending of your camera/lens combination and the mode you are using, modern DSLRs offer spot metering without a special spot meter.

Generally, one can say it is a tool which can help an experienced photographer to get the best out of a picture in respect to exposure and dynamic range. In the digital age, it has lost some of its importance - you can shoot in raw, and you can try HDR. With these possibilities you can cover a lot of what needed to be done in a much more complicated way in the past.

With film (specially B/W) you had a lot of means to influence the outcome: exposure time and aperture, development time, temperature, chemicals, different paper, exposure times and partly shaddowing when magnifying/printing.
With a spot meter, you could measure the light of the different parts of a scenery, and allow for a strategy how to get all the shaddows an lights correctly in the end result. In photographic literature, you can find lots of tables and algorithms.

Keep in mind that, in pre-digital age, you would see the result only much later; often without the possibility to repeat your shot.
But even in the old times, it was mainly used for studio work.

If you want to know more, google for ZONE SYSTEM.
04-25-2013, 03:17 PM   #4
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I got it, Thank You very much for your time. I also went and did some other research and found the 18% gray scale reflection ect. I do appreciate your time and effort. I actually should have researched better before I questioned the forum.

04-27-2013, 12:54 AM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by marquis1955 Quote
spot meter used for ?
The short simple answer, is to measure an exposure level on a very precise area of an potential image.

Often where a critical subject element is, that needs to be rendered and exposed perfectly.
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