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03-20-2011, 05:01 AM   #1
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Looking for a spotmeter

The one weakness of my beloved Super Program, metering mode.

I was reading the Ansel Adams Camera, Negative and Print series.

I'd really like to try out more of his techniques so I want a cheap spot lightmeter to use.

He mentions using a Pentax 1 percent meter in his book, and it looks pretty old.

Can anyone give me suggestions?

03-20-2011, 05:33 AM   #2
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I have one of those very old Pentax spot meters. Uses a 9v battery for the light meter. Then you need to turn the dials yourself. Pentax did make some electronic spot meters and for the life of me can't figure why they discontinued.
03-20-2011, 07:09 AM   #3
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QuoteOriginally posted by dj_saunter Quote

I was reading the Ansel Adams Camera, Negative and Print series.

I'd really like to try out more of his techniques so I want a cheap spot lightmeter to use.

He mentions using a Pentax 1 percent meter in his book, and it looks pretty old.
The problem with the Adams photography series is that it is best applied to large-format photography. His zone system as laid out in front of the reader in The Negative is the greatest technical achievement in photography but because it critically relies on developing each negative individually to place the highlights in a specific zone, it really only works when doing sheet film development.

With roll film, you will invariably run into the problem that some frames require standard development, some will need N+1 or N-1 whereas a few might even call for N+2 or N-2 development.

Having said that, a spotmeter is still useful. I use an 18% gray card and a Sekonic L508 meter to do a spot reading off the card in my little macro studio for product-type shots. It's 100% reliable and gives results like this. It's not really the zone system. At best it's an extremely stripped down version where your gray card indicates zone V.

As for the Pentax spotmeters are, they are excellent but expensive. You can find a Pentax Spotmeter V for maybe $150 off ebay if you are lucky. The Digital Spotmeter is more expensive. Be ready to pay at least $300 for one of those.

I am not convinced they are better than other spotmeters. I got my Sekonic L508 slightly dinged up (all the button labels have worn off) for $150. It works flawlessly, has a 1 degree spot (same as the Pentax meters) and offers incident and flash readings. My only complaint about it is that it has actually too many features and with no labelled buttons, I occasionally struggle to find the right one right away (to set the ISO for example).

If you really only want a spotmeter, consider one of the Soligor/Cambron/Panagor spot meters. They are all rebadges of the same model and from what I've heard they are very good and considerably cheaper than the Pentax ones.

03-20-2011, 12:13 PM   #4
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In lieu of a spot meter you can take a close up reading using the camera's
built-in exposure meter. For greater precision use an 18% gray card, too.
Not practical in every situation, but a simple and inexpensive workaround...


03-20-2011, 08:13 PM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by dj_saunter Quote
I want a cheap spot lightmeter to use.
That is a tough one. The entry point, price-wise, for a spot meter (Pentax or other) is over $100 for a used unit and much more for a new one. Pentax still lists the digital spot meter on the Pentax Japan Web site, though you can't buy one in N. America.

03-27-2011, 12:25 PM   #6
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I use various spotmeters and feel they are basically the same in performance. Probably the best bargain is Soligor SpotSensor II. Be sure whatever you get uses a readily available battery.

A good point made above is that full use of the the Zone System includes developing each negative separately, so it is really designed for view cameras using sheet film.

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