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08-16-2012, 10:36 AM   #1
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Zenit E - Light meter reliable?

Hey all,

I know it's not a Pentax, but hey it's M42 mount so that has to count ...right?

Picked up a Zenit E in my local pawn shop for around 15 - thought I'd go for it since it also had a great condition helios 44-2 on it, and for 15, what the hell. Seems in decent nick, shutter curtain intact, seals seem ok, shutter working fine etc. The only problem I've found with it is the plastic around the hot shoe is snapped on one side, and some glued it back into place.

I've picked up a roll of Ilford 400 XP2, and I'm ready to go! Well ... not quite. How in gods name will I get exposure correct? Even if the light meter seems to "work", and I've tested it against my K-r in a number of situations - it seems to be getting in the right areas, do I trust it? Does the sunny 16 rule actually work too? It'll be my first time shooting a roll of film, so it'll be pretty interesting.

Also, could anyone confirm if ASA is the same as modern ISO values? Or are they slightly different? Am I also right in thinking for film you overexpose to save shadow detail - as in the opposite of digital?

I'll google around/do a forum search to learn as much as I can, but any help to get me on the right track would be greatly appreciated.

Many thanks,


08-16-2012, 10:47 AM   #2
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It depends on how old the Zenit is. The Zenit E had a Selenium light meter. Selenium has a finite life, about 20-25 years.

ACP - Zenit-E

Last edited by boriscleto; 08-16-2012 at 11:02 AM.
08-16-2012, 10:56 AM   #3

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Meter the same scenes with the Zenit and your usual body and see how it compares. You should be able to get an idea if it is in the ballpark. It is not a through the lens meter, right? So you have to account for that...
08-16-2012, 10:58 AM   #4
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if you've tested against the Kx and it seems accurate then try a roll and see how it turns out. Film has a fair bit of exposure latitude (you can easily expose 1/2-1 stop in either direction while still developing at rated iso)
that being said selenium meter do fail.

Sunny 16 does work (more like Sunny 11 in winter in the northern hemisphere)

If you use a smart phone there are several apps that you can use to help compute the exposure value using sunny 16 and some that use the built in cam as a light meter

reviews of light meter apps
Quick Tip: A Look at 5 iPhone Lightmeter Apps

08-16-2012, 11:14 AM   #5
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Sunny 16 works if you know what f/16 looks like. I'm not all that good at it, but there's a certain "squint factor" that tells you. That being said, if you don't mind carrying around two cameras, you could always do the old Polaroid trick, and take a preview shot with your K-r. Film is getting expensive, it's almost painful to bracket any more. I mean its better than missing the shot, but when there's an alternative...
08-16-2012, 11:29 AM   #6

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Overexpose a stop for film and you should be fine...

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