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Light Meters _ Again

Published : 2nd January 2005

I know this topic has been discussed at length here but I can't seem to find anything in the archives.

I'm in the market for a new ( used ) meter. I would like some input. I like the Minolta V ( I've been using a Minolta III ) ergonomically but I don't see too many of them out there. I see a lot of Sekonics but I'm not to wild about them, the spot meter is uncomfortable to use and I know certain models don't display the info through the view finder.

I've also heard that some of them burn batteries like crazy. What about Spectra?

A few years ago it seemed like they were the meter of choice.

Any thoughts?

Tom Burke
Gaffer, Atlanta


class="style9">>Any thoughts?

I find with lithium batteries the Sekonic meters work for months, and with cheap batteries a day or so!

Stephen Williams Dop
Switzerland


Tom Burke wrote :

class="style9">>I see a lot of Sekonics but I'm not to wild about them, the spot meter is >uncomfortable to use and I know certain models don't display the info >through the view finder.

How do you mean uncomfortable? My Sekonic spot is big, that's a drawback (I'm talking about the spot, not the Combi). A Gaffer I worked with would ask if the tubes have to warm up before a reading.

Sekonic has all of the f/stop info in the VF, and lets you do a zone system on the analog scale that you can easily slide up and down. The only meter I know that does this - better than Minolta's clunky highlight/shadow memory. Sekonic's analog scale method is much more intuitive and fast.

It does not burn through the 2 AA's too fast. Well, I also don't go nuts with it either - only using it right before I go to double check things.

I just dropped mine at Bonneville Salt Flats and it wont boot anymore - so I got to get it fixed, but considering how many times its been banged around its held up pretty well.

Again, the only drawback is the size, and the price (was upwards of US $750 new when I first got it years ago, and that was ShowBiz Expo discount!)

Stephen Williams wrote :

class="style9">>I find with lithium batteries the Sekonic meters work for months, and >with cheap batteries a day or so!

My first generation Sekonic "Dual Spot" L-778 runs off regular alkalines for months.

Are you referring to the incident/spot Combi meters? Are they really that power hungry ?

Mark Doering-Powell
LA based DP


class="style9">>Sekonic's analog scale method is much more intuitive and fast.

I like my Minolta Spotmeter F's "average" function, which doesn't really have anything to do with averaging but instead remembers the initial reading and then displays additional readings as + or - offsets, in stops, to that original reading. I like that a lot, but I don't like that I have to wave the meter around to find that initial reading and lock it in.

Frequently I'll read a highlight or some other value and base my overall exposure off that, and I'd love to have a meter where I can calculate my shooting stop in my head, enter it into the meter manually, and THEN wave the meter around and see + or - readings to see where things fall. Instead I calculate my shooting stop in my head and spend up to a minute aiming the meter around until I get a reading within a tenth of a stop of my shooting stop so I can lock it in, and then I can see offsets.

Art Adams, DP [film|hidef|video]
San Francisco Bay Area - "Silicon Valley"
Dramatic License #CA14886
http://www.artadams.net/


The spectra pro IV is an awesome meter and very durable. It goes down to a F/.35 which is just amazingly low. It's simple to use and read even when you're extremely exhausted. (I have been known to try to talk into it, thinking it was a radio once or twice)

The only thing I wish it would do is have one of those little attachments for it for doing tabletop.

Phil Badger
Gaffer, LA
http://home.earthlink.net/~badger111/index.html


Mark Doering-Powell writes :

class="style9">>Are you referring to the incident/spot Combi meters? Are they really that >power hungry?

I often shoot at very low light levels, so the back-light is on much of the time.

Out of interest B+H video sell ex-demo L508's for 359 USD. The box of mine was still sealed!

Stephen Williams DoP
Zurich Switzerland
www.stephenw.com


Art Adams wrote :

class="style9">>I'd love to have a meter where I can calculate my shooting stop in my >head, enter it into the meter manually, and THEN wave the meter >around and see + or - readings to see where things fall.

On the Sekonic 778, on the analog scale you place your intended shooting stop, and where your highlights & shadows will be (and you can slide that whole zone-scale together once you've locked in your H/S dynamic range). You should check it out - its the best zone I've seen.

Mark Doering-Powell
LA based DP


Mark Doering-Powell wrote :

class="style9">>On the Sekonic 778, on the analog scale you place your intended >shooting stop, and where your highlights & shadows will be (and you >can slide that whole zone-scale together once you've locked in your H/S >dynamic range).

Hello all.

I use the Sekonic 778 as well and I thought I was the only one ! I've never seen anyone else use it but it is a terrific meter. As Mark says, the scale on it is terrific. You can quickly program a zone / Dynamic range into it and using your own experience for each stock's response to highlight shadow, see exactly where everything is sitting. In fact it even beeps if you take a reading outside of the limits you've set. A rather annoying feature you can turn off thankfully.

I too paid a fortune for it a few years ago, but it was very much worth it. I got a pretty good price for the Spot F I had. It just uses a couple of AA's which seem to last a while.

Also, unlike the Minolta Spot f...and I know this is a small thing, but it has all the common frame rates from 8-128FPS as well as shutter speeds. It must be due for an update soon. They are Minolta III era aren't they ?

The Minolta from memory only had shutter speeds? Or maybe only 25/24 FPS ?

I use the Spectra for incident work and man those meters are indestructible. When I first started using them I thought they were a bit flimsy in their construction but they are a workhorse. And so simple to use ! They also do some ratio and averaging functions which I never use. But it's nice to have them there.

I don't really like the Sekonic Combi's, mainly because they are a bit to complex. I usually don't want to have to think to much when I'm taking a reading. A few friends that have them have said it is easy to take a spot reading when you *think* you're taking an incident !

John Brawley
DOP
v:media
Melbourne Australia


I second all Mark DP says, the Sekonic 778 has served me well.

Happy with the 778 spot meter, I looked at the L-358 incident meter last year.

While considering, I called Sekonic, trying to think of a diplomatic way of asking, it a battery pig like the combo meters?

The Sekonic rep said something like "well it's not just a light meter, it's a computer"

Fair enough I suppose.

Since I wanted something small simple to take to Vietnam I actually bought an old school L-318 (which works fine), single AA.

Later realized hey, it's the 21st Century, not only are Lithium batteries plentiful in SE Asia, they actually grow them on trees there.

Sam Wells


I love my 778, I have found a second genny handy to power it at times.

Seriously it does seem to eat batteries but they're bog standard ones so it's not a problem.

If you want a dual meter then check out the Minolta VI I'm using it more and more as my only meter.

Cheers

Geoff Boyle FBKS
Director of Photography
EU Based
www.cinematography.net


It took me a really long time to get used to the Sekonic, in my case the L508 Cine Zoom Spot: it does not display readings thru the spot meter, only on the front display, it has a dorky belt pouch, and it is extremely easy to hit the dial changing frame rate. However, I did get used to its quirks and now I quite like it.

It has an adjustable 1 to 4 degree spot meter, one can program in degree shutter angle, and on two AA batteries it lasts a long time, unlike my Spectra IV, which eats the little 6V batteries in an alarmingly short amount of time, sometimes without ever being taken out of the case.

Finally (& obviously) I always have incident and spot meters at the ready without having to carry two tools on my belt...

Byron Shah
DP LA


Sekonic LC608 Combi, once you get used to it is great. You can enter filter compensation, shutter angles, has 1 to 4 degree spot meter, has back light. eats batteries. one lasts for about two shoot days.

Also have Pentax digital spot, with zones stuck on dial, as back up. love that meter

Dan Bronks
DP
UK


I have the 608C and have never had problems with the battery - in fact it was in my luggage with the reading button pressed by mistake for 2 days and it was fine (the back light was on when I opened m luggage.

I love how easy it is to do contrast ratios with the spot meter - and not having to compensate for having a 165 shutter and a 85nd.9 is great for me.

Thanks

Rolfe Klement
www.creativesunshine.com



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