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Old Analog Light Meters


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#1 Ron Flex

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Posted 25 November 2008 - 02:04 PM

I have a CP16A and I am in need of a lightmeter. The modern Sekonic models look nice but I do not want to spend that type of money.

I am interested in these terribly cheap analog meters from yester-year such as Zeiss Ikon, Vivitar 45 and the old analog Sekonic models. I assume these in decent condition are ok to use? I couldn't imagine them being bad to use but I thought I better check here first.

I was using my old Canon Ftb photo camera the other day and the internal light meter is still spot on after over 30 years. This leads me to believe old light meters are still worth their salt, if an old built in one, can provide great results.

Thanks.
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#2 Tim Terner

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Posted 25 November 2008 - 02:15 PM

Old meters are just as usable as modern digital ones if accurate. Do you have a friend with an accurate meter than can compare readings with one you intend to buy ?
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#3 Brian Drysdale

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Posted 25 November 2008 - 02:19 PM

I don't know about the other analogue light meters you mention , but my old incident Sekonic (used as a back up) meter is fine. If it's correctly calibrated you won't have any problems.

A friend of mine used a £5 Russian meter with his old CP16 and was very happy with his pictures.
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#4 Tom Hepburn

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Posted 25 November 2008 - 02:26 PM

Hey Ron,

Here is my experience. I have trouble reading the little numbers on my old Sekonic analog meter, especially the cini numbers. I got a Spectra on Ebay for around $200. Those old meters are certainly capable of giving you a good reading, once their accuracy is verified, but my thought is that given the amount of $$$ I'm spending on film, processing, and especially telecine, I didn't want to cut that corner and I also wanted a meter that was more cinema friendly.

Tom
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#5 John Sprung

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Posted 25 November 2008 - 04:03 PM

Old meters are just as usable as modern digital ones if accurate. Do you have a friend with an accurate meter than can compare readings with one you intend to buy ?

One word of caution on comparing old analog meters: They have big permanent magnets in them, and putting two of them side by side might in some cases make them interfere with each other.



-- J.S.
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#6 James Steven Beverly

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Posted 25 November 2008 - 04:21 PM

I have 2 old analog light meters, a Spectra Combi 500 and a Norwood Director (the predecessor of the Sekonic). Both work great but I still need to get a battery to test the photocell on the Combi and a larger set of slides. The main problem with older meters is the range. These meters were simply not designed to work with the fast filmstocks and fast lenses now available so low light readings could become problematic. I personally plan to buy a newer digital cine light meter before we begin production just in case as much of the work will be done under low light conditions though with my anamorphic lenses having only a 3.3 effective F-stop and working best at 4.6 to 5 to get any kind of DOF, it may be academic. Still that is something to think about, what conditions do you think you will be shooting under, what lenses are you going to use, what stock, if you are going to be shooting at night under low light conditions. If you plan on shooting mainly in daylight or under fully lit interior conditions, these meters will probably work just fine and they are CONSIDERABLE less expensive than a modern digital cine light meter. B)
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#7 Ron Flex

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Posted 25 November 2008 - 06:49 PM

I have 2 old analog light meters, a Spectra Combi 500 ..........................


The lens is an old angenieux f12 120mm. I have two stocks for a planned shoot which are 250d and 500t. Should I expect to get problems using the 500t stock? It is to be used for outdoor night time and some medium lit indoor work.
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#8 James Steven Beverly

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Posted 26 November 2008 - 02:41 AM

The lens is an old angenieux f12 120mm. I have two stocks for a planned shoot which are 250d and 500t. Should I expect to get problems using the 500t stock? It is to be used for outdoor night time and some medium lit indoor work.

Not if you rate it at 350 but at the lower end you may have trouble getting the meter to give you a reading. I think that Angenieux F12 is not gonna open up all that much anyway so you'll probably over expose and pull process to darken the scene up or light for the highlights and not worry about getting too much shadow detail. There's ways around lens and film speed limitations, you just have to shoot some tests and see what you can do.
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#9 Joshua Jackson

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Posted 28 November 2008 - 11:06 PM

Important note:
Meters pre 1976 and meters post '76 will give you a different footcandle reading. As of 1976, the standard of footcandle measurements changed and thus footcandles listed on present day meters will give a footcandle value that is 125% of the previous footcandle readings. This won't be much of a problem if the meter is calibrated, but could raise some issues if you work a lot with the formulas for luminous flux and luminance.
So, an L-28C shows 250FC, while the L-398 shows 320FC. Keep that in mind if working to calibrate multiple meters together.
The reason for this is because of a change in the "calibration constant." If you care about any of those formulas or don't know much about this, I recently posted some basics of photometry dealing with this in a recent thread on luminous flux in the lighting forum.
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#10 Ron Flex

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Posted 29 November 2008 - 11:52 AM

Hello again. I recieved a Vivitar 45 lightmeter in the post today. It is in great condition with case but the battery is not passing the check test so I will need to source a new one.

Maybe I have gotten myself a bit confused but I am not quite sure of how to use the meter. I have found a manual but it is only very short. So I set my ASA/ISO speed of the film and point it at the scene. Twist the dial till circle meets the red pin.

Ok that is fine. My problem here is that this whoel process is not making sense for cine camera use. It makes sense to me when using my 35mm photo cameras as you can adjust both the apature and the shutter speed on the camera. However using a CP16 cine camera, you do not change the shutter speed.

Is the point of the light meter purely to find what F stop would be best to use in the lighting conditions? The meter has cine frames per second speeds on. So do I just match up whatever f. stop number is under 24fps?

Sorry, I am feeling like a total newbie now! :rolleyes:

Manual is here: http://www.cameraman...ar_45_meter.pdf
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#11 Mark Dunn

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Posted 29 November 2008 - 12:23 PM

Important note:
Meters pre 1976 and meters post '76 will give you a different footcandle reading. As of 1976, the standard of footcandle measurements changed and thus footcandles listed on present day meters will give a footcandle value that is 125% of the previous footcandle readings. This won't be much of a problem if the meter is calibrated, but could raise some issues if you work a lot with the formulas for luminous flux and luminance.
So, an L-28C shows 250FC, while the L-398 shows 320FC. Keep that in mind if working to calibrate multiple meters together.
The reason for this is because of a change in the "calibration constant." If you care about any of those formulas or don't know much about this, I recently posted some basics of photometry dealing with this in a recent thread on luminous flux in the lighting forum.


Can you substantiate this 1976 date? 125% is well within the latitude of neg stock. Light meters (as opposed to photometers) have always been marked in thirds of a stop, which is close to the 125% you quote.
There was a change in the ASA rating of mono stocks in the early 60s but it really applied to still photography.
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#12 Paul Bruening

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Posted 29 November 2008 - 12:27 PM

I love my old Pentax spot meter. The needle is much simpler than a set of changing numbers. It allows me to slowly sweep the scene and get an idea of the exposure dynamics without having to do a bunch of math in my head as I go. Sometimes, needles are better than numerical readouts.
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#13 Joshua Jackson

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Posted 30 November 2008 - 01:42 AM

Can you substantiate this 1976 date? 125% is well within the latitude of neg stock. Light meters (as opposed to photometers) have always been marked in thirds of a stop, which is close to the 125% you quote.
There was a change in the ASA rating of mono stocks in the early 60s but it really applied to still photography.


The change came, not from the changes in the actual filmstock, but with a change (particularly Sekonic) in their calibration constant value.
Now, we know that Footcandles = [(25)(f/stop²)]/[(ASA)(Shutter Speed)] , right? Well, number one, not all companies that manufacture exposure meters use the constant of "25." This constant is based on what reflectance the company wants to be represented as medium grey. Of course, the 25 is a numerical value set by ISO 2720: 1974 (source) and was adopted two years later (Actually they offered a range of suggested numerical values around 18-35ish, or 180-360 if formulating lux). 25 is typically used to formulate Footcandles to f/stop for a medium value to be represented as 17.6%. As we know, not all companies (Sekonic, Minolta, Pentax, etc.) utilizes this same value. Many use a constant that represents the medium value around 12%.
Basically, under the same lighting setup, different brands and models of light meters will show different footcandle values, but the same recommended f/stop if properly calibrated.


Here are some starter references that I've found to springboard on for further study:
-http://www.johndesq.com/pinhole/norwoodscales2.htm
-United States Patent 4176955
-The Manual of Photography: Photographic and Digital Imaging
By R. E. Jacobson
-http://www.largeformatphotography.info/articles/conrad-meter-cal.pdf
-http://www.apug.org/forums/forum48/39738-sekonic-l-28-meter-scale-question.html
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#14 Brian Drysdale

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Posted 30 November 2008 - 05:22 AM

Hello again. I recieved a Vivitar 45 lightmeter in the post today. It is in great condition with case but the battery is not passing the check test so I will need to source a new one.

Maybe I have gotten myself a bit confused but I am not quite sure of how to use the meter. I have found a manual but it is only very short. So I set my ASA/ISO speed of the film and point it at the scene. Twist the dial till circle meets the red pin.

Ok that is fine. My problem here is that this whoel process is not making sense for cine camera use. It makes sense to me when using my 35mm photo cameras as you can adjust both the apature and the shutter speed on the camera. However using a CP16 cine camera, you do not change the shutter speed.

Is the point of the light meter purely to find what F stop would be best to use in the lighting conditions? The meter has cine frames per second speeds on. So do I just match up whatever f. stop number is under 24fps?

Sorry, I am feeling like a total newbie now! :rolleyes:

Manual is here: http://www.cameraman...ar_45_meter.pdf


I'd tend to use the incident light dome, where you point the meter at the camera rather than a reflected light reading.

You'd use a cine reading (24fps) or use a shutter spend of either 1/48 (24fps) or 1/50 (25fps) although in practise I suspect the meter only has the latter. This will give you the f stop you need - although the lens will usually have T stops and you should set this to match your meter reading.

I've got an old analog Pentax spotmeter with a TV IRE scale on the dial, which is very handy.
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#15 Chris Keth

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Posted 30 November 2008 - 12:03 PM

I use an old analog spectra pro for a backup, counting on it to work if my digital meter craps out. That should say something, that it's 50 years old and so reliable. I do want to get some new slides cut for it, though. The highest ASA slide I have is 400, and there's no 320 which is what I like to rate the 500T stocks at.
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#16 Brian Rose

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Posted 30 November 2008 - 01:17 PM

Here, here on Spectra. It was my first light meter. I bought one that had been serviced, and in four years, it has never failed me. I've gotten newer "better" meters since then, but when I'm in doubt about a reading, I always have my Spectra Pro on hand to check myself.

Best,
BR
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#17 Brian Dzyak

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Posted 30 November 2008 - 01:30 PM

I have a CP16A and I am in need of a lightmeter. The modern Sekonic models look nice but I do not want to spend that type of money.

I am interested in these terribly cheap analog meters from yester-year such as Zeiss Ikon, Vivitar 45 and the old analog Sekonic models. I assume these in decent condition are ok to use? I couldn't imagine them being bad to use but I thought I better check here first.

I was using my old Canon Ftb photo camera the other day and the internal light meter is still spot on after over 30 years. This leads me to believe old light meters are still worth their salt, if an old built in one, can provide great results.

Thanks.



I learned a wonderful 'off the cuff" lesson from a DP years ago when it comes to meters. The digital ones are indeed nice. but they are just numbers tumbling around. BUT the old needles SHOW YOU how the light levels are changing over an area.

I use an old-style Spectra (like this: http://www.medialink.....tra meter.jpg ) particularly with greenscreen work as I can SEE how the light levels may change. I do use a spot meter (like this one: http://www.photorevi...nic_L-758DR.jpg ) also, but I am much more of a visual person than a "numbers" person, so the Spectra needle style helps me so much more than an digital ever will.
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#18 Hal Smith

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Posted 30 November 2008 - 01:33 PM

I believe Spectra will still calibrate the old Professionals and Combis for $50. I've seen Combi's go real cheap on ebay (like $30) because the high sensitivity range was dead (it can't be fixed, Spectra doesn't have the right part any more) but for the ranges that use the big photocell and slides a Combi is identical to the Pro.
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#19 Ira Ratner

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Posted 30 November 2008 - 07:11 PM

It is in great condition with case but the battery is not passing the check test so I will need to source a new one.


Is the point of the light meter purely to find what F stop would be best to use in the lighting conditions? The meter has cine frames per second speeds on. So do I just match up whatever f. stop number is under 24fps?


Ron, it is very common for the old analog meters that the battery check doesn't work. It doesn't work on my old Minolta Spot Meter either, but that's a totally different circuit and it has nothing to do with how much juice you're giving the actual metering function.

It's a just a battery check, and nothing more.

And yep:

You just use the meter to determine F stop, so you use those Cine settings. If you're shooting film, make sure the meter's shutter speed matches up with the camera's at your fps. On my K3 with the spot meter, it DOESN'T. It's like 1/3 stop off.

And I don't know WHAT the hell you do with video.
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#20 James Steven Beverly

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Posted 01 December 2008 - 01:44 AM

I do want to get some new slides cut for it, though. The highest ASA slide I have is 400, and there's no 320 which is what I like to rate the 500T stocks at.


Where do you get slides cut for these? Mine came with only a few and I would like to get more. Thanks
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