Which meter should I use for night architecture shootings ?

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I'm starting to do night shots about architecture in particular. I use ( most of the time 100 ISO chrome films ) and long time exposures, from 10 sec. to 5 minutes...

I was told Minolta's spotmeters would be a good thing. Whats is your opinion ? What about Minolta Spotmeter M ( cheap but old ! ) vs Spotmeter F ( expensive and recent )??

How do I get the correct exposure in a global dark scene which has some bright spots ( such as lit windows in a dark outside building..)

Thank you to all of you for their helful contributions !


Bruce Barelly - France

-- Bruce Barelly (barelly@club-internet.fr), April 23, 2001


I have used a spotmeter F by Minolta for over 10 years and would not change it. The unit isaccurate and easy to use. As for the scene you mentioned, in b/w I would meter the dark area I want shadow in, push A and measure the highlight area to determine the dynamic range of the scene. Then I would determine exposure for the shadow area and use the dynamic range to figure out development. Since your developing alterations are reduced with chromes, I would average the scene's brights and lows. Or if possible make two exact images, one exposed for the shadows, 1 for the highlights, scan theme and paste them together in photoshop. Bob

-- Bob Moulton (bobmargaretm@home.com), April 23, 2001.

concerning the windows, best thing is to have somebody turn them off during your long exposure. another thing that works really well is double exposure where you take a very short exposure just a the moment before it gets dark, and then your time exposure after it gets dark. You will get some detail that you would not otherwise get, but also get the feeling of darkness with the lights, etc. Kevin

-- Kevin Kolosky (kjkolosky@kjkolosky.com), April 23, 2001.


Any meter, Minolta, Gossen, Sekonic, once calibrated can do a good job. The matter is where to point it! Get a system, incident or reflected light, make some tests on exposure range and reciprocity, try to keep a routine on metering methods. When dealing with long exposure range, commom trouble with mixed lights, it may be a good idea to let each one goes for a differente exposure time. This way you can even change corrective filter for each light source. Of course, an assistance is welcome, otherwise you'll be running a lot. Good work.

Cesar B.

-- Cesar Barreto (cesarb@infolink.com.br), April 23, 2001.

There is a wonderful available light calculator in the Kodak Professional Photo Guide (at least in the older one that I have) and it gives examples of many different kinds of difficult to meter scenes. This will work better than any meter I can think of and be a lot cheaper.

-- David Grandy (dgrandy@accesscable.net), April 24, 2001.

Which meter to use is a personal preference. You can use any meter. Your practice and experience will help you determining how to get the exposure you want to get. There is an old saying: there is no correct exposure, but there is perfect exposure. A perfect exposure is the exposure you want to get and you get it on film. I use on old Gossen Profisix meter with a 15 degree attachment for night scences. My Sekonic 508 is modern meter, but not very good in low light conditions.

-- Geoffrey Chen (DB45TEK@AOL.COM), April 24, 2001.

Hi Geoffrey,

I like what you said about the meters...maybe the best meter is my eyes...

Other people said that the perfect exposure can be obtained by exposing several times ,several ways...

I'll do that then, since I can not really afford the spotmeter. I'll be bracketing a bit... ; )

Thanx to 'ya all !



-- Bruce Barelly (barelly@club-internet.fr), April 25, 2001.

The Gossen Luna-Pro can be purchased for less than $100 used in the States. It is one of the most sensitive I know for low light situations. (Older ones will need a battery upgrade from Gossen.)

That meter, an exposure guide and a little bracketing should do the trick.

-- Bob Eskridge (besk@shtc.net), April 25, 2001.

hi Bruce

a spot meter is always a good instrument to cheque the contrast of the different lights, but of course, the experience make a lot of it. when having a "closed" f-stop, its a cigarette.

-- montespluga (montespluga@mac.com), April 26, 2001.

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