Inconsistancies with Sekonic L-358 meter

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Having just got my first large format camera it has become even more important that I can trust my meter so that I can avoid the need to use my F4 to take readings. I don't want two cameras in my pack on walks. Problem is if I meter with the Nikon on a simple scene I get a reading I know will be correct. So I would expect the Sekonic to give a reading reasonably close. If I take an incident reading (cone out) by placing the meter right in front of the subject pointing back at the camera the readings are inconsistant. In subdued light its only a stop off but in sunlight the reading can be as much as 3 stops different. The meter seeing more light than the camera in each case. If the difference is the same all the time I could at least calibrate the meter but it seems almost entirely unpredicatble. I have contacted Sekonic and will most likely send it back to them to be checked. Has anybody else had experience of this meter and indeed established a high level of confidence in its readings? I have to admit that this is my first hand-held meter and also of incident readings. But the fact reamains, I know my Nikon is right.

-- Nigel Sutton (nigelsutton@gnps.fsnet.co.uk), April 15, 2002

Answers

Nigel,

the more meters you take, the more confused you will be. The metering angle of your F4 depends on the lens you use. Your Sekonic has a fixed angle and as long as both agles are not the same, you will most likely get a different result. Take two readings from a standard Grey Card. They should be close to each other. Hand-held meters without spot capabilities do have a metering angle around 30 (aprox. a 50mm lens on your F4) and are always taking an average over the whole view. They don't have features like Matrix Metering etc. A hand-held Meter should be tilted slightly downwards, if metering objects and not light in a landscape.

Regards,

-- Thilo Schmid (tschmid@2pix.de), April 15, 2002.


Nigel, you are comparing an incident meter to a reflected one. If you take an incident reading in full sunlight you will get three or more stops difference depending on whether the ping-pong ball of the meter is in full sun, full shade, or in between. Any one of the readings may be the correct one depending on the light distribution within the subject area you want to photograph. A reflected reading of the same scene can be dramatically different from the incident reading depending on how much shadow area the reflected meter is seeing. You need to test to see how to use your handheld meter for your pictures, your film and developing, etc

-- Carl Weese (cweese@earthlink.net), April 15, 2002.

as mentionned above besides the lens used on the Nikon, the meter also averages out whatever the light on the scene... may be the closest to a meter in a reflex camera is using a spot meter making 2 or 3 measurements and divide the results by 2 or 3 and again this is not 100% consistent...just learn to use one tool correctly and trust it...good luck...

-- dan n. (dan@egmail.com), April 15, 2002.

Another thing to consider also is that the DX-coding on a 35mm cassette has information as to the film type being used and it's latitude. Meters can be biased by this towards reading the highlights for slide film and the shadows for negative film. Load a slide film in the 35 and use a negative film in the LF and you'd be comparing apples and oranges.

-- Wayne DeWitt (wdewitt@snip.net), April 15, 2002.

Once I "test in" an incident meter I would trust it 10 to 1 over a reflective meter for most subjects. Visit this page on my web site where I discuss underexposure problems I have had with Sekonic meters. I also address a fix.

-- Richard Stum (info@KinesisGear.com), April 17, 2002.


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