I have probably had these two matchbox sizes light meters for over 30 years. They were a common find in second hand and antique shops and fairly cheap back in the 80’s. My guess is the design dates back to the 60’s.
The one on the right looks far more complicated but it is displays the same information as the one on the left. I used to use them but they require a little more thought and time than an in camera meter.
Out of respect I used my Calcuflash incident light meter to set the exposure for this image. I bought it back in the 80’s too and you can still buy them today.
Continuing with the theme of putting odd vintage lenses onto modern digital cameras this week I took the screw mount 50mm prime from off an old Praktica SX SLR sitting on my shelf, gave it a clean and tried it out.
The results were what I would expect with sharpness and contrast being particularly noticeable. The softness is not necessarily a bad thing unless you want high fidelity. In hindsight should have taken a newer lens with me and repeated the images for comparison but the weather just closed back in.
Older lenses are far more compact compared to their all singing, all dancing autofocus cousins but they are more tricky to fine focus unless you do so with the aperture open at 2.8. I can see the attraction for digital natives that never really used film or manual focus cameras. Having grown up with that technology I found this more nostalgic than novel.
When I started getting back into photography, I thought about how much of my old gear I could use. The last thing I considered re using was my old flash meter as I was happy with results from TTL flash and in camera metering generally.
Several of the books I have read lately have prompted me to re-examine this and investigate a role for manual metering in the way I work. So I have dusted the venerable CalcuFlash meter off with the intention of doing some parallel testing of manual and in camera metering. Actually I needed to do more than dusting. There was some corrosion on the battery terminals that needed removal and new batteries too. I also had to review the manual, as I could not recall exactly how the meter worked but that came back to me slowly.
Testing the meter will require a couple of different setups, starting with the simple one below. The location is in open shade with manual settings based on incident light reading against aperture priority matrix metering. Auto ISO was turned off to prevent any changes to exposure value. As you can see there was not a lot of difference in the first pair but there was actually a one stop variance in the second. I suspect the background influenced the camera reading.
The first pair of images made at 1/40 sec F8 and F7.1. It’s hard to see much difference.
The second pairing was at different angle and there is a lighter background F5.6 and F8. The incident reading did not consider the background at all.
Do I need to do this if I tend to make bracketed exposures for HDR anyway? Possibly not but if I just want the one image then it makes sense to ensure the exposure is as good as I can get it. Another driver is ensuring the consistency of exposures. It don’t think I will use a hand held meter when the light conditions are changing rapidly but in more controlled environments it may be useful to keep on hand.