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Anyone else LOVE Minolta Light Meters?
Old 11-01-2012   #1
Chriscrawfordphoto
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Anyone else LOVE Minolta Light Meters?

I don't see much discussion of Minolta's handheld light meters here on RFF, which is unfortunate, because in my experience, they are the best meters ever made. I'm still upset that Minolta went under, just because of their meters. Kenko is making the last Minolta meters, the Flash Meter VI, Autometer VF, and Color Meter IIIF, under their own name now with new model numbers....but it still sucks they don't have their 'real' name on them.

Here are my Minoltas:



In the top row are the Autometer IIIF and Flash Meter II, and in the bottom row are the Flash Meter VI and Flash Meter IV. The accessories are a flat diffuser, a ND 3 stops spherical diffuser for very bright light (never needed it in even the brightest light!), the Spot Mask II (makes the meter into an enlarging meter for the darkroom), and the Reflected Light Attachment (40 degree angle of view). I also have the 5 degree and 10 degree spot attachments and the IR Trigger (which allows wireless flash triggering with the Flash Meter IV).

The Autometer IIIF was my first handheld meter. I bought it new for $206 when I was 15 years old, after spending a summer mowing lawns to save the money for it. It still works beautifully 22 years later! I hadn't used it in a long time, and I recently dug it out and began carrying it again. Its a pretty basic incident meter, which can meter flash at 1/60 and 1/250 shutter speeds.

The Flash Meter II is an ancient one, and historically important. When introduced in 1975 (year I was born), it was the world's first digital meter. It is primitive by today's standards. Primarily designed for studio flash metering, it only has shutter speeds from 1 second to 1/250, but it can do ambient metering too, though the low-light capability is poor. I got it cheap many years ago just because it was made the year I was born, and the history fascinated me. As you can see, it matches perfectly the readings from the much newer ones!

The Flash Meter IV was the meter I REALLY wanted when I was a teenager; it was THE professional meter of the early 1990s. Very expensive back then, so I got the Autometer IIIF instead. I got the Flash Meter IV recently at a good price. This meter introduced Analyzed Flash Metering, meaning it tells you what proportion of the exposure is from the flash and what proportion is from ambient light! For a long time, Minolta was the only meter manufacturer offering this, but Sekonic and Gossen eventually caught up.

The Flash Meter VI is the ultimate meter. It does incident metering and has a one degree spot built in. Several Sekonics do too, as does the Gossen Starlite, but the Flash Meter VI is smaller and lighter! Like the Flash Meter IV, it analyzes the light when metering flash. This is the meter I carry when doing black and white work, because of the spot meter. I used to carry a Gossen Ultra Spot II, but it is gigantic and heavy. In my experience, the Minolta is more accurate too. The Gossen's metering cell was too sensitive to red, yellow, and orange, causing incorrect readings of colored objects. The Minolta meters have a spectral response that more closely matches film than the Gossen and Sekonic meters I have used (though the Sekonic L-508 I used to have was not too bad).

It is often said that no two meters agree. Well my four Minoltas all agree to within 1/10 of a stop, and the oldest one is 37 years old! The Autometer IIIF is 22 yrs old, and the Flash Meter IV is around 20 yrs old. The Flash Meter VI is one of the last ones Minolta made, as it has the Konica-Minolta name on it. They match!

I use the Flash Meter VI for black and white, because I use the spot meter for that. The Autometer IIIF I carry with my digital SLR, since incident metering is perfect for digital. I use the Flash Meter IV for studio work because of the wireless flash triggering. The ancient Flash Meter II is just a nostalgia item, I do not use it.
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Old 11-01-2012   #2
Pickett Wilson
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I've used the Minolta Spotmeter F for years. Does the job and just keeps on ticking.
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Old 11-01-2012   #3
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yes, I think they are THE BEST! I have converted the Flashmeter III to use a big 9V battery that can be bought everywhere. That`s because I always forgot to shut it down and the battery was gone... I have 2 of those with spot etc attachments. Then I have the color temperature meter for ambient & flash to measure the exact temperature of the studio strobe heads. very important if you are going to have clear colors in Digital(CFV) images.
I don`t even dream of going out without a handheld meter, ah maybe with a leica M8...
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Old 11-01-2012   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Pickett Wilson View Post
I've used the Minolta Spotmeter F for years. Does the job and just keeps on ticking.
Those are nice! When I was in college, I saved money from shooting weddings to buy the Gossen Ultra Spot, which I later sold, and I SHOULD have gotten the Minolta Spot Meter F instead. Its smaller, more accurate, and was cheaper too!

I was actually planning to buy one when I found a VERY good deal on the Flash Meter VI, which has the built in spot meter, so I got it instead and have been super happy with it.

If I had the $$ to burn, I'd buy one anyway. I have a confession: my gear obsession is light meters. If I had the money, I'd have a bigass collection of them. I think they're fascinating, and I love the different ways of metering light that have been employed in the years since the electric light meter was invented in the early 1930s by Weston. I'd be like Joe with his camera bags, or Raid with his big collection of 50mm lenses, or Tom A. with his incredible collection of Nikon rangefinders and Leicas. Except with me it would be shelves full of meters.

The only ones I have currently are the four Minoltas, because I bought them all to fulfill work-needs (except the old one...had to indulge myself a bit, and it was cheap!).
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Old 11-01-2012   #5
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Originally Posted by Rangefinderfreak View Post
yes, I think they are THE BEST! I have converted the Flashmeter III to use a big 9V battery that can be bought everywhere. That`s because I always forgot to shut it down and the battery was gone... I have 2 of those with spot etc attachments. Then I have the color temperature meter for ambient & flash to measure the exact temperature of the studio strobe heads. very important if you are going to have clear colors in Digital(CFV) images.
I don`t even dream of going out without a handheld meter, ah maybe with a leica M8...
I've always wanted a color meter. How do you use it with digital? Are you filtering the lens, as with film, or are you somehow translating the meter's readings into settings for white balance in your RAW conversion software?

What battery did your Flash Meter III use originally? My Flash Meter II also uses a 9V, and the Autometer IIIF uses an annoyingly expensive 6V battery. The Flash Meters IV and VI both thankfully use cheap AA batteries.
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Old 11-01-2012   #6
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I have the Autometer III it's a cracking meter, replaced a Westonmaster III.. I only stopped using it because of the need for the expensive 4SR44 batteries.
Now use a Sekonic, but I still have the Minolta (and the Westonmaster come that)
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Old 11-01-2012   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chriscrawfordphoto View Post
I've always wanted a color meter. How do you use it with digital? Are you filtering the lens, as with film, or are you somehow translating the meter's readings into settings for white balance in your RAW conversion software?

What battery did your Flash Meter III use originally? My Flash Meter II also uses a 9V, and the Autometer IIIF uses an annoyingly expensive 6V battery. The Flash Meters IV and VI both thankfully use cheap AA batteries.
The battery for the III is now the square 9V battery, It needed a little dremel work and soldering. i am not a gearaholic so i am not afraid to do that !
The color temperature meter has two replaceable receptors, one for ambient and other for Flash. You set the wanted color temperature in the meter and it gives a "correction value" or then just gives the available color temperature. That you put on your digital camera or back in the menu , the result is then "pure grey or white". If you combine strobe heads with differing color temperatures, no photoshopping will correct that. You may know that strobe heads get warmer with age. I have the "correct" color temperature written on different heads, combine the ones that are closer, have the ones that are warm for "early afternoon" shots etc...
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Old 11-01-2012   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rangefinderfreak View Post
The battery for the III is now the square 9V battery, It needed a little dremel work and soldering. i am not a gearaholic so i am not afraid to do that !
The color temperature meter has two replaceable receptors, one for ambient and other for Flash. You set the wanted color temperature in the meter and it gives a "correction value" or then just gives the available color temperature. That you put on your digital camera or back in the menu , the result is then "pure grey or white". If you combine strobe heads with differing color temperatures, no photoshopping will correct that. You may know that strobe heads get warmer with age. I have the "correct" color temperature written on different heads, combine the ones that are closer, have the ones that are warm for "early afternoon" shots etc...
All of my strobes are the same age, I bought them at the same time and haven't had to replace the flash tubes in any of them, but I did get tripped up once when I bought a softbox made by a different company than the others I had. Damned thing gave different color than the others!
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Old 11-01-2012   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chriscrawfordphoto View Post
All of my strobes are the same age, I bought them at the same time and haven't had to replace the flash tubes in any of them, but I did get tripped up once when I bought a softbox made by a different company than the others I had. Damned thing gave different color than the others!
This is possibility not the subject for the RFF, but as an old studio guy: An advice: This is JUST THE REASON flash color temperature meters exist! You can get large color correction folios to alter the color temperature of your softbox. Also you can do it just to get a different look, warm afternoon, midday blue etc. That`s the fun part of artifical flash photography some of the current "Digital kids" are completely unaware of !
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My Collection of Minolta Light Meters.
Old 11-01-2012   #10
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My Collection of Minolta Light Meters.

Hi Chris,

I love 'em too, here is my collection of Minolta Light Meters. Mine are all from the SR-T era, and you know what, they all work properly, and all give identical meter readings, too!

At the top, is my Minolta Auto Spot 1 degree. Very accurate, but a bit -noisy- with it's funky servo motor. But it works great!

The Minolta Flash Meter 1 is very accurate, reading strobe or brighter ambient light. Uses silicon blue cells, and I like it, because it will also read flashbulbs I need to solder together a sync cord set for this one.

The Minolta View Meter 9 is the original Minolta Meter, and is a good basic CDS unit.

The Minolta Auto Meter II is my go-to meter when reading incident light. It has never let me down.

The Minolta 3-Color Temperature Meter is new to me, but it works well.
I'm still getting the hang of using it. When I shot alot of Architecture and Interiors years ago, I used a Minolta Color Meter II. This is the original analog unit.

Use all of these meters and lovin' it. Amazing that they all still work.
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Old 11-01-2012   #11
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I remember my dad's Minolta meter.
Certainly excellent in a studio (I just loved to see the red led display on your picture), but for streets, I prefer the much smaller sekonic L-308.
That being said, I find the idea of collecting light meters lovely.
They are always considered as a small accessory with no "soul" but they can be so different....
Also a bit easier to collect than, say, enlargers, and somewhat more appealing than collecting err...hoods?
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Old 11-01-2012   #12
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Love Minolta?

Yes, and Gossen (though not so much the spot meter).

And SEI.

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Old 11-01-2012   #13
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impressive collection, chris.
never got into sophisticated light metering I must admit, as I never did studio work or even formal outdoor portraiture stuff. the only time i pay a bit more attention to metering is when shooting MF - just too expensive to waste film then
but well, you are a pro, so can't afford getting the exposure only 'just right', i guess...
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Old 11-01-2012   #14
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I have a sexy little Gossen pilot, but I've never been with any Minolta.

By the way, is the head bartender aware of the meter pron being shown in here?
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Old 11-01-2012   #15
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I've been using a Flashmeter III since 1982 and an Autometer IV-F since the mid-90s. Totally reliable. In fact, when I was shooting transparency film every day, they made my exposure technique so precise that I could tell if my lab was running a little hot or cold on a given day.

I would love to see a photo of Rangerfinderfreak's Flashmeter III conversion to a 9-volt battery. Could you please post one?
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Old 11-01-2012   #16
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I had an Autometer IIIF for years and the batteries were always running out, though I liked using it a lot. But I sold it a couple years ago along with a couple of other meters and bought a Gossen Digipro F which I really like especially for the aperture priority. Now I just have the Gossen and a Quantum Calculight XP for low light, and a Magnetron Euromaster for old times sake.



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Old 11-01-2012   #17
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Quote:
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I've been using a Flashmeter III since 1982 and an Autometer IV-F since the mid-90s. Totally reliable. In fact, when I was shooting transparency film every day, they made my exposure technique so precise that I could tell if my lab was running a little hot or cold on a given day.

I would love to see a photo of Rangerfinderfreak's Flashmeter III conversion to a 9-volt battery. Could you please post one?
here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/4014628...in/photostream

Not a "neat job" but does the trick, works forever. even the duct tape has been used over and over again...

At the same time I have a picture of my M3 converted to M4-P finder, super clean and not having that annoying slight sideways change of position of the eye´s sight path in the finder of the original M3 , that made it difficult to shoot with both eyes open. Extras are Nikon plastic end on film advance lever-the metal one was making tearings in my shirt. Then the DAG nice sticker with shutter times. I am an old guy (68) so every little bit helps. Then the the leica rewind extension, little wobbly but looks fantastic. Finally the leica service guy put the red dot, as his approval sign which I didn`t object at all !
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Old 11-01-2012   #18
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I just never took to meters with digital readouts. My LunaPro Sbc is still the meter I love best. The 7 percent spot attachment and the flash attachment serve me well.

That said, the Minolta meters I used at a copy studio at work did an exemplary job. It's just that my attachment to the Sbc is unshakable.
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Old 11-01-2012   #19
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foolishly sold my Minolta Auto Meter V two years ago, best meter I ve ever had. when I thought I won t be using it anymore, still regretting it, as they seem to be impossible to find nowdays.
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Old 11-01-2012   #20
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Thanks, Chris. Because of your post, I found this http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y8saF...eature=related
for "recalibrating" a lVF. It works! Saves me $100 on a servicing. I've been using a lVF for decades, an earlier flash meter before that. Essential piece of equipment.
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Old 11-01-2012   #21
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I bought my Flashmeter III back in the 1980's and have used it ever since. Wonderfully accurate, I never go out to shot without it in my vest's top left breast pocket.
My model uses six 1.5 volt button batteries, (the same batteries that power the meters in my F2, FM and FA cameras)
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Old 11-01-2012   #22
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Quote:
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Thanks, Chris. Because of your post, I found this http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y8saF...eature=related
for "recalibrating" a lVF. It works!
Well, what is shown there should more properly be called "cleaning the incident dome switch". The later Flashmeters have a user calibration potentiometer accessible in the battery compartment - but if they are offset by more than the one or two stops adjustable there or go out of linearity, you'll have to send it in.
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Old 11-01-2012   #23
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Chris,
What do you think of the Minolta Spot Meter F for use with medium format b & w?
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Old 11-01-2012   #24
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Thanks for the photo, Rangefinderfreak. My soldering skills aren't that good, so I think I'll go with six #357 silver oxide batteries or three 2L76 lithiums.
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Old 11-01-2012   #25
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I used a Minolta III-F also in the late 80's and early 90's when I did some Wedding Photography.. A Classic, and time tested!
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