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Which lightmeter to buy?
Old 05-20-2017   #1
seany65
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Which lightmeter to buy?

Yes, I know "Here's yet another 'What To Buy' thread. Bah!"

However, this isn't the usual "What Leica, Contax etc. should I get (even thought I've got a dozen cameras already) for my trip to wherever" type thing.

Nope.

I recently bought a 1957 Agfa Ambi Silette and I've decided that if I'd bought the camera at that time I would've bought a light meter as well and I've narrowedd it down to 2:

A Gossen Sixtry or an Agfa Lucimeter S.

So I was wondering if anyone knows enough about these meters to be able to tell me which one is most likely to be still quite accurate?

I know that's a bit of a 'suck it and see' question, but if either one has a bad reputation it would be good to know.

Any help would be much appreciated.
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Old 05-20-2017   #2
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TBH mate I use Pocket Light Meter app on iphone and it's good! That and it's always in my pocket.
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Old 05-20-2017   #3
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If everything can live on a shelf then go for whatever you want. If you want a period lightmeter that works then get a Weston Master IV or later and get a new selenium cell put in. They only last 30-50 years, deteriorating faster if exposed to light. The only material advantage to Westons is that cell replacement is available still.
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Old 05-20-2017   #4
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@johnnyrod, I can barely use my ordinary mobile phone, I wouldn't know how to download an app. I also don't really want to, I'd much rather use a 'proper' light meter.

@Scrambler, how much would a cell replacement cost, on average?
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Old 05-20-2017   #5
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Quote:
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@johnnyrod, I can barely use my ordinary mobile phone, I wouldn't know how to download an app. I also don't really want to, I'd much rather use a 'proper' light meter.

@Scrambler, how much would a cell replacement cost, on average?
Also, where would one have this done?

- Murray
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Old 05-20-2017   #6
Gerry M
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Also, where would one have this done?

- Murray
Quality Light Metric in Hollywood, CA. Cost is about $100, including shipping. George did my Weston Master 5 several years ago. Works great now.
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Old 05-20-2017   #7
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Quality Light Metric in Hollywood, CA. Cost is about $100, including shipping. George did my Weston Master 5 several years ago. Works great now.
Thank you for that bit of valuable information!

- Murray
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Old 05-20-2017   #8
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Quality Light Metric in Hollywood, CA. Cost is about $100, including shipping. George did my Weston Master 5 several years ago. Works great now.

Quality Light Metric will no longer install new meter cells in Weston meters. George told me a few months ago that there are no more parts for them.
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Old 05-20-2017   #9
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I would not recommend any antique light meter. Every one I have ever handled has been either completely dead, or very inaccurate. Selenium cell meters die over time, and replacement cells are no longer available for most. Meters made in the 1960s and 1970s that used CdS cells were all made to use mercury batteries that are not made anymore.

Buy a new meter. Its so much less hassle than buying old junk that needs exotic batteries or expensive (and sometimes impossible) repair to work right.

You do not have to spend a fortune. Here are some I recommend:

Gossen Sixtomat F2. $199, very small and pocketable, very accurate, can measure flash, too.

Sekonic L-308. $199, and like the Gossen its small, accurate and pocketable and can do flash. The Gossen has better low-light capability, though.

If you want a meter that looks like its from the same period as your classic camera, then consider the Sekonic L-398A. At $218, I think its too expensive for what it offers, but it is a very reliable, accurate meter. It is the current version of the old Norwood Director meters first made in the 1950s, and it does not require batteries. The disadvantage is that it has poor low-light capability.

I would not recommend the Sekonic Twinmate or the Gossen Digisix or Digiflash meters. They're popular here on RFF because they're VERY small and can be mounted on your camera's flash shoe, and they cost less than the ones I recommended. The cost difference, however, is small. They're rather expensive for what they offer. The Sekonic Twinmate, especially, has VERY poor low-light capability.
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Old 05-20-2017   #10
Gerry M
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Sad news on no more selenium cells. Antiquated or not, Weston Masters can be good (and small) meters that measure incident or reflected light. As to the Sekonic L398A, I just bought one in excellent condition for $50 to replace my old L28c. I agree on the Twinmate. A waste of money imo.
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Old 05-20-2017   #11
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Ugh, the Twinmate. One of those purchases that I regret. Really no better than my Weston V. Actually, worse because George of QLM had replaced the selenium cell on the Weston V, and calibrated it. At that time (2012), George already said that he was running out of these selenium cells, and he'd soon have to stop replacements on these Weston meters. If you get a good Weston meter, they have all those old style shutter speeds such as 1/75, 1/100, etc., as well as the old scale apertures such as f/6.3.

If you can stand some bulk, I still use my Gossen Luna Pro F regularly. Mine uses the 9V battery. I must have changed the battery once in 10 years. Still accurate, and does flash metering also.
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Old 05-20-2017   #12
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George at Quality Light Metric is the man for conversions and calibration. He's converted 3 Leica MR-4 meters to current batteries and calibrated them. It runs just over $100 per meter. I also had him convert and calibrate a Weston Ranger 9 and Luna Peoband both were about $60 each. I sent him a Weston Master V about a year ago that was working but not accurate. He said the cell was fine so it didn't need replaced but the magnet had lost magnitude so he re magnatized it and it works great now. I think the pricecwas around $60.

Honestly I think if you find a good example of a CDS meter you like likeca Super Pilot or Luna Pro without corrosion in the battery compartment they're well worth converting and calibrating. They were great meters when new and great when refurbished.

George is very quick on turnaround. It's usually 2 days in the shop and then back to you.
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Old 05-21-2017   #13
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Old 05-21-2017   #14
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Sekonic L-308

$100 - $150 used.
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Old 05-21-2017   #15
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Sekonic L308. Buy new if you can. Incident and reflective. One AA battery. Hand sized. Accurate and reliable. Had mine for at least 10 years and wouldn't change it for anything else.

Most of all, get out and enjoy your cameras!

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Old 05-21-2017   #16
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I purchased a Sekonic L-408 about 7 years ago.

It's my all-in-one meter solution. Upgraded from a L-458

2AA lasts forever.
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Old 05-21-2017   #17
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Google search reports UK Weston repairs still available for 120 pounds. I dont know the price in dollars sorry. I have 2 Weston meters, one dead the other seems ok. I have a selenium meter in a 1957 camera that seems spot on. But I wouldn't want to bet on it with a purchase. One day I will pay up for a new meter.
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Old 05-21-2017   #18
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Google search reports UK Weston repairs still available for 120 pounds. I dont know the price in dollars sorry. I have 2 Weston meters, one dead the other seems ok. I have a selenium meter in a 1957 camera that seems spot on. But I wouldn't want to bet on it with a purchase. One day I will pay up for a new meter.

That's Ian Partridge. He told me he didn't recommend sending a meter to him for repair, because of international shipping costs and customs hassles. He sells old Westons he has restored, and doesnt charge much more than he charges to overhaul one.

I have one of his restored Weston Master V meters. It works great, but I never use it. I own a million meters (actually I have 17 or 18 meters that are in working order and a few old nonfunctional ones!), and the only one I really ever use anymore is my Sekonic L-758DR. Its an incredible meter; incident and one degree spot all in one, very accurate, good lowlight sensitivity, and much faster to operate than a meter with a moving needle and calculator dial.
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Old 05-21-2017   #19
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The Zeiss Ikophot tends to be fairly durable. They don't have a 100% survival rate but are still out there in perfect working condition. My own example is faultless. I have checked it extensively against various other meters in incident mode and reflective, at bright (sunny 16) levels and at more moderate. Obviously it will not read down to the same low EV as a newer battery powered type: but within its usable range, its accuracy is excellent, and as I am quite pedantic about making comparitive readings in exactly the same light at the same angular position, and checking reflective accuracy against different surfaces of varying tonality and reflectance, this is not a claim I make lightly.

I recently gave away a small Sekonic selenium meter that I had checked carefully against the Ikophot and several other meters. That passed with flying colours. Its new owner has been using it for setting transparency exposures. I have seen the resulting films personally, and exposure of them is excellent.

I also have a small Walz Coronet here which I sourced cheaply from a local shop with its optional booster cell and incident masks for both the main cell and the booster. This also checks out well at all light levels in reflective and incident modes.

At the same time I have a second Sekonic of the same type here the cell of which still responds to light but which is a stop or two off. There are plenty of selenium meters out there that are no longer accurate, or completely dead. Working ones can still be found, though, if you look hard enough.

I don't usually use my vintage meters for day to day photography (although occasionally I will take one out). My trusty Minolta Auto Meter III is nearly always to hand. I do however often carry one of the smaller classic meters such as my Ikophot, as a back up—unlike the Minolta they will never suffer from flat batteries, which has caught me out with the latter a couple of times.
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Old 05-21-2017   #20
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Just buy a new one, whichever Sekonic fits your pocket both physically and financially. You won't be disappointed. Old meters are fun but...
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Old 05-21-2017   #21
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Weston Master II or III. THE classic, incredibly reliable, and silly cheap. Which side of the pond are you?

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Old 05-21-2017   #22
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Quote:
The Zeiss Ikophot tends to be fairly durable.
+1
Same for Gossen Pilot and Sixtomat.
(do not try to "place" snow tones using a Selenium meter: they tend to have significant errors for extreme luminosity; but then who needs a meter for that?)
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Old 05-21-2017   #23
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Thanks for all the replies and the info. Plenty of stuff to think about.

Is the Twinmate actually a bad meter, or just not good as it ain't great at low levels of light?

@Chriscrawfordphoto: About the restored weston master V that you don't use 'cos really you don't want it just hanging around the house cluttering the place up. I'm quite prepared to take it off your hands, and I won't charge you...

@Roger Hicks: Are the master II and III better/more likely to still be accurate than the IV or V?

I'm in England, about 10 miles east of Manchester.
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Old 05-21-2017   #24
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Twinmate is not very accurate. Mine reads up to 1 stop off my other meters. Low light sensitivity is not good either.


For the Weston meters, I have the III and the V.
The IV upwards are supposed to have 1 stop extra low light sensitivity, per the advertising of the day. The problem with the III is that there is no needle lock. If you are doing reflected light reading, fine and good.
If you are doing incident light reading from the subject and aiming the invercone towards the camera, it is also fine. However, if you are in a forest or some location where the subect can't physically be reached,, you can't just turn the meter around towards you (if you are in similar light). The problem is that the moment you turn the meter back around to read it, the needle will move to a new setting.

The free needle motion in the III makes this meter more susceptible to jostling, moving the needle off its jewelled pivots.
The III also used ASA film speed settings. The II used Weston speed settings which will require more translation work on your part to determine what the ISO/ASA film speed equivalent is.

For that reason, I prefer the V ( IV is similar also). Take a reading, lock the needle position. Then you can read the settings off the calculator dial.
Finally, from your perspective - the II and III was made by Yankees in the USA. The IV and V was made by your countrymen in England.
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Old 05-21-2017   #25
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. . . @Roger Hicks: Are the master II and III better/more likely to still be accurate than the IV or V? . . . .
Surprisingly, yes. You need to adjust for Weston/ASA speeds, but that's easy (1/3 stop adjustment). If you don't get a PM tomorrow or the next day, PM me. Sorry but it's well gone midnight where I am (rural France).

Cheers,

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Old 05-21-2017   #26
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@BernardL: Thanks for the info. I didn't know that.

@Robert Lai: "Twinmate isn't very accurate." Do I take it that this is either most of them or a large proportion of them? I wonder how many buyers have told the makers, and if quite a few have, why are they still making them?

Thanks for the info about tweston master 3. An unlockebale needle is something to think about.

@Roger Hicks: Really? I suppose there was a change in method of manufacture or something which hasn't stood the test of time.


There has been a bit of talk about getting meters that had been powered by mercury batteries 'converted'. I presume this means conversion to be able to use silver-oxide batteries.

There is an alternative to this which seems like it would help with the Gossen Super Pilot (which needed a Mercury PX13 battery), as well as other meters and cameras, and that is the 'adaptor' sold by 'the small battery company' who's website I've just been back to after several months, and it seems they've got various adaptors in stock at the minute. Herre's a link to their 'Mercury replacement catalogue':

http://www.smallbattery.company.org...._catalogue.htm
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Old 05-21-2017   #27
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George at Quality Light Metric converts meters that used PX13 and 625 Mercury cells to use alkaline 625 cells. I understand he inserts a diode in the circuit to regulate the voltage. I've had him convert several and they are very accurate and stable. He says the battery will last a couple of years.

George does virtually all of Hollywoods meter calibrations and repairs as well as calibrations of instruments for NASA. George immigrated from Poland years ago where he taught physics. He knows his stuff!

If you want a Weston V I'd suggest the Euro Master. They're later production and I e found more of them working vs Weston V meters. They're the same meter just different names. There are a couple on eBay at the moment that the seller claims are working and accurate. Also the dial / scale is much easier to read. I bought a junker just to get the dial off of and put it on my V.

My favorite of the Weston's is the Ranger 9. It has an optical viewer with bright lines that accurately shows the 18 degrees it reads. They're a bit larger than the V but much more sensitive and the 18 degree acceptance angle is great for general use. It originally used PX13 Mercury cells but I had QLM convert one to alkaline 625 cells and calibrate. I have another that was accurate without calibration and I use silver oxide cells in MR9 adapters. These work great too.
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Old 05-21-2017   #28
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From my statistically invalid sample of n=1, the Twinmate gets me in the right range, but it's not the one I would use as a reference. For that role, I use my Weston V, or Gossen Lunapro F, which agree with each other exactly.

The main reason for getting it is that it's small, and it comes with a removable foot that allows you to put the meter in the accessory shoe of your camera. Similar in style to the Leica MR meters, but without the shutter coupling.

If you want such a small meter, the Leica MR-4 is a reasonable alternative. It has a 90 mm lens' (35mm film format) angle of view, so it is a semi-spot meter. You aim the MR-4 by using the viewfinder frameline shift lever on your M Leica to get the 90mm frameline, then meter your selected area. I like the MR-4 because it gives a decent size shutter speed dial that overhangs the front of the camera (similar to how the M5's shutter speed dial is). Otherwise, the M1-M4P, M6, M-A and MP have tiny, atrophic little shutter speed dials that are a major pain to use.

There is nothing to prevent you from slipping an MR-4 meter into the accessory shoe of your camera, and shooting away. The only issue is that the shutter release location of your Ambi-Silette is way in the back. A meter in the accessory shoe may block access to this release.

For the battery adapter, the best one that I've found (actually recommended to me by Gus Lazzari, a camera repairman here in the USA) is that sold by pratedthai: http://www.ebay.com/itm/MR-9-Battery...IAAOxykMpTHFbQ
It has actual gold plating for the best electrical contact that will never corrode or oxidize.
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Weston II
Old 05-21-2017   #29
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Weston II

Dear Seany65,

I've bought 2 of these from ebay and spent about $ 20.00 for the pair.

Once I understood the Weston film speeds I've found that both meters reliably match every other handheld meter and every metered camera that I own. Yes, the meters have archaic shutter speeds and f-stops on them, but honestly just how anal do you need to be to not accept 1/200 @ f1.5 as being the same as 1/250 @ f1.4?

For example, ISO 400 film = 320 on a Weston II. You can figure out the rest of the film speeds from there or you can Google the instruction manual and get the conversion numbers direct.

When it stops deflecting when pointed at a light source the meter is likely dead. Just buy another for a couple of dollars and continue on your merry way.

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Tim Murphy

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Old 05-21-2017   #30
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Another vote for the Sekonic L-308. I usually wear mine around my neck as it's very light and it's very convenient to just grab it and take a reading. I bought mine used from an ad on Craigslist for $100. It's been working great for me for a number of years.
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Old 05-21-2017   #31
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Looking at the two meters Chris recommended (Sekonic L-308 and Gossen Sixtomat F2), I like that the Gossen has a 25-degree angle of acceptance over the Sekonic's 40 degrees.

- Murray
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Old 05-21-2017   #32
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Looking at the two meters Chris recommended (Sekonic L-308 and Gossen Sixtomat F2), I like that the Gossen has a 25-degree angle of acceptance over the Sekonic's 40 degrees.

- Murray

I didn't notice that, but its another good point for the Gossen. I also like that it has better low-light sensitivity than the Sekonic.
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Old 05-22-2017   #33
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Hi,

I have and use several old meters. Only the 1930's Leicameter needed a new cell and a sticker to remind me how to correct the reading (only important if you like old period pieces as part of the outfit).

I've also had Westons from the 1940's up to the UK (only) made Euro-Master. Not one of them needed more than rebalancing or recalibration and some worked as bought. The cells were OK probably because the leather case keeps the cells from normal deterioration by light.

The Weston Master V uses ASA and DIN for the film speed and shows all the odd speeds and apertures needed for old Leicas, Contaxes, FEDs and Zorkis etc. The Weston Euro Master shows the international speeds and apertures and half stops only, plus it uses ASA & DIN. So for me the Master V is most useful and they can be picked up for next to nothing boxed with Invercones and manuals.

My super modern foreign digital one worked OK but the battery terminal fell off for good one day...

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Old 05-22-2017   #34
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I've owned many Westons and vintage meters, plus the VC shoe-meter. I love the Sekonic Twin-mate. I think portability is a virtue.

It's very very quick and intuitive in use, too, more so than the Westons. I don't recall it's any worse in low light than the Westons, it certainly goes down to about the lowest speed I can hand-hold, around 1/10 of a second as f/2 or so.
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Old 05-22-2017   #35
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I've owned many Westons and vintage meters, plus the VC shoe-meter. I love the Sekonic Twin-mate. I think portability is a virtue.

It's very very quick and intuitive in use, too, more so than the Westons. I don't recall it's any worse in low light than the Westons, it certainly goes down to about the lowest speed I can hand-hold, around 1/10 of a second as f/2 or so.
The Twinmate's low light sensitivity is EV 3 at ISO-100, about the same as a Weston Master V. To me, that's unacceptable. The Twinmate uses a modern Silicon Photo Diode metering cell, and most SPD based meters can meter down to EV -2. If one is going to buy a modern battery powered meter, I would not choose one that is hobbled with such poor low-light sensitivity.
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Old 05-22-2017   #36
Paul T.
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Absolutely take that point, and if you're shooting slide film, perhaps the Twin-mate is not sufficiently accurate. I'm sure you're right also that they should have built in better low light capability.

But if you're shooting hand-held, it will take you to pretty low shutter speeds. I happen to like the needle display, which also allows you to guess even lower light levels pretty accurately. While I absolutely take Chris's point re bigger meters being better, the 208's handiness is unique. (The Gossen Digisix, which I've borrowed, is similarly small, two or three stops better in low light, but not quite as intuitive in use).
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Old 05-22-2017   #37
seany65
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Thanks to everyone for all the new info.

@Robert Lai: Thanks for the link. Looks like a good option. Although with the possibility of having to pay import tax etc. the cost could go a bit higher. I was wondering if the adaptors are a little bit bigger than the oriignal mercury battery? If not, then they could be used in those meters and cameras that used two mercury batteries.

I don't really think I'd be too interested in a Leica MR4. If I were to buy a shoe mount one, I think I'd try and find a working Metraphot 3 as I already have one (which came with the ambi silette) but it decides when and if it's going to be accurate so it's not really useable but I sort of quite like it.

Dear Tim Murphy,

Of the master 2 and 3, I'm more inclined to the 3. I was wondering if there were different versions of the invercone, which can only be used on particluar models?

Regards,

seany65.

@ David Hughes:

I am looking for 'period pieces' for my ambi silette and super solinette, which is why I have been looking at the gossen sixtry and am now looking at the master 3, to go with the period lens hoods and filters which I have.

Regards,

seany65.

Hmmm, Has anyone got any idea why Gossen are/were so stuck on using "-six" in the names of their meters?
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Old 05-22-2017   #38
Robert Lai
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All the invercones are usable on almost all of the Weston models. I think the first model used a different design of invercone. The invercones interchange between my III and V without issues.
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Old 05-23-2017   #39
seany65
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Thanks for the info about invercones, Robert.

.
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Old 05-23-2017   #40
Chriscrawfordphoto
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Quote:
Originally Posted by seany65 View Post
Thanks for the info about invercones, Robert.

.

The Invercone was changed for the Master IV. That design, which is much larger than the earlier design, fits the Master IV, V, Euro-Master and Euro-Master II. It definitely will not fit the original Weston Master or the Master II. I know that because I have both of those meters and the Master IV Invercone will NOT fit them. I do not think it will fit the Master III either, as that meter is basically the same as the master II, except the calculator dial was changed to use ASA film speeds (The original and the Master II used Weston Film Speeds. The Master III and later used ASA speeds).
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My Technical Info pages: Film Developing times, scanning, printing, editing.

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