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Sobia Chishti
BetterPhoto Member Since: 8/13/2002

Flash meter

I am looking for some flash meter for the studio/strobe photography. I was looking at Wein 500B Standard-Incident Flash. I wonder if someone has used it and give me if it is good meter. I am also looking at Sekonic Studio Deluxe L-398(M?) but not sure if it is a flash meter.
I will appreciate any response.

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7/5/2004 8:19:51 AM

John A. Lind
BetterPhoto Member Since: 9/27/2001
I have not used a Wein 500B, but in looking at them and their specs I'm not greatly impressed. They'll work, but there are better, more accurate meters.

The Sekonic L-398M has a misleading "Studio" name. It's not a flash meter, but an ambient one capable of incident and reflected readings. It also has limited utility in low light levels because it uses a Selenium cell.

Look for a used "Gossen Luna Pro F" which you can find for about $125 or so. The "F" part of the name is important . . . means it's a flash meter. It can measure both both incident and reflected light, and can make ambient as well as flash readings. Not quite as sensitive as its "ambient only" Luna Pro brothers, it still has an enormous range for making very low light readings in "ambient" mode. Uses a standard 9 Volt battery you can find nearly anywhere in the world.

There are some basic Minolta and Sekonic flash meters that are also very good, and prices on used ones (in excellent condition) won't break the bank.

-- John Lind

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7/5/2004 3:19:19 PM

Sobia Chishti
BetterPhoto Member Since: 8/13/2002
  Thanks John for your guidence. What basic Minolta and Sekonic flash meters would you suggest??
I was looking at Gossen Luna Pro F. But its pricy for me to get it new. And ebay........seems to me like a gamble.
I was looking at Novatron FM02 at B&h. Now my instincts are saying that if you didn't like Wein 500B, you won't like this one also. But just how much this one is useful, if you have any idea?

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7/5/2004 8:08:09 PM

John A. Lind
BetterPhoto Member Since: 9/27/2001
New Luna Pro F meters are pricey!

I would be cautious about ePrey and light meters. There are some that look good, but there's also a fair amount of junk meters being dumped. I watched the meter auctions for some time.

Check out KEH for used ones in EX or better condition ( The "EX" condition Luna Pro F models are typically in the $150-$200 range.

Other Brands and Models (average used prices in EX or better condition):

Minolta Auto Meter IIIF: $100-150
Later model IV and V flash meters climb in price from there into the $200-$300 range.

Sekonic L-328 F: $150-$200
As with the Minolta meters, later models are similarly higher priced.

If you haven't used a hand-held meter much, I recommend getting a manual for it. KEH almost always has the manuals for them. They're found in a separate sub-category under the same category of used equipment (e.g., the Meters category has Meters, Meter Accessories, and Instructions sub-categories).

I went through a struggle with the attractiveness of a new flash meter for about $100. Started reading about the reliability, durability, accuracy and "repeatability" of these less expensive meters. Most are fairly reliable as is durability, but they aren't as good as the Gossen, Minolta and Sekonic. Accuracy and "repeatability" is where the Gossen, Minolta and Sekonic meters do very well (if they haven't been physically thrashed by their former owners) and the $100 ones falter.

Repeatability means you can make the same reading under the exact same conditions multiple times and you'll get the same result. I always take a flash reading several times, one right after the other, just in case I'm not holding the meter right or some other operator error. The Gossen never varies if I haven't done anything to cause it to. Minolta and Sekonic users have told me the same thing. The $100 class meters (new price) have a reputation for varying from one reading to the next.

For about $50-$75 more, and willingness to live with a used older meter that performs the basic "measure the light" function, I got a durable, reliable flash meter that performs that function, very, very well.

-- John Lind

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7/5/2004 9:01:24 PM

Sobia Chishti
BetterPhoto Member Since: 8/13/2002
  I justed visited the KEH site. I've never heard about it before. I found some Minolta, Sekonic even Gossen flash meters for under $150 in EX or Ex+ condition. I need your help again to make a selection since I couldn't find any reviews on the net.

Flash meter III
Autometer IIIF
( don't know what is the difference between these two)

Sekonic L-308BII flashmate

Multi Pro
and Ultra Pro

I really am thankful for your suggestion.

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7/6/2004 6:13:46 AM

John A. Lind
BetterPhoto Member Since: 9/27/2001
KEH is located in Atlanta, GA. They've been in the used equipment business for a long time and used to work entirely using "dead tree" catalogs they sent out monthly (which they still do if you are on their mailing list). Their inventory of used equipment is enormous and their business reputation is similar to that of B&H in NYC . . . impeccable. Their grading standards for equipment condition are also considered to be the toughest in the industry.

Not that they've never made a mistake . . . they sent me the wrong camera body model once (right maker, wrong model). Sent it back with copy of invoice and the correct one was shipped immediately; no problem. (They store their stuff wrapped up; it was mis-labeled on the outside when it was wrapped). To be fair, I've bought a *lot* of gear from them and been extremely happy with every item; that was the only error and it was fixed fast. They care about their customers.

Regarding the meters you listed:

I don't know the exact differences between them either. They're both flash meters, but I do know some "general" things about them. In the beginning (a long time ago), Minolta made two types of meters, the Autometer for ambient and the Flash Meter for flash use.

By the time they got to the AutoMeter IIIF and Flash Meter III models, they started putting capability to do both ambient and flash in each one. The Flash Meter III is a flash meter design with excellent capability to make ambient light readings also. The AutoMeter IIIF is an ambient light meter design that has some limited flash metering capability added to it and an "F" tacked onto its name to show that it can also do flash readings. Between the two, the Flash Meter III was specifically designed for flash use and will have more features and functions for flash metering. It should also have plenty of ambient metering capability. If your major use is for metering flash, you'll likely find the Flash Meter III more useful. It has a PC socket on the front which can be used to trigger your lights for making a reading (see remarks about this same feature that the Sekonic has). In the picture I saw of the Autometer IIIF, I didn't see a PC socket.

The L-308B II Flashmate is the smallest ambient/flash meter made and has a superb reputation. I noted it has a PC socket on it so you can trigger your flash using a button on the meter by plugging the trigger cord into the meter. My Gossen doesn't have this and I must trigger the flash using the "test" button on one of my radio slave transmitters to fire the lights. The PC socket on it is a convenience item . . . but if you're working from trigger cord and not using slaves, it's very convenient! A current product of Sekonic, here's the specs for it:

Both of these are a generation newer than my Luna Pro F.

This is also called the "Multi-Six" in Germany. I'm guessing a bit, but it appears to be an early effort by Gossen to make a digital version of the Luna Pro F which uses a meter needle. Did a little looking and found the instruction book for it on Gossen's web site. It requires a fair amount of button pushing and switch sliding to operate it; more than my older technology Luna Pro F with meter needle. It one nice feature missing on their older flash meters, a PC socket on the side and button next to it to trigger lights with.

In Germany this is called the "Master-Six" and it appears to be either the successor to, or next model slightly up from the Multi-Pro. Basic operation is similar, as are my observations that there's a fair amount of button pushing and switch sliding to enter in film speed, etc. As with the Multi-Pro, it also has a PC socket on the side with button next for triggering lights. Gossen made more accessories and attachments for the Ultra-Pro than they did for the Master-Pro . . . That said, most of them you would likely never use.

My overall opinion about the Gossen meters you found: They're newer design and digital compared to my Luna Pro F with meter needle. It requires button pushing and switch sliding to set them, something that's done by turning the large dials on top of mine (they don't spin freely and stay put once set). They do have a PC socket I don't have, but even with that feature I'd rather use a Luna Pro F and use some other method to trigger the lights when flash metering.

Of all the meters you listed (Minolta, Sekonic and Gossen), the Sekonic L-308B II Flashmate is the newest model. It's the only one still in production. Doesn't make the others bad just because they're a generation or so behind the current models; they're all durable and accurate meters. Of the ones you listed, the Minolta Flash Meter III and Sekonic stand out.

-- John Lind

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7/6/2004 10:04:28 PM

Sobia Chishti
BetterPhoto Member Since: 8/13/2002
Thanks for your help and suggestions again. Infact I was in a hurry so I ordered Minolta autometer just before getting your reply. But i've made a request after reading your suggestion to change the order with Minolta Flash Meter III. I hope they will. And I will enlist in their mailing list.
Thanks again for your time and all the help.

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7/7/2004 5:43:48 AM

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