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Reference: Materials and Equipment: Pentax Digital Spotmeter


The Pentax Digital Spotmeter - This has been the "classic" spotmeter of Zone System practioners ever since its introduction. It is a 1 degree meter and little else. It does one thing and does it well. It is compact, reliable, and simple. I don’t believe that it can be found new any longer (except possibly as new-old-stock). The good news is that used ones are typically in great condition and can be had for around $250-300.

The single best feature of this meter is the analog calculator on the top. One merely points the meter at the desired subject and notes the EV value (digital numerals with dots for 1/3 and 2/3) shown in the window. After ensuring that the calculator is set at the proper ISO, you simply turn the dial to place the EV reading at the desired Zone. This can be done quite easily on the meter as-is, or you can buy (or make) a sticker to place alongside the EV dial to assist you.

Richard Ritter via Zone VI Studios (and now owned by Calumet), used to modify this meter. These can still be found used as well, however it should be noted that some sellers often try to pass off a standard Digital Spotmeter as a Zone VI modified version simply because it has the Zone VI scale attached to the top. The meters that have actually been modified can be identified by the badge on the handle noting specifically ("Modified by Zone VI Studios"). The modified version has a number of filters and baffles to cut out extraneous light, remove UV and IR, and to change the meter's response to exactly match the spectrum of Tri-X (old emulsion I believe).

I own the unmodified version and could not be happier with it. It does exactly what a 1 degree spotmeter should and nothing more. In general this is how I prefer all my equipment to be, do one thing and do it well. The Pentax Digital Spotmeter does this.


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