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Inexpensive/Used Flash Meter Assistance

I like to mess around with a flash meter, but don't want to spend a ton. There are these on EBay -

MINOLTA AUTO METER IIIF Ambient & Flash Camera LIGHT METER

which are reasonable to my budget. I think what I want is a digital readout, and a button to fire the flash(?).

Anyone use this model? I think it's older, but not as old as the III.

Thanks - Dave

Comments

  • Neil vNNeil vN Administrator
    The Minolta Auto Meter III F, as far as I could remember, had a quirk about it in the handling of the metering modes ... something really put me off this flash. (If I remember correctly), it was as if they tacked on the flash metering on top of a regular light-meter, without proper thought of how the flash-meter would be used. 
     
    Instead, I got the Flashmeter III, which I really loved.  (Until one of the slider switches broke ... and Minolta stopped maintenance on these.)

    Just do a little bit more homework. 
    Sorry I can't be of more help than a vague "something about it bothered me."
  • dbrunodbruno Member
    Thanks for the info, Neil. My homework started with this forum, because I know nothing about flash meters. So, the one you liked, is it the older version of the one I was looking at? It's Minolta, correct?
  • TrevTrev Moderator
    edited June 2015
    Dave,

    I don't know what price you are prepared to pay, but for $200 you could not go past the Sekonic L308S Flashmate.

    Does Incident/Reflected/Flash, dead easy to use (I use the Sekonic L358 - now discontinued but mate has the L308S) and you should be happy with that.


  • dbrunodbruno Member
    Trev - for what I will be using it for, $200 is a bit much. I'm just experimenting, but would like to know the ins-and-outs in case I really have to know what I'm doing with one.
  • TrevTrev Moderator
    Fair enough Dave, no use spending money when you maybe don't know for sure if it's something you may not use a lot.


  • Long ago I got the one Neil recommended...works great...paid $60.00 US. Takes these odd little batteries that are also quite inexpensive. Go for the Minolta Flash Meter III, Does what you need.
  • dbrunodbruno Member
    Thanks, Penn. Really just want something to experiment with and get a handle on how to use one. Does it automatically fire the flash? I've seen pictures of this model, and it looks like it was from a while ago, which is why I ask.
  • There is a port on it, so I think it may. Neil would Know for sure..
  • dbrunodbruno Member
    I watch videos on light meters, and what I've seen is the camera flash firing when a button is pushed on the light meter. Nowhere have I been able to find out if the light meter I'm looking at (Minolta) will fire the flash with wireless triggering. It doesn't seem possible that the light meter would fire a flash that is generic to the brand of light meter. What am I missing? All I really want to know is how to take a flash reading with my camera on a tripod, and me standing at the subject. Just they way it looks in the videos. I don't want a cord, I want wireless.
  • Neil vNNeil vN Administrator
    You can fire the flash with a radio trigger in your hand, while the flash meter is "primed", waiting for the blip of light from the flash. So you wouldn't need a cord, or a built-in trigger necessarily.
  • dbrunodbruno Member
    OK, thanks. I have a remote control, which is for the camera itself, and maybe I can use that. I'll be taking a shot at the same time, but as long as the flash fires I guess that's fine.
  • Yeah I use my Youngnuo Flash Transceivers to do just that Neil. Although I find myself using it rarely these days...Kinda wing it most times
  • Neil vNNeil vN Administrator
    edited June 2015
    You don't need to take a shot when metering your flash. 
    You just need to get the meter reading. The camera isn't necessarily involved. 
  • TrevTrev Moderator
    Dave,

    As Ron/Neil says, no need to take a shot, in fact you can't take a shot unless you have someone else hold the meter near the subject.

    I have on camera flash trigger, so when metering, I walk up with the meter, point it back to where I am 'shooting from', not the light, then with my other hand merely press the 'test' button on the flash trigger to get a reading.

    Note: You must be in manual with flash to get a reading, cannot meter if you have TTL capability on flash, that's important to note, otherwise it will read the 'pre-flash' and you set it to that then take an actual shot and it be blown to kingdom come for sure.


  • dbrunodbruno Member
    Thanks for the tips. Sorry, I wasn't understanding the communication between flash and meter. I did understand metering from the subject location, flash in manual, and interpreting the readings. I wasn't understanding the triggering part. I use my hot-shoe flash as the master, as I don't have the separate wireless controllers. I'll figure it out once I decide on a meter to play around with.
  • Neil vNNeil vN Administrator
    That's something that will make sense when you try it ... you hit the meter button on the flash meter, and it waits for a light pulse.  (in other words, you've "primed" the flash meter.)  Only when it gets the light flash a few seconds later, does it react and give you the meter reading. 

    This way it can work without a cable. You just need to prime the meter, hold it up ... and trigger the flash with a remote trigger on your camera or in your hand. 



  • TonyTTonyT Member
    The Sekonic L308s is a great little meter I bought a used one from eBay, just got to be careful some of the bidding gets a little silly for a used item.
  • dbrunodbruno Member
    Anyone know what the difference is between what's called the "Flash Meter" and what's called the "Auto Meter"? I'm tending to go with what Neil mentioned above (Flash Meter III), but I'm just curious. Can't really find anything because they are pretty old.
  • dbrunodbruno Member
    I think I found the difference: the Auto Meter isn't equipped to measure flash. I found the manuals on line for both, and that's what I think.
  • I dont use a meter and dont see anyone using a meter. The meter was for those old days when they used something called "film". You couldnt mess around taking shots like we do with digital testing out the exposure so they used the meter.

    There is a meter of sorts on the camera where you can get a feel of the lighting conditions. I just set the equipment where I think it should be. From there I take a few test shots and adjust as needed.

    In the film days no way to test it out like that so you had to use the meter.
  • Neil vNNeil vN Administrator
    As far as I remember, the Minolta Auto Meter III was just for ambient light, but then they tacked on the flash metering capability, and the Auto Meter IIIF was born. 
  • Struggling to understand how to measure flash with this meter, the Minolta Flash Meter III. I know it's old, and because of that, there are no videos that I can find.

    I was assuming that I would set it to "Non-C" (no sync cord), put it in position, prime the meter, fire my flash, and I would get a reading for aperture. I am triggering a 580EX in a softbox using an on-camera 580EX II as a master but output disabled. What is *supposed* triggering the meter to make a reading - is it the light output from the softbox, or do I need a radio trigger or a sync cord? If it's the light output, the readings are not making any sense. Even with the softbox flash full-on, it displays an "under" reading. It also seems that if the on-camera flash is not pointing at it, the meter doesn't register.

    I'm sure I will need someone who used to use this one all the time to answer this science-experiment question.

    Dave
  • TrevTrev Moderator
    edited August 2015
    Dave,

    Are you using TTL? The fact you state 'under' exposing even if flash full on, indicates it's measuring the pre-flash, you need to have your flash set to manual. You cannot use a meter for TTL in any form since TTL needs to fire a pre-flash to get it's intended light output for the main flash.

    As long as the flash is fired (in manual) it does not matter how that's done, someone pressing the test button on back, trigger like a Pocket Wizard, another flash like you have firing via slave/master, but in manual.

    So, on camera set your ambient you want like ISO Shutter, Aperture, then with the flash, you place the light meter right up to subject, pointing back to where you would be taking the shot from, fire flash, check Aperture reading and adjust flash until you reach the Aperture you had set, and that part of the image will be exposed correct.

    Another thing, you do need to set the meter to the same ISO/Shutter combo first, then you will get your Aperture.

    Also, you don't really 'point at the flash', you point it to the camera position, so you get that Aperture reading and by the fact you also state even pointing directly at flash says it's under is indicating flash in TTL, unless you are doing something other than I outlined above.

    Trev.
  • Hi, Trev - Thanks for the response. The flash units are in manual. I don't have a Pocket Wizard or equivalent. Just to get familiar with things, I have the meter on a tripod where I would put my "subject". To fire the flash, I'm taking an exposure, but that really shouldn't matter should it? The on-camera flash is disabled, but triggering the off-camera flash. What makes no sense to me is when I point the on-camera flash up, it still fires the other flash, but the meter reads "under", that is, no reading. The meter has a dome diffuser, which I am assuming needs to stay on (?).

    I have the meter set to the ISO and shutter I want, and it is pointing to the camera. As I said, no on-line tutorials for this one, but it's a little frustrating.

    Dave
  • Dave

    The on camera flash uses a burst of light to trigger the off camera flash, that is what your meter is reading.  Like Trev said you can get a meter reading by pushing the test button on the off camera flash or use a simple radio trigger.
  • TrevTrev Moderator
    edited August 2015
    Dave,

    I 'think' I have the answer, even though you have disabled the on camera flash, as in it won't fire a full flash, the 580 EXII's are not radio controlled like the 600EX-RT, so I am therefore assuming that your 'triggering' flash is still emitting that pre-flash burst, so fast and small your naked eye may not detect it, as it has to do 'something' for the OFC flash to pick up the signal to fire.

    So, don't use the on camera flash to trigger, instead, since you have your light meter on a tripod to get exposure, walk to the OFC and push the 'Test' button, see if that makes any difference.

    As I said, I 'think' this may be the reason as I have never in my life used normal hot shoe flashes in Slave/Master mode before.

    EDIT: The Rickman beat me to it :) .... yep, I concur.

    Trev.
  • Thanks, guys. I appreciate it. I have to look for the test button on the 580EX. I did push what I thought was the correct button, but it almost looked like I was setting off the modeling light. If that's the same thing, I apologize for my greenish ways.

    I'm going to a workshop next Tuesday, "Lighting and the Studio Portrait", and I would like to have some clue ....

    Dave
  • dbrunodbruno Member
    edited August 2015
    Even with no light meter experience, I have to believe this meter may not be functioning correctly in the "Non-C" mode.

    Setup: Camera with hot-shoe 580EX II, 6 feet away from meter pointed directly at the camera. Camera off. Meter set to 100 ASA, 125 shutter, dome diffuser attached. Flash at full power in manual, zoomed to 105 mm. Prime the meter. Press the pilot button to fire the flash. No aperture reading, meter has indicator that there is not sufficient power to register a reading. Dome diffuser comes off. Repeat. Reading of F2.8 - 7. Reduce flash power to 1/128. Prime the meter, fire the flash. Reading of 2.8 - 1. Huh? And, forget reading anything from the flash in the softbox, it was the first thing I tried.

    I bought this used, obviously, from a place called Roberts Camera who has an EBay store. 6-month warranty. Any reason not to get in touch with them and get a refund? Any and all comments are welcomed.

    Dave
  • Neil vNNeil vN Administrator
    edited August 2015
    "I am triggering a 580EX in a softbox using an on-camera 580EX II as a master but output disabled."

    Then the optical light pulses - i.e., the communication between master and slave - is throwing off your light meter.
    THIS is the problem.

    Try it with a PocketWizard, or some other trigger which is entirely radio based, and not optical.
    Do this before returning your flash meter as faulty. I think you'll find it works properly.

  • dbrunodbruno Member
    edited August 2015
    Hi, Neil I posted something a little while ago that you may not have seen. I went in a direct path - 580EX II on the camera in manual mode, full power, meter 6 feet away on a tripod, primed in "Non-C" settings, and and fired the flash using the pilot button on the flash. No aperture reading. I can re-post the entry again, but it's right before your response.

    Dave
  • I have to add that the off-camera flash was not involved in any way with my latest test, because from earlier posts it sounded like the triggering pulses from the master flash was messing things up.
  • Neil vNNeil vN Administrator
    Aaah .. gotcha. 
    In that scenario, the flash should've shown an appropriate reading. 
  • TrevTrev Moderator
    edited August 2015
    Dave,

    Here ya go.... attached. Don't know if you have a manual but at least you can have a read to make sure you understand it.

    Just click and it should auto download.

    Just saw this also, maybe read online... as it appears to be in 2 parts (ouch lot of reading, but the PDF is all in 1 part)

    http://www.butkus.org/chinon/minolta/minolta_autometer_iiif/minolta_autometer_iiif.htm

    Trev
  • TrevTrev Moderator
    ahhh..... I see, it's a scanned file of the manual, and it contains several languages, no wonder it has 94 double pages..... English first section.
  • Trev - thanks, but I already have it, multi-languaged (made-up word) and all, and I've read it a few times.

    Neil - moving the meter closer to the flash, moving it back and taking the dome off, tried all sorts of stuff. Like I wrote, no experience with these things but I think I can tell somethings not correct.

    Dave
  • OK, so, not really sure what's going on with this thing. In the manual, I found a paragraph about the EV adjustment screw on the back. When I looked at it, it was not on zero. So I put it on zero. It's not enough of an adjustment to make a difference, but it seems to be working better. I've done more testing with it, and now at least it's registering values which, when I take the advice of the meter, gets me fairly close. We'll see.

    I'm on a budget, but want to learn what I can about aspects I *may* use in the future, and doing head shots with all the appropriate stuff is one of the types of jobs I've been passing on because I have no experience. But, I can't go out and purchase brand-new items only to find they are not useful. Sorry for droning on ..... that's why I have to battle with used stuff.

    Dave
  • TrevTrev Moderator
    Dave,

    Sounds like it then, get in contact with the seller maybe, seeing as you have 6 month's warranty.
  • On an related/unrelated note: when I push the "pilot" button on my flashes, the don't fire like they would when I trigger them taking a shot. It's like a longer-duration light. That could have also been part of the problem?
  • It appears the modeling flash takes priority, so I just have that turned off. Now, when I push the pilot button, it's a test firing of the actual power set in manual mode. So I believe my issue with the meter is solved - as I push the power higher on the flash, the meter is indicating a larger F-number, which is what I would expect.

    Dave
  • TrevTrev Moderator
    Have you taken a shot yet, though it appears you have figured it out.

    It had to be a form of light being registered although badly under, but that's interesting the modelling light comes on.
  • Trev - I don't know if you use Canon or not. In the custom functions of the flashes, there is one for how the modeling flash activates, and there is also one that controls the output power of the test flash. I had to disable the modeling flash to get the test flash to fire as it would when taking a shot. Now I can adjust the manual power of the test output, but the modeling flash had to be disabled. I could have it all convoluted, but the flashes are now doing what I want them to do.

    Dave
  • TrevTrev Moderator
    No, sounds like you hit the nail on the head. I have never metered via using a hot shoe flash before, always off cam flashes 3rd party, not the normal hotshoe one.

    Only 1 thing left to do. Go take some shots under varying conditions.
  • Yes, that's the next step. But, I am ultimately using an off-camera flash. The reason for using the hot shoe flash (with no slave) at one point was to see if the meter was actually working. During those tests, it appeared to be not working, but I'm not sure why.
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