Every Photographer loves gadgets. It is a law of nature. The fondness for gadgets is so deep that sometimes our camera bags are referred to as "gadget bags". Now as we all know, the best gadgets are the ones that share two traits:
- Those that are useful
- Those that we use
The Source of My Pain
As I explained in my first post some weeks ago, I am a fan of older film cameras. I am not really a collector since I pretty much insist that any old camera I pick up be usable and I regularly shoot with all the cameras I own. Now by usable, I mean that most of the cameras features be functional within reason. One of those things that are often broken are the exposure meters on cameras that predate the electronic era. I have a couple of Yashica Lynx rangefinder cameras that date from the early to mid 1960s. While the meters on both cameras react to light, neither is really what I would call functional. I also recently acquired two FSU (Former Soviet Union) rangefinders that never sported a built-in meter. From this small stable of rangefinders grew a persistent pain related to meters.
Now I have a hand-held light meter and a very good one at that. My Gossen Luna Lux is easy to use, accurate, and very sensitive in even the lowest light levels. Unfortunately it is almost the same size as any of the above listed rangefinder cameras. and is hardly pocket-able. I did a little research on smaller meters and soon found that some excellent options exist.
Option 1: Voigtlander VC Meter II
The first option was the quite lovely clip-on VC Meter II made by Cosina/Voigtlander. The VC II is designed to fit on the accessory shoe of vintage rangefinder cameras. It was literally made to do the job that I needed it for and is tastefully styled to be compatible with the task. Small, light, accurate, beautiful! What more could I want? How about a lower price? At just under $200 USD street price, it might make perfect sense when paired to a classic Leitz or Nikon rangefinder body, but I am afraid that it is less of a good match for my Zorki, Kiev, or the pair of Yashicas.
Option 2: Sekonic L-208 Twin Mate
Well, back to the Internet to find what other options are available. It did not take long to discover that Sekonic also makes a compact clip-on meter. The L-208 Twin Mate has a more traditional appearance than the VC II and is not quite as sensitive, but makes up for it with the ability to take both incident and reflected measurements. While it is not obvious from the product shots, the L-208 is really very small and at a little over $100 USD is closer to what I had in mind, price-wise.
And The Final Solution Is?
Still, I was feeling not too wealthy and decided to stop by my friendly local used camera shop (Knight Camera and Repair) to see what Mike Knight had in his magic box. I was hoping to find a Gossen Pilot that I had seen there in the past. The Pilot is a nice unit, but is a selenium meter and not too great in dim light. What I found instead of the Pilot is my "Newest, Most Favorite Gadget". Ladies and Gentlemen, I present to you the...
Vivitar Model 24 Clip-on Light Meter
|Vivitar Model 24 Light Meter Mounted on Yashica Lynx 1000|
- Flip the lever on the back to the left to power on the meter. The meter stays on until the lever is flipped back to the right.
- Point the camera at the subject
- Rotate the dial until the needle in the window is centered
- Read the correct exposure from the scale
|Vivitar 24 Meter Held Between My Two Fingers|