My favorite magazine, the late, great Modern Photography, used to run a column called Coffee Break where they would talk about whatever was going on regarding the magazine. I thought I'd do something similar here myself. The newest items will always be on top.
Spiratone Expotrol MA-5
I've wanted one of these Spiratone (Sedic) MA-5 Expotrols for a long time but finally stumbled across one that was inexpensive. All the pieces are there but it is missing the instruction manual. (August 2022)
New Dorn Meters
First new meter in a year: A Dornlei. I learned about this meter by running across a magazine advertisment for it, but in the USA it was rebadged as a Photrix. I already had two other Photrix meters and they're all completely different. Also a Dorn Prix, which I've wanted for quite a long time but finally got around to buying. (March 2022)
After much internal debate and finally taking some awful-but-good-enough-for-now photographs, I have added my three Macbeth Densitometers to the site. I have one reflection and two transmission densitometers. I know very little about the reflection model; I have the owner's manuals for the transmission units. (Feb. 2022)
Weston S85 Photometer
Colin Jackson was kind enough to provide the instructions and photos of the Weston Photometer Model S85, which I do not have. He says the S87 is the same except it's calibrated in Foot Candles instead of Lux. (Dec. 2021)
Who Invented the Modern Exposure Meter? Part II
Richard W. Holzman was kind enough to send me a PDF of an article he researched and wrote about the life of J. Thomas Rhamstine, who created the Electrophot. It is available to read here (opens as a PDF). He also gave me a copy of the instruction sheets for the Model 14 and 14-A meter, which are on my meter documentation page. Thank you very much! (Sept. 2021)
Who Invented the Modern Exposure Meter?
Special thanks to Chris Tirevolis, who hepped me to three volumes of the magazine Movie Makers that are on the Internet Archive. Movie Makers had advertisements and new product announcements for the original Rhamstine Electrophot, Weston Model 617, and the Bell & Howell Photometer. I've had to rethink my article "Who Invented the Modern Exposure Meter," which I've taken offline until I figure out what to do. Meanwhile, I now have ads to go with my text. Amazing stuff. (June 2021)
Many thanks to Arthur Wheeler for giving me a Science & Mechanics Model 250P. I am also indebted to Marcus Rowland who kindly gave me an Ilford B and an original Prinsen. I appreciate the generosity. (March / April 2021)
Two Canon Clip-ons
I recently purchased two clip-on meters for Canon SLRs—kinda. The first was the camera-specific clip-on for the Canon FT. I actually had the meter for a long time, but recently purchased the body, so now they're together again. The other isn't really a meter, it's an amplifier for the metering system of a Canon FT, FTb or Pellix, called the Canon Booster. Even though the Booster doesn't work as a stand-alone, I still thought the FP clip-on and the Booster had a lot in common, so if I'm going to have one, why not the other? (November 2019)
An Unknown Color Meter
Picked up a Gossen Kelvilux meter from a thrift shop. The word Gossen doesn't appear on it anywhere, but luckily I found it in one of my books.
Oh Boy, Another Bewi
It's been a long time (three years) but I finally got another meter: a Bewi Automat C. I'd forgotten all about it; then I was looking at the pages and saw a mention of it, realized I never had acquired one, and found it reasonably priced on eBay. Soon as it arrived, I remembered why I'd never bothered to get one: I don't like tiny clip-on meters. (9/2018)
Capital / Cambron / Tundra / Spiratone
It's been awhile but I acquired a new meter, a Cambron EF-1. That turned out to actually made by the Japanese company Capital, and also appears as the Tundra EF-1 and Spiratone Expotrol F/A (and perhaps others). Big, clunky thing compared to my Calc-u-Flash, but it works and it seems pretty well behaved. I haven't been buying meters lately because I've got all the inexpensive stuff that's any good, and what's left is either the dregs, rebadges of things I already have, or too expensive for my modest budget. But this was cheap and I had nothing like it already. (9/2015)
How To Use It
I get a fair number of emails from people asking how to use this-or-that meter, even the simple ones. I keep forgetting that these things aren't intuitive if you haven't used them before. As I don't have manuals for all of them, I've been adding a "how to use it" section for each meter. It's going to give a quick 'n dirty explanation on how to use the meter.
I'm not doing this systematically; I've been adding them as I find meters (I don't have them stored in any kind of system. Everything is hodge-podge). If you want to see a "how to use it" for a particular meter, please email me and let me know. (6/2012)
I have a lot of files here, between this and the other areas that make up the entire site. (You haven't seen the rest of the site? You might find something interesting...) Organization is a real chore, especially when I want to have different areas share the same files, like the instruction manuals or the advertisements. Some time ago I moved some things around behind the scenes and did not realize the links had broken. Thank you to those who emailed me to alert me. Plus it let me know that people are actually finding and using them, which is nice to know. Especially when I'm scanning stuff. It isn't hard work, but it's boring drudgery and after awhile you wonder if there will be any value in it whatsoever. (7/2010)
A couple months ago my desktop computer died, and I've been making do ever since. The laptop I've got is fine but it wasn't meant to be the main-line computer; it was just supposed to get-by while travelling. So now I'm bogging it down with all sorts of things while I save up for a new desktop.
The largest problem is just loading software and getting things reconfigured. You never realize how much software you were using until you have to reinstall it again. And stuff that was set up years ago and taken for granted—now I have to remember how to do it again.
So if you notice that things are particularly whacked-out, that's probably the reason. I am trying to roll out new additions and clean up or improve the old stuff, but it's all taking a lot more work than it would have six months ago...(5/2010)
Slowing Down, but Not Stopping
The website hasn't changed much recently because I haven't been acquiring meters as fast as I was before. It's due partly to money (I've had other expenses which rate a higher priority), but largely due to the fact that I have picked most of the low hanging fruit already. I have almost all of the meters I originally set out to buy, and a lot of others I picked up simply because they were inexpensive. If you read the notes (particularly with the camera collection), I often buy broken stuff because it's the only way I can justify the expense. The only way I could afford my SEI Photometer, for instance, was because it was screwed up by a previous owner.
Now I'm mostly left with things which are either tiny variations of things I already have (e.g. a British Weston Master II with a white face), modern high-end meters which are expensive if they work and impossible to repair if they don't (anything digital), or expensive rarities like a Rhamstine DHA, which would probably cost more than my car.
So I'm still on the hunt, but purchases are fewer and farther between. These days I'm spending more money and attention on the documentation side, trying to hunt down manuals, articles, and such. And that's even harder to find than most meters. (1/2010)
Gee Mr. Spicoli, I Don't Know
If you haven't noticed, a lot of what I write is speculation. I'm fortunate enough to have a roomful of old photo magazines and books, but information is still sparse. I am always on the lookout for information on light meters. If you have something on the history, or repair, or how to calibrate them, whatever—please drop me a line and let me know. Ideally it would be something I can share here on the website (like a document), but I'll take what I can get. I'll be happy to give you credit on my ackowledgement page.
Things I'm particularly interested in (but not limited to): anything about J. Thomas Rhamstine and the early years of the Expophot; anything about Donald Norwood and what went on between him, Photo Research and Brockway; and what went on in the late 1960s with the plastic, Japanese Weston meters. I'm also very interested in any repair/calibration manuals, particularly for the older (pre-1970s) makes. (9/2009)