Sekonic L-558 Spot Meter - both Light-Meter and Flash Meter
I have recently upgraded my handheld light-meter to a Sekonic L-558 spot-meter. What an great piece of kit. It has become an invaluable tool for metering landscape shots and in particular for selecting the right neutral density grad to use. You can work in shutter, aperture or EV mode but I find that using EV is quick and easy to understand.
The meter feels quite solidly built and is comfortable to hold and, in general, has well placed buttons and dials; I have an issue in that I keep pressing the memory button on the left hand side rather than the spot sampling button. These two buttons should be swapped in my view. The LCD display is big and easy to read. Battery life is good as it uses one 3.0v CR123A lithium battery, which runs for a considerable time. I always carry as spare anyway!
The meter has rubber seals and is water and moisture resistant but not waterproof. In low light conditions the meter's LCD will turns on automatically which is a great feature.
- Memory Mode - up to nine readings can be memorized in incident or spot metering modes independently in both Aperture and Shutter Priority Modes. Provides an effective way of retaining and analyzing shadow, mid-tone and highlight exposure readings.
- Sensitivity: EV -9.9 to 46.6
- Full, 1/2 or 1/3-step Selectable Readings Both shutter speeds and apertures can be displayed in either full, 1/2 or 1/3-step increments to match your film or digital camera; selecting these increments is quick and easy with custom software menu settings.
- Exposure, Calibration and Filter Compensation Independent incident & reflected exposure compensation of up to +/-9.9 EV can be easily set for custom film exposure corrections or for bellows extension factors.
- Averaging function displays the average of up to nine values stored in memory
- Can take a single measurement and display the f-stop and shutter speed for two different ISO film speeds, such as negative-film and Polaroid proofing film.
The Sekonic L-558 is a great exposure meter I would give five points but for the odd placement of the sampling and memory buttons mentioned above. There are a great set of features. You will have to take time to learn to use it but it will be a valuable tool once mastered.
I have no association with Sekonic. It's just a very good product. I would score it 4 out of 5.
Good luck and good shooting.
Update - October 2007
I recently had a strange situation where my L-558 would not select or work in shutter priority mode when under the 'ambient' setting. No matter what I did I could not get the meter to highlight the 'T' symbol and display shutter speeds. It would only display 'f/s' (frames per second). This was true for the EV mode as well.
I thought I had somehow selected the Cine mode and was stuck in it.
Well the answer turned out to be to be to keep rotating the selector wheel clockwise until you return to time rather than frames per second. I wasted a lot of time figuring this one out and nearly ended up changing my meter! This was not in the user manual ...
Note I am still very happy with the L-558.
Hope this helps.
See also Landscape Metering with ND Grads plus a Sekonic L-558 Spot Meter
Sekonic L-558 Light-Meter Website Page