Newbie Pentax 1/21 questions

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Sep 24, 2003
Holland, MI

A few questions:

With the CdS sensor, it's recommended to expose it to a brighter source for a few minutes. I've seen two different reasons cited for this. One being improvement of speed of response of the meter at low light levels, and the other (I question this one) claiming to alter the sensitivity to low light level; this would imply inconsistent scale calibration.

This is the only working meter I own other than what's in a Minolta SLR I have also.

There are two night scenes I want to shoot, and spot metering is probably the only practical way to actually meter them. Another approach might be to simply estimate exposure.

I don't have any b/w film right now and my schedule is kind of hectic so I do a lot of scene evaluation when I drive by. I may approach the shot in several steps - look at it several times, and I am just now trying out the 1/21 meter so I am content to study scenes with it minus the camera to understand what it tells me (as best I can without shooting and developing).

For the time being, I will probably rely on someone else developing for me as I don't have a darkroom space (or any dark room anywhere in the house, believe it or even in the basement! I will start out with roll film (120 6x9 folders with only 8 shots per roll, so I COULD blow a whole roll on one scene), so I'll be two steps removed from contrast control (roll film plus third party development). My 4x5 Crown & Speed Graphics are both fixer-uppers and not quite ready to use yet...I figure better to deal with roll film to learn and not have too many difficulties at once.

Scene 1 is a church bell tower that is lit up; the rest of the building is dark. I went there to take some measurements. I will make another stop to compose during the day so I can figure out exactly where to go in the dark. When I actually shoot the scene it will be on my way to work and I won't have time to spare. I sat in the lot with the spotmeter held up against the dome light in my car for roughly 1-2 minutes. I measured between 4 and 4-1/2 on the Pentax meter. I wait a few seconds to allow the meter to settle down (stop drifting downward).

I then drove a few blocks to Scene 2, a a stone store front with a clock tower that has a brightly illuminated white clock face. I didn't have time to precondition the meter withthe dome light because I was waiting for the light to change at the intersection I was sitting in.

How important is this preconditioning when it isn't practical (night shots), and what advice is there when I can't do this?

I think experimentation will tell me alot (when I have time to do it!).

The Pentax manual swears the scale is not EV scale, but it may coincidentally match for some settings. I am missing their point. I don't see the difference, perhaps because I currently have it set on 100 ISO so EV = LV and their scale in concert with the dial calculator on the side, or any other approach I take to understanding the math behind the EV scale (I have spent some time doing this because it interests me), the meter seems to do EV exactly as I would expect. Is there some subtlety I am not understanding in their claim the scale is not the EV scale?

Scene three, well actually, I'm not sure I have a question about raises some Zone questions, and I guess I'm just thinking out loud to see if I am getting the concept of 'getting' exposure placement:

I get home from the drive above and look at the sconce lamp on the side of the house. It illuminates several rows of 'clapboard style' vinyl siding in such a manner that each row closer to the ground has a wider shadow. Looks like a good Zone exercise.

The lamp measures 14-1/2 (forgetting preconditioning). The first bright row of siding meaures 10, and the darkest shadow at the bottom measures 3-3-1/2. White, Zakia & Lorenz book says if the range is too wide, walk away (or make the decision that you want a different 'look'), but it looks like a good candidate for a first attempt shot to just place a bright zone, allow the too-dark zones to fall where they will, and allow the lamp itself to 'burn out' at Zone IX.

Thanks for reading and any suggestions.



Dec 24, 2003
Denver, CO
4x5 Format
For scene three you might consider using D-23 split developer. Expose for Zone III then develop using the A-B formula to control highlight contrast. My students handle scenes like this all the time using this technique. contains affiliate links to products. We may receive a commission for purchases made through these links.
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