How do I read this confounded light meter?
November 4, 2007 3:35 PM   Subscribe

I have a Mockba handheld light meter with radial dials that I'm attempting to use with a rangefinder that doesn't already have one. Now, how do I read this thing?

Here's a picture of the thing.

The numbers on the inner part of the red dial (directly under the Mockba logo) go 11, 22, 45, 90, 180, 350, 700 with a dash in between each.

The silver dial numbers that show up in the square of the red dial (where the triangle arrow points) go from 1 to 15 without skipping.

I'm sure the main numbers on the silver dial (around the edge) are shutter speeds and the numbers on the outer edge of the red dial are f-stops.

I think you start by lining up the two needles in the white window by using the silver dial. Apart from that, I'm clueless, people. What are the numbers in the squares for? How in the blue blazes do I figure out the necessary aperture from this thing? I've found instructions for other manual light meters on the web, but nothing that makes sense with this one. At least, not to this amateur.

(Yeah, sure, I could go get a more modern meter, but I'd still love to understand this one)
posted by katillathehun to Technology (12 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
FYI, that's "Москва", pronounced "mosk-VA". It means Moscow and is a common brand name for Soviet era goods. I can't help you with using the thing. You might check out Alfred Klomp's site.
posted by fake at 3:45 PM on November 4, 2007

Best answer: Yes, you line them up. It is hard to see from the picture, but one of those scales should be an ASA or DIN which relates to the film speed. You set that, line up the needle and the pointer and read off f-stop and shutter speed combos. The other scale is EV which is sort of the quantity of light.
posted by caddis at 4:00 PM on November 4, 2007

The film speeds could be in old GOST units, which are approximately 9/10 ISO: GOST 360 is ISO 400. Probably won't make much difference unless you're shooting 'chromes.
posted by scruss at 4:25 PM on November 4, 2007

Response by poster: Thanks, fake. I know my spelling of it wasn't exactly accurate, but I don't type in Cyrillic characters particularly often, so that's what you get. ;)

Caddis, that clears some of the mystery up. I just noticed there's an ASA/DiN/something-that-looks-like-TOCT series of numbers on the back that looks like some sort of key.
posted by katillathehun at 4:29 PM on November 4, 2007

What caddis said. The 11-700 scale is your film speed in Soviet GOST scale. The 1-15 scale is the EV. This hits the basics of using a light meter.
posted by weebil at 4:33 PM on November 4, 2007

Response by poster: scruss, I'm betting that's what the "TOCT" (or... whatever it is. I don't think it's English) is referring to. This key on the back seems to convert film speed from one unit to another. So, ASA 200 would be 24 in DiN and 180 in Ghost. I'm guessing, anyway.
posted by katillathehun at 4:33 PM on November 4, 2007

Response by poster: Er, I meant to say GOST, not "ghost." Fingers getting ahead of brain.
posted by katillathehun at 4:34 PM on November 4, 2007

Best answer: 1. Set your film speed
2. Line up the arrows
3. Look at the two top rows: your first row is your shutter speed, the second row is your aperture.
4. Open the shutter and expose.
posted by jedrek at 4:35 PM on November 4, 2007

Response by poster: Ah-HA!

Attention passengers, the Eureka! light is on.

Thanks, guys. It makes perfect sense now.
posted by katillathehun at 4:38 PM on November 4, 2007

Best answer: Step 1. You need to set the film speed. Older Russian meters set ISO/ASA using a different scale. This is set on the inner dial under the logo.

e.g. GOST 180 = ISO 200.

Step 2. Point the meter at what you want to take a picture of (assuming this is a reflective light meter), this will move the needle based on the amount of light the meter is seeing.

Step 3. While still pointed at your subject, move the main dial (silver) until you line up the needles.

Step 4. You now can pick from a range of shutter/aperture combinations. Based on your picture, a 1/60sec shutter is lined up with about F 1.8.

Step 5. Set your camera to the shutter/f-stop combination you selected.

Step 6. Take your picture.

These older light meters used a selenium cell to meter (no battery required). These wear out over time so this meter may not work anymore.

Also, I can't tell from your picture if this is a incident or reflective meter. An incident meter should(?) have a white dome on it. In this case, hold the meter right in front of the subject with the dome pointing at the camera to get your reading.
posted by volition at 4:55 PM on November 4, 2007

Response by poster: volition: it has a removable dome so that it can be used for either method.
posted by katillathehun at 5:32 PM on November 4, 2007

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